This morning during breakfast we remembered what day it was. Today is not a very happy day. It is exactly a year since our friend, Tolo Calafat, lost his life whilst climbing Annapurna. From there you can see practically all the Himalayas, and there we have also lost other friends such as Iñaki Ochoa de Olza. They are always with us in our hearts and on our climbs. So it was a sad breakfast, and things got worse later on. When I had finished I sat down at the computer, as I do everyday, to check the weather forecasts which we are so worried about and the news was no better. The first mail was devastating: Erhard Loretan has died. Whaaaaaaaaat? I couldn’t believe it. Loretan!!! All of us mountaineers knew Loretan because of what he has achieved in life through mountaineering. Many people, myself included, both admired and idolised him.

I always say that my life has provided me with the opportunity to meet many people, and of course I was fortunate enough to meet Loretan. I think that I was more than fortunate, as I got to know the person behind the sportsman. As a result I admired him even more. Sitting down to a good meal, accompanied by a good wine and in the company of good friends, I had the opportunity to make another friend. It was a strange place to meet him. We didn’t talk about the eight-thousanders, or about routes. We talked about our lives, about the way each of us felt about what we were doing, and about how our lives were going. One of the things that made me shed tears, and which is now making it hard to keep them from falling again, was that someone like him, with everything that he had achieved and the way in which he had achieved it, advised me not to pay attention to the comments that people would make after conquering the fourteen eight-thousanders. He told me to enjoy what I had done, that what I had done I had done for me and me alone, and that this is what was important. I took him by the hand and I thanked him. Thanks Erhard! Thank you for making me feel so good, I told him.

All those friends from dinners, skiing, climbing … they will continue doing what they enjoy and what we enjoy, and somehow you will always be with us. From base camp on Everest, where you told me that I would return if I felt that I should, and only if I felt I should, I remind you that I am living and feeling in the way that people like us know how to live and feel. I’m sending you a big hug.

 As you can see today is a sad day, or at least a complicated day. It is a day full of memories and plagued with emotions. You remember people who are not here and others that you meet here and there. But life goes on and we have been put on earth to live it, although sometimes it isn’t easy. We will carry on here, with the same excitement and feeling passionate about what we do. At last the snow that we were waiting for has arrived. Why do I say ‘at last’? Because we thought that it was never going to come after so many forecasts and so many days when it failed to appear. Tonight these small flakes will turn into much bigger ones and there will be more tomorrow, but I hope that it will last just for two days, as the forecasts predicted.

From here on Everest have a good weekend and enjoy it.