Lars og Meretes nettdagbok - Aconcagua

Lars and Merete's Aconcagua online diary

Home [wed 17.03.2010 01:54 (norwegian time)]

Just a quick note to let you know that both Merete and I are back home in the winter wonder land of Norway. Merete has safely returned to Bergen, and I to Oslo.

Going home - AF401 [mon 15.03.2010 20:54 (norwegian time)]

After spending a short day/night in Santiago, Chile, it's time to go home. Air France this time as well. It is even the same flight as two months ago when I returned from the South pole. That time the plane of Air France flight AF401 broke during take off, and we had to wait to the next day for them to get a new plane. I wonder what fate has in store for us this time. I'm secretly hoping for a "Lost" (modern Robinson Crusoe) experience, so I can hunt wild boars in the jungle with a knife. Merete on the other hand wants to go home. We'll just have to wait and see who gets their wish.

We didn't see much destruction in Santiago after the earthquake about 2 weeks ago in our short stay. But we saw a clock tower like the one in the movie "back to the future". It had stopped at about 3:40, the time of the eartquake (picture 1)

Picture 2 is of Merete by the pool of the hotel getting as much out of the summer and hot sun as she can. Chile actually extended summer with 3 weeks. Because of the earthquake they prolonged the daylights savings time. Winter time was supposed to start the midnight before we arrived. I was a bit confused when arriving. I knew about the change of timezone while we were of the grid, but I'd never imagined they would do such a change on such a short notice.

Picture 3 is of me entering the airport. Most of the airport building is still closed down. So a lot of the functions of the airport has been moved to tents in the parking lot.

I guess we still look like we belong in the wilderness. After 4 or 5 showers, the white towels have stopped turning brown when we dry off. But still, when we tried to enter the business gate for boarding the plane, an air france woman came running towards us screaming: NO NO NO only business. (she could have tried to put on an apologizing smile when she looked at our tickets and let us past)

The cabin crew is urging me to turn of my phone, so I guess I'll end this entry here.

Mendoza and blisters [sun 14.03.2010 07:16 (norwegian time)]

Just a quick note about todays events. We've been to a vineyard for a tour, wine tasting and lunch. We've also walked around town a bit and done some shopping. Actually I've acquired more blisters walking around in my sandals today, than I've gotten during the whole trip. I really like my Scarpa boots.

Speaking of which. Richard sold his boots today. After the descent to basecamp, he got a little problem with his knee. It was so bad that the doctor sent him out of the park on a mule, but not so bad that he got a helicopter ride, like Barry did. The 5 hours (or so) mule ride was not a fun experience for Richard. He could bairly walk last night when he got of the mule. But he seemed much better today and has been walking both around town and in the vineyard.

The first picture is of an unnamed crazy norwegian that is drying her sneakers/running shoes out of the window of the super fancy hotel. On the second picture, the same norwegian is in the basement of a vineyard contemplating how many bottles of wine (from the stack behind her) she can hide in her backpack and sneak out. (It is a lot cheaper/faster to upload pictures, now that I'm back in civilization)

The last picture is from our celebration dinner tonight. From the left: Merete, Ossy, Richard, Lars, Joshua, Zach, Sara and Giuseppe. Gaspar is taking the picture. Rodrigo had to leave earlier on the day. They are making a lot of changes to our flights out of here due to the earthquake.

Back to civilization [sat 13.03.2010 00:16 (norwegian time)]

After a long hike we are back a the entrance of the park. The hike out took 6 1/2 hours and dropped us 1400 meter (the hike in took 3+8 hours (with some rest days inbetween)). Now we are waiting for our mini-bus that will take us back to the large city of Mendoza. We will probably arrive at our fancy hotel a couple of hours after midnight.

Several have asked about Suda. She is fine. They brought her down to basecamp where she saw the doctor and spent two nights. Merete has spoken with her a couple of times. I'm sure she'll write more about her later. It's possible that she will make a full recovery without having to amputate any fingers. We see Suda on the picture of today. As she had bad blisters on her feet, she bought a ride on a horse out of the park. From the left: Merete, Suda and Sara.

Back to basecamp/Equipment [sun 14.03.2010 07:25 (norwegian time)]

Today we went down to basecamp Plaza de Mules (4400m) again. It took us 6 days to move our camp up to high camp 3, Colera (6000m). It took Merete and me less than 2 hours to hike back down again, with the others right behind us. Tomorrow we will do a looong hike back to sivilazation again.

As this day isn't much to write about, I would like to take the oppourtunity to mention some of the equipment I'm really happy with.

First of all, Humanedgetech. They are the ones that have provided me with my iridium sat phone and all my communication equipment. It works flawlessly all around the world. They can also provide you with software/web-pages like they did on the Northpole trip. (Allthough this time I did the webpage myself to save money and integrate it with facebook).

Then there is the danish Rieman P20 Once a Day Sun Protection. Unlike most other sunscreens that has to be reapplied during the day, this one lasts for 10 hours. It's perfect for me, who hates to apply any kind of cream. Allthough I do sometimes add regular 50 sun block during the day at exposed areas when at very sunny places. I buy it at Nomaden in Oslo. They btw also provide me with Micropur Forte pills to clean water before drinking.

When it comes to backpacks, no one beats ULA Equipment and their ultralight backpacks. I've been using the Circuit for about a year now, and are so happy with it that I've bought all the other variations they have as well. All the backpacks are in addition to beeing ultralight, very versatile and with a lot of smart functions.

