Posts Tagged ‘Illimani’

On the glacier - IllimaniThe two climbers from our 360 Extremes training project in Bolivia, alone on the glacier up to the summit of Illimani; two insignificant dots on the ice, making a slow journey up in the thinner oxygen levels at over 6,000 metres (19,600 feet) above sea level.

Huayna Potosi, with its summit under cloud - quite daunting!

Huayna Potosi, with its summit under cloud – quite daunting!

It has been almost a year since our first major training project, mountaineering in Bolivia, and I am very definitely missing it all and would love to go back. I don’t know what it is exactly – I must confess that I did not enjoy every minute of it; I got pretty sick for a couple of days; I must have lost a good few kilograms of weight going up those mountains; the fear of heights and looking down those steep steep drops… those 1,500metre falls just inches to one side, and those 500metre drops just inches away on my other side… nope, those knife-edge ridges were not nice! Mountaineering certainly leads to a lot of suffering if you ask me, especially when you are adapting for the first time to the high altitudes; your body just isn’t used to it and doesn’t know what to expect. Looking back at the video when I got sick and remembering back, and the change in my own physical state from good and enthusiastic, to vomiting and other nasty things, is too alarming to think about; literally in an hour or so!!

But I miss it, and I look at the photos and videos – even the one when I got sick – and the good memories of it all easily outweigh the difficult parts.

Why..??!

I guess all the moments which were hard were all balanced by the exhilaration of the challenge; really going for a goal that I had never done before but had wanted to do, and in facing some of my worst fears; going against the exhaustion with the altitude and the fatigue that the lack of oxygen causes in the body; managing to get to the summit and (more importantly!) back again… definitely amazing feelings. Seeing the tents of base camp, after 15 hours of climbing from midnight, just as the weather closes in… a superb sense of accomplishment. So I really do want to go back.

When will we be able to? Good question. I thought about it for this June, but we really do need to train for the kites, so we are going to Fortaleza for training with that for a week or so. Then we will have to keep working to keep income in for paying for this whole project; a month or so training up in northern Canada in February next year… meaning that may be possible next June or July – this would be the last chance before heading on the actual journey… so here’s hoping.

Strangely enough, in spite of not having reached the summit of Illimani and even having been within touching distance of it when we turned back, I felt content with the decision. As I said, I had done my best, and that was all I could ask of myself. Going back down the mountain to high camp proved easier and even turned into a confidence builder as, as we crossed the knife edge ridge we had crossed in the darkness, with stupidly lethal falls to either side, I was actually able to do so without getting close to panicking or hyperventilating – I was beginning to trust myself and my crampons a bit more and well enough to keep calm. We also crossed some narrow crevasses in the ice which, when we looked down them, did not allow us to see the bottom. It was nice that the cracks (about a foot wide) were visible as some serious damage could have been down had we placed a foot directly in one of them.

Back to the tents, and packing up – after a little rest before the porters got there. It was time to leave our final mountain and go back to La Paz for the final time before returning to São Paulo. Going down the scree and rock face wasn’t easy for me. It was nice that Caleb belayed me down some of the steeper sections, and short-roped me on trickier sections where we had to go over only ice (with the nasty falls to oblivion) with no crampons or ice axe to support us. There were footprints carved into the ice which helped make things easier, though it was still pretty slippery. After three or four ten-metre sections lie these, we had passed the worse, and then it was just the scree and occasionally flat-panel rock faces.

We arrived at base camp at around 5pm. Natalia must have spotted us coming from some distance away as she had come away from the tents to meet us at the trailhead. She explained that she and José had been pretty worried about us as we had been out of radio contact – Caleb had tried calling from the mountains but the radio didn’t seem to want to function. José was preparing to leave the camp to try to find us on the descent. She then told me about how José had lost two friends who were guides on Illimani on separate occasions – basically because in each case they were in rope teams with one tourist, and the tourists lost concentration and fell with nobody being able to arrest the falls. The slopes of Illimani are steep enough that arresting a fall is tough enough for one person by themselves but for the guides to save both themselves and their partner… well it wasn’t possible for José’s friends and that was the end of their stories.

I was just happy to be back for a final night under those clear stars. The disappointment of not having reached the summit hit a bit more on the two-hour walk back in the morning to our vehicles, when we were continually looking back to those spectacular mountain peaks behind us, and during the drive to La Paz. But ah well. At least there can, and will, be a next time.

