This Project is supported by a generous grant from the
Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund
June 15, 2005 to July 14, 2005
21st,-22nd June Capilla to Nevado Firura
Ermitano Zuniga, our mule driver, arrived at 8 am prompt this morning with his son Fabian and two mules and two ponies in tow. They seemed to me to be very cynical animals, not as easily pacified by an ear rub as others I’ve known and with generally morose expressions. The driver is very efficient at loading our bags onto the animals, though one particular pony erupted into a bucking fit at the suggestion. Louis, Kurt and I are still feeling the effects of altitude, with headaches that seem to pound behind the temples with unprecedented ferocity. We have a 25 km walk ahead of us which will take us gradually to 5,000 m, passing to the west of Nevado Firura.
We overestimated ourselves yesterday and had to camp some 8 km short of our intended site. We did, however, reach 5,000 m and are currently suffering for it with headaches, lack of appetite, and slowness of movement. This morning we walked to our base camp site after buying a couple of trout from a local fisherman. The site is at 4,900 m and is dusty, windy, and desolate, yet quite beautiful. The now ice-free north side of Nevado Firura faces us, and to the west rise the peaks of Nevado Sapojahuana. We have a lake for water and are out of sight of the footpath which connects the plateau with settlements at lower elevations, making us less likely to be robbed. We’re not working today, just sleeping early and trying to eat something despite the lack of appeal. A valuable climbers’ mantra designed to beat altitude sickness is “climb high, sleep low” so that your red blood cell count can increase as you sleep, but I fear that as we don’t have that option of sleeping low we may suffer the symptoms for longer.
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