Top

Spiderman

February 9, 2018

Thursday 8th February

Spiderman is a tall bald chap from Brazil. He sports a spider tattoo’ed on the back of his skull. I’ll double check his name tomorrow (It sounded like Guido) but until then he is Spiderman. His team supporters are Jorge and Danilo. Jorge is an interesting chap introduced as a ‘wild man’ from Patagonia. I believe Danilo is from Brazil. We meet other members of the team today. Richard is from Germany, with excellent English. Enrique is from Brazil but has excellent English as well. Anna is from the USA. The remaining six are from Brazil and I don’t have their names sorted out yet. I mention the language since it seems we might have a group split in twain by language. That will be a bit unfortunate, but I will not jump to conclusions. It might be a perfect United Nations despite the different languages.

Our permits have been paid during the course of the day and the paperwork signed by everyone as the close of the day. Passports have been collected and Max will present all this to the park authority tomorrow. In short, all the paperwork is now done. Read more

Maximo

February 9, 2018

Wednesday 7th February

There is a hard knocking on the door. Its 11 in the morning and we have just finished breakfast we purchased at the local Carrefour supermarket conveniently located around the corner. A tall lanky lad. Relaxed and fit. Lightly bearded with sunglass tan lines. Energetically introduces himself as Maximo, the expedition leader and organiser (though we discover later it is mainly organisation for which he is responsible). We welcome him in and we talk about the mountain and the logistics of the next few days.  He tells us he has just come of the summit only three days earlier and successfully had all but one of the team summit. We are a smaller group of 11 plus three guides, which is a good ratio. He says the weather has been problematic with steady 40kmh/h winds gusting to 60. So much for Patricio’s forecasts reported to us earlier. If you can’t trust a driver for your weather all is lost! Max tells us there is a storm up there today and no one will be on the summit. He’s very matter of fact about it all and I note how relaxed he is – that will be very helpful on the mountain. Relaxed leadership is better than uptight leadership when everyone is so much under pressure. Read more

Patricio and Cicero

February 8, 2018

Tuesday 6th February

We are due to launch at 1250 but don’t rotate with the usual roar until 1323. I should care less about such things given we have a five hour layover in Santiago before heading to Argentina. But it’s a warm Sydney day and the plane is a stuffy tube until we get going. We have been spoiled by the A380 and more modern tubes. These old 747s are tired and very passé. It would be good to have recharge ports and a big screen in the seat thanks. (How my expectations have changed since the first international flight I ever took!) QANTAS is not as competitive as Singapore or Emirates or the other Gulf airlines for that matter when it comes to these sorts of resources (in reality, passenger distractions designed to keep us in our seats)  – come on Big Red, we are ‘long haul central’.

Now we are airborne we can get our heads into the game. An advantage of Victorian era, or even expeditions up until WW2 was the long transit time to the jump off point during which one could plan, focus and reflect. This morning I am making phone calls to work colleagues and trying to make sure there are as few loose ends as possible. Aconcagua is the last thing on my mind. But now we are in the air I can turn my thoughts to this expedition and what might unfold ahead of us. Read more

The Road to Broken Hill – Again

January 13, 2018

22 December 2017

 

We got away at 1505 which was pretty much when we planned to launch. The anticipated holiday traffic did not materialise, at last at that time of the day and we have a clear run tino the Blue Mountains, our only challenge to speak of being rain approaching Lithgow which slowed us to 40 km/h. That would have been helpful a bit pater on our approach into Bathurst when a roll down a hill when I allowed the car to creep up to 118 was pinged by Mr Plod. Hid friendly warning about roos on the road softened nothing.

The usual commitment to the highway was given over to the camera and made a few stops to take pictures. It’s a conscious effort since, once I am behind the wheel its pretty hard to pull over unless its for fuel or bladder. But the steaming heat of the coast makes for some spectacular cloud and the sunset is peachy so we stop for the colours. Read more

Headspace Visualisation – Aconcagua on our Mind and In our Eye

December 29, 2017

Aconcagua Diary: 30 December 2017

Even as I write this Dan (pictured) and Michelle are in Argentina and starting up the hill. We are very fortunate to have met them on our training track out of Berowra Waters. How unusual to have met someone planning the same expedition/adventure as we, and on the same track! These guys had had a crack at the mountain two years ago and told us they were going back to have another shot at it, this time with as much physical and mental preparation as possible. A key part of the mental preparation is that of visualisation. There are a number of benefits of doing this sort of mental preparation. It gives you a mental picture of each day which helps you anticipate the obstacles, measure the ‘waypoints’ and set your pace – and your expectations. But there is an equally powerful part of visualisation and that is about you not just being a passenger. Why is that important?

