|the peak of Mount Tronador in the morning- high on the glacier|
Edu drinks a beer I buy him, as I question the employees about what it's like being high up on the glacier for two weeks at a time.
They tell me it's an adventure, and during the summer, there a lot of people going in and out, trying to conquer the peak of Tronador, something we won't be doing as it would be too dangerous with the added recent snowfall; step on a crevice hidden by white powder and fall to your death.
a look at the Refuge Mieling- outside and in
"Once a year a military helicopter brings us supplies, the rest of the time we carry food, paper, beer, and other supplies up the mountain ourselves," he pauses for moment, almost catching his breath imagining it, and then explains, "It's hard work."
They get most of their power from solar cells, but occasionally have to run a generator, as they are tonight- it's winter and the sun is lacking.
Outside the wind howls loudly. The stars are covered by clouds and we're 50 miles from civilization, there is zero outside light filtering in. It's the Andes at their best and loneliest. No cell signal, no internet, I soon retire upstairs.
I take one of a hundred mats (it's busier in the summer) and roll out my sleeping atop it. Although the downstairs is a sort of luxury version of a high-mountain base camp for the assault on Tronador's peak, the second story is no frills, a large room with a roof over it, one halogen lamp hooked up to the electrical system.
I wouldn't want to be here when it's full, tired hikers coming to and fro, rising in the middle of the night, snoring. As it is the wind the screams outside so strongly you can hear the weightless apparition changing direction. In fact, the gale is so ferocious the walls shake, keeping me awake as I wonder how much more force it might take to blow us off the cliff.
We wake in the morning, and after trail mix, instant coffee, and dried soup mix, gather our gear and set-off. The wind whips us fervently, as the condors watch our every move from high overhead. I wonder how much they're actively rooting against us, or whether they're more like casino executives, knowing the odds dictate a certain percentage of the time we'll make a mistake in our climb, and they'll be feasting.
|a view off the edge I dare not take another step towards|
|up, up, and over the ridge|
video: not much said here, but get a view from near the tree-line as we descend
|Mount Tronador through the fall trees|