Ojos del Salado 6893m, highest volcano on Earth and the 2nd highest peak in South America.
6.3.13 Car camp 1 @ 3672m
- Side of Mt Pissis access road. Small stream 50m away, very windy afternoon, noisy cattle grazing the valley, amazing sunset, nil altitude effects, flat battery in morning waited until 2pm for jump start from Hilux. Drove to next camp. Took old route track was washed out had to back track a little.
- Towards black lava from salt flats. No water nearby arrived at 3pm, went for a walk, wide open dry barren sand and salt flats, saw Vinucas, quite warm high clouds. Calm but cold night, good sleep. Nil altitude effects. Had a wash in a frozen trickle of water we found in the morning.
- On approach to El Arenal base camp. Big day of 4WD through sand scree rocks and 2 bogs, little track at times. Lots of Vinucas. Truck going good, noticed we are nearly at 1/2 a tank of gas... Went for a route finding walk to 5295m. Very sore head after cooking dinner, took 125mg diamox each, mixed sleep, cold and windy outside. Ran truck for 10mins before bed to reduce risk of freezing and flat batt.
- Slept in until 11am. 20ltr solar shower froze on bonnet overnight. Low range 4WD all day big rocks, had to attempt a steep section twice. Broke front bash plate reattached with chain, nearly got bogged in long wet sandy section. Saw first penerite ice feilds, little bit of snow melt water around. Walked to 5582m end of vehicle tracks. Found spot for last car camp tomorrow. Altitude having effect heavy breathing & Little appetite taken another 125mg diamox to help with sleep. Boiled potatoes for dinner yum. Bloody cold night, everything frozen, water, olive oil, engine coolant. Nalgene froze solid inside car, layer of ice on all windows Est -20.C overnight.
- Boiled water to pour over radiator and engine block, truck started! Drove 2km to end of vehicle tracks. Last car camp, tomorrow we continue on foot. Spent the day resting and preparing/packing for the climb. Cold but nil to light winds clear blue sky no clouds. Haven't seen a person since the first day. Disconnected battery and removed radiator cap.
- Nice morning spent 2 hours doing final pack before heading off. Goal was to find a suitable camp around 6000m. After an hour or so found some old tracks which we followed up the main valley towards Ojos. Walking required frequent stops and brought on fatigue and heavy breathing. Wind picked up in the afternoon making progress cold and slow. At about 3pm found an exposed campsite @ 5932m on a ridge below the lower crater lake summit. Had to clear frozen snow/ice to fit the tent, wind was very strong broke small part of the tent putting it up, pegs wouldn't go in, had to tie guys to rocks. By now altitude had induced a strong headache. Into sleeping bags by 4pm. Pasta dinner at 5pm was cold in 2 mins, no appetite. Wind was whipping tent severely. By 7pm light was starting to fade and the already cold temperature plummeted. Took 125mg diamox, 2 panadol and 2 nurofen+ to combat the now excruciating migraine still spent the entire night sleepless. Water bottles froze solid between us. Listened to the nearby glacier shattering throughout the night. By the morning the altitude sickness which had progressed to dizzying nausea along with the gale force winds and at least -20.C temps made us come to the difficult decision of abandoning our summit attempt and heading for refuge below.
Hope you enjoyed this brief account of our expedition.
Rochelle & Will