6/27/2011: Tarija 1

I started out sleeping that night with my wool long underwear on, wool and fleece socks, my orange fleece shirt, and a nalgene of hot water in the sleeping bag.

I tried to use the sleeping bag hood, but rolling over was almost impossible. I felt like I was wrestling inside of a straight jacket. I would get so hot that I would have to open up the bag to cool off. By the time I cooled off and closed up the sleeping bag again, I felt like rolling back onto the first side.

Around midnight, I had to get up and empty my bladder. When I got back, I ended up tossing the water bottle out of the sleeping back, unzipping it a bit, and not bothering with the hood. That worked better.

My cheap thermometer didnít work at all. It still said 60 when I was going to bed, although my camelbak was frozen.

I got up around 8am, when the sun was just rising over the mountains.

I found that I was almost always terribly disorganized. I was usually the 2nd to last person to get ready.

That morning I used someone elseís iodine to treat water. People were treating it and then filtering it. I thought my filter alone should be OK, but I wanted to play it safe. I didnít have time to treat the water and filter it, so I just treated it and planned to filter it later. (I had thought that it would be like Kilimanjaro where they provided water for us, but on this trip we were expected to process our own water.)

Jim's Tent
Cooking and Mess Tents

During the day, I wore two tee shirts and sometimes the soft shell. For lunch, I put on the down vest. At various times I was too hot (hiking up) and then too cold (standing around).

Five people were there just to climb, and five were there for the class. In the class there were three groupsóthe fast, the slow, and the middle. The middle had exactly one personóme. I was thinking that I had been doing well acclimatizing, but on the uphill stretches I couldnít keep up with the first group.

We hiked up to the glacier, put on our crampons, harness, and such, got a quick lesson on tying in, and hiked up the glacier. By the time we got up high, it was lunch time. After lunch, we practiced self-arrests. This involved finding a semi-steep slope, climbing up it, then starting to slide down and then self-arrest. For safety, we did this without crampons. The guides were afraid that if we wore the crampons, someone might get sliding, catch a point, and then hurt themselves.

So going up the slope was a real pain. We had to cut steps in the hard snow with our ice axes for each step. Still, the steps were not that secure, and we slipped numerous times. Granted that our technique was probably rather poor, but it is still hard to imagine that this is how all mountaineers did it before they invented crampons.

Afterwards we found a tiny bowl with some crevasses in it, and we practiced crampon techniques. Then we hiked down, which was good because the sun had gone behind a peak, and it was getting cold.

By the bottom, I was beat. I was surprised at how quickly I got winded going up, and how quick (and easy) it was to go down. I guess thin air will do that to you.

Back at the camp, I had some cocoa and wrote up my journal, and then planned to try to organize my tent better.

At the end of that first day in the mountains, I mentally compared this experience with Kilimanjaro. It was a very different experience. On the plus side, the toilet was much better than the portable one we had on Kili. In some ways it was more ďprimitiveĒ in that we were more responsible for ourselves. We had to treat our own water and provide our own toilet paper.

So far, I hadnít been really cold like on Kili. The jacket and the sleeping bag were better. My main problem was that I had little between the big jacket and the down vest & shirts. So sometimes I was a little cold, particularly on the mountain.

I wrote: I have to say that I donít really care for the low oxygen, cold, etc. Iím glad Iím doing this trip, but it will probably be my last. Reading about climbing is a lot more pleasant than experiencing it.

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