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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"Whine" Potosi - Page 3

Written by Sarit Reizin
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While traveling, you end up doing many things that are exciting and fun only in recollection. After the wounds have been licked shut and the pain in your lungs does not feel like a knife through the chest anymore - only then can you say with a straight face that you would do it all over again.

Huayna Potosi, 6,088m mountain near La Paz, ice climbing, adventure travel Bolivia, adventure travel south america, altitude sickness A few hours of practice, and we came back to the camp to get some sleep before the big climb. No doubt, I felt about 100 percent better, but I still could not look at food. This time, Alex seemed to share my disposition. He too was not thrilled about consuming something that just might want to come right back up. In addition, it appeared that the cold weather was not doing my bladder any favors. Between our five o'clock early dinner, and the midnight when we needed to get up, I was forced to run out to pee about seven times. To say the least, in time for our very early breakfast I was less than rested and rejuvenated. The boys didn't look good either. They both admitted they had headaches and their stomachs seamed to have their own parties to which they were not invited. I felt the same. All things considered, it was clear that going to sleep was not such a good idea. Later we learned that sleeping actually increases the symptoms of altitude sickness.

In pitch darkness, armed with head lamps, crampons and wielding axes, we set out for the peak. Once again, the guides' original plan was spoiled, but this time not by the weather, but by us. Miguel, the more experienced 40 year-old guide and avid climber, was planning to take the boys on one line and climb at a quicker pace, while Juan, the less experienced twenty one year old guide, who frankly seemed bored by the whole expedition, would be the one to take me on the other line and go at my pace. However, since Alex was not feeling too well when we woke up, and we both were less than thrilled about splitting up, we asked to go on the same line. Right away we could see Juan wasn't happy, and soon enough we found out why.


As we started climbing, Miguel and Julian quickly disappeared in the dark in front of us and not 100m into the climb Juan started showing his true face and whine: "You are going too slow," he kept saying pulling on my rope like I was some stubborn mule. "At this pace we would get to the peak tomorrow morning. What's the point, maybe we should go back?" I kept shaking my head “No,” and disappointed he kept climbing, pulling, and whining. Honestly, I was doing the best I could. It was so dark, the only thing I could see were my feet trying to step into Juan's footprints in the snow. More often than I hoped, I had to stop and catch my breath. A couple seconds of rest in one place would make me feel I could go the next mile in one go, but as soon as I would start walking the strength would get drained from my body as if somebody pulled a cork out of me.


We kept going, and Juan kept coming up with new excuses to turn back. "You are running out of energy," he would tell me in an accusing tone. "If you loose consciousness or get too exhausted, I would have to carry you down and it will be hard for me." Clearly, Juan thought Miguel would be doing all the work on this trip, taking the two guys on his line, and then he wouldn't have to go too far up with me, because it will be easy enough to talk me into going back. Actually, he might have been right, if only Alex wasn't behind me. The last thing I wanted to do was to disappoint him by showing lack of willpower and that, for the most part, was what kept me going. Another little thing to consider was my actual wellbeing.

Huayna Potosi, 6,088m mountain near La Paz, ice climbing, adventure travel Bolivia, adventure travel south america, altitude sickness

I was determined to squeeze every ounce of energy available to get as far as possible, but I was also realizing no one would be proud of me for damaging my lungs or getting frostbitten. For an hour now I could feel a piercing pain in my chest. I was so starved for air that I took off the fleece layer that was covering up my mouth and greedily swallowed freezing air. Soon I began feeling my knees buckle, and now I was no longer stopping for rest, I was simply falling down whenever my legs would fail me. Finally, when I was absolutely sure I could not possibly go on I turned to Alex and said: "You know what? I think I'm going to save you the cost of a funeral."


(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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