Departure ont the 26th of december via Sao Paulo and Santiago de chili. I met Diego, my personal guide and taught him the basic rules to guide a blind. We gathered with our group, 2 others guides, Marianno and Gaston and 5 climbers, Fabian from Buenos-aires, Tilak from Orlando, Maude from Montréal, marc from Stuttgart and Claudia from Frankfurt. After 2 days in Confluencia for acclimatization, we climbed up to Plazza de mulas, our base camp, 4300m. Settled on a glacier made with a mix of rocks, earth and ice, 300 people work during the climbing season, porters, mulators, cooks, doctors and rescue patrols. We saw twice the doctor to measure the blood pressure and ocygen saturation. Mules never go higher than the baes camp. We’ll have to carry our own gear for the higher camps, porters carrying tents and stoves.
Unfortunately, the weather turns bad, cold snow and wind replacing the sun.
We make 2 acclimatization walks up to 5000m before reaching the Canada camp in the blizzard, after 6 days at the base camp. At this elevation, the meals are sealed in vacuum-packed bags, heated in boiling water. We drink a lot of hot tea as it’s recommended to drink at least 3 to 4 liters every day to avoid some altitude sickness, headache and nausea.
We stay 2 days in Canada camp, blocked by the snow storm. The first side-effects of high altitude make me a stuffy nose, awaking me in the middle of the night in hypoxia. This trouble will stick to me and, step buy step, make me exhausted due to the lack of sleep.
Eventually, the weather clears up and we climb to nido de conderes camp, 5600m.Such a pleasant walk under the sun and in 20cm of fresh snow!Back to sun glasses and sun cream!The night is still, without a cloud and very cold. My pee bottle freezes inside the tent.
The weather forcast shos the day after tomorrow is possible to make an attempt to the summit. We decide to climb up straight to camp 3, Cholera camp, 6000m.Wind id strong and should soften tomorrow.
Alarm clock is set up on 3:30 am. After a short breakfast and hot tea, we prepare ourselves for the last ascent: 3 layers of pants and gloves, 4 layers on the body, double plastic shoes… we look like astronauts than hikers!
The ascent starts à 5:30 with 14°F and the winds blow around 50-60km/h.
We walk slowly but continuously, breathing hard. After 4 hours, not so far from the place called Independencia (6400m), we sit due to harsch ust of wind. Maude fell down twice. Me, maude and Marc decide to go down, exhausted. None of the 3 had slept the night before. Claudia and Tilak reach the summit after 9 hours of walk. That day, 4 climbers on a total of 32 succeeded in their attempts. We had the luck to be able to make this attempt, no windows having been available the previous week.
Back to Mendoza, our group enjoy a wonderful meal with argentinian grilled steak and red wine malbec!