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Misti Climb

I haven’t been able to post since arrival in Cusco, because frankly, this town has crap internet… From Hotels that have rooms built of stones preventing clear Wifi signals, to internet Cafe’s with dialup-esque speed, to Hotsels that have signals that cutout mid-upload.  Can you classify it as a ‘sad situation’ when a town in the middle of the desert has faster internet than you – the biggest tourist city in all the continent?

But I digress… I need to catch up on things, and I’ll start with our climb up Misti Volcano.

We woke up somewhat early (06:50) so that we could partake in our “continental breakfast” before our climb.  We hurried off to wake up the reception lady, who made us the typical South American Hostel’s continental breakfast: 2 buns. some butter/jam, juice, and coffee.  We scarfed this down, paid the 50 soles for the night, then grabbed our “repacked” bags to drop them off at luggage storage at our original hostel.  Gustavo (owner of the tour company/hostel) picked us and our guide up there.  We packed in a headlamp, 2 thermal bedmats each, and a sleeping bag in our bags, a tent (initially put in my pack)  and off we went.

After a 20 min drive winding up the hills, and through the gradual desert slope leading up to the mountain, the road ended and we got dropped off.  We snapped some quick pics together then were off on our way:

So off we went.  First things first, new straps on my backpack were discovered, putting everything close to the back.  It was a basic trail through shrubs to start off with.  The pace was a slow, yet steady, walk.  The two things I noticed:

1 – You need your head down around 80-90% of the time, just to judge your footing and your pace

2 – Your concentrate a lot on your breathing.  The breaths at this altitude were shorter and more frequent

So we skipped most of our break offers from our guide – mostly in an effort to showcase how masculine we were…. Eventually we began to hit the climbing section: rocks ranging from knee-high to waist-high.  At this point I became aware of how heavy my pack was.  It seemed on par with my actual trip-backpack weight: 35-40 lbs.  Soon I started to take more frequent breaks.  Time was crawling… We started the hike at 09:15, and made steady progress until roughly 11:45.  We eventually had lunch at 12:15.  Around 12:45 I had had it… My legs had gone from under me… Basically rubber. I had to swap our tent to Paul’s pack to take on his sleeping mat.  It helped a little, but not enough… Eventually we got out of the climbing section and hit the switchbacks. Even this did nothing for me.  It seemed like I’d hike short little steps for 5 mins before stopping.  Soon enough I began collapsing in exhaustion in the middle of the trail.

Here is some pics during break, showcasing the pain on my face:

Soon I was collapsing every 2 minutes.  About 30 mins until basecamp, the same thing began happening to Paul.  We were taking turns passing each other and just dropping from exhaustion.  Soon enough we hit basecamp, where we immediately set about putting up the tent, beddings, and resting.  After about 10 mins we both started feeling close to barfing our guts out.  Altitude sickness was getting to us.  We started contemplating moving our heads closer to the entrance so we could merely roll over to vomit.  Somehow we managed to keep ourselves from projecting vomit for a couple hrs, when soon enough our guide called us out to make sure we were alright.  He gave us some Tylenol and begang to cook dinner at sunset:

Dinner went like this:

1 – A serving of cream of vegetable soup, with crushed up potato chips sprinkled in. Surprisingly delicious!

2 – Pasta – Noodles boiled with a tomato sauce with mushrooms.

3 – Copious amounts of Coca tea.

We immediately began to feel better.  The effects of Coca tea are said to combat altitude sickness, and it really worked. After about 1 hr of chat, the temperature was too cold, so we ran to the tents and bundled up for sleep. My outfit consisted of the following:

-1 pair calf-length socks, 1 Pair “knee-high” Incan Alpaca socks, 1 pair boxers, 1 pajama pants, 1 athletic shorts, 1 track-pants, 1 beater, 1 undershirt, 1 long-sleeve shirt, 1 hoodie, 1 pair of thing gloves, 1 pair of Alpaca mittens, 1 Alpaca Chile beanie (put underneath my hoodie), all wrapped into my mummy-sleeping bag.

Temperatures hit -20 to -23 that night.  And no… me and Paul couldn’t bring ourselves to spoon.  We did a slight adaptation though, sleeping back-to-back/shoulder-to-shoulder.  At one point I couldn’t hold back that pasta and had to let one rip…so I did… right on Paul. The funny part was that he didn’t mind in the least… He thanked me for the brief warmth I provided him, and the tent.

At 02:00 our guide woke us up to climb to the summit.  My back was throbbing in pain since 24:00, and I could barely move… Furthermore the altitude sickness was back, and I was fighting to stop from throwing up.  Thankfully Paul managed to bring himself to make the hike to the peak, while the guide stuffed my mouth with Tylenol and left me a can of Cocoa tea.  Once Paul left I sprawled out on my back and manged to get some sleep.

I awoke at 07:00 and made myself in the freezing cold while awaiting for the sun to warm up the rocks at basecamp.  Soon after Paul and our guide returned, and was very proud to hear he made the summit, even though he was beat, and had a bad cough… here is some pics he took:

He had a quick 1 hour nap, while I snapped some pics. We then packed up and made the hike down. Thankfully I was all better (if not numbed up from Tylenol’s) at the time.  It was an easy hike, and the breathing got better with every meter we descended.  My favorite part was the Sand + Volcanic Ash part of the hill, which (like Justin and Scott from Departures) I hopped and jumped all the way down.  It was so fun (aside from the fact you had to stop to empty your shoes of sand.)

We made it down in less than 2 hours where Gustavo picked us up and took us back to Arequipa.  Thankfully Marita (lady working at Sillar) let us repack our bags in a room there and have a shower.  After we went for lunch, stocked up on munchies, and had another wonderful chat with the beautiful Angisa (also working at Sillar.)  At 19:45 Angisa called us a taxi (to avoid the kidnapping taxi’s) to the bus station where we caught our 20:30 bus to Cusco.

After some thought, here are our faults on the climb:

1 – Breakfast… Buns + Coffee??? Really…??? need I say more? Clearly not enough to keep up ones energy.

2 – My pack. My hands were tied here, as I didn’t really want to leave my laptop at a hostel, so I was forced to lug this.  I also brought a book on the Inca’s, which I clearly had no time to read.

3 – Sleep…. we were on roughly 7 hrs…. 9 hrs was likely needed

4 – Water – we had 5 L each + powerades, but didn’t drink enough on the way up out of the fear we’d run out fast.

5 – Snacks. The altitude made us feel full off of an insufficient amount of food, so we only ate 1/3 of our snacks on the way up.

6 – Generally not getting acclimatized.  Most come in through Cusco + Bolivia, so they are used to the altitude, whereas we came up from Chile, basically sea level.

Off to Machu Pichu tomorrow… Will update Friday.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. David Ristivojevic
    July 16, 2010 at 18:34

    Hey Bitch (that’s from Paulie!).

    Man, you are a trooper! Great blog by the way, good to see all that money you spent in university has paid off in your very well written daily exploits. Question: Where be the “hot bitches” you professed to all the time you were counting down the days @ CCTF? We want to see hot, sweaty Brazilian ladies in their element (it would help if they all looked like Shakira…. NAKED, that is! Enjoy the ride, looks like your having a blast. Be safe.

    David and the crew @ CCTF.

    • holbrookben
      July 16, 2010 at 22:13

      To Paulie: Shutup Bitch!
      As per Brazil… It takes time to get there… Likely flying in there at the end of the month… First we have to consume copious amounts of cheap Bolivian beer… That, and head to the Amazon and try not to get attacked by snakes,spiders,crocs…etc

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