Acordar de manhã e começar a arrumar tudo já virou rotineiro. E as noites acordando para ir ao banheiro também.  Acordamos cedo, antes d despertador e foi bom poder conversar um pouquinho, falar de coisas bobas e rir um pouco. Depois da descontração é hora de falar como vai ser daqui pra frente, na noite anterior decidiu-se que eu ficaria aqui com o José enquanto Bem e Caleb seguiriam rumo ao cume. Entendo os motivos e agora não adianta mais sofrer, de tudo isso sei que forcei demias meu corpo e que isso só anda atrapalhando. Agora é hora de descansar, comer direito, bebr muita água e tentar ficar melhor de verdade sem recaídas.

Despedir é sempre difícil, e todos sempre parecem com pressa. Desejo boa sorte e peço que tenham cuidado. Da barraca vejo eles seguindo rumo a maratona que vai ser o dia. Ao invês de parar no acampamento intermediário ees seguiram até o High Camp que leva mais ou menos 8 horas. Lá descansaram um pouco e saiem à meia-noite para mais umas 9 horas de subida ate o cume, a volta para o acampamento superior é de +/- 3 horas, mas não poderam dormir lá então voltaram para o acampamento base mais 4 horas. Vai ser cansativo, mas esse na verdade é o jeito que te deixa mais apto, porque ficar muito temo no high camp te faz reter muito líquido em com as pernas inchadas e possíveis dor de cabeça o cume vira coisa do passado.

Enquanto o Ben tem muito o que fazer eu e  José papeamos, fazemos trilhas curtas, escolhemos entre as diversas opções de macarrão para comer. O guia boliviano é cheio de histórias agumas  muito engraçadas outras desapropriadas para a situação. Daqui de baixo sem notícia fica difícil ficar ouvindo sobre os amigos dele que morreram no Illimani. Mas ouço e tento não ficar preocupada, acho que  que mais me aflinge é a falta de experiência de Caleb, ele nunca fez o Illimani antes e não conhece direito as vias. Sempre que o coração aperta, tento me distrair lendo um livro ou caminhando.

A subida até o acampamento foi super desgastante, de acordo com o Ben mesmo com os portadores, ele conseguiu dormir lá em cima e eles decidiram sair rumo ao cume às 4am, j´´a estavam desgastados e chegaram muuito perto do cume, há uns 200 metros, mas estavam lentos e exaustos, acabaram voltando ao acampamento porque senão voltar para o acampamento base ficaria inviável. Voltam magros e cansados.

O retorno deles levou muito tempo, e José e eu ficávamos o tempo todo tirando fotos da montanha tentando encontrá-los, foi um dia em que o Illimani parecia uma televisão, o dia todo olhando pra ele. Pessoas que chegavam no acampamento vinham conversar mas a atenção estava voltada para a montanha. Com o passar das horas a tensão tomou conta e o fato dos rádio não funcionarem não ajudava, a falta de comunicação era terrível, me peguei xingando o guia americano diversas vezes. Mas as horas passaram e quando finalmente vemos eles terminando de descer fico feliz da vida, de longe consigo ver que estão no fim de suas energias, corro com garrafas de água e os ajudo com as coisas. Conversando com o Ben vejo que se irritou de ter saído tão tarde, se saíssem a 1am certeza que teria conseguido. Tento acalma-lo, porque afinal a montanha vai estar ali por muito tempo. Hora de comer e descansar, amanhã toda essa aventura nas montanhas acaba.

<— Marathon to high camp

Negative thoughts did include hearing avalanches and ice falls in the background after dark, and the thoughts of falling off the side of one of the knife-edge ridges that we were bound to encounter. Also, as I mentioned, it would have been nice being able to speak with Natalia. It was good being in the same tent as Caleb though as we were able to chat about everything, though he he had spoken with other climbers who were going down who had said they had completed the summit after leaving at 4am as opposed to the normal midnight. Caleb decided that would be okay to do the same due to the cold that can be experienced on the mountain, though we had said we would meet the porters to go down to base camp at 1pm.

Fine by me, and when I woke up, all of the negative thoughts had gone and I was ready to go. It took a little time getting everything together and getting the gaiters on, though everything was in order. It would have been pitch black outside were it not for the stars which were brilliant. The moon was hidden by the mountain and it was only a very thin crescent moon as well. We could also see the lights of La Paz glimmering in the distance behind us. Headlamps on, and off we went.

Immediately there was a slope which went up to a knife-edge ridge. Fortunately with the dark I was not able to see the consequences of any fall and I was able to get by without too many problems. Up and beyond that and the slopes just did not let up. In comparison to Huayna Potosi where there were relatively gentle slopes coupled with frequent platforms where one could catch one’s breath, this was just un-remitting slopes. Not gentle ones either.

