Friday, January 11, 2013

In Position - Ready to "Rockoncagua"!

Randy called from Piedras Blancas, the infamous "White Rocks" High Camp.  The team made it there safely, taking about 4.5 hours to climb to 19,600 feet.  There's snow in the air and more forecasted to come, but fortunately the winds are light.
Here's a picture of Camp 3, doesn't exactly look "inviting"!

Randy was coughing a little, and of course, I asked why.  He said it is just "really, really high and really, really dry."  They had just finished the climb and were melting some snow to drink.  Actually his cough is much better since the doctor on the team gave him a steroid inhaler. His oxygen saturation was pretty good today at 75%, so seems the indefatigable IronMan has rallied a bit!  Why am I not surprised? Today Randy carried about 35 pounds, and said felt he so much stronger than when his level was in the 60's a couple days ago. Of course, he will have to monitor his levels, but the guides have said unless things change he's "good to go".   Unbelievable.

Anders continues to feel strong, although the final 3000 feet will certainly test his strength, endurance, mental fortitude, and altitude tolerance. Randy, being a numbers guy, puts Anders' probability of summiting at 50 - 90% and his own at 25 - 50%.  When I questioned whether Randy should even attempt this incredibly taxing feat, he promised to take it one step at a time.  He feels confident he can do the first part which is to get to the Independencia hut at 20,500, a similar trek as to what they did today.  Then he'll see how he feels and keep reevaluating, as will all the rest of the team members. I told him every single step they take is a new PR (personal record), so he and Anders can be proud no matter what happens tomorrow!

Randy said at this point 3 things matter:

  • what the weather does  
  • how their bodies hold up
  • where they are on the "can I really do this" spectrum
All three can change a lot between now and tomorrow morning, and certainly at any point during their strenuous 12+ hour summit attempt.  They will be exceptionally challenged in the last 1000 feet, on the notorious Canaleta, a very steep valley between two ridges piled with large rocks and, in their case, new fallen snow. The Canaleta leads to a spectacular summit ridge, the approach to their coveted goal: the roof of world at 22,900 feet!

The plan is to wake up super early tomorrow, around 2 or 3 am their time (midnight to 1am ET), check out the weather, and likely "give-it-a-go", carrying about 15 pounds -- just the "essentials".  They will probably break into groups, so Anders will go ahead with the faster group and take the satellite phone to hopefully call his anxious mom (moi) from the summit! 

A couple contingent days remain on the schedule, but they think weather wise tomorrow may be their best shot, as heavy snow is forecasted for Sunday. Randy will call me if they don't go, so he said if I don't hear from him by 7 or 8am ET, I can assume they are well into their climb!

Yeah....I'll sleep a lot tonight....


michael stricklin said...

Go go go boys

Adam said...

These updates are great. Can't wait to hear that they summited.

Sparty said...

Great stuff Judy--even better without all the "stats." Can't wait to hear how it goes tomorrow. "Climb like champions"!

Anonymous said...

Rock on that Big Rock