The Nitty Gritty of Life on the Mountain!

After looking for ages, I finally found a South African flag to take up to the top of Aconcagua with me. Good thing I take pictures of it before I leave... It might be the right way around when I'm looking at it but it doesn't work when the pic is taken!

After looking for ages, I finally found a South African flag to take up to the top of Aconcagua with me. Good thing we took a picture of it before I left…  It might be the right way around when I’m looking at it but it doesn’t work when the pic is taken!

This blog post is not for the faint of heart or for the prudes. It is a blatantly honest account of life of the mountain… Probably only for the brave and the tough, and no doubt the crazy one’s too… You decide which!

With just a few days left before I leave for Argentina, I am finally starting to get my ducks in a row. Not really, but I would like to think so anyway.

The start of my packing, the floor now, it pretty much looks the same, just more items and messier. Not sure when I am going to find the time to pack.

The start of my packing, a few minor items on my study floor.  Now, it pretty much looks the same, just more items and messier. Not sure when I am going to find the time to pack…

My three year old niece found my down jacket and promptly climbed inside and finding it so snug she didn't want to get back out again.

My three-year old niece found my down jacket and promptly climbed inside and finding it so snug she didn’t want to get back out again.

The mornings of my holiday has been spent running around from shop to shop buying the final equipment I need and sourcing the little knickknacks that will be packed as well and it’s sometimes the smaller items that get me crazy excited. Things like pee funnels and poop bags. Yes, you read right!

For anyone who has ever hiked, you will be aware of the protocol when it’s time for the call of nature. Mostly you have rocks and trees around making for a perfect “rest” stop should you need to relieve your bladder along your route. But when you are climbing a bigger mountain, for more days than most would ever care to spend out in the sometimes brutal elements on a mountain, the dynamics of a “potty” stop changes completely.

On Aconcagua, things are really going to be changing for us…. Up until Base Camp we will have the “luxury” of a toilet. But from there on up, small comforts like going to the toilet at camp will be a thing of the past and all modesty literally gets bagged up! And at that height, we won’t even have the luxury of trees, rocks and shrubs for privacy. It’s a magnificent mountain but it certainly does lack certain necessities! But a hiker always makes a plan, and on this occasion that is going to be my life on the mountain slopes of Aconcagua for at least 14 days, I find myself wishing more than ever, I was simply a man. At the end of the day, life on the mountain is going to benefit the men the most.

Picture this, it’s the middle of the night and you are snug in your -25ᴼC sleeping bag and outside a blizzard is swirling around the tent. Your bladder is full and you need to wee. Badly.  You can’t wait till morning and you just have to go. Now. The thought of it alone just exhausts me.  In order to relieve your bladder of its fullness, you would need to pull on layers of clothes in order for you not to freeze on the spot the minute you step outside your tent, then you would have to find a suitable “potty” place and undo all those layers you just had to put on in order to survive. None of this is very pleasant at all and is enough to make most not want to climb a high altitude mountain. Luckily, up high on a mountain like this, we have another choice. You just pee in your tent! No, not like that…. In a bottle or in a container of sorts. This allows you to stay in the warmth and comfort of your tent, it will probably also make your tent-mate want to wee too once they have listened to you going and then you can laugh at them in return as they negotiate their way in a bottle.  As most of you have by now realised, life in the mountain would be so much easier for a man ~ it would literally be point, aim, and release! But for a girl, it’s a whole different story! We don’t have anything to point or aim and doing this straight into a bottle is simply going to cause some serious spillage!

Now you get a whole lot of devices that can help with this problem, things like “shewee’s”, a plastic little contraption that is designed to fit snugly to your body and allow you to do things like wee in a bottle through the funnel type spout that comes out the bottom. But I’m guessing a man designed these because there is serious lack of thought as to a woman’s body and how small or big these specifically designed “shewee’s” should be ~ have you seen one? They are so freaking small, without a doubt spillage would just be part of the process. Seriously not ideal when you are living in a tent for days on end!

So in my search for something that will effectively allow me to wee in my tent in a bottle I searched for something slightly bigger and more appropriate that would be sure to avoid the spillage issue while on the mountain. Not finding my search very successful, I turned to my last resort. The motor car section… Yup, I walked out with a nice (big) funnel that will allow me to point, aim and release without any worry of spilling or splashing over my sleeping bag, jacket, or God-forbid my tent team-mate! Now my only worry is to try and remember which bottle is my pee bottle! Oh and my water bottles supposedly glow in the dark so I should have no problem finding my pee bottle in the middle of a cold, dark night in my tent… Just must remember which one is the water bottle and which one is pee bottle!

Me and my pee funnel. Yes, I think this should do the trick nicely!

Me and my pee funnel. Yes, I think this should do the trick nicely!

But that is the easy part… Next we move onto the unspoken No. 2! I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There is rule on the mountain slopes of Aconcagua, whatever goes up, comes down and this includes all your bodily functioning. Yip, you read right again. Even your No. 2’s will be coming back down the mountain.

I don’t really know how this works, no one ever really asks and no one offers up the information either but from what Ronnie, our expedition leader, tell us you “go around the corner” and I’m guessing as there are no rocks and no trees it purely means somewhere a little less public and a bit more out of sight… You apparently poop in a bag, seal it up and walk back to the camp site with your valuable jewels bagged in your hand, as if it’s a prize. Apparently, there’s plenty of joking about this on the mountain and when someone first does it there is normally a big round of applause from the rest of the team. I will no doubt be going through the motions of “earth open me up and swallow me whole!” and I have no idea how I am going to face this and 14 days is a seriously long time not to go!

You see, the truth is, I am a very private person. I get that this is a bodily function and all just a part of life, but really it’s just something I prefer to keep private. I do not use public toilets, I do not use friends bathrooms to do the deed and I don’t even us the toilets at work for this normal bodily function. To me, there just a time and a place for it and it’s certainly not when I’m anyway but at home! As it is, at work I have to put up knowing all about my bosses bodily functions, he’s very open about these things! In truth, I think he enjoys watching me cringe every time. Maybe it’s a man thing!

So life on the mountain is going to be anything but dull. It’s going to stretch me further than I have ever been stretched, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be rewarding, it’s going to be another adventure of a lifetime and I’m living it even if I have to pee in a bottle in my tent and poop in a bag!

Taken a few nights ago, the realisation of what I was doing and where I am going finally hit home!

Taken a few nights ago, the realisation of what I was doing and where I am going finally hit home!

At this point, I do know one thing for sure, my tales of my time on the mountain are sure to be full of humour and things you don’t read about every day.

~ There is just 2 Days, 20 Hours, 21 Minutes and 16 Seconds to Take-Off ~

~ If you would like to make a donation towards those living with Cystic Fibrosis, the amazing courageous fighters who I am climbing this mountain for, please click here to make a quick and easy donation. All donations go directly through to the Cape Cystic Fibrosis Association ~

~ If you would like to follow my journey while I am away on the mountain, please click here.  If you are on Facebook this link will take you through to the “Adventures Global” Facebook Page. Find the “Like” button on the page and you will receive daily updates via the Facebook Newsfeed while we are away. They will let you know how the team is doing, where we are and what we are seeing. ~

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Natalie
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 08:28:37

    I laughed so hard while reading this… oh the tails… erm ..TALES you have to tell after this adventure!

    Reply

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