Packing up Tres Cruces to move to our next stop for acclimatization. Camp Murray. The boys were smart in planning these acclimatization stops. Going to a high elevation too fast would likely cause altitude sickness and potentially death. Barton is a proper mountaineer and gives us the rundown.
Altitude Sickness is a problem caused by being at high altitude where air pressure is low. Without prior acclimatization (the process of gradual exposure), it can be quite dangerous. More severe symptoms generally occur at above 3,600 meters (about 12,000 feet). Acute mountain sickness can progress to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
People with altitude sickness typically have a bad headache, nausea, dizziness and feel exhausted.
HAPE is a life-threatening form of non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs). HACE is a severe (frequently fatal) form of altitude sickness. HACE is the result of swelling of brain tissue from fluid leakage.
There is no cure for this other than descending to low elevation. We are all watching out for each other for symptoms to make that run to lower land if we need to. But with the slow increase to each camp, we are hoping to avoid any problems.
So, it's time to move up to our second camp. Lukas didn't get too far! Too funny. He started to ride and he was doused with heaps of water from inside his jacket. Their jacket design has the water pouch insert and I think it was because a hose wasn't tight or attached properly.
It was funny to watch though. What the heck? What's wrong? He was moving so fast. Now I know why. Cold water...! ;-)
We drove up the hill. In the photo below, if you can spot it, this is the view back to the little refugio where we've been for the last 3 days at 3700 meters (12, 140 ft).
That was pretty much it for the elevation rise. The road seems fairly flat nearly the rest of the way.
It was afternoon when we left the camp at Tres Crusces. They left late because we don't need to go very far. But right on cue are those late afternoon dark clouds.
There is something exhilarating about being out here. There's nobody to call for help. I feel I look at a landscape differently when I know this..
The boys are well ahead of me somewhere.. enjoying the dirt. The ridges in the road are annoying in lower gear. So, I am going full speed in 4th or 5th gear again, even in this soft stuff. I find the truck really struggles with the weight if I don't. So again, I'm glad the boys are far ahead. By having a look at the landscape next to the track, if you can even see the track.. it's all the same! Who says I have to drive between those two little guide ridges! I'm tempted to drive in the unused part instead, if nothing else, for fun. But I refrained and controlled myself.... ;-)
I found the guys waiting for me at a turn off (again I don't have a gps, so they wait and show me).
So they take off down the track, having a darn good time themselves.
The air temp certainly dropped and I see them waiting for me again. It must be our last turn.
This would be the main road coming up.. Yay!
And now the dark cloud releases the snow.. I am in my truck with the heat on. But look at Walter..! Brrrrr.. I totally remember thinking this next statement when he was talking to me. I was wondering if space aliens are looking down at us now and thinking that we are far more advanced than they thought.. ;-)))
They went on to do an exploratory run and asked me to wait here. I didn't want to waste fuel so I turned the truck off, and gee whiz I was freakin' freezing inside so quickly! Oh well, better get used to it.
Got out and took a photo of my lovely truck.. appears I left the lights on.. doh!
Barton came back to get me (yes, I can tell it's him from those fancy Oakley goggles) He's looking a bit frosty too. I feel bad, but they've got heated vests on, thank goodness. I travel with a heated jacket myself. A vest is totally missing the arms and that's where I feel the cold most. Anyway, they're fine and he told me there is another refugio here!
There was a group of Chilean mountain climbers inside for the night also waiting out the acclimatization thing. There was a big room for us, so plenty of space for all. They were leaving in the morning to do their last camp before attempting to climb Ojos by foot the next day. (I bet they are going to wish they had a motorcycle soon!!??) ;-)
We are wishing the climbers luck and a photograph before the big hike up Volcan Ojos del Salado.
I love the contrast of the clear warm mornings and the dark wild afternoons. When this group starts their ascent at 3 AM, their goal is to be at the top by noon. Perfect timing. But good weather or not, it's got to be a tough climb to 6,893m (22,615ft)! Good luck!
I'll continue Camp Murray in part 2. Saludos!