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Thread: Top of the World - a trip to the Andes

  1. #17
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    Great photo's Mide .... keep it coming

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  2. #18
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    Fabulous pics, addictive thread.

    Brian

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  3. #19
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    Loving this.

  4. #20
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    An excellent read, thanx for taking the time to post it.

  5. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timaloy View Post
    An excellent read, thanx for taking the time to post it.
    I totally agree.

  6. #22
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    17th March

    We decided that this would be a most appropriate day to break the world record as it was St. Patrick’s Day.
    We had breakfast and the boys started to get ready.
    They needed to take off their gloves to apply the sunscreen!



    And then apply lip sun screen!





    Even getting ready took a lot out of them. You know how hard it can be to get boots on and closed at the best of times, add altitude to that and it’s tough.
    So it took a little longer than usual. I got some pics of the boys, lined up with Mont Pissis behind them.





    Off they went, on their first ride up the mountain. I had decided that I’d chill out, do a spot of sun bathing and read my book. First, I went to the loo about 50m away from camp. Then spent 10 minutes recovering from the walk there and back!
    Then I washed up after breakfast. Baby wiped everything, followed by wiping them down with a piece of wet kitchen roll and then dry kitchen roll
    I had only just sat down when I heard a bike coming back.
    It was Séamus, he was exhausted. He’s been gone an hour. The higher they went, the harder it was to breath.
    I think the busyness and energy expended getting ready didn’t help, but there’s not a lot you could do about that as once ready, it was too hot to sit around getting your breath back.
    Kev and Jim came back about an hour later, both exhausted.
    They were all quite dejected at how difficult it was. The path to the right of the glacier wasn’t accessable as the glacier was too big. They needed to find another way.
    We had lunch and then Jim and Séamus went back up the mountain for another hour or so. They were much more upbeat when they came back later.



    Full of plans for the next day’s ride. We lit a great big fire that night. It was lovely to have the fire to sit around.







    The longest time of each day was from sun down til bedtime. It was the longest 2 hours, in fact many nights we were in bed before 10pm.

    18th March

    There was a lot of frost on everything again in the morning. After breakfast, the boys got ready and headed off again.
    They went off in a different direction this time, in the hopes that they could approach the ridge from a less difficult way.
    It was a beautiful, sunny day. It was so warm, as long as the wind didn’t blow. When the wind blew, it was cold.
    The boys had a great days riding. They got up to about 5600m. This was the first time we came across penitents.





    These are snow formations found at high altitudes. They take the form of elongated, thin blades of hardened snow or ice close together and pointing in the general direction of the sun.

    The ground was hard to get grip in. It was very loose, shaley gravel.











    They also decided that evening that it was time to go back to Tinogasta and have a rethink.
    They didn’t think they could get any higher on Pissis. We were going to pack up the following morning and start the long journey to Tinogasta.

    19th March

    We got up the next day and both the stoves were causing problems. Luckily the boys are useful for this kind of thing



    The boys suggested I have a quick ride on the bike before we left.





    So Kev and I rode up one of the mountains closest to us. It was terrifying!





    I just kept thinking, don’t stop, you’ll never get going again. It was so steep.
    The views from the top were stunning! Really fabulous. The adrenelin probably helped.







    When we came back down again, I was so happy I had done it. Kev and Jim rode their bikes back out to the main road and Séamus and I stayed in the jeep.

    The road to Tinogasta was starting to get familiar. We arrived and found a hotel on the corner of the main square. We checked in and first things first, had a very overdue shower!
    Then, got some wifi, caught up with family and friends, and social media Then we went to try and find somewhere for dinner. We eventually found a funny little café type place where we got snitzely type dinner. There didn't seem to be any other restaurant open in the town.


