Elevation: 21,122 Feet
Elevation Gain: ~8000 Feet
Distance: N/A Miles
Difficulty: Steep Snow
Gear: Ice axe, crampons, rope
Officially summited our highest peak to date at 21,122 feet!
We woke up at 0600 still sick but now the cold moved into our lungs. Fun. Rolando picked us up at 0830 and we were on our way! We arrived in Pinaya around 1130 and ate our packed lunch while we waited for our mules to arrive. Arrived at base camp about 2.5 hours after we started, it was hard work, can definitely feel the phlegm.
Basecamp is beautiful. We saw a baby lamb. He got picked up and carried by his Shepard. Also saw lots of sheep and llamas. Saw a few adolescents but no tiny babies.
We enjoyed some coca tea, high fiber crackers, and non refrigerated margarine. It was delicious. The guide, cook, and mule men talked a bunch in Spanish but we just sat and enjoyed the views since we had no idea what they were talking about.
Spent the day trekking up to the high camp at 18,500 feet. Three porters helped carry all of our supplies up to high camp. This was the highest camp to date at about 5400m or a little over 18k feet. The location was amazing and was perched on some rock with cliffs on all sides. There was a Ice Memory expedition going on so there were a bunch of tents setup for the project.
Once again we went to bed pretty early. Jenn slept okay but Justin didn’t sleep very much. The diamox did help the pounding heart rate and breathing a bit. My pulse was in the 70s and 80s while laying down which was better than the last high camp.
Woke up at 2am. Jenn was coughing all night, Justin was feeling better but didn’t get much sleep. We planned to start hiking at 3 but started at 330. In addition to the cough and no energy, Jenn also got GI issues for the entire climb, she had to poop a few feet away from the rope team. It was a real struggle going up and it took us 5 hours 40 minutes to summit.
The last 30 minutes or so of the climb were by far the hardest thing we have ever done physically. As we neared the summit we both started experiencing headaches, some nausea, light headedness. Once at the summit we were both experiencing some hypoxia and could barely walk a straight line. We took a few pics and quickly started back down so we could get to a lower elevation before taking a snack break.
Once we got back to the saddle we ate some food and drank some water. We then Made our way back to the high camp. It was a long hike since we were both exhausted. Jenn’s cough got worse throughout the descent to high camp. We got back to high camp and were totally zapped of energy. We spent what felt like 3 hours trying to break camp and pack our stuff. We were so tired that we would just stare at stuff. At one point I was putting stuff in my bag then taking it out and putting it back in. Luckily we got it figured out and the porters carried the stuff back to base camp.
The hike from high camp to base camp was also pretty hard since we were already tired. We were so happy when we finally made it down. Our guide went back up to help remove some fixed lines the ice memory project was using so we hung out with the cook and porters who didn’t speak English. Jenn started coughing up hard phlegm that was making her choke. Justin felt great. We ate rice with cheese and veggies, fresh papaya, and lots of coca tea.
We woke up and enjoyed a pancake breakfast. We then broke down camp and hiked out to the village. We had to wait a bit for the mules to bring out all the stuff. We then packed everything up and returned to La Paz.