As I'm writing this words, there is a team of Colombian hikers on their way to Mount Everest, among them my very good friend Marcelo Arbelaez y Carolina Ahumada who sent me the e-mail I'm talking about.
Some of them have already been at the top of the Everest three times, but what is very special about this one is that they will be attempting to take the first handicapped man with no oxygen to the 8.848 m.a.s.l. of Mount Everest, his name is Nelson Cardona, one of the nicest and bravest man I've ever met.
Nelson's history is very inspiring. He has always loved the mountains and that love took him to become a warden in the Nevados National Park of Colombia where he first met Marcelo and his climber friend Juan Pablo Ruiz training for their first attempt to Everest in 1995, they bonded very well and a few months later he was invited to join their expedition.
He couldn't believe that he could actually have the chance to see Mount Everest in person or even better, attemp to climb it, the dream of every climber in the world. So for the next months they trained very hard in the highest picks of South America until 1997 when they headed for Nepal for the first time, during that first attemp they couldn't reach the top and Nelson almost died in an avalanche. During the next ten years, he encountered many setbacks, even deadly ones, in 1998 he saw his friend Lennis Granados die in Mount Manaslu (The 8th highest mountain in the world, in Nepal) and another friend, Gonzalo Ospina almost died in his arms due to a brain edema in Cho Oyu (Tibet).
But the biggest setback of his life was yet to come. In 2006 when training for the 2007 expedition to the Everest with no oxygen, he was climbing the Nevado del Ruiz when he slipped from a 18 mts rock and fell all the way to the bottom of the mountain. He broke almost every bone in his body, he had face and hip double fractures, his right foot was very damaged. He was rushed to hospital in Manizales where he had an 11 hours surgery. After loads of therapy and having had an infection in his foot, the doctors said that he could never run or climb again. But another option was presented to him, if they would partially amputate his leg he would be able to climb again...and his answer was yes.
Marcelo, Nelson, Edgar, Carolina, Juan Pablos and the rest of the team... EXITOS, EXITOS, EXITOS!
**Some pictures on this post have been taken from various sources. Credits to Epopeya Everest Sin Limites 2010, El Espectador.