June 23, 2006 - Spectacular Views from Cerro Austria

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View of Cabeza de Condor from Cerro Austria

Hi there folks, this is John Freeman calling again from Bolivia.  I’m just on the col below the summit of Cerro Austria which was today’s acclimatization hike.  Our group did again very well today, surprisingly so.  We left at a pretty relaxed time today at about 10:00am under some clouds but it was a warm day, not too bad really.       

We got up to the summit of Cerro Austria and contrary to some of the guide books we actually got to 5255 meters (17,240 ft) which is a far amount more, about 200 meters (656 ft) than what the guide books say.  The team moved really well today, we progressed up on to a bench and then to scree and the col and eventually up to the summit.  I think everyone has had a great day.

We got some super views today.  One of the great things about Cerro Austria are the views, particularly for Opus who will be attempting Cabeza de Condor which is a very distinctive peak, reminiscent of the Matterhorn in Europe or Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies with it’s perfect pyramidal shape.  We were able to see tracks leading to the summit ridge quite high up out of a hidden gully which will be Opus’ route.  I think he was suitably impressed and he developed more motivation which is hard to believe for Opus.  I think he’s looking forward to that.

Climbing Cerro Austria

The rest of the team will be attempting Pequeno Alpamayo.  We were treated to some great views.  From where we were on Cerro Austria we could clearly see the glacier and those who were on the trip last year will remember how dry it was, which made for some difficult conditions, although we moved quite well last year.  This year there is more snow and that should make it a bit easier and more enjoyable for all as we travel up there.  We were able to see a clear view of the summit of Pequeno Alpamayo which is most of the group’s objective for this trip, and it looks spectacular!  I think all are suitably impressed again motivated to get ready for that peak.

We can see Huayna Potosi, it’s huge and one other thing that was nice because of the different layers of clouds we were actually able to see clouds beyond Pequeno Alpamayo which were lower than our altitude on Cerro Austria.  In the high mountains this is something we do see and it’s a unique experience when you come to these high places.  So that’s all for today.  The rest of the team has already started down to camp for some hot tea and hot water to wash up with before dinner and a well-earned rest for a good day’s acclimatization hike.

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