For just about everything else, I go to Sportsnett. They have both a store in Oslo and a webshop. They have almost anything you would ever need in climbing and expedition gear, as well as helpfull and skillfull employees.

Merete: A tale of a summit day [thu 11.03.2010 14:44 (norwegian time)]

Good morning wold! I'm still in my sleepingbag and have slept for 12 hours straight without even going to the toilet ;) that's incredible in it self as we drink looots. Just having a great sleep at 6000meters is great! I woke up today to really strong winds hitting the tent like someone stood outside shaking and hitting the tent with all their powers. It's veeery noisy ;)

Anyway! Energy is back. Our day yesterday (the summit day) started at 03 in the morning. Melting water and having breakfast. Then of course use 1 hour putting on layers and layers of clothes. I tried to do it inside my sleepingbag as it was -10 celsius inside the tent. That adds a bit of extra time. We filled up 2 liters of water each with a backup of 0.5liters. For breakfast at 03 I had a snickers bar. The day before I had a huge breakfast and then we left for camp III shortly after. When you're this high and there's so little oksygen the body tries to digest and that takes so much of the oksygen that when trying to walk really slowly after eating you feel completely drained. So snickers it was ;)

Ossy, our great guide shouted "10 minutes!". That was the bell for us to get out and get the crampons on. Noone should be standing outside waiting in the cold. In the lights og 9 headlamps, including Lars at this point, Ossy said a prayer in spanish. ..and "let's go!" off we went. Time was 05 in the moorning and because the moon was at at it smallest, the headlamp was really needed.

The first 200 meters went way to fast. I'm not going to speculate why the pase to our first stop was so fast. I kept saying to Lars, "we're going way to fast". I started to sweat. NOT a good thing when the pase will be much slower later on, and then you will start to freeze. I was lagging behind, and I saw Lars faar behind me. I suddenly felt really sick, got down on my knees and almost puked. Notthing came out, lucky as I knew I really needed that snickersbar for energy. I walked fast over to the group a bit pissed at ossy because he must know that the pase was too fast. I think the reason why he speeded up wasS because Gaspar, one of the guides, were cold. When Lars came to our first stop he was very cold because he'd been sweating, and he was really pale. Ossy asked me if I wanted to lead the phase goinng further, and so I did, never having time to talk more to Lars who turned back at 6200metes.

I knew my mountain boots (la sportiva nepal) wasn't "good enough" as it gets really cold on this mountain. I was playing piano with my toes continusly Rodrigo, our great Brazilian, gave me some toewarmers as well,but I couldn't make them work properly. I kept to the norwegian way, piano-playing ;)

Then dawn came. It was reeally cold. I just remember I really wanted to take pictures, but I couldn't make myself take off my glove to take a picture But I can tell you it was beautiful! I felt we were higher than everything in the Andes. The sun came up just before we got to our 1/3-point. A destroyed rescue-hut at 6400meters. the sun is just the best source of energy! I had to take off my boots, got some ossy-massage to make sure they were ok. I do have a theory that most norwegians know all about the danger of cold feet, that we are more afraid thinking about it then people not used to the cold. That's why I think I was propbably worrying more then I had to ;)

Just a quick note on the inside of your head. I think the head goes into marshal law (unntakstilstand). The only thing I think about is oksygen and when I can drink the next time. That is, when do I have enough energy to move my hand back to my backpack and grap the insulated bottle? :) When I go slowly enough I get really sentimental. We walk in beautiful terrain and with breathtaking views. But I have to admit that my eyes are usually at the track in front ;)

The next part to the summit was on the west side looking back at plaza del mulas. This part is really windy and cold a we had no sun. We basically turned a corner, and baaam, the wind hit us. I had all my layers on, including down west and down jacket, and still I felt cold. I could see the whole path I had to traverse. Bloody long! Ossy said 2 hours of freezing pain. I guess he was right. I will estimate -15 celsius with a windchill of 15 more I had my face inside my balaclava and a buff covering the rest. I was glad I can deal with the cold quite well. Felt sorry for Rodrigo living in warm Brasil not used to it at all.

Then I saw something.. On this cold track far in front of us, someone came walking towards us! It was really early in the morning so we couldn't quite understand. Then the person turned around walking upwards again. The vhf-radio started talking. It was the mountain-police down at plaza del mulas that had seen the same thing as us, and saw us moving closer to the person. Joshua increased his speed as much as he could to get to her as soon as possible. It was a she. She had severe cerebrall edema (hjerneoedem). Only thing see knew was her name, that she lived in the usa but were orginally from india. When we got to her Joshua and Ossy had started a rescue. The mountain police would meet jousha at 6400. It was an awful sight. She had probably spent the night out. Her nose was blue, and when Ossy touched her hands she screamed. Later that afternoon ossy said that 5 of her fingers were competely blue,and had to be amputated. Ossy had to scream to her "do you want to live!" and force her to walk down. It was bizarre to see how a brain gets completely fucked up like that. We were so high that a helicopter could not get her out.

This event by the coldest pass made the time go by a bit faster. At least my head were somewhere else then on my own sufferings ;) as I got closer to The Cave, a place the sun hits at 6700, I wanted to move faster. I was so cold. The last 7 step I did not run, just walked very fast. Then I took the last step I felt supersick, got elegantly down on my knees, put my skipoles aside, and then I turned my stomach inside out. The only thing that came out was solbærtoddy that I had brought to drink on the summit day. I didn't mind at all. I felt the sun hitting my body like a warm shower on a cold naked body ;)

So this little incident made me realised that I had only eaten a snickers and half a pack of powergel I got from Zach some days earlier. Can't say I was hungry, but I forced a new enegry bar down.

We started on the last part of the climb shortly after. A steep slope with usually a lot of scree that would have given us on step forward, and sliding half a step back. But because it's so late the season it was snow there, frozen solid! Our crampons played its way all the way to the top! What a view! I walked with Joshua. We didn't stress. I knew would make it. We stopped half way up and he showed me where he came up when he climbed the south wall of Aconcagua. It's a straight wall of snow and ice!

Then finally! I got to the top! What a view, what a relief! When i'm that tired tears comes easily when i'm that happy. A small step for mankind, but a big step for me, reaching the summit at 6963meter, just 37 meters from 7000meters! Woooohoooo!
Trying to explain the feeling inside for those of you who doesn't climb mountains is impossible. And for those of you who do, it was just THAT great!

Ps: walking down wasn't a problem. I've never had problems with knees or just the fact that it's a bit steep looking down... That of course depends on the steepness ;) the crampons made it just fun!

Summit day [wed 10.03.2010 22:39 (norwegian time)]

Merete, Giuseppe, Richard, Zach, Rodrigo, Sara, Ossy, Gaspar and Joshua summited Aconcagua today. I did not.

As I've previously mentioned, the Altitude Troll works in mysterious ways. I'm sure there are as many opinions as to what went wrong as there are people in the group. So instead of speculating about that and detailing the events, I'll rather let Merete tell the tail of her summit day. I just want to add that eventhough I failed during the most important 15 hours of this climb, I've had a great 15 days at this mountain. Over to Merete:

THAT is the hardest 12 hours in my life. A maraton seem too easy after this ;) BUT I made it! It was an speedy start that really made me want to turn my stomach inside out.'s 20 minutes since I came back, and I don't know if I realized that I actually summited . Ineed some hours rest first. I am happy, no doubts about that, it's just hiding under exauthion.

Merete just crashed into her sleepingbag mumbeling about her experiences of the day. I guess we'll get more out of her tomorrow.

Everybody has arrived safely back to camp 3. We'll walk down to basecamp tomorrow.

Summit day scheduled for tonight/tomorrow [tue 09.03.2010 22:37 (norwegian time)]

Hello from merete:

We have arrived at 6000 meters. Camp III is up. Tents, sleepingbag etc. It's a beautiful spot! Pictures can probably not describe it to the full, but it is like being in an eagles nest with rocks giving its protection from the winds. In other words, not a bad word of our highest camp. Even the toilet is perfectly hidden from the wind with and awsome view. It feels you can see the whole of the Andes from here ;)

If we don't move superslowly a pounding headache comes sneeking. Weather conditions looks good but cold. I don't mind the cold, but the wind makes things triky. Just to get something from your pocket means taking off your gloves..brrr! I guess I will wear 4 layers on my legs. Wool, wool, fleece and the hardshell. Will bring downjacket for upper body including: wool inner layer (that smells like a man by now!), windstopper with wool. And my hardshell and down west.

We estimate 10 hours to the summit starting at 04.30. Starting one hour later then normal because of the cold temperatures. Then we don't need that many hours out before the sun comes up. 10 hours up, 5 hours down. A loong day starting in less than 12 hours. I'm in very good spirit ! One cool thing is that we are alone one the mountain. There is noone at camp III with us. Winter is setting in any minute here in Argentina. It does make it nicer in a way. Just the mountain and us.

So to a little girly note. I can't recall being so dirty as now. The fine sand gets into all your layers and to your skin. When giving myself a "shower" with a hand wipe yesterday, washing my armpits, it turned brown!! Like i've been having makeup on ;) Have to say that my body longs for a long hot scrubbing shower. When we get back we've been living in a tent for 16 days. Some might say "ysjj", but my response would be the same as the father to calvin & hobbs (tommy & tigeren) ," it builds character"!

Anyway, need to put my head down 0n my down jacket and relax for a bit. My head doesn't agree with me that 6000 meters is a nice place!

So long! Hopefully next time I'm tapping away on this pda I have good news about our summit attempt ! ;)

Gone with the wind [tue 09.03.2010 01:34 (norwegian time)]

Remember Merete's picture yesterday of our tent on the edge of the cliff? Have a look at today's picture taken almost 24 hours later. Do you notice anything missing?

Last night the wind picked up quite a bit. I left my wind speed meter at basecamp, but the gusts (vindkastene) were extremely strong. The sleepig mat shivered, socks and other clothes that were hanging inside the tent fell down, my termometer hit me in the head. It was hard getting a good night's sleep. I was mostly just lying there trying to be as heavy as I could.

But morning came without any incidents. We started our acclimatization/cache hike to high camp 3. 30 minutes into our hike there were a gust so strong we would have fallen of the mountain if it hadden been for us using walking poles. Luckily two of our guides was still at camp 2. The tent of Merete and me got caught by the wind, ripped itself loose from the stones and started tumbeling down the mountain. They managed to catche up with it and stop it, as it was tumbeling down the hillside and hadden't fallen of the cliff. Anyhow, our tent is now a little bit longer away from the cliff as there are still very strong winds.

Besides being windy and cold, we had a good hike to 6000 meters today.

Note from merete in nowegian:
Supergratulerer med dagen Marie! Daarlig gjort at jeg ikke faar spist kake med deg! Feiret deg med norsk flagg og med vaar isbjoernmaskot (se bilde). Kanskje du kan gi han et navn? Haaper mamma leser dette for deg og forteller hva vi gjoer. Du maa gjerne sende oss en epost hvor du forteller hva du gjorde paa dagen din! Gleder meg til aa ake med deg igjen, og spesielt ta bastu etterpaa! :)
Jeg feiret bursdagen din 4 timer lengre enn deg. Akkurat naa er dagen din over I norge, men her er det fortsatt 3 timer igjen. Det der kan mamma forklare deg ;)

stoooor klem fra merete

Mr Roger Heggelund, I presume? [sat 13.03.2010 15:33 (norwegian time)]

Today we have moved our camp to high camp 2, Nido de condores, at 5600 meter. Merete's headache was gone today. I carried a 16 kg backpack and Merete 11 kg. I know that might not seem like much, but it is extremely hard. Here at 5600 meter the air preasure is at the moment 518 mb. A standard atmosphere is 1013,25 mb (dry air, sealevel, 15 deg c). So that means we have about half the oxygene available that we normally do at home. Not to forget that we wear very heavy mountainering boots.

At one point both Merete and I needed to pee. But as we were exhausted we didn't bother to go off the trail by more than 50 cm. Since we have known eachother for 13 years and seen what there is to see, we didn't bother to increase the distance between us to any more than the meter we have when walking. As we are experienced outdoor people, we off course checked the wind speed and direction before we opened the flow. It was dead calm. (Stille foer stormen?) As we started making our small yellow rivers, there was a huge gust (vindkast). Merete wondered a split second what these drops of water on her sunglasses were, before she screamed more than should be possible with the available air at this altitude. To Lars' astonishment the volume increased even further afer his comment about fresh urine being clean and unharmfull.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Just before this incident Merete recognized a distinct english accent (troender engelsk) from one of the members of a group descending the mountain. She uttered "du hoeres ut som du er norsk" (you sound like you're norwegian) wheras Lars continued "du er vel ikke tilfeldigvis Roger?" (Mr Roger, I presume?). Indeed he was. Just after the earthquake we had gotten an email from a concerned friend asking about him. From the doctor at basecamp, we knew he was ok and some days ahead of us. Roger sumited Aconcagua yesterday, as the only climber from his group. He said it was extremely strendious/hard, but he seemed happy and full of strenght coming down. Congratulations Roger! This evening we celebrated him in our tent with Kvikk Lunsj (obligatory norwegian hike chocolate).

The picture of today is of our tent on the edge of a cliff at 5600 meters overlooking mountainrange, after mountainrange, after mountainrange during sunset.

Merete here:
I'm at the moment enjoying corn soup, one of the better soups on the trip. I think I found the medicine for not getting the worst headache of the century. Walk my own pace and when arriving at camp, do no more movements then needed ;) this tapping on the keyboard do feel a bit wasted in terms of energy, but then again, there is not much else todo.
I know this online diary is getting long, but it's really our way to keep sane, pretending that someone would care about 2 people who choose to feel terrible just to stand on top of a mountain. No pain, no gain, ey? ;)
I'm having the: keep positive day today. It does help to laugh a bit so I got Rodrigo, ossy and zach to tell a joke. No one to be repeated ;)

Anyway,yesterday was yesterday. Life sucked yesterday. I think all bad thoughts came to the surface as my brain felt like it was exploding. And for those of you who doesn't know, paracet or ibux doesn't work "up here". :) the pain comes from the brain telling you to get the f... down to lower altitude ;) I missed eveyone yesterday. More than usual. I could not understand why I were not on a warm sandy beach drinking umbrelladrinks with my nearest and dearest...and trust me, you can stay at a veery nice hotel for the price we're paying ;) glad I don't understand myself sometimes, because I am actually enjoying every second of today...and I know that after this several weeks maraton is over I will be the happiest girl around. And btw, that is true if I summit or not.
Over and out from the nest of the gondores at 5620meters!

Horrible/Great day [sun 07.03.2010 02:01 (norwegian time)]

I've had a great day today. Merete has had a horrible day today. That is how the altitude is. Some days are great and some are not.

This day was an acclimatization and cache day. We hiked from 5030 to 5600 meters and down again. Merete and I brought 10-15 kg to leave there in camp 2. In addition to this we carry a lot of water and some food and clothes for the day. We will move our entire camp tomorrow. Early on Merete got a headache. When we were about halfway , it got so bad so she had to take a pill for it. We also moved most of her load over to my backpack.

I on the otherhand had a great day. Even with the extra load I was listening to music on my tiny mp3-player and almost dansing up the mountain. At one point I turned around to look back down the valley, only to discover that we had walked above all other mountains. I could see chains of mountains beneath us on and on into the horizon. And just as I discovered this Ulf Lundell started to sing "Jag trivs best i opna landsckap". (Sweedish artist singing "I enjoy it the most in wast/open scenery/landscape). That felt great. The picture is of Merete smiling through her headache at that point.

But I'm not imune to the altitude either. I've almost had a headache all day, that I've been fighting of with water. Most of the others in the group has felt the altitude some way or the other as well. But we are in good spirit, and ready to move our camp up 600 meters tomorrow.

