More about the team!

Posted: June 14, 2012 by Ben Weber in Climbing, English, Hiking, Mountaineering, Training
Tags: , , , , ,

Before I go any further about the time in the Andes, I have to apologise for not having spent much time talking about our team members here in Bolivia. We are with a great bunch of people, who are really helping to make this journey an enjoyable and great learning experience.

Our guide, Caleb Smith, works for Alaska Mountain Guides and has a great experience climbing mountains in South and North America. He has summitted Aconcagua a number of times and Huayna Potosi about four times. He currently lives in Alaska where there are far too many mountains to choose from, and regularly goes mountaineering there – in spite of a massive amount of rain and snow and pretty harsh conditions. He is 27 years old (looks slightly older (sorry Caleb!) probably because of his time spent out in the open and in the sleeping bag, and is already a mountaineering teacher so is certainly extremely competent. A nice guy as well and is always ready to help out and answer any questions, though we all give a bit of a sigh in the mornings when he shouts out “hot drinks!”, to get us out of our tents.

José is our local guide and is a great guy. He is always smiling and is extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the mountains of the Cordillera Real – he summits Pequeño Alpamayo at least three or four times a year! On the subject of Pequeño Alpamayo, José was fantastically helpful at one point for me when I was particularly tired, but I will get to that in another post. Natalia described to me about how one day she saw José back from the summit of a mountain and went to help a load of new teams who had arrived at base camp set up their camps, get their water and get established. Full of life, it is fun listening to the heavy rock CDs which he bought from a Cholita in the street every time we go to camp!

Kirk and Augusto are our co-climbers. Kirk is from New York and is pretty much inspirational. He was a trader on the markets, he had cancer, recovered; left his job, cycled around Africa, cycled for thousands for kilometres through North America; climbed Mount McKinley and Aconcagua… and is now a hockey teacher. He has a massive amount of energy, basically. He has so many interesting stories, you can spend hours… days! chatting with him and not get tired. At the same time, he helps encourage us and he has helped us to push ourselves to our limits in the mountains. It can be quite hilarious seeing him strip off his shirt at the top of the mountain to show off his “guns”.

Augusto, from Italy, now lives in Texas though will soon move to San Francisco. He studied music, and plays the piano, and is now a scientific researcher. He seems to be a true romantic, being a happy bachelor looking for true love! He enjoys photography and often joke about taking so many pictures in order to ensure at least he gets one picture right. At the same time he has a little bit of hypochondria as he showed with an enormous level of concern for Natalia after her cut lip seemed to get a bit infected. It is great that both Kirk and Augusto are really interested and supported for us with our project, both of them always offering support, suggestions and thoughts about the plans.

It is always great to be with a good bunch of people on long journeys, and we are lucky with the people we have found ourselves with. We are about half way through our time in Bolivia, though it will be great to stay in contact with all of our team members after it ends.

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