A Day of Rest and Monopoly, Of Course ~ A Journey to the Top of Aconcagua

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Camp 1 – Rest Day

Hiking Time: 0 Hours

Altitude: 5000m

The gloriousness of antibiotics that knock you out for the whole night! I woke feeling semi-human again. It really is amazing what a good night’s sleep at 5000 metres can do.

The other good start to the morning was that we woke up to a winter wonderland! It had snowed quite a bit overnight and it was still snowing lightly and our tents were weighed down with the weight of the snow and upon peeking outside, this glorious white mountain wonderland greeted our sight. It was truly beautiful. And cold!

Soon, Adrian our guide, was knocking on our tent flap offering us hot water for a nice cup of tea. This rest day was really working for me already!

With the snow still falling outside, no one was getting up to venture out and so we spent the early morning snuggled up in our cozy down sleeping bags. One of our team mates came to visit and came inside for a while for a chat. It was lovely to have her company but all too soon she left again to return to her tent.  Minutes later she returned, crying. Emotions were running high this morning in camp, the reality of mountain life being felt by everyone. This was the 2nd team-mate to break down this morning and it wasn’t even 9am yet. Later I heard of a 3rd team-mate who got teary too. We all missed our loved one’s back home. The comforts of having encouraging words from those we love, maybe a hug, or maybe even just to hear them say hello. It’s hard to explain but the feelings hit you hard when they come and everyone feels them at some point or another while on these journeys. But we had an amazing team and in the absence of our loved ones we all offered a hug, support and a kind word in return. At the end of the day anyone can get into physical shape, but you have to be mentally tough to survive weeks in such harsh conditions. At high altitudes, your body lets you know what’s going on, and it is always important to listen.

Early morning view from our tent.

Early morning view from our tent.

White out!

White out!

It was still snowing outside and there was not a single change Judi and I were getting up. Today was a rest day after all!

It was still snowing outside and there was not a single change Judi and I were getting up. Today was a rest day after all!

A cold, snowy morning at Camp 1.

A cold, snowy morning at Camp 1.

Bruno filling up our flasks with hots water outside our tent in the falling snow, while we lay snug in our sleeping bags.

Bruno filling up our flasks with hot water outside our tent in the falling snow, while we lay snug in our sleeping bags.

Later, it was my turn to have those feelings hit hard. After the snow stopped and the sun came out we all ventured outside to breathe in the air at this new altitude and get our bodies acclimatised. Some of the team just sat in front of their tents, others sat on rocks enjoying the sunshine as they read or wrote in their journals. I too sat on a rock in the sunshine, writing in my journal. A while later a few of us standing leaning against a rock were chatting and Ronnie kindly offered his satellite phone to us to phone a loved one back home. Judi and Lisa snapped up the offer to phone their loved ones. Ronnie then handed me the phone asking if I wanted to phone someone back home. I desperately wanted to and instantly the tears stung my eyes and the lump in my throat rendered me speechless and all I could do was cry. I longed to phone a loved one back home but I had left my mobile phone at Base Camp along with the rest of my luggage I thought I didn’t need on our summit push. I didn’t know the mobile number as in today’s technology we don’t need to memorise numbers of loved one’s because we conveniently just select a name and push dial. I was devastated but there was nothing I could do. Simon came over and put his arm around my shoulder and squeezed which just instantly brought the tears again. He told me again what an amazing job I did yesterday. In those moments I was so grateful to have Judi and Simon, my Kilimanjaro team mates, with me again on this Aconcagua trip. The three of us have special bond from our time spent on Kilimanjaro. Although my loved ones were far away, half way across the world, I had these guys and although the feelings for so many of us today were so raw, it helped having beautiful souls around.

Thankfully the day got better and in all ways we all started feeling stronger. As the sun warmed the earth, the snow started melting again and like a solar panel, the sun’s rays began to re-energize me. My cough was still my constant companion and I still didn’t feel well but the antibiotics were already beginning to work their magic and I knew if I rested today I would begin to feel stronger again.

I thought long and hard to myself if I had really trained for all these months, carrying 15kg’s of weight up and down local peaks during the early morning hours, just to be taken down by a chest infection? I had prepared so hard for this climb and had taken every possible precaution, but here I was nursing an aching body, sore lungs and a head that still felt like it wanted to explode.  I could only hope for the best, to see how the antibiotics helped and how quickly my body could recover at this altitude. More than ever I was so grateful for the rest day we had today.

Life at Camp 1.

Life at Camp 1.

The frozen stream where we had to get our water from. Needless to say it was ice cold!

The frozen stream where we had to get our water from. Needless to say it was ice cold!

Judi braving the frozen stream to fill up our water bottles.

Judi braving the frozen stream to fill up our water bottles.

After lunch, the decision was unanimous, what better way to spend the afternoon than playing monopoly of course! Armed with Simon’s M & M’s 6 of us crammed into Simon and Daniel’s tent and we hauled out the cards. After a rough start to the morning, soon we were all laughing, scheming , wheeling and dealing in the tent high up on a mountain at 5000m.

Our snow boots off and crammed into the tent, it was time to play Monopoly.

Our snow boots off and cramed into the tent, it was time to play Monopoly.

Six team mates crammed into a tent, playing Monopoly. One of the best afternoons ever, thanks for the great memories guys!!

Six team mates crammed into a tent, playing Monopoly. One of the best afternoons ever, thanks for the great memories guys!!

Our itinerary from here on out has changed quite a bit. Tomorrow we should have done a load carry up to Camp 2 and then returned to sleep at Camp 1 again but due to severe weather coming in, we have decided to forgo our carry and acclimatisation hike to Camp 2 in order to move our summit day forward in an attempt to summit before the bad weather hits. The team is in agreement we want to move forward to have the highest success of summiting. It has also been agreed and arranged that some extra porters will be coming up tomorrow morning to help with the load carry up to Camp 2 in order to help us acclimatise a bit better. We have a steep start to our climb tomorrow, another path that zig-zags it’s way to the top but I’m told it’s not like the climb to Camp 1. I’m grateful for this news and I’m grateful for the porter help we will have tomorrow. I’m hoping for another good nights rest, which I am sure the antibiotics will help with.

Today’s rest has been good and exactly what my body needed.

I’m positive I will be feeling stronger tomorrow.

I’m ready for the next climb.

My purpose is my passion.

And I know what I have to do.

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~ All Photos By Me ~

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