Friday, 18 May 2007

Headache on high

Alarm call at 3.00am. A quick breakfast and a few cups of coffee and by 4.00 we were at the slope of this mighty cone.

Overnight clouds had rolled in and a light icy snow was falling. When the wind caught this it was a semi blizzard. Head torches lit the way for the first two hours. Up we climbed, slowly, as the altitude demanded.

Dawn behind us lit the shower clouds a wonderous orange.

I was happy once it got light as the view changed the higher we rose. In the dark in was exercise without purpose. At about 5300m my dizziness began as it had on Lascar. But as then it was controllable. Lots of effort up then a pause to stop the head spinning.

Passing Lascar height was an achievement. Though the going did get a lot slower, which was bad as the cold and the wind just seem to develop a raw cutting edge. At 5700m my head started to ache, and it got more hurtful the higher we climbed. Towards the summit I had slowed to a crawl. But I made it.

Up here the wind and flying ice were intense. Below in the crater a frigid lake sat still beyound the winds rough touch. The view was totally stunning, and so well worth the hard clinb. Below us the Lagunas Blancas and Verde, to the north and south the chain of volcanic peaks.

Going down was tough, as we slid down the loose rock constantly.

I had climbed to 5900m. Just higher than Kilimanjaro in Africa. Not bad I thought!