In my last blog I gave you some indication of the life we had been leading. We arrived in the Ojos del Salado area just as a spell of good weather was ending. Although we had completed an acclimatisation climb at Laguna Santa Rosa which was useful on several counts, it did not take us high enough for Ojos del Salado.
So we had moved to Laguna Verde. The first day we were there we climbed on Mulas Muertas (Dead Mules – I would like to know the story behind the naming of that mountain!). The object was not necessarily to reach the summit but to get as high as possible and to stay high. As it happens we did not reach the summit but we did get to over 5600m. The first half of the climb was OK’ish in terms of my cough but then I started having the usual problems. So I struggled to the team high point. As we descended the wind picked up such that it became difficult to stand upright on occasions. Derek stormed off ahead and Edu kept an eye on me. Ultimately he would have a say in whether or not I could attempt Ojos.
Mulas Muertas (with the Atacama base camp hut below)
The following day would have been a perfect day for attempting Ojos, but it is a two day climb and we were not acclimatised to over 6000m yet. But we did drive to Ojos base camp and climbed up past Camp 1 (the Tejos Refuge) and on to 6000m – a new height record for me. Even better, whilst certainly not cured, I seemed able to manage the cough a lot more effectively.
Tejos refuge taken on acclimatisation walk
So by then (Thursday) we were prepared. However the weather was not playing. The original weather forecast indicated that Monday could be good. But a call via satellite phone to our guiding company on the Friday indicated that not only Monday but also Tuesday would be poor. The problem was going to be high winds. So Friday and Saturday were spent festering at Laguna Verde, reading books, keeping hydrated, watching the white horses speed across the lake and finding other activities to keep us amused. Each of those days had crystal blue skies. Lying in the tent was like being in a sauna. But step outside and you were blasted with wind and grit and chilled to the bone. Leave the tent open and grit would fly in.
Hut at Laguna Verde
The forecasts were indicating that Wednesday (3rd December) would be good for a summit attempt. But by Sunday we had all become so bored that we indulged in a 6 hour round trip to Copiapo where it was warm and sunny and also only 600m above sea level. Well there were other reasons to go, eg to stock up on provisions. But it was a nice change from the waiting around and the harsh environment at Laguna Verde. Even better the weather forecast seemed to have stabilised with Wednesday, 3rd still looking good. That was just as well because any more time here would put our Aconcagua adventure at risk.
So on the Monday we will go to base camp, on Tuesday we will go to the Tejos Refuge and on Wednesday we will go for it!