Camp Canada 5030m, 2 climbers down, 7 still going up [sat 06.03.2010 00:51 (norwegian time)]

We have now moved our camp up to High camp 1, Camp Canada at 5030 meters. That's 200 meters higher than Mont Blanc. We previously cached some stuff here the day before yesterday. Today Merete went up with a 15kg backpack and I with a 18kg backpack. The others are paying porters (baerere) to carry most of their stuff. Merete and I are paying a porter to carry our part of the communal stuff (like food, stoves, tent etc). The first picture is of Merete and Richard going up. The second picture is of Lars and the rest/Sara's backpack.

As mentioned in the heading, we are now 2 climbers short. We are 7 climbers and 3 guides left. Barry had an old infection in his foot that came back. The doctor prohibited him from continuing. He will be evacuated by helicopter.

(merete here)
Our tentspot is just beautiful on the edge of a cliff. We have a beautiful view of the valley bellow. I'm curious how the night will go. Last time I slept on 5000meters I would wake up feeling that I was choking. ;) that was at the refuge at the foot of Chimborazo in Ecuador. It's another beautiful day with sun and not much wind. I'm hiding away from the sun inside our tent as it is really strong up here. A spanish guy came down to mulas yesterday with snowblindness. The reflection of the snow had hurt his eyes badly.

One thing that have occupied my mind a bit on this trip is how much time you have during a day if you don't have anything to do. ;) This probably sound stupid but a great thing about climbing mountains is all the time you have to refect over your life. Back home, if my mind is not occupied with something for 5 minutes, I would surf on facebook or aftenposten or I would go for aa run or climb. Right now I feel that my life is endless if it continues in this pase. :)

In 3 days Marie turns 7 years! Now, at least, I have time to reflect how crazy that is! ;)

Last day of rest [fri 05.03.2010 02:06 (norwegian time)]

Today is our last resting day before moving up to the higher camps. It's been a slow day mostly used to charge the batteries of our gadgets and ourselves. Some has even bought themselves a hot shower from the local shower tent. The picture of today is of Merete licking sun outside our tent on her sleeping mat.

Richie (the one from US, not the one from Australia) received bad news from the doctor and guides today. He will not be allowed to continue up the mountain. As metioned before, he is a super strong and fit guy, but his body just didn't adapt well to the altitude. This time.

I also went by the doctor today. My bloodpreasure is still a bit high, but I'm allowed to continue. My O2 level and pulse/heartrate are still very good.

We also played a bit of cards today. I didn't think it was possible to get the queen of spade in the first round/trick (stikk) 3 times in a row, playing hearts. But I did...

Tomorrow we will breake up camp here at Plaza de Mulas and move our camp to high camp 1, Camp Canada at 5000 meters.

Clean bill of health, almost [thu 04.03.2010 01:41 (norwegian time)]

I went to the doctor again this morning. My bloodpreasure was back down again. Still a little bit high, but I'm ok to continue. Tomorrow is a resting day again, so I'll just have to stop by her again then to check that everything is ok.

Merete has allready told about the day, so I'll just provide som pictures. The first picture is of Merete at high camp 1, Canada. She is pointing at the mountain Cueruo.

The second picture is from going back down. From the left: Lars, Giuseppe having to much energy and doing a "department of silly walks" and Sara.

The last picture is of us running back down to the basecamp. Merete in red, Zack in yellow and Richard in black. In the back are Ossy (left) and Barry, both in blue.

I might have forgotten to mention, but Merete's backpack arrived with Ossy and Sara on our rest day in Confluencia. My carabiners are still lost.

Such a perfect day! [wed 03.03.2010 22:03 (norwegian time)]

Merete here. Life is good! A perfect day! We had a carry-up to camp 1 at 5030 meters today. Sunny, not much vind, beautiful views of mountains everywhere. With my ipod on listening to music I have to say that life were perfect! I feel so privledged being able to be here and enjoying what I love the most, the outside.
On my way up I had time to think of all great concerts i've enjoyed the last year. Specially white lies warming up for coldplay. "lets grow old together, and die at the same tiiiime"! Lots of good memories indeed! **

Ok, I have loooots of good memories to take from. No wonder the trip to 5050meters went fast. We used 3,5 hours up and only 42 minutes down ;) speed running in scree is fun! **

The high life can for sure be enjoyable! :) **
Nuff said! Over and out!

- Some summit, some die! [sat 13.03.2010 15:37 (norwegian time)]

(Don't worry, no one have died)
Today our lead guide, Ossy, told us a story from one of the times he was climbing Aconcagua. He met a japanese group on their way up. The last one in the group was only wearing a t-shirt and singing. Ossy asked him if he was ok. He replied that he was waiting for a wave. Ossy saw this as a clear sign of cerebral edema (leathal altitude sickness), so he ran up to leader of the japanese group and told him. The group leader simply replied "Some summit, some die", before he continued walking.

Today has been a resting day at basecamp Plaza de Mulas. Merete didn't feel so good last night and had diareea during the night. It was an extremely windy night, so I didn't get very much sleep either.

This morning we had another checkup by a doctor. Again I scored very well on oxygen level and heartrate/pulse. But my bloodpreasure that had been a bit high last time, was still a bit high. So I had to come back this evening to check it again. This time it was even higher. We are going on a daytrip to camp 1 to acclimatize and cache some stuff tomorrow. I 'll have to go by the doctor again tomorrow before that.

Don't worry. If the doctor advices me not to go, I won't. At my second visit to the doctor today I had to wait a while because she had an emergency to deal with. She had to send someone of the mountain with helicopter because of altitude sickness. He was very depressed and crying (presumably because he couldn't reach the summit). Neither Merete nor I are there. It is not the end of the world if we don't summit. We are having a great time trying to climb this great mountain, enjoying the scenery, people, atmosphere and the challenge.

The rest of the day Merete and I and most of the others spent drinking (water/juice) and peeing every other minute. Here, even the toilet has a nice scenic view.

The first picture is of us coming up towards camp yesterday. From the front: Merete, Rodrigo, Barry and Richard. The second picture is of (part of) the camp last night. All the snow is gone again now.

We are sleeping here for 4 nights. We get 3 meals a day when we stay in these lower camps. It's propper food, but of course not anywhere near the food Malin and Gavin (and Ronny) were making in Patriot Hills.

A lot of kudos to Bosse who has been on the phone to the US several times, helping me to recharge my iridium sat phone with more minutes, as I've spent a bit more than expected on this trip.


PS from Merete:
Jeg fikk beskjed av legen I dag aa drikke 8(!!) liter vann I dag pga magen. Proev aa drikke saa mye engang og se hvor langt du kommer foer du gir opp. I tillegg burde man stopppe I 16 tiden slik at man ikke ender opp som meg med full tisseflaske foer klokka er 2 om natten. Jeg tror jeg har klart naermere 6 liter idag. Veldig stolt. som dere skjoenner er base camp liv temmelig kjedelig. Vi sitter bare aa venter paa roede blodlegmer ;)

4 seasons in 24 hours [tue 02.03.2010 02:14 (norwegian time)]

First off all, there are still no news of injuries or casualties on Aconcagua after the earthquake. There have been some news about frostbite, but that is normal and expected. So don't worry about your friends and family on Aconcagua.

Yesterday we had a rest day in Confluencia, 3400m. Some of us went for a trip to get drinking water. And some played a bit of volleyball. But for the second day we had rain. Our lead guide, Ossy, who has been here ten times, have never seen rain here before.

This morning we started to hike towards base camp. As mentioned, we have experienced 4 seasons in 24 hours. In addition to the rain yesterday evening, we've had sun, no wind, a lot of wind, clouds, snow storm, sun, no wind, a lot of wind, hail, thunder and lightning and then more hail and snow. We reached basecamp plaza de mulas after 7 1/2 hours. Merete and I enjoyed the walk and feels in good shape. Seems like most of the others do as well, except for beeing a bit cold at the end of the hike. The only exception is Richie. He has had a bit of issue with the altitude. Which goes to show that the altitude sickness troll doesn't care wheter you are strong and fit or not, as Richie definitly is both strong and fit.

Plaza de Mulas is covered with a layer of snow. This aparently is extremely rare. None of our guides has seen it before. The place is a lot bigger than I expected. We haven't had time to walk around camp yet, and it has mostly been covered in fog since we arrived.

Thank you for all the birthday greatings.


Update from Aconcagua after earthquake in Chile [wed 17.03.2010 00:52 (norwegian time)]

Seems a lot of people have found this page through Google. I've gotten some emails from people asking about teir friends and family after the earthquake yesterday. I do not have the complete picture. But life seems back to normal here (except for our broken water pipe in Confluencia). We are continuing up the mountain as planned, and so seems everyone else.

We have not heard of any injuries or fatalities here on Aconcagua.

Everything is ok at the base camp Placa de mulas. We have heard from several of the high camps that everything is ok there. A Spanish team summited yesterday and are on teir way down.

The people in my group is Zack from California, Richard and Barry from Australia, Richie from DC, Guiseppe from Italy, Rodrigo from Brasil, Joshua and Gaspar from Ecuador and of course Merete and me from Norway. We are all fine and doing well. Sarah (US) and Ossy (Ecuador) will be coming from Mendosa today.

The aftershakes have been bairly noticable here. Today is a quiet sunny day with some scattered clouds. We don't know much about the outside world other than what people have been emailing us. But seems that we are far better off than most. Here it is like nothing have happened. So don't worry. I'm sure your loved ones will contact you as soon as they can. Without outside communication there are no way to know how bad this earthquake relly was. Remember that the center of the earthquake was over 300 kilometers (200 miles) from here. (We are by the way in Argentina, and not in Chile as many seem to think.)

Feel free to email me at .

Still alive in the Andes [sun 28.02.2010 02:00 (norwegian time)]

We felt one aftershock this morning, just before getting out bed. It was rather small. We also heard falling rocks and small rock avalanches throughout the night. This morning we walked over to the rock avalanche site (first picture). It was 200 meters from our tent. (nesten 300 korte skritt ifoelge

The second picture is of us standing outside our tents just after the earthquake. From the left: Merete, Zack and Rodrigo.

There was no water this morning. We later found out that the water pipe (from a nearby glacier) had broken in 25 places. We found the first break on our acclimatisation trip today, so we got to fill all our water bottles.

The acclimatisation trip was a 15 km trip up to 4100 meter. From there we had a great view of the south face of Aconcagua. (we are going up on the north west side). Both Merete and I felt in good shape during the trip. Allthough I was mostly walking last. But only because I was receiving and sending emails all day. Thank you for all your greatings, news relays and help. (In particular Bosse, Fredrik, Harald, Baard and Oystein). I also got several calls from TV2. Merete has been interviewed both on TV and web. (how did they get my number?)

When we got back to camp it was time to see the doctor. She checked our blood pressure, puls/heartrate and the oxygen level in our blood. I got a O2 level of 92 and Merete 93. That was better than both the guides that are currently with us. And they live at about 2800 meter above sea level.

We have heard from base camp today. Everything is ok there.

Tomorrow is among other tings a rest day.


En natt av de sjeldende [sat 27.02.2010 22:18 (norwegian time)]

Tenkte aa skrive litt med egne ord om natt til idag. Jeg vaaknet rett etter halv fire om natten av at alt rister. Jeg loefter hodet av puten, holder pusten for aa sjekke om det er mitt oppblaasbare liggeunderlag som spilte meg et puss. Akkurat da kommer det en vannvittig sideveis bevegelse som kaster meg av madrassen. Jeg ser at lars har vaaknet og jeg sier til han at jeg tror det er et jordskjelv. Boende I norge er ikke dette hverdags. Den vuggende bevegelsen tiltar I styrke og da hoerer jeg det. En vanvittig buldring og lyden kommer naermere og naermere. steinras! Jeg faar panikk. Det er beikmoerkt i teltet og jeg proever temmelig desperat aa faa opp teltdoeren, men i moerket tar det tid. Jeg hoerer at folk i leieren begynner aa rope.

Jeg krabber endelig ut av teltet med soveposen forsatt rundt beina. Jeg ser noen loepe for livet vekk fra leieren som ikke gjorde pulsen min bedre. Jeg reiser meg opp paa en bakke som beveger seg som gele og ser store kampesteiner rase ned fjellsiden 100 meter unna. Ingen ser ut til aa vaere paa vei mot oss. Paa andre siden av dalen raser det ogsaa. Maanen kommer frem og gir oss lys slik at vi ser hele leieren. Bakken roer seg ned og buldringen stilner. Vi staar ute lenge I maaneskinnet og snakker. Selv ikke vaar mann fra LA har vaert borti lignende.

I fjellet er det ikke saa mye som kan oedelegges, men vannslangen til campen ble revet over paa 25 steder over en avstand paa en halv km! Da har vi opplevd jordskjelv ogsaa. Sannelig er vi saarbare naar moder jord bestemmer seg for aa gjoere opproer.


Earthquake. We are OK. [wed 17.03.2010 00:52 (norwegian time)]

At about 3:30 am local time we woke up from the ground shaking. Then there were some loud rumbeling noises. We immediately ran out of the tent.

The camp is at a flat area surrounded by mountains. They are perhaps between 500 and 700m higher than us. At several places there were rock-avalanches. The biggest one perhaps 200m away from us. But nothing entered our camp. Camp Confluencia is ok.

There is a moon behind a cloud cover, so it's not completely dark. But we can't see to much off the surroundings and the mountains. We are back in our tents trying to get some sleep until the sun rises.

I have never experienced an earthquake before. But Zack from California estimates it might have been a 5 on the richter scale, perhaps toward a 6. The sense of time changes at times like this, but the earthquake might have lasted for 30 seconds. The avalanches for a long time. Perhaps several minutes.

We have established radio contact with the park entrance. But not with the base camp 20km further in the walley. So we don't know anything about the situation in base camp or the higher camps.

Again, we are all OK. We are just a bit shaken up (no fun intended).

I know the family and friends of several people in our group are following this online diary. If you want to send them a message, you can email it to , and I will forward it to them.


First day of hiking. Confluencia 3400m [fri 26.02.2010 23:39 (norwegian time)]

This morning we did a 8 km drive in two pickups to the entrance of the national park. It wasn't room for everyone inside, so Merete and one of the guides, Joshua, was sitting in the back of the pickup with the luggage (daypacks). We saw Aconcagua for the first time today. It was the south face. It's beautiful with all the snow on. The picture of the day is of us with Aconcagua in the background. It's the white top over Lars' shoulder.

The hike in took about 3 hours including breaks. It was a slow walk in sunshine and wind. It's quite dusty here. The park entrance is at 2900 m. We are currently at 3400 meters in Camp Confluencia. Here we buy food and waste services from a logistical company. They have a kitchen tent and we eat in another tent. It's big enough for all of us sitting around a table in plastic chairs.

It's been hot all day. But just as the sun set behind a mountain, now at 7pm, it became quite a bit colder in a couple of minutes. When the sun is up it's to hot to be in our small tents. We are sleeping in 3person yellow north face dome tents. We are 2 in each tent, so there are plenty of room.

We are a great gang of people from all over
the world. Ecuador, USA, Brasil, Australia, Italy and Norway. :)

This is the first day out off cell phone coverage. So we are over on the iridium satellite phone.