My body didn’t feel great at the start and the slopes soon started to have affect on me. Not sure if it was because I was still tired from the trek up to High Camp – Caleb, in a frank discussion about fitness, said that he thought I was above average fitness in comparison to others he had worked with. Problem is that at the altitude of High Camp, the body doesn’t recover quite so well from physical exertion quite so quickly, and it needs much more water to be able to function properly – more than I had been drinking, though from my urine I did not appear to be dehydrated at all. Caleb thought that the altitude at around 5,800 seems to hit me a bit like a wall and perhaps my body is still not completely adapted… I guess this will only come with practice though.

We kept going, though pausing frequently. At around 6.30am the sunlight appeared in the sky, though the sun was coming directly from the other side of Illimani, so we remained in the shade for a good while longer before the rays did eventually reach us. The wind was pretty strong and for the first time during the three weeks, I had all my layers on while walking, including my think down parker jacket and down mittens. My pace became slower though and though I was using breathing/walking techniques Caleb had taught us, I still had to stop every five or six steps or so to recover some more air. We could see the summit and it was slowly getting closer.

Passing crevasses to both sides of us, we weaved our way up and over the main glacier along the route, and up so we could see the trail in the side of the mountain leading its way to the summit. Caleb estimated that we were about 200-300 metres below the summit, though we would still need a couple of hours at my slow pace to reach it, and the time was already 10.30am… then we would need to get back down again. So it was I who took the decision: we would admit defeat and turn back.

Time and exhaustion were the main elements in the decision. It would have been nice to have had longer to complete the ascent, but there was nothing much that could be done now in this regard. The climb had turned into a continual struggle to place one foot ahead of the other and push mself up the mountainside, so I think it was the right choice. A shame, but the mountain will be there for a long time to come (hopefully with glaciers in tact, as they have been shrinking with global warming), and I don’t want to kill myself reaching any goal. I had done my best to get as far as we did (Caleb was pretty impressed that I had pushed myself as far as I got considering the struggle it proved to be for me). Am pretty confident that with a little more training, and a bit more time, I will be able to reach the summit of Illimani and higher peaks. Same with Natalia. Maybe we didn’t make it this time, though next time it will be a different story.

Thanks to Caleb for letting us use a few of your photos!

A noite não é como o esperado, primeiro acordo com o quarto super quente e seco. Bebo água, e molho uma camiseta e coloco na cabiceira da cama, de nada adianta. Ben também acorda com o mesmo problema, abro a janela. Ele volta a dormir mas pra mim era só o começo do desconforto. Cólicas estomacais voltam e a noite vira um pesadelo. Molho a minha camiseta e coloco a camiseta sobre ela, quem sabe assim quando respiro fica melhor e na verdade deu uma mehorada sim. Algum tempo depois as cólicas se transformam em mais uma vez diarréia. E pronto já não durmo e as seguidas idas ao banheiro acorda o Ben, que fica aflito. Ligamos para Caleb às 8am e pedimos para adiarmos a ida para o dia seguinte, ele diz que tudo bem, vem ao quarto com uma garrafa de água e remédios. O dia foi de descanso, muita água e de comidas leves. Em nossos rostos era possível ver que estamos tentando lidar com a possibilidade de eu ficar aqui, e além disso temos que lidar com a frustração que aumenta ainda mais de eu ainda não ter conseguido ir ao topo de uma montanha. Chorar não é a solução mas é a única coisa que alívia um pouco o coração apertado.

Com o passar dos dias pareço estar um pouco melhor, e voltamos a nos animar. Amanhã será o dia, amanhã saíremos daqui para o acampamento base e eu vou estar bem, vou conseguir, o pensamento segue assim, e na hora de dormir até me atrevo a tomar um remédio para controlar meu intestino. Durmo aflita porque sei que amanhã não posso decepcionar, e peço para meu corpo ser forte pelo menos nos próximos 5 dias.

Acordamos cedo, descemos as malas e fomos tomar um café da manhã. Enquanto o Ben se esbalda com torradas e ovos, eu tento ser o mais leve e neutro possível. 2 Torradas com manteiga, um copo de leite quente e litros e litros de água. José chega e é era de partir, a viagem de La Paz ao povoado de Pinaya é de +/- 4 horas, as condições das estradas são péssimas, a via de terra e pedras soltas é estreita, diversas curvas super-fechadas e encontros sem aviso de carros vindo do outro sentido. O precipício do lado direito aumenta a aflição, Ben chega a suar olhando a queda que fica a poucos centímetros das rodas de nosso carro. Chegar a Pinaya é mais que um alívio. Lá comemos um sanduíche de pasta de amendoim e geleia e fechamos 2 burros para carregar as coisas até o acampamento base.

Começamos a trilha, o lugar é muito bonito, passamos por diversas casas e cholitas puxando ovelhas, por aqui tudo é muito verde e quente. A medida que vamos subindo o calor vai diminuindo e o vento aumentando. Por mais resistente que eu tente ser meu corpo começa a entrar em colapso, o estomago dói e se revira. Mais uma vez é difícil respirar e manter o ritmo. Todos começam a reparar que estou ficando mais lenta e ofegante, e minha cara de desconforto demonstra que algo está me afetando. De início respondo que tudo está bem quando me perguntam, mas a revira-volta no meu estomago me obriga a confessar que não estou 100%. Diminuímos o ritmo mas seguimos em frente, quando a dor piora paro, sento e espero passar. Depois seguimos mais adiante. Começo a ficar brava porque não sei se mais uma vez fiz a escolha certa, minha cabeça segue com diversas questionamentos que a cada minuto penso em respostas diferentes. A todo instante José nos dá uma previsão de quanto tempo ainda falta sempre diz a mesma frase ” A esse passo mais ou menos 2 horas”. A verdade é que essa trilha normalmente leva entre 2 a 3 horas, e nós levamos umas 5 horas.

Ao chegar no acampamento, me deito sobre uma pedra que está no sol e me aqueço um pouco ali. Os outros vão olhar as coisas deixadas ao lado das barracas que já estavam armadas. Ben vem me checar e me chama para ir deitar um pouco.

A tarde e a noite no acampamento base promete ser tensa, enquanto Caleb e José conversam sobre o dia seguinte, eu e Ben estamos aflitos na nossa barraca.

So yes, instead of hiking to just camp I (about a five hour walk away, at around 5,000 metres), it was decided that we would go straight past that to high camp (another couple of hours hike/climb at around 5,400 metres); get there for around mid-afternoon, rest and get up at about midnight for an attempt at the summit of Illimani (just under 6,500 metres). Altitude gain of about 2,000 metres in less than 24 hours. Something I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for. Apparently there was no water at camp I, and no snow to melt there. José, who had climbed the mountain a number of times, was to stay with Natalia, whilst Caleb, who had not climbed the mountain before, would go up with me. The one good thing was that we had porters to carry our heavier bags so we were able to go with lighter rucksacks with extra layers in case the cold got to us.

Hot drinks at 7am, though we left at 9am. The sun was still behind the mountain so it was still quite cool and a bit breezy. The walk was quite easy at first; steadily increasing in altitude along a reasonably well trodden path, going up around and over lateral moraines, down again into carved out glacial valleys, and back up over the moraine on the other side. We could see small streams with ice on the surface, with water running underneath, and in one of the small sub-valleys, there was a glacial stream running quite strongly – strongly enough that we were able to re-fill our bottles with it. We made such good progress that we completed the apparently five-hour hike in less than three hours, as we passed a small plateau where wind walls had been built from rocks to protect tents which had been encamped there. The tents had gone, and as we though, there was no water or snow to melt. So  passing that, and upwards.

Which was when the hiking turned into effective climbing and scrambling over scree, and steep, loose, rock surfaces. It was a struggle, that was for sure. We had to be very careful with our footing with the scree and the angles of the falls to our side gradually increased meaning that any loss of balance could have led to bad injury or worse. The fact that we had porters was even more gratefully received as had I had to keep my pack on going up those rocks, I would have … let’s say, had difficulties. Then when we got to parts where we had to cross over ice with steep falls to the side, I was even more grateful as I took step, then a breath, and further steps forward. Painfully uncomfortable for me.

It was more or less consistently like this for the entire two hours we took to complete the trek to high camp. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure: as well as the struggle over the scree  and rocks, the altitude certainly took its effect on me as well, and I gradually became slightly more breathless with the steps I took.  It was great to finally get there, above the snow line, on a small platform of ice, looking down over the valley of base camp and with amazing views of the various summits of Illimani. The porters had set the tent up for us which was even better, as I was able to move in and rest almost immediately. It looked like we would be the only ones attempting the summit in the early morning, as the only other climbers there were going back down to base camp.

Caleb later radioed to José to say we were okay. I could hear him outside the tent talking with him, and I heard him say that he didn’t think it was possible for me to speak with Nat. I guess this was because I was in the tent and he was outside. I didn’t say anything at the time, though I was a bit annoyed about that. I later asked if possible to radio back to them though he said that the radio at the bottom would have been switched off for the night. Definitely would have liked to have spoken with her before I went up the mountain, and I went to bed with slightly negative thoughts about the climb.

