December 19 - Laguna Verde

It’s the afternoon of December 19 and I’m calling from one of the most amazing places on Earth I’ve ever been - the shores of Laguna Verde at 4200 meters or about 13,800 feet.

Laguna VerdeLaguna Verde lives up to its name, Green Lake. It is a brilliant green which is a sharp contrast to the brown hills with patches of snow around. A really amazing spot.

Yesterday we left Copiapo, driving in Bernardo’s Toyota Land Cruiser that he had brought down from Bolivia and also with a four-wheel drive pick-up driven by a local guy named Francisco that contained our climbing and camping equipment. We drove to another lake to our camp last night to Laguna Santa Rosa which is at 3600 meters or 11,800 feet.

I described flying into Copiapo and seeing this brown, arid landscape. The drive yesterday showed us some of the most fascinating terrain I’ve ever driven through – desolate, barren, empty roads, amazing scenic landscape all around, not as devoid of any life as I had seen coming in from the air. In fact, some of the valleys are very green. There’s small plant life throughout the desert. There’s also dunes and amazing stark and barren terrain all along.

We are at an exceptionally high altitude, as you can tell, as we continue to drive towards our goal Ojos del Salado.

We are in Parque Nacional Nevada Tres Cruces (Three Crosses Peak National Park). These peaks were on the skyline for much of the drive and are really amazing. My map of eastern Chile says that they are 6700 meters high. I’m very skeptical of that. Who knows, in this wild area I don’t know if the peaks have been surveyed that well.

Karl looking much cleaner than after wading with the flamingosWhen we were at Laguna Santa Rosa, Karl couldn’t resist going out in to the lovely water to wade. Of course, the flamingos all flew away when he headed out to the water and then a flew minutes later Karl came back to our camp with his legs absolutely covered up to his knees in slick, slimy mud. You can’t wade out to where the flamingos were without getting yourself quite messy. It took Karl quite a while to clean himself up.

As we drove away from Laguna Santa Rosa, a herd of guanacos ran across the road and out across the desert and we had a wonderful time watching these wild creatures as they ran away.

We’ve had a couple of adventures with Francisco and flat tires in his vehicle. He has now started out himself on his way back to Copiapo. We won’t need his truck now until the 27th when we’ve completed our climb. Francisco will meet us then. He started back today with rather dubious tires.

Now that we’re at Laguna Verde, I should report to you that I don’t know if Karl is going to go wading again into this beautiful water but we have another past time – there are hot springs here. One is at an indoor shelter and the other is outdoors. We tested and the one that is outdoors seems to be the hottest. So even though it’s windy here at 4,200 meters, the air is pretty warm and that hot springs water looks very inviting so we’re going to try it this afternoon.

We will be at this camp for some days as we acclimatize and explore and get ready to push toward our goal Ojos del Salado.

We’ll report back again from this wonderful place as we continue our adventures and acclimatization for our Ojos del Salado climb.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters