December 17, 2002 Hotel Fundador, Santiago
The 2002 2003 Berg Adventures International climbing team for Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua is now together in Santiago. Our adventures are now underway.
This is a very international team. Karl is from Germany, and arrived in Santiago via car and bus from Bolivia, where he had been climbing prior to joining our expedition. Deborah flew in from her home in Dublin, Ireland yesterday. And Larry arrived from his home in Toronto, Canada. John, from Berkeley in California, has been in Santiago for a few days getting to know this beautiful city in the midst of the austral summer. Clear sunny skies and long summer days are a nice contrast to John’s foggy Bay Area winter. Donna has arrived from the U.S. as well, from her home in Connecticut.
Today we will fly to the City of Copiapo in the arid north of Chile. We will meet my old friend Bernardo Guarachi there. Bernardo will be with me guiding these two upcoming ascents of the first and second highest peaks in the Western Hemisphere together for Berg Adventures over the holiday season this year. The last time Bernardo and I were on a mountain together was in 1998, when he became the first Bolivian climber to reach the top of Mt Everest.
Before heading off to the North we have enjoyed hanging around Santiago and I have enclosed some photos of to show you a few scenes from this time. Last night we had our BAI “Welcome Dinner” at one of Santiago’s most unique restaurants, Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate),which has all the décor and the menu based on the Laura Esquivel novel of the same name and the well-known movie that was based on the novel. The brightly painted walls and tasteful, imaginative furnishings mirror the images of the movie and the food was great. We enjoyed nice Chilean wines and discussed with excitement our anticipation of climbing on two great mountains in Chile and Argentina in the coming weeks, two very different peaks, both nearly 7,000 meters high.
Deborah and Larry will attempt to climb Ojos del Salado, and then return back to work in Toronto and Dublin. Karl, John and Donna will go on to Argentina with BAI to attempt to climb Aconcagua as well. For Donna and John, this will be a second attempt at Aconcagua, having made strong efforts, but not reaching the summit last season. Our goal is to use the Ojos area in Northern Chile for a great climbing adventure in its own right, then take the Aconcagua climbers into Argentina with the acclimatization that will allow for a quick ascent of the highest peak in South America.