January 7, 2006 - Berg Adventures Reaches the Summit of Ojos!

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Climbers enjoy the morning sun on Ojos

It’s about 2:40 in the afternoon on January 7th and I’m calling you from the very top of Ojos del Salado, the highest point in Chile, the second highest point in the western hemisphere and it’s a beautiful day up here, the best day I’ve seen not much wind. All our altimeters say we are exactly at 6900m (22,640ft), certainly if anyone in the western hemisphere is higher than us right now it could only be if someone happens to be on Aconcagua, where by the way I hope a few of us will be successful on standing in a short time.

But back to this climb and this mountain, everybody did great.  We got up at 2:30 this morning and slowly moved away from our hut.  Brian actually decided only about 10 minutes into the climb that it wasn’t his day and returned.  Then about 4 hours up we finally reached the glacier, both Roger and Niki who had been mentioning several times during the morning that they were thinking about going back, finally decided they were going to head down.  So they went down with Oswaldo one of the Bolivian guides.  The last thing Roger said to me was, ‘I can still go to Aconcagua can’t I?’ and I said certainly you can.

Bob at age 69 reached the summit of Ojos todayWhat I’m going to talk about now is Bob Packard age 69 and Ken Jones and of course Juancho the other guide and I stuck with it and after 10.5 hours of climbing we got here at 2:10pm.  As Bob said, ‘this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and coming from Bob there are a lot of very hard things that he has done.

Right at the rock pitch that leads us to the very top it was kind of interesting because Bob took one look at it and said ‘that’s 4th class’, meaning not quite the highest grade of technical climbing but once he was on it he said ‘yes this is 5th class’ and then he preceding to get a cramp in one of his legs while he was trying to make the hardest move.  So we continued to have adventure as we stepped on to the very summit of Ojos.

We just got word from Leila that all the rest of the team Niki, Roger and Brian are all the way back down at 17,200 ft where the vehicle is.  This little party who reached the summit is going to descend slowly and we’ll be getting back down to high camp in a few hours and I’ll report to you from there.

Is it 4th or 5th class rock?

Summit Climbers Descend Safely

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Ken was thrilled to reach the summit of OjosNow it’s 6:00pm and I’m at high camp.  I’m watching Ken walk up to the hut door with a big broad smile on his face, satisfaction from successfully climbing Ojos today.  Bob and Juancho got down a little bit later, I was coming in a little bit ahead and Oswaldo went up to meet Ken.  Of course Leila and Juan Carlos are here and they came out and gave everyone a warm welcome and a lot of congratulations.

Not far from Leila is another team that deserves congratulations, it’s worth noting that both Roger and Niki today reached personal altitude records when they went to 20,650 feet on the side of Ojos.  They're down there with Charlie and we’ve been talking to them on the radio... [lost transmission]

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters