June 20 - Snowfall at Condoriri Base Camp

On June 17th, as we drove towards the approach hike to Condoriri Base Camp, we met Bernardo Guarachi. Many of you will remember Bernardo from our Ojos and Aconcagua climbs. He is an old friend of mine and he is the only Bolivian to ever summit Mt. Everest and he’s the premiere mountain guide in Bolivia. He’ll be working with us for the rest of this climbing and trekking expedition.

Hiking to Condoriri base campWe also met at Tuni, before we began hiking, the llamas and the mules and the mule drivers who were going to help us get our gear into base camp. We had a short and enjoyable walk into base camp, arriving just before dark.

On the 18th we had a glacier training day for the climbers in the trip, and interestingly enough, the only trekker on the trip, Gail, went off with the guides Peter and Mario and made the first peak ascent of our trip. Gail and the two guides climbed Mirador at 5200 m (17,100 ft) above our base camp while we were all up on the glacier reviewing glacier travel techniques.

On the 19th, a group of us started up for Cerro Austria 17,300 ft (5274 m), a beautiful peak above camp. At the pass at 5100 m, myself and the biggest portion of the group decided to descend and enjoy the views of the Cordillera Real all around us and return to camp so we didn’t blow ourselves out for up-coming climbing days.

Cordillera Real MountainsBut Leila, David, Woodie, Jack, Dafna, Sue and Bernardo continued on and actually reached the very summit of Cerro Austria at 17, 300 ft (5274 m).

Today, on the 20th, we awoke to a lot of new snow at base camp. The whole scene was very white. We heard the snow begin to fall after we went to bed last night. We got up this morning and we took breakfast together and now we have intermittent sun and improving weather. But we’re going to spend the rest of the day resting and acclimatizing and preparing for bigger climbs to come.

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