Our journey to Illimani didn’t start out too well when the stomach bug that had hit us returned to affect Natalia. It happened early in the morning we were due to set out and it meant that we had to postpone this journey by a day to give time and hope for Natalia to recover. When we did set off, she did seem a bit better but it was clear that all was not fully well.

Though Illimani appears to be very close to La Paz, the journey there takes a good three-four hours. The roads are incredible: carved from nothing along the sides of mountains en-route, terrifyingly steep drops on the edges; spectacular views and can be good fun to drive on. You can see areas of the mountains where landslides have come down over the road though since been cleared up. The road to Illimani for me at least seemed more treacherous than the Yungas “Death Road”  we had cycled down at the beginning of our journey in Bolivia, with even more tighter corners and falls that maybe were not quite so vertical, but were equally lethal should a driver get a bit carried away. The only reason why the road was not considered more dangerous was because the Yungas Road was a main trunk road and the road to Illimani much less frequently used, so less prone to accidents.

What was amazing that along the road is that you pass so many tiny farms in the mountain, with a few Andean girls tending to crops and animals. It seemed so steep that it would be impossible to do anything there. But they, impressively, managed to make a living there.

Illimani slowly but surely grew larger before us as we went around the continual twists and turns in the road. Every now and then it became obscured by the slopes  but then peaked out in the beautiful weather – sunny, calm, blue skies… it was all set to be perfect climbing conditions over the next couple of days. Eventually the road came to and end in a small village further up in a valley that led to the base camp for the mountain – a camp that was a gentle two hour hike away. Again, splendid views of the mountain through the trees – the mountain looked even more fantastic to climb. A couple of mules and a small boy came along and this time we were able to load our main rucksacks on to them to carry to the camp. So it was set to be quite easy for us.

We got going at a gentle pace, though soon it was clear that Natalia had not recovered properly at all. Her stomach pains returned and in spite of having calmed down over the previous day, diarrhea struck. She kept going though the hike transformed into a four-hour struggle for her. We got to base camp an hour or so before dusk and she pretty much collapsed into the tent once it was set up. It was clear that she wouldn’t be able to continue to the next camp. So it was decided that she and José would remain in base camp: apparently there have been some robberies at the camp and disputes between local communities there make it slightly dangerous (in one dispute, one community had blocked off the stream that went to the other side of the valley and as such the other community put a dead animal in the water of the former…). Probably nothing would happen, though it was for the best. This meant that Caleb and I would tackle the mountain by ourselves, even though Caleb had never gone up it before. Furthermore, we would go straight to high camp in the morning instead of taking a day at Camp I, before attempting to summit in the early following morning. It promised to be a marathon couple of days.

Natalia suffered a recent setback in that her stomach bug has hit back, which has meant a day extra recovery spent in La Paz. Things are looking better already, however, and she is getting better which is great, so it all looks set for us to tackle our final objective: Illimani.

We will be spending the next few days out of contact at the mountain, where we will attempt to climb this 6,438 metre spectacle that towers dramatically over the city of La Paz. Just looking at Illimani from the city is breathtaking, and it is certainly an imposing but beautiful site. Hopefully we will be able to manage it.

So tomorrow morning, we will be at base camp at 4,400 metres, which is a couple of hours hike from where the car will drop off. Then we will be going to Camp I – a five hour hike away at 5,090 metres and on the following day, high camp at Nido de Condores (the Condor’s Nest) at 5,600. On summit day, we will go through a series of crevassed areas and slopes of 30-40 degrees before reaching the summit ridge (I am told that this might be one of those ridges which I might be … slightly uncomfortable with… due to my problem with heights… but let’s see).

Hopefully it will all go well (I know, we still have to publish the photos and stories from the Huayna Potosi climb, though will do that as soon as we can as well!!), and we look forward to catching up with you soon!

La Paz is high. Over 3,500 metres (and the airport at El Alto is at just over 4,000 metres) – coming from São Paulo at around 760 metres above sea level, this is a bit of a change. Altitude sickness starts to become more common for travellers reaching 2,400 metres, so we are a bit higher than this.

During my time in Tibet and also Colombia, I had been to some pretty high places and had generally got by okay with standard acclimatization – relaxing for a few days before doing anything strenuous. Natalia hasn’t had quite so much experience and when we were in Quito last time, it was slightly harder for her, so this time she also prepared by taking Diamox (a drug for Glaucoma but also commonly used for helping climbers with altitude sickness). When we arrived in La Paz on Monday evening, we were prepared for an environment which would leave us slightly breathless.

We didn’t feel much at first – though we did just stroll along at the airport, and then it was a taxi to the hotel. It was an amazing view, by the way, as we came down from the airport. El Alto looks a bit of a slum and hides much of the city of La Paz, but as you start descending, you get a fantastic view over the city down the valley, with the snowy peaks of Illimani a beautiful backdrop to the place. When we got to the hotel, I carried both the bags for a while and that certainly left me short of breath. We both noticed quite quickly that our mouths became dry very frequently and we definitely needed to keep drinking plenty of water.

After having been shown around the hotel, we just relaxed and rested for the night in our room. I read for a while, while Natalia slept. A rather alarming thing happened in that Natalia got up to go to the bathroom, and she said that she was thirsty. When she was walking, it looked like that she was drunk, and then when she got back, she closed the door behind her and tried to switch on the light. But she collapsed and bashed her head against the door handle. Fortunately, she was okayish, though she couldn’t remember exactly what happened. I gave her more water and she recovered – just a bit of pain on the side of her face. Not sure exactly for the reasons for this – whether it was due to the altitude, maybe she needed more water (though she didn’t see dehydrated), though at the same time I noticed that one of the side effects of Diamox is confusion/disorientation – climbers have commented about how on the first day of using Diamox, they felt like they were climbing after having had a few drinks. Everything turned out okay in the end though.

So yesterday, we just wondered around La Paz – up the main trunk road to the San Francisco Church – a former convent that was constructed in the mid-16th Century (quite splendid inside, with an amazing chapel and a host of religions paintings as well as an impressive exterior which features a host of catholic and indigenous carvings in the stone) – and enjoying the restaurants (Llama meat was really very nice!). Bolivians seem to like their fried chicken and desserts (a hundred metre queue for one dessert shop was quite impressive – though we didn’t wait in line to find out what the delights there were really like. We probably walked steadily over the day for about six hours or so (with breaks for sitting, eating etc), and while we were occasionally short of breath, we felt okay on the whole and were pleased with the way things had gone.

As a note, the difference between being in the sun and the shade was quite impressive – really felt quite cool in the shade and we needed our fleeces, though we were easily able to walk in just t-shirts in the sunlight. But something I forgot from my time in Tibet was how bright the sun can be. Even with the pretty dark mountaineering sunglasses (with side protection as well to make sure that the eyes are full protected from snow-blindness while out in blinding white snow conditions) my eyes hurt a little and I was grateful to have taken them with me just for a day trip.

Finally, one of the … more interesting… parts of the day was at a cash machine, and we thought we would record a little for prosperity… (speaking in Portuguese, but it should be quite easy to see what was happening…)

A primeira noite estava sendo de muito descanso. Escrevemos o post, fizemos um lanche rápido aqui mesmo no hotel e enquanto fui dormir o Ben ficou lendo livro e na Internet.

Por volta da meia-noite acordo morrendo de vontade de ir ao banheiro e beber água, de acordo com o Ben levantei da cama parecendo uma bêbada. Quando voltei do banheiro a luz do quarto estava apagada e ele me pediu para acender resolvi fechar a porta antes e a próxima lembrança foi eu no chão passando a mão no rosto e chorando de dor. Nossa meu rosto doía muito. O Ben do meu lado tentando me acalmar, dizendo que estava tudo bem e me pedindo para beber mais água. Apaguei literalmente.  Hoje passei o dia rindo tentando entender o que tinha acontecido!

Acordei diversas vezes por enconstar os lados doloridos do rosto na cama. Ontem pela manhã fui correndo ao espelho pensando que devia ter ficado vários hematomas, mas nada. Eu examinando bem de perto consegui notar mas o Ben não via nada.

Os efeitos da altitude são incríveis, e se não estiver bebendo água o tempo todo você percebe bem. Ontem bebi água a toda hora, e tentei acordar durante à noite para me hidratar.

O dia foi interessante, andamos o dia todo e por estarmos na parte baixa da cidade em sua maioria subimos, o que é um bom treino. Caminhamos pelo centro, nos encantamos com a Igreja e Convento de San Francisco uma construção do século 16, destaca-se na entrada um portal todo esculpido em pedra que mistura imagens sacras e indígenas, descobri que o nome dado a esse estilo é barroco mestiço. Lindo de se ver. Ao entrar no Museu você pode se ver quadros e entender como viviam os franciscanos antigamente. É possivel entrar na cripta e subir onde ficam os sinos, de lá a vista é incrível.

