Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Apparently, they woke up yesterday to find two other tents got torn overnight in the wind. The team was able to piece them together and keep them functional, if not perfect. Despite the winds, the team started out up the hill yesterday morning on the way to the summit. They made it up about 1,100 feet above their camp (about half way to summit) and the winds were pretty terrible and it was very cold. Wind chill factor was high, people were having trouble standing upright in the wind, and trouble staying warm in the wind chill. A few team members were not feeling strong and secure in their ability to keep climbing.
The guide, Susanna, said that it got steeper and more dangerous from there on up. To continue would be quite dangerous. Clouds were moving in to the mountain. Knowing that they had supplies for at least two more days, and that the were due for a break in the weather after two weeks of cold and wind, Bob and five others decided to turn around and head back, to try again the next day. Susanna and three team members, inexplicably, decided to continue upward. One of these went up another 100 feet and turned around and descended with the others.
Remarkably, the three that went up managed to summit in a whiteout, experiencing at least one small fall along the way, no significant injuries. Upon arrival back in camp, all three including Susanna were exhausted. Wiped out. Susanna said she had no reserves left, that she had been on the edge the entire time, and Bob said she certainly looked fried.
This morning, the weather changed for the better and the skies were clear. Bob, two others and the Sherpa (my apologies, I do not know his name - mike) were to head up to summit today. Bob and the Sherpa were having hot drinks early when the other two decided that they did not have it in them to go for the summit - they had not been sleeping well and had not been feeling well and they did not want to leave their warm tent and push on up. Susanna would not allow just Bob and the Sherpa to climb on their own. (mike's note: I do not understand this decision as no one had to rope up and everyone else could stay in camp quite comfortably for another day, or even move down to a lower camp and let Bob and the Sherpa climb and then catch up as they will.)
So, the decision was made to go down and get off the mountain. No one but Bob was still game to summit, Susanna is dead tired and not up to making good decisions in Bob's favor, and no one wants to wait around until tomorrow so that maybe a few people can feel better and go for the summit together.
In short, Bob was penalized for making the correct decision to tun around yesterday. Even the sherpa has said that they made the right decision to turn around. It was too dangerous to have gone for the summit and those that did, just got lucky. And in return, Bob does not get his chance at the summit on a lovely day on the mountain. (mike's note: ask for a return trip for free, Bob.)
When Bob and I spoke, he was between disappointment and anger, but was nevertheless on his way down. They will be at the road sometime late tomorrow. I am sure that Bob will add his own updates (and corrections?) to all this once he is back in civilization. Thanks for reading.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Also, one tent collapsed from the wind overnight - not Bob's tent - that was bomber solid, of course - but one used by other climbers on the team. The tents are Trango 3's and well-designed for harsh conditions, but require good setup and ongoing good maintenance of the lines and zippers and anchors in order to remain secure. And even then, Mother Nature can always throw something at you that no man-made tent will withstand. Anyway, Bob was up in the middle of the night to help secure the damaged tent - it had some tears in it, but the team was apparently able to make it work and get it back to functionality again.
They have not been able to get an up-to-date weather report for these last few days since they are on the"dark" side of the mountain. They are hoping the winds drop off for tomorrow morning and they can head up to the summit.Bob will keep us posted.
Oh yes, Bob reports that Christmas dinner was ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and fruitcake! He says it was very tasty and a nice treat high on the mountain.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Bob said he was tired from the day, but he did not have a headache and his legs felt strong. All good.
Bob said the team was not sure if they would go for the summit tomorrow or not. The wind was pretty strong this evening, and the weather forecast called for continued, maybe even increased, strong winds tomorrow. The winds are supposed to die down on Tuesday and Wednesday, so they may decide not to climb tomorrow and just take a rest day and wait for a nice day to walk to the top. They probably won't decide until they get up at 5 AM and judge the weather at that moment. Bob was getting his gear together to be ready to go, just in case, but as we spoke, he gave it a less than 50% chance that they would actually go for the summit tomorrow. Stay tuned...
Friday, December 25, 2009
Bob did not carry up his Christmas decorations for the tent. He left them at base camp, deciding that the winds would be just a bit too much for his garlands, so the team will have to celebrate Christmas in spirit only. Bob reports several sightings of Santa's sleigh in last night's sky, though they did not witness any landings there on the glacier with the climbing team, due to dangerous conditions for the sleigh. Christmas dinner was being cooked as I spoke with Bob, but he did not know what it would be - only that there was something good promised by the guides. Bob was hoping for real meat of some kind.
Tomorrow is a rest day for the team, and then they head to Camp 4, their high camp, on Sunday.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Right now, the team is camped in a pretty exposed spot right on a saddle on the mountain. There are not many wind breaks. Even going to the bathroom is problematic - with no big rocks to hide behind, the wind blows around the plastic wag-bags that everyone is supposed to poop in, and it makes every dump an adventure.
