Monday, 29 November 2010

The Best Thing we did in the Atacama

I know the facial expression might suggest another story.  But this was our descent from a 6000 metre plus summit.  This time we got the top.

The mountain in question is called Sairecabur - 6050 metres or bit more than 20,000 feet above sea level.

MJC at about 7.30 am.  We started the climb from Sairecabur´s base camp at 5,600 metres.  Our vehicle is a tiny dot somewhere in the shadow on the far slope.  It was bitterly cold out of the Sun.  My hands have never hurt so much through cold.  I thought my fingers might break off when I removed my double-thickness gloves.

Our guide Ivan congratulates MJC at the end of the epic ascent.  It was two and a half hours of scrambling up 45 degree scree and then clambering up a tower of massive basalt boulders.  Headache and utterly knackered legs at this point.

At the summit, looking in the direction of more northerly Chile.

View from summit into southwestern Bolivia.  We had driven past that lake (Laguna Blanca) three days earlier.  The green lake, Laguna Verde, is out of sight at the feet of the perfectly conical volcano Licancabur.

Another stunning volcanic vista from 6000 metres. Got quite emotional over being up there and seeing all this beneath us.

Ivan leading the way down.  It took about one and half hours.  Our vehicle is parked in what looks like a white quarry, just below the centre point of the photo.  For astronomy fans, I was told that the Atacama Large Millimetre Array is not far behind the two volcanoes in the middle distance.

Keep any unkind comments about the hat to yourselves.

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