O centro da cidade é recheado de praças e é impossível não notar a quantidade de livrarias e restaurantes que vendem frango frito, pelo jeito a paixão culinária do país.

Na hora de almoçar não optamos pelo “pollo frito” mas sim por um retaurante chamado Café Colonial onde comemos Picada de Llama, uma delícia. O lugar é muito simples e decorado com diversas capas de vínil antigos de jazz, blues, tango, entre outros. Amúsica do mesmo estilo da decoração, logo maravilhosa. Gastamos nem 30 reais com os comes e bebes.

O Illimani ao fundo deixa a cidade muito bonita, de todos os lugares se vê o pico nevado e tudo vira um cartão postal,

nos pegamos num certo momento descendo uma das avenida em direção a ele, a impressão é que dá pra ir andando e isso chega a ser hipnotizante e tentador. Nas calçadas da Avenida Camacho é possível  ler diversos trechos de poemas e frases sobre a montanha, e se nota a importância que ela tem para a Bolívia.

Para terminar o dia fomos jantar no restaurante Mongos, famoso por bons pratos e uma noite animada ao som de salsa. Lá pudemos brindar a viagem com uma cerveja boliviana Huaris que dá de 10 a 0 na Quilmes, Patrícia ou Norteña, que importem ao Brasil já.

Com certeza o que ronda a cabeça de vocês é o que gostamos mais né?

Hummm para ser sincera acho que vocês nunca pensariam o que foi.

Apesar de tantas vistas apaixonantes, comidas deliciosas acho que vou concordar com o Ben que o ponto alto do nosso dia foi onde menos esperamos que fosse, em menos e 1 m² foi possível encontrar algo inimaginável e surpreendentemente engraçado:

Espero que tenha achado tão cômico e surreal quanto a gente.

Illimani atrás de La Paz

Semana pré viagem… Hummm! Tanto a fazer e eu e o Ben parecemos dois idosos esquecidos, cada hora vemos que algo está faltando. Serão 28 dias na Bolívia, tudo será uma grande novidade o clima, as cidades, a altitude, a cultura, o esporte, a paisagem, as pessoas, a comida… UFA, tudo. Adoro me sentir desafiada e de aprender coisas novas, e nada como um mês no desconhecido.

Algumas coisas conseguimos nos preparar como o frio, que compramos diversos layers um pra cada tipo de temperatura; quanto ao montanhismo treinamos os nós e tentamos concentrar o treino em força e resistência; quanto a altitude a Dr Isabela explicou a importância de estar hidratado e que lá mais importante do que nunca é seguir a risca a alimentação de 3 em 3 horas e consumir entre 3 a 4 litros de água por dia…

De todos os fatores o que mais me dá medo é a altitude. Quando fomos para Galápagos ficamos 2 dias em Quito – que é quase 1000 metros mais baixa que La Paz – eu fiquei grogue. Cansada, com dor de cabeça forte e falta de apetite. Não sei ao certo quanto tempo levei pra me adaptar porque para ser sincera não deu esse tempo, viajamos para Galápagos no segundo dia de manhã.

Tudo bem que dessa vez temos 7 dias de aclimatação. Depois encontramos com o grupo da MGI.

O roteiro é assim:

Os primeiros dias serão de aclimatação em La Paz mesmo e nas ruínas de Tiwanaca. Seguimos em direção a Copacabana onde aproveitaremos o Lago Titicaca (o lago navegável mais alto do mundo) onde passearemos de barco e caminharemos bastante em volta. Uma vez aclimatados nas partes baixas, iremos para montanhas mais baixas treinar a parte técnica. A primeira montanha será o Condoriri (15200 pés), depois de aclimatados aqui vamos para o pico Pequeno Alpamayo (17,613′), Ilusioncita (16,896′) ou Ilusion, (17,500′) ou até mesmo completar o Condoriri, que seria demais. Se der tudo certo aqui vamos ao nosso primeiro grande objetivo o Huayna Potosi.  Com 6088 metros, parecendo uma grande pirâmide de gelo é a montanha mais frequentada da Bolívia. Ao terminar esse pico terminamos também a primeira fase da viagem. Depois de 14 dias voltamos a La Paz, mas só por um dia. Certeza que dormir numa cama quentinha e tomar um banho quente será um presente.

A Cordilheira Real

Depois seguimos para o Illimani o pico mais alto da Cordilheira Real, com 6462 metros. Esse é o nosso objetivo. Sabemos das dificuldades, sabemos das exigências físicas e como teremos que nos dedicar à parte técnica nas montanhas anteriores. Mas quem acredita sempre alcança, assim diz o ditado e assim queremos que seja…. Quer dizer pelo menos assim dizia Renato Russo.