Most of the camp area and trail has been dry rock and scree. There are a few patches of snow here and there but not enough to camp on and very little to travel on.
Dinner tonight was Curry Coconut Rice. It's clear and cold; Bob and the team hope that being up so high gives them a good view of Santa and his reindeers and he speeds around South America tonight.
Tomorrow the team will move camp up to 19,000 and then have a rest day before going for the summit.
Tomorrow they make a carry up to Camp 3 at around 19,000 feet. This next camp is supposed to be a more protected area, so they should not have to suffer the strong winds, at least not in camp. Bob is hoping that the weather does not get any worse, so that they can still make the carry tomorrow.
Bob's still healthy, sounds strong on the phone. He's not reporting any issues, so all systems are go.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Bob called from Camp 1 this afternoon - 15,300 feet above sea level. Everything is going well and aside from a few headaches (expected at altitude) everyone remains healthy!
Today the team carried gear and supplies up to Camp 2 at 17,200 feet, then returned to Camp 1 to sleep. Tomorrow will be a rest day, then on Wednesday they will move everything up to Camp 2. Bob expects that will be a heavier carry than today was.
The team moved up from Base Camp (13,100 feet) 2 days ago. They had donkeys to carry gear up to that point, but since then the team has carried everything themselves.The food has been good, Bob reports - including delicious steaks at Base Camp.
Bob said that it is very windy - winds up to 46 knots. Temperatures have gone as low as -19 degrees C (-2 degrees F) during the night but have been a balmy 38 degrees F during the day.
They are climbing on glacier right now. Bob said that the good news is that the one large scree field ahead of them is still covered with snow so that will make the travel easier. It will also mean less rockfall - Bob dodged one big microwave-sized rock this afternoon - no blood, no foul.
The team has been working well together. No cliques, no problem children - Bob says he is enjoying the climb and doing well. Everyone is on task to summit according to schedule. Stay tuned for future updates - Bob said he will call in a report every day or two.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We will cross rivers as high as 3 feet and travel the rocky ground in 88 degree temps. After that we will work our way up the mountain slowly but surley.
The team seemed to click very quickly and everyone is getting along great. The most important thing is to have a great team. On a trip like this, 20 days sleeping on the ground eating out of cups and using bags for the restroom, you need to get along well with your climbing partners.
I cannot wait to start our trek. The actual walking begins Wednesday morning.
The photos will be less, so I wont seem like a Tweeting nerd, but I wanted you to see what I am seeing here, as much as possible.
Talk to you soon, time to sort gear and get some rest.
Climb High, Dont Die tm
Saturday, December 12, 2009
48.9, under the 50 pound mark.
Three flights to get to Mendoza, first Miami leaving at 12:50 arriving
at 3:30. Then to Santiago that leaves Miami at 8:20, 5 hours in a
crazy airport. From Miami to Santiago leaving at 8:20 PM until 6:45 AM
landing in Santiago. From Santiago at 9:30 am to Mendoza landing at
10:35 Sunday. Basically 22 hours of travel. This is pretty typical.
Carrying one magazine, one book and a travel book for Argentina. About
13 hours shoehorned in coach probably next to a 5 year old with a cold
and an ear infection.
All of this travel, 15 days of carrying weight uphill for 20 minutes
on the summit. Cleary this is about the journey.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thanks SAT phone technician guy.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
As fate would have it, part of my boiler on the new place broke, so I had to fix that. There were little things to do on the property so the tenants are OK for a month without me. The local neighbor is a handyman so I gave him a Gift card just in case he needed to fix something for a tenant, and David is a back up for anything major like the place burning down. All I want is a clear mind and nothing nagging in the back so I can focus on my steps and the summit.
Working on the Sat Phone, Nikki and Greg sent me a charger so I am solid there, just cannot configure the phone right, working on that with the company. It probably works great outside of the US, or I am an idiot.
I am really feeling focused right now. My friend Kevin noticed something different in my voice so he asked me if something was off. Part of it was a friend of mine told me he found out he has lung cancer so I think that has thrown me a bit. Turns out that they think they have it in control, and I think he will be OK because of who he is, the eternal optimist and super nice guy. I mention that because it is important to realize that every day on this planet is important, live your life with no regrets.
The mountain is only a few days away, and I am ready to go on the plane right now, work always gets in my way...I bought a lottery ticket so my troubles are over. I just got back from the gym with a light workout and made a few purchases at the store, some power bars and super glue, never know when you have to close a wound.
My long time friend and climbing buddy Mike is coming into town for business and he and I will hang until I leave on Saturday, that gets me focused. My pee bottle arrived today, that was a close one. Its like my American Express...don't climb a mountain without one.
Climb High, Don't Die.
Monday, December 7, 2009
of socks, one of them the summit pair, 3 pairs of gloves, 2 neck
Gaitors, 2 hats and my sleeping pad thrown in for good measure. Half
of that will be in my pack, half on me.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Jan 3: Depart Mendoza.