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Oh, did I mention the evil sharp varieties of cactus that line the trail? Small, palmlike fronds that slice the calves. Another kind has sharp barbs that go in and detach. Then, when you pull them out, they take a nice little fleshy chunk as a souvenir. Our name evolved for these from the Fucker Plants to the more proper, El Fuckre. (pronounced “El FOO-cray)
Now, when I say hut, I really mean shithole. The place is infested with mice with one outhouse nearby. Why it is there, I can’t tell. It is filled up to the seat cover with feces so you really can’t sit down on it. There is no door on it, it faces the hut and everyone there and any sizeable rock in the surrounding area has piles of shit and used toilet paper around it. One of the things the profile page on summitpost says is that there are no fees or permits needed to climb this mountain and it’s obvious there really is no governing body taking care of the place, or, at least none that was apparent. Maybe “they” check it out periodically and we were just at the far end of the cycle, who knows.
So, back to the hut. It was filled with people and we were lucky to get the top shelf in the back of it. People were melting and boiling water and getting packs ready all night long. Our plan was to take an acclimatization hike up to 16,000 feet the next day but I got maybe 4 hours of sleep that night and was still sucking wind the next day. Some Mexican climber had been boiling water deep into the night and the fumes that came up to us in the top shelf were noxious.
I decided to abstain from the hike the next day to hopefully take it easy and start breathing easier. I melted water and then filtered it through my purifier while they hiked a bit. I also got a chance to talk to some of the other climbers in the hut.
One of the really cool things about the hut though was the amount of quality climbers and various personalities we encountered. There was “Frenchy”, a 62 year old man who was there with his wife. They live at the base of Mont Blanc and he does that one as a dayhike when the mood hits him. Needless to say, of all the climbers while we were there, these two kicked everyone’s collective ass in strength and endurance and speed on the route. When Frenchy came in the hut and looked around at the condition of things, he muttered “Ah, Mexico” and went about trying to do his own thing. In talking to him, we discovered they have climbed in all the hotspots: Himalayas, South America, Alps, Africa, etc. He was our choice for Alpha Male of the hut.
Another climber was a young Mexican who was searching to put up a new route on Orizaba. He is headed down to South America to try to put up a new route on Alpamayo soon too. He also bombed this mountain up and down.
Others included “Scotty”, a Scotsman who apparently works 1 year and then takes 4 off to do this kind of thing. He couldn’t imagine why we didn’t just all quit our jobs to do fun things like this. He told us tales of trekking through Mongolia, Alaska, etc. He was the last one besides us to stay on the mountain that week.
There was a large climbing group from Colorado that would end up taking all day to do the route and then get lucky when they came down to have the first trucks that were able to make it through in weeks take them down the mountain. Several Mexican teams came and went throughout the week as well as one German team.
So, as I talked to some of these guys while melting snow, Chris and Isaac hiked up the route to just under 15,000 feet and then came back in clouds. Seems every day like clockwork about 1 pm clouds roll in and stay until dinner time. After which, they clear up and the night is pleasant and clear. We were also lucky to have a full moon this week which made it easier for the climbers to move up without use of headlamps.
That night in the hut was worse than the night before. There was never any time that someone was not making noise, heading out to summit, boiling water, puking from the altitude or just waking up to chat loudly without respect for anyone else who was trying to get some sleep. I was still sucking wind and got absolutely zero sleep. We had decided that afternoon to stay an extra day and not try for the summit this night as I was still not acclimatized. I was really thankful my buddies did this for me as I really wanted to climb this sucker.
Anyway, that afternoon we discovered the cell phone wouldn’t work and sent word down to Gerar via some climbers who were heading out to not pick us up until the next day. This would also allow me to do an acclimatization hike on the day in between. This was a Godsend as I was starting to get loopy from lack of sleep by now. So much so that I abandoned the idea of the hike up to 16,000 feet to sit and rest. Chris and Isaac were a bit tired too so they did the same.
The day was spent melting/purifying water and talking to others. Trying to get a nap in but it was useless. And I still was sucking air. The sleepless night had been a nightmare for me as every time I would come close to sleep, my body would take a deep breath and it would wake me up. This was literally torture all night long.
The really good