Monday, January 11, 2010

Mendoza and back again

OK, so I dropped my camera on summit day, thought I'd see if I could realign the inner lens that got displaced by carefully removing and replacing some screws, and discovered that some components are not user serviceable. (Like, most of them.) The whole lens unit is self-contained and buried deep in the inner workings of this digital camera, so I am temporarily without pictures.

It's OK - Mendoza's not that exciting. Spent the week running into the usual random assortment of other guides here for the season, wandering about town in varying degrees of heat (up to 104 one day!), and largely cooking in the apartment since, again, I can only eat so much salad and fried potatoes, even if I do bring my own walnuts.

Lhakpa arrived for his four-in-a-row stint on the mountain, we did the shopping and packing for our four climbers, and I kept wondering f I'd forgotten something - seems like so little after packing for a group of 9 plus 3 guides!

We're off this morning - check out Team 8 at See you in a couple weeks!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blow the house down

For a traditionally cold and windy mountain, Aconcagua sure was cold and windy this time around! We were pretty much stuck in our tents above base camp, missing out on the usual opportunities to have a lounging rest day or two. Yoga at Camp 1, socializing at Camp 3, these things did not happen, but everyone (if not all the tents) made it through.

The logistics and personalities of the trip went well. One of the strangest groups I've had bonded incredibly well, had long conversations into the night on fidelity, politics (yes, peacefully!), and personal paths. Everyone did well, stayed healthy and strong, and enjoyed the sunshine at a time when most were trying to avoid tinsel-filled shopping at home. And the local guide who joined our Alpine crew turned out to be awesome. Thanks, Martin!

The wind and unsettled weather were a bit of a pain however. Our three nights at high Camp 4 (20,500') resulted in three gimpy tents - two poles broke the first night in wind gusts, two the second night. Those gusts moved some big rocks holding our tents down! We made a summit attempt the first half-way decent day (two people made it to the top) and were excited when the next day was actually supposed to be good. But by then, all but one person was tired of being up high with limited oxygen and difficult sleep. We headed down, ready to be freed from the nylon walls of our tents.

But everyone is down in one piece, in good health and with the knowledge of what good acclimatization can feel like. (So many of the people who pass us on the trail going up also pass us on their way down when they their bodies can't adjust to their fast rate of ascent. Interesting.) Hopefully everyone enjoyed their time in the mountains.

Me, I'm on a fruit and whole-food diet to get some nutrients back before heading up again...