In Copiapo we were welcome by our friend, Radu Almasan, country fellow from Romania and also from our city, Deva. Radu contacted us by e-mail and kindly offered to support our team in our endeavor for Ojos. He was a great help and the man behind during our stay in the mountains, giving me the unusual feeling that somehow we were protected, regardless of what might hit us in the wilderness. Thank you for all, Radu!
Well, to start off my story I have to tell you that due to a very low budget we had to improvise a lot. But we are used and good at it. Usually, climbers willing to climb Ojos do it either by contracting a specialized agency either by renting a 4×4 truck for the ride in the desert. The mighty desert of Atacama.
Our approach was different. Our friend Radu could help us with transportation to Atacama refuge but could not stay with us for 10-15 days on the mountain or let us use the car for that period. So we decided to go directly to Atacama refuge and leave there food, water and gas for the rest of the ascent. Then we would go back 10 km and make another deposit and then another at Claudio Lucero. The distance between Claudio Lucero and Atacama refuge is about 20km.
We decided to start then our adventure from Laguna Verde going by foot to Claudio Lucero, acclimatizing there and then again on foot to Atacama while spending a night in the desert in the place we left our deposit.
This way we could save a lot of money and also gain altitude slowly while acclimatizing better in the same time. Starting the ascent from an altitude of 4200 was a little risky and we were concerned about Dana who does not have our experience on high mountains but we were going to take it slowly and had a lot of faith. Also, we were restricted by the time Radu could put in.
This was the plan.
Once in Copiapo we checked in the hotel and went to the store to buy supplies for the ascent.
Man, we were actually in Chile. Mind blowing. We met also another one of our protectors. Mister Mihai Lucian. Copiapo helds a big Romanian community of contractors. Mine engineers and geologists invited to work there for their know how and professionalism. Mihai had kindly offered us his apartment to stay in after our return from the mountain. We thank him too.
Next day we loaded the truck and set off for Ojos. The crossing of the desert was very tricky and more than once we were about to get stuck but Radu’s experience on driving off-road saved us. We made it to the refuge of Atacama with our heads spinning and moving in slow motion. The landscape is moonlike and mesmerazing. While we were unloading the supplies for the first deposit we realized that we lost a barrel of 20l of water. For a moment, dad saw only blackness in front of my eyes as he realized what this fact implied to us. Clearly,20 l of water less meant one day less on the mountain. So we will have to cut off a day and start our ascent from Claudio Lucero at 4500m instead of Laguna Verde at 4200. The odds were not on our side. His concern for mom skyrocketed. How will she deal with this altitude?
Was our expedition going to end before even beginning? All these questions were spinning in his head as he was contemplating our broken barrel. But then I calmed down. We will adapt and life goes on.
We stuck to the plan and made another deposit 10 km down the valley and then stopped at Claudio Lucero refuge. Laguna Verde was out of the plan. We spent the next day walking around the refuge. Slowly. Very slowly. Mom had a bad night but things were improving. We were constantly checking our blood, drinking a lot of water and trying to get adapted. The refuge was full and we met people the later will turn into friends.
Joachim from Germany, Cristian the Chilean guide and the Argentinean group from Mendoza became our friends. The atmosphere in the refuge was fantastic. People from all over the world socializing. In Spanish. We had learned to speak Spanish especially for this expedition and now our effort were paying off. The group from Argentina effectively adopted us and the help that we got from them was tremendous. Senior Ricardo Jurado, the Cordon Bleu, and Senior David were all over us turning our adventure into a fun and pleasant trip. Gracias Senores.
Two days later we set off for the desert. 10 km in the desert. We took care to cover our faces as the wind was constantly blowing and throwing ash in our eyes.
Greetings from Chile! 🙂