No donkey today, "auto" or otherwise. I'm to stuff it all into my main pack and lug it ½ km up to High Camp resting at 5,200m. I also strap my heavy day pack to the outside using various compression straps. It gives my pack a really awkward weight, I have to lean forward a lot to compensate. The 3 hours is a scramble straight up shingle, rocks and boulders. Eliseo wanted to take some of my awkward weight, fearing I was going to wear myself out, but I was adamant, if I bring it, I carry it. The girls by comparison didn't carry their boots, day packs or any water. Pah!
We pass 8 sturdy, athletic looking Antipodeans coming down. They had attempted to summit that morning. Only 2 out of the 8 made it. The odds look grim.
High camp is a newly built 2 story shelter above the glacier where the snow line starts. Eliseo's favourite saying of the day (well, past few days really) is, "Vamos a la Playa!" or "To the Beach!"
The rest of the day is along the lines of chill, lunch, rest, dinner, sleep, breakfast! There are not many people at the camp, only 8 punters who'll try to summit in the morning. Except for me and the girls they all look athletic and super fit. Amongst them is Sean, a very rich Ecuadorian with an interesting character. It seems he wants to utilise the wealth bestowed upon him to try and address some of the social injustices in his country - but once he's finished travelling of course! To that end he recommends a book called, "[The Open Veins of Latin America]`http://www.amazon.co.uk/Open-Veins-Latin-America-Centuries/dp/1899365133`".
Speaking to Shannon I find out she's a physiotherapist. She gives my gammy bent finger a 30 second diagnosis. It has a ruptured extensor tendon, meaning it will never straighten on it's own until I have an operation. I only hope it won't be too late for it by the time I get back to the UK. She looks at my finger, looks at the mountain and tells me I'm a hero. I always knew it!
It gets dark and we all head upstairs to bed. The upper story is full of loose mattresses. We're getting up at 12:30am to start out on our final ascent (final assualt!?). We're up early partly for the whole summit at dawn thing but mainly because the snow gets too soft during the sunny daylight hours. People have disappeared down the numerous deep crevasses.
Posted by Steve Eynon