Thursday, January 24, 2008

the patagonia trip: International Relief

Wind and low visibility shut us down for climbing today, so we retreated to Japonese Camp to pick up more food and a few additional comforts.

Almost back to Japonese, Dave and I passed the successful South African climbers as they returned from the South Tower.  They had been on the move for around 36 hours and stopped in the path to sit, even with their tents less than a mile away.  As they straggled into camp, we offered a nip of celebratory whiskey.  Most declined, solely focused on burrowing into their respective tents to sleep.

The Dutch, who had succeeded on the Central Tower the day before, were more sociable.  Finding them in the climber's shanty, we offered the whiskey and they heartily accepted.  They reciprocated by sharing their honey, tobacco and, after learning that we were low on food, a package of pasta and a large chocolate wafer mystery bar that contained enough calories to keep us in the mountains for another day.

We were dumbfounded by their generosity and felt quite happy.  Hearing they were low, we gave them a stick of sunblock, hoping to return part of the favor.

Later, we came to enjoy the antics of Raul, a climber fom Santiago, who, with an amiably goofy manner, demonstrated the preparation of his powdered eggs.  Then he gave us a zip-lock bag full of the stuff, assuring he had more than he could use.

Back at our bivy site, Dave and I prepared for flight on our route in the morning.  We were convinced that tomorrow would be the day.

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