Sunday, June 23, 2002

hay folks,
it´s been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened. skip, chris and i got our deal together and went into the santa cruz valley headed toward alpamayo and quitraju. the two day trek that started at 9,000 ft and went to 14,150 to base camp was uneventful. the third day was a sceduled rest day which was good for me since i was feeling poorly with the symptoms of what i thought was a cold. one night at base camp and i was feeeling worse but felt i would still make it. the third night skip came down with what we believe to be food poisioning and spent most of the night puking and spewing.
the morning of the fourth day was to be the day we left for high camp at the col but since skip was trying to recover from his bad night we left him to rest and chris and i hiked up to the moraine camp for more acclimitization. by the time i got above 16,000 ft i knew something was wrong. i had a terrible headache and a lot of gurgleing noises coming from the lower section of my left lung. i was in misery. by the time i got down to base camp i knew i would be no good for climbing the next day and told the crowd. allejandro and jorge already had most of our gear cashed high on the glacier and all iwould have to carry would be my sleeping bag and personal stuff but i was worried about doing permanent damage to my lung. after my insistence that the group go on, they agreed to a early start the next morning.
that night chris came down with syptoms similar to skip's, but much worse. the morning of the fifth day chris rawled out of his tent because he did not want to die inside. that is how bad he felt. we hit him with every drug in the kit and managed to keep him from getting worse. the sixth day i was finally feeling better but it was evident that chris was not going to recover at this altitude. the decision was made to get him down as fast as we could. we found an arryaro to handle the gear and then started the march. chris held up well and we managed to cover the 16 miles in one shot. i managed to do something to my foot on the retreat which really has been a pain ever since.
we got back to huaraz to find out that a transportation strike was starting in two days and we better be where we want to be or get stuck. since we were beat up beyond wanting to climb soon we took the last bus before the strike started and beat feet for lima. there the strikes were not supposed to be as bad as in the smaller towns and we had a secure place to stay. while the strikes did affect smaller towns lima stayed calm and we managed to visit several museums. we are now in cusco for the inti rami summer soltice festival with the incas. after the solstice we are going to machu pichu and into the amazon. skip has left for the u.s. and it is just chris and i now. chris is still having to take cipro for whatever parasite he has and my foot still hurts when i walk on it alot. my cough is still with me but it is getting better.

Monday, June 10, 2002

hay folks,
we have made it back to huaraz alive. we spent our first day travelling from huaraz to collon then hiking into the ishinka valley. Upon our arrival in the valley the weather was looking good and we were feeling good. we established base camp and spent the afternoon discussing route options while scoping the mountain from the valley floor. we watched one decent sized avalanche fall late in the evening. this has been a dry year in peru so there is not a lot of snow but what is here is not consolodated very well yet.
we enjoyed an excellent dinner prepared by the "miestro" allejandro. he is more than the team cook. at 62 years of age he has summited almost every major peak in south america. when his son asked him what he wanted for his fiftieth birthday he responded by saying he wanted to climb the huscuaran. were talking about a 22,00 ft. mountain. his son damian is the one of the most prolific climbers in south america. he has already summeted aconcogua eleven times this year. this family loves the mountains.
allejandro has intoduced us to a peruvian porter named jorge. this man is the strongest person i have ever met. on a recent trip to the 26,000 ft. shisha panga in china he summited nine times in three months with no supplemental oxygen along with carrying more high camp loads than anyone else on the mountain. he earned the nickname "the man who makes the sherpas cry". that is the most impressive thing i have ever heard.
the following day we hauled ourselves and our gear to high camp. with four gringo´s going up the hill allejandro and jorge still carried the majority of the gear. at 62 allejandro is stronger than i have ever been and may ever be, it astounds me to see this man strap two packs together then take off up the hill like a wind up toy going full speed. jorge had over 100 pounds and carried it like it was nothing. high camp was established at 17,200 ft. and allejandro returned to base camp while jorge stayed with the team.
now here is the interesting part. the rule for acclimatization is you gain no more than 3,000 ft. per day for the first 10,000 ft. and no more than 1,000 ft. per day above that. you push harder and you are asking for trouble. chris and i had been at sea level just 5 days before. we should have taken eleven to gt to this altitude. after a beautiful sunset and thai dinner that night we got almost no sleep. above 17,000 sleep is hard to get. chris actually woke up screaming at one point due to nightmares. it is funny what the brain does when there is no oxygen. at this altitude the body start shutting down what it considers non vital systems. the first to go is the digestive system, the body pulls the blood from this system and sends it to more important areas. this is the start of an ugly cycle that can wreck you physically.
we got up the third morning to no breakfast and an early start. we broke into two rope teams. chris and i were tied into jorge´s rope and were going to come up at our on pace and set the other rope team free to move quickly. as the day progessed chris and i moved slowly. jorge was patient and the othe team was climbing fast. even though chris and i were fading the others got stuck at 18.300 ft. because the old snow bridge had collapsed and the only other way was deemed to risky. better to live to climb another day than to push a dangerous position. chris and i were feeling so bad by the time we got above 18,000 ft. we elected to go back down.
the others beat us down to high camp and started breking it down immediatly. chris and i staggered in and layed down for ten minutes before we stuffed what we could in our packs and headed down as quickly as possible leaving the brunt of the work and load for the others. we had no choice. i could not breathe and chris was having dry heaves. what fun. when we got back to base camp allejandro started putting soup and fruits into us and soon the 4,000 ft. loss of altitude and calories had us feeling better. we spent the rest of the day watching another team from chile spend an 17 hour epic day on the same route. while we were in the valley they were the only ones to reach the summit and admitted to pushing their luck big time and having a total epic. they may go to alpamayo with us. we always take the opportunity to meet new folks and strengthen the team.
on sunday we broke down base camp and returned to huaraz for some well needed rest. we leave wednesday for alpamayo and quitaraju which will be an eight day trip. tomorrow is another rest day so i will be able to post again before i leave and fill in some of the gaps. there is so much to tell but my fingers and mind are tired for the moment.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

hay folks,
after two days of travelling we arrived in huaraz, peru. two days of acclimitization and hiking up to 12,000 ft. we are feeling good and will leave tomorrow for our first climb. the objective is the 19,750 ft. nevado toqlaraju. this will be a five day trip until our return to huaraz and our preperation for the next peak alpamayo. talk to you in a few days.

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