É agora a ansiedade bate, afinal escrever o roteiro, preparar as malas, comprar as coisas que faltam… Esses preparativos todos só me fazem ter mais e mais vontade de ir logo…

Nesse mês tentaremos mantê-los o mais atualizados possíveis. E vão acompanhando as aventuras do Paulo por aqui, esse mês pra ele também vai ser puxado semana que vêm tem mais uma etapa da competição de endurance dele, 300km. Toda a força pra ele nessa etapa e pra nós lá na Bolívia.

Illimani – one of our objectives – a tremendous backdrop to the city of La Paz

So yes, less than three days to go till we leave São Paulo! Our excitement is growing – this will be a major first for us. The first time to Bolivia; the first time on a big mountaineering expedition; the first time going over 6,000 metres… feelings of anxiety, excitement, worry… nervousness… all setting in! Have we done enough training to be able to deal with the challenges ahead? How will we cope with the climbing in the snow? Carrying the heavy rucksacks? How will we be able to cope with the altitude (La Paz is around 4,000 metres, and the body starts feeling the effects of altitude at about 2,100 metres)? The amount of oxygen in the air at 5,000 metres is about half what it is at sea-level…

Well, we believe we have done enough and are in good enough shape for this training project (training for a training expedition… sounds strange, doesn’t it..?! but we are taking this all very seriously and everything needs to be trained for!). And what we will be doing over the next few weeks will be exciting. Traversing glaciers; setting out at midnight for summit attempts; climbing some of the most beautiful mountains in the Andes… a lot to learn and a lot to look forward to!

So, here is a basic overview of our itinerary for the month – an itinerary that should allow us good time to provide updates on the site and indeed, we should have plenty of great stories from the expedition!

  • Days 1-3: Settling in to La Paz and acclimitising to the altitude
  • Days 4-6: To Salar de Uyuni and the salt flats
  • Days 7-10: Back to La Paz and hikes at Tiwinaku (one of Bolivia’s most important archaeological sites) and Isla Surique on Lake Titicaca
  • Day 11: To our first base camp near Lake Tuni Condorini (4,500 metres / 15,000 feet)
  • Day 12: Further acclimitisation hiking to 4,875 metres (16,000 feet) at the glacier terminus
  • Day 13: Reviewing skills and preparation for ascent of Ilusion
  • Day 14: Climb over a heavily crevassed glacier and steep snow ridges to the Ilusion peak
  • Day 15: Summit attempt of Pequeno Alpamayo, from where (hopefully!) we should have some fantastic views Huayna Potosi, the first major objective
  • Day 16: Hiking and return to rest at La Paz
  • Day 17: Relaxing in La Paz
  • Day 18: To our Huayna Potosi base camp at 4,785 metres (15,700 feet)
  • Day 19: Climbing all day to high camp at 5,600 metres (18,400 feet)
  • Day 20: Up at midnight for our Huayna Potosi summit attempt, over glaciers, through ice falls and around crevasses for over eight hours to the peak at 6,088 metres (19,974 feet)
  • Day 21: Resting
  • Day 22: To Illimani base camp, near Pinaya village, at 4,420 metres (14,500 feet)
  • Day 23: To Camp I at 5,090 metres (16,700 feet)
  • Day 24: Scrambling over rock to High Camp at 5,600 metres (18,372 feet)
  • Day 25: Summit day on Illimani! Going along crevassed glaciers and slopes of 30-40degrees to the summit ridge and reaching the top at 6,438 metres (21,122 feet) – the highest mountain in the Cordilleira Real and second highest peak in Bolivia! Should be quite a view!
  • Day 26: an optional summit/weather day
  • Day 27: Return to La Paz
  • Day 28: Back to Sao Paulo
  • Day 29: Back to work and back to planning!!

Exciting news in moving this project forward in that we have established a partnership with Mountain Guides International – an Alaskan-based international mountain guides organization and expedition organizer.

We shall be working with them in our training, first of all by going on our first expedition to Bolivia – a 21 day adventure which will start off at La Paz (the highest capital city in the world) and see us have a bit of sight seeing at Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca, before we go further up in the Andes and climb Pequeno Alpamayo, the 6,088m Huayana Potosi peak, and the 6,438m Illimani mountain – the second highest peak in Bolivia.

The trip will see us learning advanced roping techniques, navigation through crevassed areas as well as helping us really experience in climbing in the cold, high altitude. Looks like it will be a lot of fun and certainly great preparation for the main expedition ahead!