Since our “mountain guide” already had left early we started to discuss which side the mountain was on? Great, so much for preparedness, but after some basic instructions and a very poor map, we started to follow a trail, feeling good that we were finally on our way to the top, but it didn’t take long before someone bumped a horn, it was the owner I think of the guesthouse who tried to tell us that we had taken the wrong route, great we really played the role of ignorant amateurs good, maybe we could get a Oscar statue for that?
It was a steep trail with a lot of rocks and small stones it was also very wet and a little bit slippery. The weather was quite cloudy with a grey sky, not the best conditions for starting my career as a professional adventure photographer and moviemaker with my new mobile phone “Viewty” which I hardly could handle since it was brand new equipment for me and the lighting conditions were really bad. It didn’t take long until we met our “lively morning bird” that had waited for us eager to continue the climb. But it didn’t take long until one of our crew members stretched her gluteus muscle so bad that she had to stop because of the pain and then later climb down on her own. I think it was hard for her but on the other hand I was glad that it happened so early at so low altitude and not close to the top.
It was a strange feeling freezing on one side of the body and sweating on the other side due to windy conditions. When we looked back we saw a couple climbing in a very fast pace we thought they were Norwegians used to these kinds of conditions, they soon passed us, not good for our own confidence in our self, after a while it got even cooler and more windy and the sight got even worse, you could hardly see more then 30 meters and it was a challenge to follow the marked trail.
After a while I had to put on all clothes with the windbreaker/rain clothes outside, I even used my sunglasses to protect my eyes from the strong horizontal “snowstorm” although it was quite dark.
Then we suddenly met the other two climbers that passed us before they seemed to be heading back down the mountain, so I asked them if they already had been up at the top, but to my surprise they told me they couldn’t find it? So I asked our “mountain guide” that had been on this mountain before, but she was very unsure and pointed to the right although the marked trail still continued to the west down from the peak we stood at, so the question was what to do now? Turn right into pure whiteness maybe getting lost or going down on the glacier without ropes and sufficient equipment or to continue to the west following the marked trail? (In hindsight you may think that it was obvious to follow the marked trail but on the other hand there could have been trails to many different peaks in the same color?) Or maybe it was time to turn back the sight was now awfully bad and it was getting darker. But the couple was eager to find the peak so why not walk a little bit further. So we started to climb down again on a ridge and then up on a very icy slope not so easy without losing the grip and risk sliding down to the glacier our “mountain guide” was the only one with crampons.
After some conversation with the couple I found out that they were Polish and that they had climbed a mountain called Aconcagua (6962 m) so I guess they were quite fit for this experience.
But then we had to go down on another ridge and up again and I thought who many ups and downs are there before we reach the final summit? I also felt my chins started to ache because of the cold wind. Maybe I should have bought a “Balaclava” too? (Some people say it is good to use when you want to take out a lot of cash from the bank, but I am not sure what they mean by that?). Although I have never been better equipped before for cold mountain climbing it was a real challenge, because sometimes I could walk on the surface of the snow cover but mostly I sank down sometimes approx 30-40 cm so I was very happy that I had bought a pair of “Gaitors” and when we really wanted to save energy we walked in each other’s footsteps.
I think we were climbing up or third slope this time and it looked really high when one of the girls started to point towards a grayish building far away into the mists. Was that really a building and was this really the final summit? I wasn’t sure. It may seem strange but there is a so called small restaurant close to the top but it is only open during the summer season. It looked like an ice castle from some movie like “The Chronicles of Narnia” and it was locked of course, but it was beautiful in its own way. Unfortunately I couldn’t document it myself since my “Viewty” was deep frozen and refused to work during these conditions, but fortunately one our other members could take a few shots with his camera. So finally we made it to the top, but we didn’t stay for long just taking some top photos and sharing some old/cold pizza.