Sunday, January 19, 2014

Glorious Rest Day at Camp One

Nothing better than a brilliantly clear day and a much-needed 10 hours of sleep to make Randy feel "fantastic" on this 9th day of his adventure!

Here's looking up at the majestic and imposing Aconcagua peak from Base Camp on a sunny day.

Looking out over Base Camp:

After a couple of restless nights and a strenuous climb yesterday, Randy was determined to get a good night's sleep.  He put in ear plugs, pulled his wool hat down over his eyes and ears and crawled into his sleeping bag around 9:45pm.  Next thing he knew it was 3:30 in the morning.  He got up to go to the bathroom, went back in the tent and before he knew it, Bissel was nudging him to get up at 8am. He feels like an new person. Evidently, he missed quite the drama during the night.  Quite a few locals live for long periods of time at Base Camp to market their services to the climbers, such as porters or vendors in tents selling food, showers, even internet.  So they occasionally have somewhat raucous parties, which they did last night, dancing and singing till 2am.  One of the porters perhaps had a bit too much Argentinian Malbec and started throwing rocks at the ranger station, breaking windows and starting a big fight.   The guides and the other team members were complaining about all the noise, but Randy slept through the whole thing.

He had talked to Anders yesterday and determined since he felt so good, he shouldn't keep worrying so much about his O2 saturation.  He would just go by how he feels and not obsess about the percentage.  Well that lasted for a few hours until Randy happened to see his pulse oximiter as he was sorting his luggage.  Being the stat man that he is, he couldn't resist.  The answer: a whopping 96%!  So that did make him happy, and he really does feel completely acclimated, at least at this level.

They spent an easy day lounging around, organizing their stuff for tomorrow, and of course eating.  He and Bissel paid $35 for a pizza from one of those locals.  As Randy said, it's a seller's market!  During the day, the other RMI team (Team 3) which had to turn back on their summit attempt yesterday came down to Base Camp.  Today would have been perfect clear weather for their summit attempt, but they were literally too wiped out from the day before and decided to call it a day.  Randy's team welcomed them and they all hung out a while.  They were pretty physically depleted, but had amazingly good attitudes about not summiting.  Randy said it was good for him to hear their positive perspectives -- "Hey we tried our best, but sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate, and sometimes your body doesn't react well, and there isn't much you can do. "

The team spent a lot of time talking, strategizing about the challenging climbs ahead of them.  They have their work cut out from them as you can see by the elevation profile below.   From Plaza Argentina on, they are climbing, climbing, and climbing.  Added to that, the winds are supposed to get incredibly strong the next few days.  Thank God they were not trying to summit anytime over the next few days because winds at the top are expected to be up to 75mph.  Tomorrow around 8am, they will head back up to Camp 1 and will sleep at that higher elevation (16, 600ft) for the first time. Randy decided to use a porter again, so he'll have about 20 lbs on his back.  One of the guides, Steve, had helped Randy yesterday to optimize what he calls his "rest-step", which is a walking gait used in ascending steep slopes.  It is a pause of motion with the rear leg vertical and fully extended, while the front leg is more relaxed, so that for a moment his weight rests on his skeleton and not his muscles.  He said this significantly helped increase his balance and minimize his muscle fatigue.

Randy said he misses everyone, as we do him, but is hanging in there to get through these next 12 days and try to achieve his goal.   He knows he has some very tough climbing ahead of him and has to stay focused, positive, and strong.  He appreciates all the messages I've passed on to him.  Feel free to comment on this blog; he'll love reading that when he returns.   Thanks for all your support!

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