February 24, 2018

Saturday the 10th 

Dinner last night was also a good way to get to know some of our fellow travellers a bit better and the conversation with our new compatriots was a highlight. Kavitha was sitting next to Danilo, one of our three guides and found him to be very forthright and clear about the plans /planning. He might be the answer to some of our communications challenges.

Despite wanting to nod off during dinner we found ourselves wide awake by the time the lights went out – usual, given digestion picks up the metabolism. That was not helped by the fact that the road outside is the main highway between Buenos Aries and Santiago and if there is a speed limit through town no one observes it. Perched three stories above the highway we finally fell asleep to, and were regularly woken by the sound of trucks roaring through this collection of ghost resorts, encouraged no doubt by the long straight section of road in the middle of torturous winding mountain highway that offers no overtaking for very long stretches of time. Read more


February 24, 2018

Friday 9th February

The guide is Tonetti Guia de Montana, (otherwise known as Eduardo, or Edu (Eh-dooh) for short) which immediately brought to mind the line from The Princess Bride “Hello my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my Father. Prepare to die.” We wait for him now in the hotel foyer in a state of suspended animation. We have all checked out, our gear is piled up at the bottom of the lift and we wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. We have been down to the gear store and hired gaiters (me)  and a foam mattress each. We have also purchased a few sweets and savoury snacks and purchased a bottle of coke for summit day -recommended as an energy/sugar infusion prior to tackling the final push. It’s most likely to be frozen solid when we get there though. Now we wait around the foyer for the guides to appear. They are apparently at the parks office supervising and finalising our paperwork. The TV broadcasts continuous news in Spanish (which seems to mostly include loud, busty, blond, argumentative anchors), and of course the local papers are in Spanish. The exercise of practising our rudimentary Española in the papers wears thin very quickly. We are reluctant to pull out the novels since we know there will be plenty of downtime on the mountain which those books will alleviate. I’ve already read one from cover to cover on the plane so, while I enjoyed it, the purpose of bringing it is made null.  Max and his other gang of trekkers have already departed for their walk from Argentina into Chile. Go figure! Read more


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


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

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?

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NZ Alpine Course – Diary (March 2016) (1)

May 27, 2016

IMG_245511 March

It has been a long while since I have put pen to paper but travel, if anything is what will shake the muse loose. I usually observe something like this after a long break from writing and settling into an aircraft seat. This time I am pre-empting that moment. Sydney is oppressively humid and the sweat clings to my jeans and pulls my shirt to my back, even before I move. Sitting at my desk is a liquid business. But I want to start my diary before we head out. We have accumulated our clothes and equipment to our packs after collecting them from assorted bins and boxes – I have not really sorted my gear properly from Ama Dablam, Afghanistan and a couple of house moves. And here we are on the plane, with little writing done. There is an assortment of gear in the hold below this seat and yet more that has to be sorted when we get to Tekapo where we join the climbing company. I figure we can just throw everything at the pack and then sort the gear then. I am looking forward to doing this trek/climb with Kavitha. Too often these trips are done on my own and it’s a real privilege to have a companion – who is of course much more than that – to embark on this adventure too. She is taking quite a leap in such a mad caper but I am confident she will enjoy herself. The relaxed instructors will help with that too. Read more

Ama Dablam Diary – Clearing Town

October 10, 2014

Ama dablam Diary 2906 October 2014. I am looking at a pack that is not as tightly or comprehensively loaded as it could be , and at two smaller bags which I hope will withstand the rigours of yak travel for a month. Those two bags look deflated as well. I run the checklist again and, despite my misgivings figure I have everything packed which I need. And all that I can get my hands on in Kabul. Surely there should be more? Tomorrow I head to Nepal with a view to climb Ama Dablam. It’s no big deal for the hard core climbing folks but I remind myself that only 26 months ago I was in Nepal looking at those inspiring Himalayan peaks and thinking I should climb one of them. Read more

Rusty Ice

February 1, 2014

helo290The alarm went off far too early at 0600 but it was enough time to get me out the door and up to Tekapo by 0800. The drive from Timaru to Tekapo, where the climbing company I will spend the week with is based, is a reminder of how different we all are. Even though we live so close. Different agriculture. Different construction. Architecture.  Horticulture. Roads. Signs. I muse at how quickly I tuned into the unseen strum of the place a few nights ago yet now so easily spot the differences. Read more