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  7. #23
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    Simply wonderful

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  8. #24
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    "About a year ago, Séamus asked Jim and Kev if they wanted to go to the Andes to try to break the altitude record on a motorbike."

    bloomin' marvellous



    Brian

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  9. #25
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    great write up

  10. #26
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    Great write up and some stunning photographs.....drums fingers on table awaiting next installment. Many thanks

  11. #27
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    20th March

    We had yet to decide our next move. Were we going to go back to Pissis or try a different mountain? What were our options? We were staying in the hotel for another night so we spent the day looking at maps and plans and getting our laundry washed

    Kev and I had done no research at all before we left home so Jim and Séamus had all of the options.
    Pissis had originally been chosen as it looked like we could go up the right hand side of the glacier, onto the ridge and then back up towards the top. The current record was won on Ojos de Salado, which is higher than Pissis, but the summit is impossible on a bike.
    The record was held by 3 men who got one bike to 6471m. The boys hoped to ride 3 bikes higher. Having been on Pissis, they thought that it was unlikely to get much higher than they had already been.
    Cazadero and Nacimiento were 2 more mountains that were in the same turning off the main road as Pissis but we had to turn right instead of left when we got in there.



    We had also figured out that shops in Tinogasta opened from 9 – 1 in the day, closed til 6/7 and then stayed open til 10/11pm.
    There was a cafe that became our regular lunch stop. They did some good empañadas there. There was a little friend who came in one day and joined us there



    Restaurants didn’t even open til 9pm. We had a fabulous dinner that evening, steak and chips, one of the best of the whole trip.

    21st March

    We went shopping straight after our breakfast of sugar dipped croissants and tea/coffee. Got more provisions and petrol and once again went back through Fiambalá, topping up the petrol on our way through.
    Back out the road to the turning for Pissis. We turned off and Jim got his bike off the trailer and he rode in.
    Kev, Séamus and I drove the jeep. We didn’t really know where we were going.
    Jim was in front, checking out possible routes for us.









    Eventually, we realised that we wouldn’t get to base camp so we needed to find a place to camp.
    The wind had been fierce all day and finding somewhere with shelter was going to be hard. We stopped once or twice at possible camp spots but it was too wild.
    We eventually went back about a half hour to the entrance to a mine we had passed earlier. We figured that it would be sheltered if we went down towards the mine.
    Jim went first and we followed, half afraid someone would appear and kick us out of there. We found a place that was somewhat sheltered, far better than anything we would have found up outside the mines. But we lost the sunshine early as we were in a deep valley.

    We set up camp, ate and then sat in the jeep watching Séamus’s tablet. He had downloaded all but the first 4 minutes/last 4 minutes of fawlty towers, only fools and horses and most, but not all of Hitchcock’s film, Shadow of a doubt. This was a colder night than any we’d had so far.

    22nd March

    We got up the next day, packed up and went back up out of the mine.
    We managed to find the right route and got to base camp in the afternoon. Again, it was hard to find a decent campsite.
    It was very windy and the valleys were deep, but we didn’t really have a lot of choice. We pitched our tents, and took everything out of the boot again, and made up the kitchen again.



    The stove was still playing up but was still working. We’d settled into meals that consisted of bread/crackers with cheese/tomatoes/bananas on for breakfast and lunch and, tomato, onion, sausage omelettes for dinner with copious amounts of tea.
    We also had to drink a lot of water while at altitude. We should have been drinking 3 litres of water each a day.

    23rd March
    When I got up in the tent this morning, my head rubbed off the top and ice fell off and landed on Kev’s face!



    He spent the rest of the day talking about being woken up with a snowball in the faceIt was absolutely freezing!





    The temperature in the car was reading -15 . We had boiled eggs for breakfast again, delicious.
    The boys headed of up the hill behind us. They were going to try Cazadero today, also known as Walther Penck.
    Even though we were only at 4500m so that first ascent wasn’t very high, they could feel the drop in power as they pulled away up this steep hill.









    I had a little wander around, there were some skeletal remains of what we imagine were vicunas.







    Because of where our camp was, we were losing sunshine long before sunset again.





