Mountain Climbing in the Andes
Two Months, 21,000 ft., Nov-Dec 2007
Ray & Jenny Jardine
We are back in Mendoza after another stint in the high mountains - 23 days this time. Part 2/4 of this NFT completed. WOW, that was fun! Now for 6 days resting and building our nutritional reserves, before going back for hopefully another 23 days.Jenny: WOW is right! What a fantastic, new experience for me. I loved the adventure of climbing high, and 21,000 feet is now the highest I've ever climbed. It was thrilling! At that altitude the clear sky is a deep, dark blue and of course the air is thin and cold. But Ray taught me the right techniques: a special way to breathe in order to maximize oxygen intake and to avoid harming the throat and lungs; how to use crampons safely (I had never used crampons before), and I'm proud to report that not once did I snag a crampon point on a pant leg. There were so many new experiences for me, and they were all fun and exciting; besides being in the beautiful and immense Andes, and meeting really nice Argentineans. What an adventure! R: On this part of the trip Jenny and I were not interested in bagging peaks. We were here for the aesthetics and the experience of climbing and camping in rarified air. We have spent most of these past three weeks at 16,500' to 19,200', and have learned a great deal, and have also found a few problems: 1) After 1 week of high-altitude living our appetites disappeared completely. Everything tasted like cardboard, including pasta, soup, chocolate, candy and cookies. Good way to lose weight, not eating for days at a time. But because of the heavy work load, this was a good way to run out of energy! 2) Of the decades of adventuring, we finally found a case where our corn pasta didn't work for us. Above 16,500 the boiling water was not hot enough to cook it, and instead simply dissolved it. On the other hand, pasta made of durum wheat cooked nicely but to us lacked taste. We took these photos with Jenny's camera, but it often had a frozen battery so she did not get that many. My camera is not compatible with our update system, so I will have to present a few of my pictures when we arrive home.
photo: Jenny and her Ray-Way pack at about 20,000'. We used our Ray-Way packs on the 3-day approach, and Jenny used hers above 19,000. Most of the time, however, we were hauling big loads so we had to use our big packs leftover from our early hiking days.
Jenny and I were taking a rest when someone overtook us with amazing speed. Nearly to us, he called out my name. I recognized him right away, but was so surprised I could hardly speak. One hardly expects to find the world's most famous Sherpa climbing in Argentina! In the following few days we spent about four hours total talking with Lakpa. He has climbed Everest 10 times, and is an amazing source of mountaineering knowledge and wisdom.
Our friends Daniel, Paula, and not shown: Beth Daniel Lopez runs a camp at Plaza Argentina, and is the man to see for staying at Base Camp there.
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2007 03 Himalayas