“The Climb” Miley Cyrus… I know it is a song for little girls, but I liked the words so Brad downloaded it.
Schedule is set, and in a perfect world I will be standing on the summit on Feb 15th, then the walk out takes two days. The last one is twenty-four miles with a full pack.
Gustavo finally made it after flight problems. He is another interesting fellow, a software developer. He and his cameraman, Gabriel, are filming his quest for the seven summits for Brazilian TV. They have a drone and got some real cool videos that they will share with me.
We traveled to start the trip with the camp doctor. She spends four months a year on the mountain, treating over one hundred patients a day. She gets weeks off the mountain in the four months, and has been doing this for the past ten years. She arrived and was trying to get a helicopter to bring her to base camp, otherwise it is an eight hour mule ride. In order to pass to the high camps you have to get the doctor to approve you to the next level. They traverse to high camp at 19,000 ft. and help with rescues. She said it was the best job in the world.
I know I am talking about the people and places more than the mountain. I have always been fascinated with other cultures, and I have a great cross section of the world here. Today, I observed that the Argentine men kiss when they greet -not on the lips, just a peck on one cheek. I haven’t been kissed yet, but when in Rome…plus there are plenty of days for me to complain about my aches and pains, and the disgusting thing you have to do if you go Number 2 on the mountain.
I am still feeling good now that we started. I am less anxious. Ready for higher. I see climbers returning dirty, limping, and looking like Zombies. They tell of the horror to come. Water is scarce, but Max and the mules carry two hundred liters of water that we will use until we reach snow at 18,000 ft. So far everyone is getting along great and enjoying the mountain, too. Yesterday was like a foot race, everyone jacked up and going fast. I felt under trained, funk from the trip and late night, I hope. Jan is remarkable, she has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and her insulin got lost, and they are flying it in. At the age of 70, she is one of the best mountaineers on the team. It took her three attempts on Everest until success, and she missed the summit of Aconcagua by only one hundred meters, and was told to stop after eighteen hours of scaling a scree slope.
Today was much better. We climbed to the south face of the mountain, a trip that is eight miles, and got some spectacular views of the mountain from the glacier. 14,000 ft. up and back to 11,000 ft. Climb high and sleep low is what we will do for a few days. Tomorrow is the second hardest day of the climb. We walk to base camp – fourteen miles, 14500 ft. and eight miles flat on a river bed with big rocks and bad footing. There was a rock fall that could have been bad if we were a little slower. We also have a risk of being trampled by mules. They are running down the trail we climb, and don’t yield so we yell “mulas!” and dive behind a rock. We have four liters of water, and fairly light since most of our gear went to base camp three days ago. Feeling great, drinking my water, got fried by the sun and my ears are blistered. Passed my first physical: blood oxygen was 91, heart rate was 70, and blood pressure was 120/70. No signs of altitude sickness, but some of the others are suffering. Lilly said to the group she is the weak link. She is a fifty nine year old surgeon that has climbed some of the hardest peaks in the world including Nepal.
Why: Seeing the south face of Aconcagua
Why not: Sunburn