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Vomit Rock

May 12, 2018


Sunday 18th February
I woke in the middle of the night (1223 actually) to the sound of violent vomiting. Three guys had rocketed up here yesterday, bypassing Camp Canada and no doubt feeling very pleased with themselves. If they were in fact pleased with themselves I’m pretty sure that disposition has dramatically changed. They are paying for their rapid ascent with this state of sickness. They came up so quickly I thought they were porters for a few minutes – those guys have been up and down here for three months every other day so they are well acclimatised. You can’t mess with altitude and the extreme vomiting suggests they have. I heard Eduardo leap out of his tent and move between it and their tent, no doubt dispensing medicine – clue being some gagging and spluttering. Ironically I drift off, then wake at 0300 with a horrible sensation of nausea which does not culminate in any vomiting but which is debilitating to say the least. The trap with nausea is that you go straight off food and drink just when you need to be getting on to it. So I get up for breakfast and stomach a cup of hot water and some dry cake then go and lie down and instantly feel better. Kavitha is not only showing NO ill effects of altitude whatsoever but last night her O2 saturation lifted to 90%.

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Nest of the Condor (Nido de Condores)

April 14, 2018

Saturday 17thFebruary

The evening was still and mild when I went out at 0200. Well, as mild as an evening at 5000m can be. In the far, far distance on the horizon, a pale orange light. A high town perhaps in the general direction of Chile. The sky is clear but the recently set moon still lights up the sky over the horizon in the west, so the Milky Way is not as luminous as it usually is. We are now camped so high lightning from a distant, unseen storm lights up the sky. There is no sign of any cloud from horizon to horizon yet the flash reaches us from forever away.

But when I wake (after dawn) the breeze is up and low cloud fills the valleys below us. That’s new. It’s clearly below zero but it’s hard to tell by how much in this dry atmosphere when no ice forms any frost. You can’t say anything like “Oh, we’ve had ten degrees of frost” by looking at the ground. The burning sensation on your skin is a different measure. So too the fact that the Nalgene water bottles in our tent are frozen up. With no breeze the sub zero temperatures are actually very tolerable. But the slightest feather of a breeze cuts you deep and is to be avoided.  Read more

Tang

March 1, 2018

Tuesday 13th February
Rest day. I wake at 0500 with a serious case of nausea and an elevated headache. Despite that I was able to drop off to sleep again (after the necessary pit stop under a starry sky) and was woken by Kavitha at 0845 in time for breakfast at 0900. We’ve all had the doctor check us out and the results, especially the 02 saturation levels are encouraging. But the 3.5 litres I drank yesterday is still not enough and he urges us both to drink more. We load up our bottles with Tang in an effort to get more fluid down. The challenge with that sort of course is that we are constantly running to the nearest toilet, or rock!
We spend a little bit of time watching other groups do the slow grind out of here up to Camp Canada (Camp 1) which sits 850 m above us. It’s supposed to be a five hour round trip. We will do it tomorrow and take some of our gear with us. It will be interesting to see how the logistics work with the porters.
But right now we make the most of a hot tent and the urging by our guides to rest. It is tempting to explore and I am inclined to go over and check out the abandoned hotel. Indeed I feel somewhat guilty for lying around, but twice I am chided by guides for not resting so I take my cue from them and do as I am told. Unusual hey?!

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First Entry in the Aconcagua Journal

Plaza de Mulas

February 27, 2018

Monday 12th February.

A horrendous night with the bladder chasing me out of the tent every couple of hours. Bonus – the night sky. Double bonus – knowing I’m hydrated. It’s 7am and I’m listening to the camp murmur awake. Interestingly the temperature has plummeted since I was up before dawn. That’s a phenomena we will observe over and over again. Mild in the still predawn, freezing just as the sun gets cracking.

We have had to organise to get our sleeping bags at the pick up point for the mules by 0645 so that is now all done and I’ve packed my bag prior to heading up to the mess tent for breakfast. The light is just kissing the tops of the peaks but we are in chilly shadow for a couple of more hours. I have already learned to temper my enthusiasm for the sun, and to wait its own good pleasure. Read more

Wile E. Coyote

February 25, 2018

Sunday 11th February.

The night was still and mild – tested at 0300 when I stepped outside for a pee stop. It is always a remarkable thing in the mountains to realise the light, which is quite bright and sufficient to illuminate the inside of your tent, is cast by stars. Mountains in my experience are always light if the sky is clear. So you find yourself in a half asleep stupor supposed to be minding one thing while you end up gazing at the heavens and being mesmerised by the lights and the occasional meteorite. Take care that you don’t lose your balance! 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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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.

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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

Half a Rat

December 20, 2016

I barely wake through the evening and don’t hear the male and female kiwis that everyone else is talking about. Both sexes make raucous calls, but the female is especially disruptive, as we heard when we camped under our Rimu. Their combined cacophony had most of the group awake at 0600. As planned we were waiting for the other groups to leave before we fully stirred. The family of five have to be at North Arm Hut by 3.15pm for a boat pick up. We are dubious about that deadline. “How on earth are they going to do that” we all wonder. The young couple is off for North Arm as well. They finally head out at 0700 and we get ourselves ready. We are fed and watered and good to go by 0830. We hit the track at 0850 after crossing the bridge and posing for photos at the start of the track. The rain starts as we wait to cross (one at a time) the very swollen Freshwater Creek but based on the long term weather forecast and the charts I have brought with me I am confident that the weather will lift. It can be hard to remain convinced of your reasoning as the rain soaks you. Read more

Zero Traction

December 16, 2016

This day is a mixed up one indeed. After our struggle through the night our timings are now messed up. The state of the track is so bad we have no confidence in our ability to get over to Masons Bay in the time we have allowed. We have walked in to the hut at Freshwater at the very time I was hoping to head out to Masons Bay. And the rest of the team are only just recovering from their ordeal so, even though I feel pretty fresh by having that midnight kip under the Rimu, I don’t want to push an agenda which no one will enjoy. So its generally decided that we will stay here for the day. Read more

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