January 2, 2006 - An Amazing Place

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The beaches of Laguna Verde are white from salt deposits

It’s January 2nd at about noon and I’m calling you from the shores of Laguna Verde Lake at an elevation of at least 4300m (14,110 ft).  It’s really hard to describe this place where we are doing our acclimatization, beautiful as I keep saying.  It is a salt lake, as a matter of fact all the water we drink and use during our 4 night camp here and everywhere for that matter on Ojos del Salado is hauled out from Copiapo in bottles.  This is an extremely arid place.

I’m standing right now on crusty white salt at the edge of the lake; I’m also looking across at some hot spring pools.  I can see hot springs bubbling up from the shore of the lake right where I stand.  I’m looking across at the hot springs that we soak in sometimes after we’ve climbed.  An amazing place, it’s hard to describe how high this region is.

Leila enjoys a dip in the hot spring after a day of hiking

Our team will rest today and prepare ourselves to climb Ojos del Salado, the highest volcano on earth and the second highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.

Our two main Bolivian guides Oswaldo and Juancho got up very early this morning at 4:00am and climbed all the way to the top of the ridge that leads to Muerta Mula where we’ll go tomorrow for further acclimatization.  They called us from 5400m (17,720 ft), over 1100m (3,610 ft) higher than we are now at about 10:30am and they sounded great.

The weather has been stunning, really beautiful and clear today.  We’re always relaxed and somewhat hot until the wind blows which does come up most afternoons and then we either go walking with our hoods up and enjoy the scenery, or we stay in our tents and listen to the wind blow.  Today it feels great to be in this high desert in Chile as the New Year begins, January 2nd  The team is doing great, slowly acclimatizing and preparing to climb on Ojos.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters