Never has the last photograph of a journey been so important. It was the best, not because of its color quality, framing or composition, no, simply because we were all in that snapshot. We had finally arrived in Chamonix. Carmelo, as during the whole trip, did not stop taking pictures left and right, without control, as if the camera was a mechanical extension of his body. It was the first time he stepped on the streets of this beautiful town and everything seemed interesting to him to capture for posterity. Pablo, who had been here several times, the last one last year with me, looked at me and laughed at the ideas that good Carmelo had at every step.
The following days were spent preparing and acclimatizing. We visited several places such as the Aiguille du Midi or the Mer de Glace...
And finally the moment arrived, the summit of Mont Blanc was waiting for us. It was a sunny day and the forecast was not bad. The only thing that could annoy us was the wind, which was moderate to strong the next day. After taking the cable car and the cog railway we arrived at Nido de Aguila.
Slowly but surely we began our ascent to the Goûter shelter, from where we would leave the next day for the longed-for summit. We passed through the Pierre Ronde Desert and headed for the first ridge.
We soon reached the Tête Rousse shelter where we equipped ourselves since the snow had made an appearance.
How little we imagined that our adventure was about to end and that this refuge that we were now leaving behind with the joy of being closer to our goal, was going to become our obligatory home.
We are approaching the Great Corridor, which we have to cross, it is crossed by several ropes before, also mountaineers in solitude, sometimes faster and sometimes with less, but we all know that this is a crucial point, which is one of the most dangerous steps because the falling stones make us look like bowling pins, hence its name by which it is known. Before us, a big cordada has passed where several guides go with their clients.
Now it's our turn, we're in the middle, but suddenly Carmelo who's in second place shouts "stone! We adopt the best position to try to mitigate the possible impact, two pass by, but the third one has Pablo's name written on its edges and there he goes at full speed, he hits him with violence without any consideration and I hear a phrase that I will never forget "I'm broken, call the helicopter".
But first of all we have to get out of there, my partner touches his thigh and thinks his femur is broken. There is blood, but with an unusual courage that only men who have the mountain in their veins possess, he manages to stand up as best he can and we barely manage to reach the place where the corridor starts. The effort has been maximum and Paul tells us that he may lose consciousness.
Now we have to put into practice what we have learned about mountain accidents and we had better do it well because Paul's life and ours depend on it. Protect, Warn, Help (P.A.S) are the three words that make the most sense at the time and so we do, in that order, like well-trained automatons.
We make sure, we protect ourselves from a possible fall of stones, we warn the rope that has just passed that we have an accident and we ask them to call to emergencies, from this rope we only get indifference and I remember that in it were three guides, simply embarrassing. In the end, Carmelo, Pablo himself and the help of a French mountaineer managed to get along with the rescue services. I continue dismantling the rope and placing everything as best as possible to facilitate the maneuvers of the rescuers. The moment arrives to attend Pablo, we realize that the femur does not seem to be broken and that the loss of blood is controlled, he seems to have recovered a little "the presence of spirit", we give him a feather that he carries at the bottom of his backpack so that he does not lose heat and he asks us for water with which he refreshes his mouth. Now it is time to wait, grouped together and calmly, for the rescue to become a reality.
The blades are sounding, it's time to signal, I stand up making the signal for help (Y). They have seen us and the gendarmes start descending from the helicopter. When they arrive, they take charge of the situation and immobilize his leg. At that moment another very big stone is thrown up, which stops a few meters away from the five of us. The rescue service asks us to leave the place. We do so after knowing which hospital they would take our companion to and telling Pablo to be calm that we would spend the night at Tête Rousse and that the next day we would begin our descent.
We get on the way to the shelter but we see that stones are still falling in the next corridor, it seems that the landslides are following us, we see two people who are walking on the heights. Could they have something to do with what has happened to us?
Approximately one and a half hours later, after several attempts, at the moment the fog gives a bit of a break, our companion is evacuated.
Already in the shelter we find the solidarity of two compatriots who encourage us and make us have a good time. You can't imagine how grateful they are for a few words of encouragement and sharing a beer in those circumstances. The next day they left for the summit. We wished them good luck and thanked them from the bottom of our hearts.
In the late afternoon we managed to talk to our partner, he has the quadriceps of his right leg with three holes and swollen like a rugby ball but the bone is fine, we encourage him and now we just want the hours to pass quickly to meet again.
The next day we are in the hospital in the middle of the morning, we melt into a strong hug. The three of us are together again. Now we have to prepare ourselves little by little for the next day to return to our families.
As we leave Chamonix, I turn my eyes towards Mont Blanc, summoning him to meet us later on, and perhaps at that moment he will be kind enough to let me set foot on his summit.
After thirteen hours of driving we arrived at Pablo's house, we hugged his wife and in this way we all took one of the best pictures that Carmelo will ever take in his life.
This article is dedicated to all the people who selflessly helped and supported us.
June 2015 Thank you
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