Jnster: the story of an outdoors enthusiast in NYC and wherever he wanders...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Logistics problems

Siggh, couldnt go to the volcano, the agency canceled at the last minute.
But it was not such a bad thing because Elise needed more attention, as her health didnt improve yesterday. Today she is fine, with the help of several medicines...
So tomorrow, we will either go for a trekking to the Colca Canyon, or do another tentative for the Chachani volcano....

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Back in Peru

Hello !
And thanks for the comments again.
We´re back in Peru and I´m feeling very good.
We have spent our last day in Chile at a beach resort- chilean style, which means not very very modern beaches and with water not that warm. There was also the largest coakroach in our bathroom! That´s why you should always choose a room without bathroom ;-).

Elise is sick now, it is a bit more serious than what I had, but now she just needs a lot of sleeping.
She has very kindly urged me to go on another volcano ascension tomorrow, while she is resting: the Chachani, close to our current base of Arequipa. This one has more than 6000m, I wonder if I´ll be able to summit...

For the moment, I am visiting the beautiful colonial buildings of Arequipa and hope that she will be fully recovered when I come back. I´m feeling a bit guilty to go for yet another mountain....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hola De Chile


Thanks to those who posted comments lately!!

I couldn´t write a post before, as the Internet was really too slow.
1st news: I´m not sick anymore, neither from food nor from altitude!
We are now in San Pedro de Atacama, a small tourist village in Chile, after spending 3 days in the deserts of Southern Bolivia.
The pictures I´ll post will be amazing. The landscapes were so unreal some pictures will be hard to believe! Deserts, 6000m + volcanoes, geysers at 5000m of altitude, incredibly colored lagunas (lakes)... Weather was perfect, we even saw the mirror like Salar d´Uyuni underwater.
Now, in San Pedro, at 2400m, it is very hot for the first time since the beginning of our vacation. 30 degrees+ during the day, and rather cold at night.
We have spent 3 days touring around the area, with Jean-Pierre, a chilean guide of French origin... who doesnt speak French. Chileans have a very surprising accent in spanish, they usually dont pronounce the "S".
The first tour was in the Cordillerra de la Sal, where we hiked for a while and then ran down the sand dunes. Very exciting, with around 150m of vertical drop!
Second day was the highlight: thanks to our now perfect acclimation, we have ascended the volcano Lascar, at 5600m! This is an active volcano: we could see and smell sulphur fumeroles in the giant crater! The ascension was tiring, but not exhausting for the fact that our guide set a very very very slow pace. I had to go faster by myself at some point. Anyway the important thing is that we summited both Elise and I!! First summit above 5000m ever!
Today we went bathing in a small laguna on the Salar de Atacama, the water was so salty that our legs went up, floating out of the water automatically, we had to learn a new way to swim.

My body is relieved now, thanks to all the minerals from this water (much lithium).
I just feel like sleeping, and I´m looking forward to resting in the night bus that will take us up north to Arica, at the border of Peru...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Le bout du monde

Today, we are in Bolivia.
Uyuni is the small town we arrived in this morning after an unexpectedly long 17hr bus transfer from La Paz. Actually the bus broke down twice, had to stop many times for unexplained reasons but we didnt get a chance to get a food stop...
Uyuni really looks like a farwest town (with the addition of tourists).

Tomorrow, we´ll start a 3 day jeep trip to the remote southwest of Bolivia, including the famous Salar de Uyuni. Weather should be ok now and I´m really hoping to snap special pictures. The salar is mostly under water at this time of year!
The altitude sickness doesnt affect us too much any more, but I´m having stomach problems as usual. A bit embarassed to write this on a public blog, but it´s always a part of my travels :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hola De Peru

First time we see an internet cafe since our arrival!
We are now in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Today was the back to civilization day. Puno is a real city and it´s the first time we can have a hot shower in days! Yesterday, there wasnt even a shower or a sink available, but the village of Llachon and the island of Taquile were beautiful!
I´ll update pictures when we get back so tha the posts look more lively :-)

Also, it really is the rainy season here, so lots of rain, but whenever it stops the sun is so strong we have nice sun burnt skin and herpes :-)
The acclimatization to altitude is painful, since we landed at 3800m and stay approximately at the same altitude all the time. We´re drinking a lor lot of Mate de coca and that helps a lot! That makes headaches less powerful and we are now able to walk a bit with our backpacks without getting too exhausted.