Merete & Lars

Vakker dag I vente [fri 26.02.2010 13:51 (norwegian time)]

Jeg skriver p=E5 norsk jeg. Da vet man at meldingen er fra merete :) Vaaknet til skyfri himmel og nydelig morgensol paa fjellene rundt oss. =
Jeg krysser alle fingre for at baggasjen min har ankommet Mendoza og at =
Ozzy, en av v=E5re guider, f=E5r den med seg. Litt lei av de samme =
sokkene jeg hadde p=E5 n=E5r jeg dro fra oslo. :-) Dette er siste sted =
med mobildekning til vi er tilbake her ca 12-13 mars. N=E5 m=E5 =
satelitt-telefonen til Lars til pers! Idag er det bare to dager til =
bursdagen til Lars! Jeg tror han f=E5r en vakker feiring med tur til =
Aconcaguas syd-vegg, en 2000 meter h=F8y rygg mot toppen. Plaza Francia =
heter stedet. Jeg merker 2500 meter n=E5r jeg g=E5r I trappene p=E5 =
hotellet. Bergen har virkelig gjort meg til et vann-dyr der jeg bor et =
par meter over havet. Jeg kjenner at jeg virkelig gleder meg til =E5 =
starte =E5 g=E5 innover dalen til foten av Aconcagua. Jeg er heldig som =
f=E5r oppleve dette.

Klem fra reisende mac Merete

Merete @ mobile

Penitentes 2500m [fri 26.02.2010 03:44 (norwegian time)]

This morning we went to get our permits to enter the Aconcagua national park. We also went through our gear and packed it into three bags. One bag is being brought by mules directly to base camp. We are not going there until March 1st. Another bag is brought to a lower camp called Confluencia. We are going there tomorrow. The last was just a day pack that we bring with us.

We drove from Mendoza to Penitentes. It took us about 4 hours, including a lunch break. The first picture is of the minibuss. Merete is stepping out of the buss at the lunch place. There's a black trailer (tilhenger) with all our luggage at the back of the buss.

We are staying at a ski resort (there is no snow now, as it is summer). So there is another night in a real bed and with a bathroom and shower. Penitentes is at about 2500 meters (8200 feet), which is higher than Galdoepiggen (the highest mountain in Norway (2469m)). Climbing high mountains is much about acclimatizing. Waiting, moving slowly and getting used to the altitude. There are going to be many rest days. This afternoon and evening was for resting. All I did was putting up some tents to check that everything was in order. We even found the olympics on a tv. But they were showing Canada vs Sweden curling and not Norway vs Switzerland. But Merete and I managed to get at least three of the others facinated by curling.

The second picture is of Merete in Penitentes with some nice mountains in the background.

We are still a backpack (with stuff) and some carabiners short. but we are hoping they will catch up with us the day after tomorrow.

Mendoza, Argentina [thu 25.02.2010 03:23 (norwegian time)]

(if this is your first visit, the first entry is at the bottom of the page)

We have arrived safely at a hotel in Mendoza, Argentina. But all of our luggage has not. Merete's backpack and my leathal carabiners are still in Paris. Merete's backpack contains among a lot of other stuff her essential expensive expedition sleeping bag.

Other than that it has been an uneventfull trip and just boring stuff to write about. A lot of long queues through customs and immigration/emmigration. First into Chile, then out of Chile and then into Argentina. With the break down of AF401 last time, I've entered Chile quite a lot the last two months. On the good side, I've finally memorized my passport number. We were delayed a lot out of Paris. Some strike among french air traffic controllers. We hear some rumours that a semi-strike (gå sakte aksjon) among the luggage handlers might be responsible for our delayed luggage.

This evening we met (most of) the rest of the group. We will be 9 climbers and 3 guides. But more on that later. It's way past bedtime. At least for us europeans. The timezone here is gmt-3. That ia 4 hours after Norway. The same as Chile summertime. (Argentina doesn't have summertime anymore). Anyhow, last night in a propper bed for a while. ZZzzz...

Melding fra frk Asak [tue 23.02.2010 23:53 (norwegian time)]

Tittei! Tester ut lars sitt eminente opplegg og ser om jeg kan poste litt tekst fra min mobil ogsaa. Jeg trodde ikke denne telefonen kunne noe som helst, men sannelig faar man testet ut mye morro naar man har mange timer paa flyplasser. :) Godt aa sitte og nynne til hoilday med madonna og glede seg til 3 uker med morro!

Merete @ mobile

On the road again [tue 23.02.2010 22:21 (norwegian time)]

This expedition came about in a propper Lars "don't plan to far ahead" Noring style. Just two weeks ago Merete invited me to join her in trying to summit Aconcagua. (We are just friends ). Here we are, at CDG airport in Paris, waiting for the flight to Santiago. The first picture is a happy Merete on the flight from Oslo.

Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside the Himalaya-area. It's 6960 meters or 22800 feet above sea level. But who measures mountains in distance from the sea level anyway?! I'm a bit emberassed now, as I've forgotten the distance from the center of the earth to the summit of Aconcagua. Anyhow, it's located in the Andes (andesfjellene) in Argentina, close to the border of Chile, not very far from Santiago.

This is my second flight to Santiago in as many months. But I got stopped in airport security in Paris this time. They where afraid I would hijack the plane with my climbing carabiners (second picture). It is the same carabiners I brought in December/January. We were guided outside again by a polite security officer and had to check them in as special luggage. Going through security again we met a security officer that had another view on politeness. This time everyone had to be yelled at and remove their shoes and absolutely everything in theire pockets. She became hopping mad when we got confused a she asked us to put all electronics into our bags. Somehow we and the other passengers managed to get through without loosing any limbs.

We hope to summit on March 10th or 11th. The days/weeks prior to this will be spent acclimatizing and moving slowly up the mountain.

As on the South Pole trip, I'll try to update the diary every day. I guess the same people that measures mountains from sea level likes entries in reversed cronological order. So by popular demand; this time the last entry will be at the top.

Comments, questions and short messages are welcome to