    This was also the coldest place we had camped, whether it was because we were losing heat from the sun going behind the mountain or that it was just a colder place, we don’t know.
    I was wandering around taking photos and I noticed them coming back down the mountains. Jim first, Kev second and Séamus at the back.
    By the time Kev got down the mountain, Jim had gone up the valley, a really rocky, messy, difficult stretch of boulderyness.
    Kev and Séamus decided not to follow and they figured he’d realise and come back. They waited for ages and then came back over to camp to wait. Jim eventually came back, he had been waiting at the other side for them to follow.
    They set off again, this time going in the other direction. Kev had his Delorme inreach with him and I presumed Séamus had his, but as it turned out he had left it behind. I had a wonderfully relaxed day, chilling out, reading my book.
    The boys had been gone about 5 hours and I was conscious that they should be home shortly when Séamus’ delorme beeped. It was Kev, asking the boys if they were back at camp yet. I panicked! Why was Kev alone? Why were the boys coming back? Had he had an accident?
    I was wandering up and down wondering which way they’d come back when eventually, I heard a bike. It was Kev. I was so relieved.
    They had got separated earlier on and he’d been looking for them but made his own way back. Then, I started panicking about the other 2. What would they do if there was a problem? They had no way of communicating with us as I had the Delorme.
    Then we heard their bikes. Whew! They came back a completely different way, they came up the river. Jim popped out and over towards camp, Séamus managed to get his bike stuck in the bog.
    Typical Tipperary man, goes to the Atacama desert(driest place in the world) and gets his bike stuck in a bog! They reached over 6,000m today.



    24th March
    Jim decided to change his rear tyre this morning and Kev remembered that he had a smaller front sprocket, so he changed that.





    They got out their Irish flags and set off. Today, they were going up Cerro del Nacimiento.





    I had another fabulously lazy day, sitting in the glorious sunshine reading another book. I had to keep moving my chair though to keep out of the wind as the wind was really cold. So, it wasn’t all fun and games for me.
    They were gone most of the day again. They came back in good spirits and again had got higher than 6000m. The ground was very loose and sandy and stony when you got up that high which made it very difficult to get traction.









    Our campsite is down there in the valley



    We were almost out of provisions so we were going to be going back to Tinogasta the next day.

    25th March

    By now, we had tried Mont Pissis, Cazadero and Nacimiento. They boys didn’t think they could get any higher on any of them.
    We needed to have a chat and see what our next move was going to be. We packed up the bikes, there wasn’t enough petrol to ride the bikes and get the jeep back to Tinogasta. Séamus was driving, like a rally driver, it took less than 3 hours to get back out onto the main road, with only one puncture! In the trailer.



    The spare wheel didn’t really fit but it did the job and got us back to Tinogasta.
    When we were getting the shopping the last time in Tinogasta, we had met a guy in the queue. He spoke good English and asked where we were from and we had chatted for a while. Turns out he owned the other hotel in Tinogasta and he had given us his card. When we arrived, we went to his hotel and it was so much nicer than the first one, and it had a swimming pool!

    Again, the first stop was the shower That evening, we went back to the steakhouse, but this time the food wasn’t so good, we were so disappointed as we’d been looking forward to it for 4 days.
    On the way to the steakhouse though we popped in to the sports shop to buy me a swimsuit. We’d come to buy one earlier but the shop was closed between 1.30 -8.30, then it was open til 11.30pm.
    Very few people spoke English there and our Spanish was limited. Someone had told us before we left that in Chile and Argentina they spoke Spanish like the Scots speak English.
    So whatever Spanish we had was not really understood anyway. So, we were using a lot of sign language, and smiles.
    We had arrived into the shop and Kev had sneezed and let out an unmerciful fart. The girls behind the counter tried very hard not to roar laughing. Jim and Séamus left the shop.
    Kev just apologised sheepishly, giggling. Then he asked them for a swim costume for me. We had a laugh with the girls.
    It’s amazing how much conversation you can have without understanding each other’s language. We asked them for a recommendation for somewhere to eat, and they wrote down the name of a new restaurant. It belonged to one of their brothers. That was the plan for tomorrow evening.


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  12. #28
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    Brilliant Mide.
    Cannot wait for the rest.

  13. #29
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    Amazing .


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  14. #30
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    Great read great pictures, thankyou

  15. #31
    Fantastic Mide, well done all of you
    KEA

  16. #32
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    Mide, most enjoyable write up and pictures so far. Well done one and all,following with interest. Thankyou for taking the time and effort to put this together. Makes my armchair adventure dreaming all the richer

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