We awoke early in the morning after I had endured a restless sleep. At base camp, we slept on the top floor of a small house type building. It was much warmer than camping would have been, but you are sleeping on a very thin and dirty matress, side by side with all of the other climbers. A high altitude can often make sleep difficult, never mind having to listen to others as they restlessly toss and turn. And the dreams. I had read quite a bit about the effects of altitude before I left, but I didn´t read anything about how it effects your dreams. Strange dreams, so vivid, accompanied with the inability to tell what is dream and what is reality and heaps of sleep talking. So trying to sleep on a thin matress on the floor while others right beside you are talking in their sleep, tossing and turning, and thrashing out randomly, makes a good night sleep difficult.
Neverless, at 7 am we were on our way to High Camp. Today was a 2 - 4 hour hike through rocky terrain. We would not need our cold gear today. I had a much better idea what today was going to be like, so I started off the hike with vigor. It did not last long. My pack was probably 25 pounds, carrying all the water, warm clothes and hiking gear I would need for the next two days. After 10 minutes I was huffing and puffing and generally wondering how I was going to make it through the day. My guide had a couple of friends who were accompanying us for a few hundred meters of the trek. One offered to take my bag. I thanked him a million times, and gratefully handed over my pack.
Slowly we climbed. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to keep control of my breathing. It is a terrible feeling to not be able to catch your breath when you are just standing still, and it is even more terrible trying to physically exert yourself when you constantly feel like the wind has been knocked out of you. Off in the distance, I could see this rock mountain, with a little house on top. I had a terrible feeling that this was High Camp. I looked at the path of this nearly vertical ascent and wondered if I should go back. Earlier in the morning, the skinny Brazilian kid headed back to Base Camp, unable to hack the altitude and the physically challenging climb. Before we ascended, we took a break and reasembled as a group. I was glad to know that everyone was struggling, and it was just not me. At this point, 2 other climbers had given up their packs to the helpers. We were lucky enough to have them climb all the way to High Camp with us.
Up the rocky mountain we went!! It was extremely steep, with loose and slippery rocks everywhere. Sometimes the path disapeared and I had to do my best to figure out the safest route. At anytime, a rock slide could have swept me away. At anytime, one false step could have me tumbling hundreds of meters to the rocks below. Soon, everyone had passes me. Even my guide wasn´t waiting. He would climb quickly and them wait for me, 20 or 30 minutes ahead. Quite often, with no one in sight I felt like the only person on the mountain. I started thinking, "what was I doing here? I am not a mountain climber. I am a fat, out of shape, city girl, who likes to pretend to be able to do outdoorsy, athletic, adventerous things. I did not belong here." The more I thought about it, and the more I looked up at this never ending steep, steep climb, I knew I was in over my head. But I am never one to just give up. I had made it this far, and I could still take one more step, so up the mountain I went. And even if I am pretending to be athletic, outdoorsy and adventerous, I had better keep on pretendind and keep climbing.
When I thought that just over the next rock face will be sweet,sweet flat ground, I picked up my pace. When I climbed over that rock face and saw an even more steep incline, I felt all of the life drain out of me. It was not a far distance, but it was so steep. I sat down on a rock and stared up the mountain for a few minutes. I was so close, but felt so far. That last 100 meters took longer than any other 100 meters in life, and when I got to the top I could barely stand on my feet. But, I was happy to have made it. After all those doubts creeping in and out of my mind and the memory of the view of high camp from the bottom, I was thrilled to actually be here. Hello High Camp!!
The walls of High Camp were signed and drawn all over of people who had made the trek before us. I did not find their words encouraging. Some of the writting said ¨"made it. satisfied. would never do it again." and "nearly killed me, and I didn´t even make it" and "next time moutntain, I will defeat you". Some of the writing had a more positive tone, but I could still see through to the darker undertones. For example, "if mount potosi doesn"t kill you, it will make you stronger". But still many were celebrations about summitting the 6088 meters. At High Camp we relaxed, played cards, ate an early dinner and went to bed in the early evening. We would be waking up at midnight for the 5 - 8 hour climb to the summit.
I had made it this far, and only a few hours of climbing seperated me from the summit. Could I actually do this??
Up next, Summit Day....who wins, Crissy or Mount Huayna Potosi?
Join me, as I TRAVEL MY LIFE AWAY!!!!
*please excuse any spelling errors...I don´t know how to turn the spell checker into english!! Any corrections can be emailed to be at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!!*