Read more

Aconcagua – HeadSpace

December 11, 2017

Aconcagua Diary: 12 December 2017

In less than eight weeks we will be on the mountain. The training continues its regular beat and we were back out on the Berowra escarpments on the weekend, this time with fellow trekkers who are our regular walking companions (and fellow Kilimanjaro veterans). The mental game associated with the climb started some time back, mainly with visualising the climb and the summit, though this has been through a ‘glass darkly’. Last night we finally printed off some high resolution images of the mountain and pinned them to a wall in the kitchen. Each is marked with the camps and the appropriate altitudes of each of those. It helps to see equivalent altitudes and be able to say “That camp is the same as the summit of Kilimanjaro.” Or not! But it helps to see as much as you can before climbing. In the early days of this sport the best you had was a sketchy map and part of the adventure was the exploration of the routes and finding a way up these things. Visualisation was on the back of written notes from early, and perhaps unreliable travellers.

Read more

Aconcagua Diary – It Starts Here

December 5, 2017

 

Aconcagua Diary: 2 December 2017

The climb out of Berowra Waters is so familiar I could it traverse it in the dark but today it feels a little tougher than usual. The humid air drapes its wet blanket over us and slows us down. We are barely begun and the sweat slicks off my arms, and salts my eyes. The cicadas are out for the first time this season, and the orchestra that is the Australian summer thrumbs deeper and harder the higher we climb. There are moments when we pass between one on each side of the track, both vibrating at the same time and their chorus feels like it’s resonating in your head. It makes my ears hurt until I step on and up. Is it my imagination or are there less and less cicadas each year? There are certainly less Christmas Beetles. Where have they all gone? Once upon a time thousands would inhabit the bush at this time of the year. Last weekend I saw one lonely sample who had come inside – and came perilously close to being killed by those he startled. Read more

On to Pallisa

August 7, 2017

At each checkpoint we have asked the Police how to get to Pallisa, even though the maps show the route very precisely, and taking into account the scale of the map, very clearly. It is obvious that none of the police can read a map (one enthusiastic sergeant tried to decipher it upside down and made it clear he knew where he was and where we should go) but they are keen to help. More to the point, if we have asked for help, and you have thrust a map under their nose, they are less inclined to ask you to open the vehicle for, while giving you directions you don’t actually need, the traffic is quickly piling up behind you and they rapidly feel the pressure to move you on. Gentle psyops in action. Read more

The Ugandan Express Pardon

July 17, 2017

Yesterday we departed Nairobi at 1209 and rolled out to Eldoret. We had spent the morning touring Kibera, the slum famous for being the largest in Africa and for being, well a slum. For many it is a place of convenience as they come into town to work, Kibera offering a place of cheap accommodation. It’s a complex matrix of people living on top of people and is as sophisticated a community as anywhere on the planet.

We depart Eldoret oddly enough at 0910. We have an uncommon series of ‘10’ minutes starts and finishes, without any planning. The road out of Eldoret is busy but eventually clears and the road, compared with the road out of Nairobi, is quite reasonable. We track our way via the map to Malaba which comes up on us more quickly than we expect. I ring the person David has put us in touch with (Keith) and not a moment too soon as we are swarmed by fixers offering to take us across the border. Read more

Back to Kenya

April 27, 2017

Saturday 4th February 2017

We are sitting on the tarmac at Abu Dhabi waiting to roll, listening to the guttural tones of Arabic interspersed with a posh English accent alternately run through the safety briefing. We have four hours and fifty minutes in a tiny A320 to look forward to. The jump from Sydney was completely uneventful, assisted significantly by getting eight hours sleep. I managed to get the movie ‘Girl on a Train’ watching (average) while eating dinner, and a repast of lamb biryani w
hich I didn’t really need given we had eaten at Sydney airport (Salmon pizza) before we flew out.

Abu Dhabi is a sprawling complex, far exceeding what I saw here only 12 years ago. In 2005 Etihad was only two years old and the plans for this airport grand, but not realised. There are a vast number of aircraft lined up on the tarmac and a lot of engineering still underway on taxiways and terminal buildings. But it’s still new and functional and refreshingly unlike the Emirates facilities which have a ‘look at me’ feel to them.

We get way at 0900 as planned and lift above a hazy dun desert sand, climbing and turning steeply as the pilot points us south into the heart of Africa.

Nairobi is further south than most imagine and we have longer in the air than the map in my mind ever suggests. Interestingly, at altitude everyone closes the blinds. The light out there is dazzling but it seems everyone prefers the dim light of this tube. Or is it a factor of the screens on the seats? No one wants the screens to be washed out so down come the blinds. Read more

Next Page »

Bottom