Sunday, January 6, 2013

Some good progress to report today.  Randy, Anders, and their teammates made it successfully up to Camp 1 at 16, 286 ft, the highest Randy has ever been.  (He had given me the wrong elevation for Camp 1 in my prior blog entry, in case you are fact-checking -- sorry!)  They covered the 2500+' of vertical in about 5 hours on cold but beautifully bright day.  The sun and the exertion kept them pretty warm, so they were happy to be able to climb in long sleeved T-Shirts.  Randy said it was definitely challenging and admitted being a little "spent" at the top, but still felt good.  It's hard to imagine they have about 7000 more feet to the summit! The good news is that neither he nor Anders (nor the rest of the team) are experiencing any altitude issues so far.

I, of course, asked if there were any scary parts.  Randy said it wasn't "scary", but there were definitely steep parts, with loose stones and pebbles (known as scree), where they had to concentrate, and "wouldn't want to fall".  It's challenging to get a good foothold in that sliding terrain, so Randy took it a little bit slower than Anders through those parts. Anders sort of scampers up the mountains; he's young, agile, and loves this stuff!  Randy is doing amazing too, just a little more arduous for a 50-something than a 20-something!  It's interesting that more snow would actually make the climbing a bit easier; in fact, they are hoping there is more snow cover near the summit, so they can use their crampons.  Aconcagua isn't known for intense snowfall, though, just INTENSE cold and INTENSE vertical!

The really exciting news, though, is Randy finally learned how to tie the proper knots last night.  Woo hoo!  Now he can help Anders more with the camp set up, which will be much appreciated in the freezing weather ahead.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, they dropped a bunch of gear at Camp 1 and then descended back to Base Camp to sleep at that lower altitude.  After 5 hours to ascend, it only took 1.5 hours to get back to Base.  Seems like a smart way to do this altitude-wise, but when you think of it, with this "up and down" stuff, they basically climb twice the distance.  I wonder if Randy and Anders will shell out another $20 for a shower tonight!

Here's a picture of the ascent from Base Camp to Camp 1.  By the way, a couple people asked how Randy is sending me pictures.  He isn't, but I am sharing the guide's pictures from the IMG (International Mountain Group) blog.  Thanks Ty (the head guide)!

Tomorrow they will repeat this climb, but with less weight.  Then tomorrow night they will sleep up at Camp 1.  I know it gets very challenging to sleep well at these higher altitudes, but hopefully all continues to go well.  More from Camp 1 tomorrow!

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