Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mountains - the roof of the world!

I always liked the extreme parts of our planet... Why? Let me explain...

Nature and its skeleton has been around us for millions of years and if we just start to listen to it we can learn the story about life! In the deserts, on the top of the mountains, through the jungles and deep down the oceans there is a story ready to be told if you just open yourself for it.

At the same time it is a good motivator for training because most of this places are remote and demands a hard fysical effort, and that is course part of the fun and the experience!

Let me today tell the story about my expedition to Pico de Orizaba in January this, the highest mountain in Mexico and one of the highest volcanoes in the world!

Pico de Orizaba is a beautiful mountain that shadows the landscape of Puebla and Veracruz, that can be called the highlands of Mexico. It had been snowing a lot which made everything a bit more complicated. The snowlevel was as low as 3000m.
Acklimatization is a vital part of climbing and due to the fact I was living on the carribean coast at this time, I needed to find prepare myself for altitude good. That is why I together with my organizer went to Mt. La Malinchi a couple of days before. That mountain is a beautiful top of 4550m and is normally not covered with snow but at this time it was glaced with ice. This of course made everything a bit more complex and we had to use full gear to be able to climb to the top. Balance and focus is important when climbing and if you take when wrong step the fall on the ice is very difficult to stop and you end up flying over some cliffs of get beaten up in pieces on rocks... Be CAREFUL...
After the top on the way down from La Malinchi we saw a guy from another expedition fall and he could not stop himself and kept on falling, his friends where screaming and finally he tumbled in to the rocks and came to a stop. We hurried down as fast as we could to assist him, and he was alive but really beaten up. Broken arm, shoulder smashed, face was also badly hurt but both legs were ok so he could walk. We help him down the mountain together with his friends.

I felt strong after La Malinchi but the altitude was given me bad headache and I was eating a lot of paracetamol when we came down. It is very important not to take any pills on the way up, due to the fact it can trick your body to forget about the altitude.

The day after La Malinche we went to Tlachichuca that is a sleepy town on the foot of Pico de Orizaba and we then found out that we had to carry all our supplies to basecamp from the edge of the snowlevel, because the 4x4 could not continue after that. That was hard because it meant somthing like 40kg each but with smile on our faces we started anyway, and after all it was a good acklimitazing.

Summit day started with a small breakfast at 4200 meter 01:15am, when the wind was whipping us in the face and temperature was below -20 degrees. I was not prepared for the cold so my water-system froze after the first hour of the climb and me and my guide had to share. I felt strong but the darkness and the harsch enviroment around me, was really messing with my mind. The first area of the climb is called the labourint and is not an area you should climb if you don’t have a guide, especially if it is covered with over 1 meter of snow. It is important to find a relaxing place in your mind and focus on your breathing, your steps and the back of the guy in front of you. The cold is getting to you and even if you are getting warm by climbing, when taking a break the wind is making you shake after just a minute.

At around 05:30/06:00am we came up to the lower edge of the glacier and could see the first rays of light hit the landscape below with of course was a welcomed site after walking in the darkness for hours. A sunrise at 5000m is something spectacular that words never can describe and we sat down on a rock sucking it in and prepared our ropes and equipment for the climb up on the glacier. Slowly we started the ascend and the lungs started to burn of the low oxygen in the air. Every step is a project and it feels that you are not moving at all. This part is the mental part of the climb and it is important to try to keep your mind clear and take one step at a time. My legs where shaking and my nose and mouth was dry and frozen. Even if we sometimes came into the rays of light we climb in the shadow of the mountain. Suddenly the top just appeared out of nowhere and I could feel the happiness spread across the face. The silence of the mountain and the view from the top of Mexico is something that I would like everybody to feel. Of course my head was acing, the legs shaking and my lungs were burning but I was in HEAVEN...

I tried to take as many pictures as possible but if was hard during some places, especially during the first hours of the summit clim in the middle of the night and during the steep and dangerous climb on the glacier.

My guide as I think was an indian aztec went down on his knees to do the prayers to the mountain that is the custom in most countries.

Pico de Orizaba is 5756 meters above sealevel and it is my highest peak that I have climbed until this date.

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