Thursday, April 23, 2015

Long trek to a short hill, NW Argentina

This is part 15 of a 31-part posting of my journal entries and photos from one of the greatest experiences of my life so far--a month-long mountain climbing trip to the Atacama Desert area of northern Chile and Argentina, which included summiting three 6000 meter peaks (~20,000 feet).  To view all the entries in this series, check the posts labeled South America.

The territory we covered today was from the patch of green in front of the salt flat far off in the valley, up the hill in the foreground, and all the way back again.  It was a long, grueling day.

Day 15 – Tuesday 19 January 2010

I fell asleep OK and slept well enough. I got up at 6:30 and went out and relieved myself and found that it was 33 degrees with a light steady breeze from the north. I went back to bed for a bit and rested until camp activity began to stir at 7:15. I caught up on my hand-written journal and then went out as the sun hit the camp at 7:25. I had some tea and oatmeal (porridge as these Brits call it) and bread with marmalade for breakfast then got my daypack packed for today’s big (too big) hike.

We were all ready and left about 8:45. The hike consisted of 8km across flat land to 12,000 feet elevation then an ascent of a local hill/peak to 14,500 feet then descent and the grueling 8km (as the crow flies) back to camp. I pushed myself pretty hard and kept up with Damian, our Peruvian assistant guide, on the way up, trying to simulate an even higher altitude and get a hard workout today.

Looking WNW to higher peaks from today's summit.  Shown are Peruvian guide Damian and strong climber Thom.  Thom has been to well over 7000 meters in the Himalayas and has some frostbitten toes to show for it.

We were at the summit at 2:30--after hard six hours. Then I kept myself in ‘forced march’ mode on the way back. Our whole group got back together at 5:50PM. Lead guide John Biggar had returned to camp with John Starbuck, who had decided to return while still crossing the plain, so John Biggar had dinner well under way when we arrived. We ate in intermittent courses as they were cooked, finishing before 7:30, during which I got some misc. chores done as well.

I retired to my tent at 7:30 and caught up on my journal then just rested, feeling so worn out from the day’s trek and wanting to try to recover for another 20km trek to our next camp tomorrow. I also changed socks and underwear and ate a whole package of lemon cookies--surprised at the level of appetite I had after a pretty complete dinner. I got out of the tent one last time at dusk to go to the bathroom and soon everybody was in bed--around 9PM.

No comments:

Post a Comment