January 12, 2007 - More about our Summit Day

Listen to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

Leila waits for the team to return to Atacama Camp

I have a few interesting notes to add to the dispatch about today’s climb.  The coldest temperatures we saw after we got over 6100m (20,010ft) was -20C.  I know that is not going to impress Shelley back at the Berg Adventures office where she reported to me that it was -33C yesterday, and Shelley we are proud of our cold temperatures here in summer time South America because we had to climb over 6000m (19,690ft) to find them.

Jerri, along with Leila’s assistance, discovered a really good use for all the medical oxygen that we have here at high camp.  Now we have far more than we know we will need for an emergency and Leila and Jerri quickly discovered a small flow of oxygen is a great way to erase an altitude headache before you descend.

Most of the team is back down at the Atacama camp now by the way and remember we have one more night at 5200m (17,060ft) before we go take our swim in the Pacific ocean tomorrow night. 

Jose Lito was climbing with Claire you will remember.  Now Jose Lito has never reached the summit of Ojos del Salado and in fact very few Bolivians have, I expect most Bolivians who have [made the summit] work for Berg Adventures.  Oswaldo and I discussed it and we decided that in all of that deep snow that turned us back, to tell Jose Lito to go quickly and meet Juancho and the other two climbers who could reach the summit and help them fix the lines. 

I had to laugh as I saw this man breaking trail through the deep snow with his short powerful, Bolivian legs, I thought he had no chance.  When Opus reported from the top I learned that he not only caught up with them but he had done the lion’s share of the work of fixing the technical rope systems that got Opus and Martin to the summit.  Opus was very warm and sincere with his congratulations to both Jose Lito and Juancho for that technical work right at the top of Ojos.

Our team together with Ojos in the background

The whole team is doing great, folks.  We are proud of the acclimatization we gained, I had a mission for everyone but I’ll tell you the stories of the beauty and the challenge on this long summit day from every single member of team is amazing.  You will hear from them in person before long I’m sure and it’s really solidified and bonded what was already a close group.  Please stay tuned for our continuing adventures. In many ways they are just getting started.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters