January 7 - Introducing the BAI Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua Team

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Camp at Santa Rosa LakeIt’s January 7th and this dispatch is coming to you on behalf of the entire Berg Adventures 2004 Ojos and Aconcagua expedition, from a slope high above Santa Rosa Lake where we camped last night. Santa Rosa lake is just under 12 000 feet, maybe almost 3600 meters, and we climbed quite far above the lake on our acclimatization walk this morning.

The terrain around me is vast and open and seems very pure and certainly beautiful. The colors are simple in the desert here, there’s the brilliant white of the salt flats, there’s also the brilliant green of Santa Rosa Lake adjacent to the salt flats, then there’s the brown of the hills all around me and off in the distance you can see slivers of white glaciers, very small glaciers on the distant high peaks. The glaciers are quite small even though we are at high altitude in this area because it’s an exceedingly dry environment.

If it seems a bit windy (hope you can here me anyway) I’m trying to shield the satellite phone, but we do have wind up here even though the air temperatures are quite warm for this elevation. As soon as we climbed above Santa Rosa Lake it got very windy.

As I said the entire crew is here, Dee just walked by me. Dee from California along with Max, and Daniel from Colorado is here as I mentioned yesterday. Gary Bacon has joined us again; he has just come down from Ecuador where he was climbing, so he’s already got his acclimatization taken care of on this trip.

The colours of the desert around Santa RosaWe are lucky enough again to have some representatives from the Mariner Energy Oceaneering group. I’m lucky enough to get to climb with these guys quite frequently now. On this trip we got Dave Huber, Richard Clark and Norb Gorman and as usual these guys work hard and they play hard. They work hard in their careers but they love their adventures and I always know they are going to show up for one of these climbs having prepared themselves to really push.

We got another group of friends here, all Elbrus veterans with BAI most recently I believe. That’s Joel Check, Samantha Kim, Gary Kenyon and Bruce Weisman. These guys were all on Elbrus not that long ago. Although Sam on that trip only made it as far as Amsterdam and gave the group her moral support and best wishes from there. This time we’ve been lucky enough to get her off work long enough for the Ojos only portion of this trip. Although we’ll certainly be lobbying her, or maybe we’ll kidnap her and try to take her to Aconcagua with us. It’s always great to have Sam back with her beautiful smile and knowing how strong and solid a performer she is on these trips.

Paul Stempin, again another Elbrus veteran, lucky enough to have Paul back. Paul will be making his second attempt on Aconcagua, having tried it a few years ago. He’s looking to be in great shape and it’s great to have him back around as well.

Speaking of returns to summits, Donna Moll is back and you may recall from last year’s Ojos dispatches that Donna was on that team as well and felt she hadn’t trained quite as hard as she should have. She took this year to get herself prepared, had a minor setback; I would say a major setback actually with a torn ACL ligament in her knee. But she’s bounced back great from that and is back for another attempt this year on Ojos as well as Aconcagua.

Dry environment of Santa Rosa areaFinally we have one of my favorite father-son teams along. We got Dick and Tom Jessor again, those guys last climbed with me on Island Peak a few years ago, but they’ve been quite active in mountaineering since that time including a Boliva trip. I heard most about their really successful, lengthy, but successful ascent of Mount Rainier with Gary Porter from our Everest Climb last spring. It’s always great to climb with these guys.

Dick Jessor is 79 years old and not long ago he walked passed us as we were sitting on a rock and Norb asked me ‘how can I learn to move as efficiently and as fast and well as that guy?’ And I said well I think what Dick’s got going for him is the muscle memory, the efficient movement of decades of tramping through the mountains and climbing. Climbing and being in the mountains around his home in Boulder Colorado is just one of his many passions. But it has paid off well and he says he’s begun his 80th year and he looks great climbing these mountains. And it’s a privilege to be back in the wilds with him again.

So we’ll continue to update you as we up our acclimatization day by day working higher and higher and preparing for an ascent of Ojos next week. Beautiful landscape, great team, we’re off to a great start on this expedition!

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters