Del: "Start of the trek, I was feeling pretty nervous if I am being honest. First day of walking was fairly straightforward, approx. 8km into the camp Confluencia at 3300m. Weather was perfect, a bit of cloud cover and fairly warm. I was glad to get the trek started and the nerves faded away."
Jaco van Gass: "We stopped for a bite to eat at a roadside restaurant. We had a few small starters and then the biggest steak I have ever seen was served in front of me. It was cooked to perfection and it tasted amazing, still it was too big and I couldn’t finish it. At the ski resort we sorted all our bags into 3 piles: one to stay with me for the next 3 days, one bag that will wait for me at the middle camp and another that I won't see until we arrive in base camp in 3 days time. Everyone seems in pretty good form and having no drama with the altitude. My left side is rather inflamed and painful when touching it, I hope it will stabilise after a few days of medication."
Terry: "As a team we were sharing stories and Martin Hewitt somehow roped Sean into doing the Marathon Des Sables next year!! On the steady incline into Confluencia we felt the heat and the tightening of the chest with the altitude gain, but nothing to really worry about."
Sean: The experience so far has been surreal, the people I have met and are climbing the mountain with are actual living legends in the climbing community. Whilst sat at the dinner table you can hear all the conversations about the lives these men have lived. The places they have been, the mountains they have climbed. People who have conquered Mount Everest on numerous occasions. it's crazy to find myself sat with people who have accomplished so much. At first it overwhelmed me a little, but now I just want to find out as much as I can and learn from their experiences. We set off on the climb in about 1 hours’ time so when you are reading this blog I will be god knows where on the mountain, in unknown weather conditions, but no matter the conditions, sun, rain, snow, I can honestly say I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Birthday.
Matt Nyman: "The weather felt great for the whole walk, sunny and warm, T-shirt weather. Some of us (me included) forgot to put sunscreen on our necks and arms and paid dearly with some good sunburns."
Jaco: "We started our acclimatisation walk early in the morning and I felt really bad. My legs felt slow and I was breathing deeply but as we continued I started to feel slightly better. We had lunch with a great view and not long after made our way back to camp where a little afternoon nap was in order."
Terry: "As we walked, we did spread out over a few hundred metres. I always had the following day on my mind so tried to make it not too taxing. We stopped for some pics, which we couldn’t do last time as it was far too cold, so it was nice to get a few photos with great scenery."
Matt: "It was about a 6 hour walk, but for me, the hard part was the sun. There were scattered clouds which helped give a reprieve from the sun, but it was HOT, especially having to wear so many clothes to protect from getting burnt again."
Kelda: The second day of walking started off positively for me, my leg felt good and I was strong to the highest point. I felt determind and positive that I would prove all those doubters wrong!
However, as we turned to head back down, the other guys beasted off and I became increasingly aware that I just couldn’t keep up with my leg. As they got further and further away from me, I allowed myself to have some real doubts. Why did I even think this was going to be possible?!
However, the one thing I’ve learnt, is that we’re all allowed to have a wobble. I didn’t feel good right then, but hey, let's have a cry, give myself a bit of a hard time and then put things back in perspective and get on with it!!
Del: "Big day up to base camp, I wasn't feeling too great when we set off, possibly a bit of heat exhaustion from the previous day. 4 hours into the trek I started to suffer from the heat, with no shade and a baking sun I just had to keep hydrated and crack on. The valley seemed to be never ending but eventually, after a final steep ascent we got to base camp - Plaza de Mulas. I was feeling really bad and soon started vomiting with a pounding headache so John and Harry checked me out.
At this altitude you can’t take risks as it could be something serious like an edema and, having had a traumatic brain injury in the past, it was quite worrying. My sats were not looking good: 59% oxygen with a high pulse (normal sea level oxygen readings are 98%-100%) it was time for a trip to the base camp doctor.
After some anti sickness drops and a high dose of dioralyte I was starting to feel better. My oxygen was going up slowly and pulse rate was coming down. So a pretty scary start to the expedition and a reality check of how things can quickly turn into something that could be serious. As the night wore on I improved. Rather than altitude sickness it was probably heat stroke."
Terry: "I woke up dreading the walk ahead. My memories from the first attempt were of a hard day’s grind with a lot of stump damage and frankly quite boring scenery. At 0530 all the alarms went off and we got up for breakfast.
We were carrying around 25lb of kit, including 4 litres of water and food. The temperature was around 25 degrees and there was no hiding - 20km through a valley were the sun was relentless. Over the next 6-7 hrs I felt good, a lot better than I remembered it. But in the last hour there is a large kick gaining a few hundred metres of elevation with a lot of scrambling up, I got up in the front few but once on top I think sun stroke set in with a banging head ache. The legs and body were completely empty and just walking on flat ground was almost too hard.
I think the end result of this stage was harder than last time and has taken more out of me than I had planned. Luckily I had a phone call to the Misses and then rested solid and woke up feeling great, now looking forward to the business end of this expedition."
Matt: "The weather was even hotter today than the day prior, with no clouds or wind all day. It made for an excruciatingly HOT day. The whole day I was just focused on not getting heat stroke as I could tell I was at risk of it as the day wore on, getting sick to my stomach and having low energy.
My prosthetics aren't fitting very well and I'm having to deal with painful rubbing. I'll take my leg to the stove tomorrow to heat it up over the flame and try and relieve the pressure (my prosthetist would kill me if he knew I was taking it to a gas burner)."
Kelda: We set off on our trek to base camp and within the first 500m the other guys were pulling away from me. I took a deep breath and decided to do this at my own pace and enjoy every moment of it!
So 2 of the Argentinian guides hung back with me and we named ourselves Carlos, Gonzalo and Kelerado….the three amigos! We laughed our way through the next 4 hrs as they attempted to teach me Spanish, and I became aware that not only was I having a great time, but I was moving really well too!! By moving in a relaxed way, I was covering the ground and dealing with the rise in altitude far better.
I took a moment, and realised that this was what was going to give me the best chance of success, relax, enjoy and just keep going! I realised if I chill out, look after my leg and accept that I can’t move as fast as the guys with no lower leg injuries, then this is going to be massively more achievable.
We’ve also realised that I may potentially be the first adaptive female to ever summit Aconcagua, how awesome would that be?! I'm feeling good and aware of the way I need to manage my injury and my thoughts. So lets go and do it!!