I hauled my 20kg of stuff up to Colera at 6000m today, and I’m now nestled in the tent, just awaking from a bit of a siesta. It’s strange to think that we are now camping at an elevation above the summit of Kilimanjaro. This is now – until tomorrow anyway – my altitude record! The hike up here wasn’t actually too bad – not too long, but most of it quite steep. I now walk at a pace of step – breathe, breathe – step – breathe – step. Getting slower, I wonder how many breaths will be required per step up near the summit? Despite feeling very slow, we made it to Berlin (the old camp site at 5900m) in under 2.5 hours, and Colera was about 30 minutes further on. The last stretch before getting here was a short and easy via ferrata (Klettersteig), which would have been fun had I not been gasping for breath while pulling my heavy backpack up. But we made it. I have a very slight headache, but nothing that a couple of ibuprofens and few liters of water won’t cure. Although we can’t actually drink water – there are no minerals in melted snow, so we have to mix Tang with every liter of water. Do you remember liking Tang when we were kids? I’ve gotta say, after this trip, I hope I never see the stuff again! The sugary sweet fruity taste is one that is easy to OD on, and I’ve definitely reached that point.
One other thing that just has to be said, is that the wind on Aconcagua’s a bitch. Really, the worst part of the climb today: I’d be trekking along with a light breeze, then suddenly out of nowhere, a 40 km/h gust would virtually sweep me off my feet. Resulting in a frantic 3-4 steps to regain my balance, lean into the wind and start again. Only to have the direction, or strength, of the wind dramatically change again 2 minutes later – recommence frantic stumbling, shifting position, and attempting to get back into a rhythm. And that is not to mention the discomfort and damage to eyes, lips, and face that it causes. I’m glad that we sat out the worst of it at camp 2 yesterday; I can’t imagine making this climb with up to 70 km/h! and the route to the summit is even more exposed.