Anyway we are heading to Bolivia tomorrow, next report should be from there!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas eve in a tent

Here it comes, one week after Christmas eve, I have recovered and it's time to describe that adventure!
So after an intense week a rental car searching (everything was booked because of the MTA strike), I finally found one on friday, and snowshoes on friday evening at EMS.
On saturday we set out of the city with Anton, Marta and David, driving to the Catskills, after a quick stop in the Bronx at Corinne's which lent us her maps.
We had chosen to go to Slide Moutain, where we Anton and I had made a trip this summer with the Columbia University Hiking club. Our plan was to do the ful 16 mile loop, in two days. In summer we had done it in one long day.

So after driving 2h40 we arrived at the parking lot in Woodlands valley. Weather was ok, a bit cold but not much compared to the previous week. The whole parking lot ground was frozen but slowly melting.
We hit the trail with our fairly big backpacks...
We decided to start without the snowshoes as somebody has already broken the trail since last snowfall.
The trail was steep and it was already one or two hours spent walking before we stopped for lunch break. Marta provided fig delicacies from Spain... Yummy!
We were already pretty tired. I decided to try on the snowshoes and spent even more energy walking with them on this humid crusty snow. After a while I could hardly follow the others... When terrain became more technical with easy climbing, I took them off and never used them anymore. At the break, I managed to rejoin our group and keep the pace. It was already late, and we had to change our objective: instead of camping near Slide Mountain we wouldn;t go further than Wittenberg mountain. At least I knew there was a good view.
But this mountain was still a few miles away, on a steeper trail. So it took us quite a long time to get there, and my backpack was really really heavy after all these hours....

We finally reached the summit and rested for a few minutes, then it was time to pitch the tents at the best locations, prepare the mattresses and sleeping bags, and start cooking. The sun was already setting!
We had a wonderful Kathmandu curry for Christmas dinner, with hot tea and of course wine brought for this special occasion! After the sun had disappeared, temperature dropped very quick and we decided to go to bed asap. In bed at 6.40pm on Christmas eve and asleep at 7, only awaken by a mouse, and imaginary bigger beats!
We really slept like babies, for 14hours that is. When I got out of the tent at 9am the next morning, the landscape was gorgeous: we were abode the sea of clouds that stagnated in the valley. What a view! And a nice warming sun!

We took our time during breakfast and then headed to the next mountain without our packs. The trail was more technical, but not strenuous as we were travelling light and fast. At Cornell mountain, we took a few pictures, admired Slide mountain and turned back.

We had a good lunch at the camp and then descended back to the car. Still a long way down, but easier than the previous day. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared and it started raining on the way down, and all the way to the city. We were probably the only ones in the area that had enjoyed a beautiful sun on Christmas day.

Marta, Anton and David Posted by Picasa

David Posted by Picasa

Marta and Anton Posted by Picasa

Frozen rock on the way up Posted by Picasa

View from Wittenberg, in the morning Posted by Picasa

The city wimps. David, Jn and Anton :-) Posted by Picasa

View from Wittenberg Posted by Picasa

nice Xmas dinner Posted by Picasa

General view of Christmas camp at Wittenberg mountain Posted by Picasa

David shows off the tent we skillfully pitched Posted by Picasa

Cheers, mate Posted by Picasa

Elise's tent, without Elise :-) Posted by Picasa

Jn and the sea of clouds Posted by Picasa

Anton's tent in the forest Posted by Picasa

Best view from our camp - David on the pic Posted by Picasa

Jn Posted by Picasa

View from Cornell Mountain Posted by Picasa

Back from Cornell mountain Posted by Picasa