Finally we’re on the road and getting closer to the true expedition – in fact tomorrow will be our first day of walking. Today was busy finalizing the logistics, driving to Penitentes and readying the duffel bags for the mules. Which was not so busy really, most of the afternoon was rest time. Listening to music, reading, I went for a small walk up the “ski slope” across the street. I’m positively surprised at the lodging – the beds are relatively comfortable, the envelopes of supplied hair products are very nice (which is terrific, given my hair won’t get much washing in the coming 2 weeks), and the food is absolutely great. Among the best I’ve had since arriving in Argentina.
So that’s all good. I wish the rest of the trip was working out so positively. My guide is a nice guy and seems competent, but English is a challenge for him. My teammate is probably a reasonable person, but his English is substantially worse than Bernie’s. So small talk is close to non-existent and I’m beginning to think either a large group or a solo climb would be better. I’m now sharing this hotel room with a guy who has some body and breath odor challenges and with whom communication is hit-and-miss when speaking in monosyllables. It’s not my favorite set up and I’m even more worried about the tent situation on the mountain. But there it is – guess I can’t always get as lucky as I was on Elbrus and on Rainier (I miss you guys!!!!). I’m trying to stay hopeful that something will change, that I’ll meet some other people at base camp, whatever.
The crowning dissatisfaction was when I raised my sister’s question following dinner: what happens if on summit day, one of us has to turn around? Our guide’s answer was that he will check for any other guides who might be taking people down and send the person with them. However, if there are no others, then we will all turn around. I am extremely unhappy with that answer. To spend so much money, and time, and effort, to be in a position to accomplish this, and then have to turn back because someone else can’t hack it? Call me egocentric (it’s true), but this is not a scenario with which I’m satisfied. Or vice versa, for that matter. If I get hit with serious AMS, I don’t want to be the one to foil a teammates’ success.
Unfortunately and as difficult as it is for me to not be in control, there is not much I can do about any of this. Strive for patience, climb my climb, and see where it all ends up. For now, it’s the last night in a bed for a long while, so I’m logging off to get some sleep.