Acon-Part III, High Camps
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<Pre/Post-Climb>    <Horcones Valley and Base Camp>    <Summit Day>

01/14/04
After spending a few days at Base Camp we were pretty anxious to start moving higher up on the mountain. Today was a move to Camp Canada around 16,500ft carrying the rest of the stuff that we didn't cache at Nido062-camp canada.jpg (202898 bytes) a couple days before. Camp Canada is a relatively small camp perched on a ledge so getting space can sometimes be a problem. Myself and Bob took off a bit early and moved at a good pace to hopefully get the five tent spots that we would need for everyone. After only 2 hours we were there and some guides were on their way out, perfect. Saw some paid porters there that were carrying an entire expedition size pack full, with another one strapped to the back of it! 063-camp canada.jpg (185848 bytes) We tried to distance ourselves from the designated "shit rock" and after setting up and stuffing our faces with food it was off to get water. Getting water ends up consuming a majority of your day, whether just finding it or filtering or melting snow. Regardless, 3 people drink and need a helluva lot of water each day! There was a few snow run-offs pretty close so we were able to get water from them just before the clouds and snow066-camp canada.jpg (130797 bytes) came in. Soon it was like full on blizzard conditions and the wind was ripping through camp. That night there wasn't much sleep happening, the snow continued all night and the wind sounded like a freakin' freight train running over the tent! Good thing we bomb-proofed the tent.

01/15/04
067-camp canada.jpg (162540 bytes) Unlike the storms on previous nights, this one lasted well into the morning. Still shitty and snowing when we got up. Instead of moving up to Nido we had to stay in this camp again, not our first choice but better than Base Camp. There were a few "sucker windows" of nice weather when everyone would get out of the tents. We even had a high altitude snowball fight! It didn't068-camp canada.jpg (138524 bytes) last too long, after making and throwing 3 snowballs at 16,500ft you're ready to pass out. So we made more water, and more water, and more water. Night seven on the mountain and wearing the same clothes, luckily the stink freezes to you at this altitude. The saving grace of this weather day was the amazing sunset.

01/16/04
080-move to nido.jpg (118354 bytes) Woke up to a beautiful morning, though the usual clouds were off to the south and west that bring the afternoon weather. We took our time packing up letting things dry in the warm sun before heading up to Nido de Condores at 18,300ft. After several group discussions we would attempt to summit from Nido instead of spending two days carrying up to Camp Berlin, just to save ~1,200 vertical feet. The mountain looked completely different with all the new snow on it, actually it was beautiful! Took just under 3 hrs to get to Nido taking it easy and making sure to stuff fingers full of sunscreen up my nose so the reflection off the snow wouldn't burn up there. Once again, just as we were getting into camp the weather turned to crap. It was snowing081-nido.jpg (106719 bytes) pretty good but the winds were nothing like the day before. Want a good workout?...carry rocks around above 18K ft to build a snow wall. Just walking or going to the bathroom would wear you out let alone searching around for big rocks then carrying them back to your tent! Jesus Christ, what the hell were we thinking signing up for this as a vacation?!?! But hey, it sure made the can of Lays potato chips taste outstanding!

01/17/04
A scheduled rest day that ended up being another shitty weather day. It was nice again in the morning, but 084-nido.jpg (109720 bytes) clouds and snow started around 10:30am. They were thin clouds and it was amazingly pretty warm. All day long it would go back and forth. From Nido we could see the Gran Acarreo traverse 4,000ft above us below the summit. During cloud breaks we could see groups of folks heading across. Hopefully that would be us in a few days! Luckily we weren't on the time schedule that they were, talking to other groups they had been stuck at this camp for the last 4-5 days not085-nido.jpg (127582 bytes) being able to move up or summit. More patience, melting snow, and singing "Ding fries are done" for the day. This was our ninth day on the mountain and everything really has become a routine. The sleeping bag has been getting pretty cramped though with myself, extra clothes, boots, and water all stuffed in there to keep from freezing. Also every morning we would have "in tent snow showers" from our condensation freezing on the tent walls. All day long we got conflicting weather reports for the next few days..."epic storm coming Monday, get off the mountain"..."Tuesday will be the best 086-nido.jpg (152830 bytes) day in weeks"...."tomorrow snowy and windier than today". What the fuck are we to believe?! At one point a few of us were packed and ready to try for the summit the following morning regardless of the weather. That changed when the snow got heavier and deeper all day long. Patience grasshopper, patience.

01/18/04089-hike to berlin.jpg (137061 bytes)
Each morning and night my tent mates and I would check our pulse, it was nice to see that it was doing well and about at our proper resting rate after a night or so up high. Seeing that it was crystal clear this morning I was a little bummed that we weren't on the way to the summit. Instead Bob, Laurie and I were going to hike to Camp Berlin to scope out the trail and get a feel for the start of the climb that would be done in the dark the following day. It was a nice trail in the snow that 091-hike to berlin.jpg (146548 bytes) switch-backed higher and higher. We got into a good 2-step rest step pace that we could've gone with forever. It was actually warmer at Berlin then Nido! A new altitude PR for me and Bob at092-hike to berlin.jpg (149481 bytes) 19,500ft, nice! Right around 2hrs got us to the small and cramped Camp Berlin, once again we were glad we stayed at Nido. This was a great day for a clothing/gear shakedown, great exercise and acclimatization and a chance to get the hell out of the tent! Six days ago when we were at Nido, there was no snow in site....big difference now. Back to camp to pack for the 3:30am wake up for the summit attempt. We were all praying that Mother Nature would be kind to us.....Summit Day

<Pre/Post-Climb>    <Horcones Valley and Base Camp>    <Summit Day>

064-camp canada.jpg (152907 bytes) Wayne and Alex setting up at Camp Canada; Me at Camp Canada 065-camp canada.jpg (176475 bytes)

069-camp canada.jpg (165343 bytes) A break in the weather at Camp Canada; Camp Canada and the West Face 071-camp canada.jpg (194198 bytes)

073-camp canada.jpg (180271 bytes) Views from Camp Canada 074-camp canada.jpg (217433 bytes)

Sunset from Camp Canada 075-camp canada.jpg (141529 bytes)    076-camp canada.jpg (127287 bytes)    077-camp canada.jpg (138648 bytes)    078-camp canada.jpg (135984 bytes)    079-camp canada.jpg (130091 bytes)

082-nido.jpg (147539 bytes) View towards Gran Acarreo and the summit from Nido; More snow at Nido 083-nido.jpg (135457 bytes)

087-nido.jpg (183037 bytes) Mountain pooch; Hut at Berlin Camp 093-hike to berlin.jpg (196164 bytes)

096-lenticular from nido.jpg (118970 bytes) Lenticular clouds over the summit from Nido 097-lenticular from nido.jpg (129532 bytes)

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