Last Great Unclimbed Mountains

Sierra Aliste

We were heading for a beautiful mountain called Sierra Aliste.  It’s a beautiful mountain, with a steeper snow-covered face, and a ridge.  We set up camp near the base and Max cooked amazing seafood pasta:

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We were so happy to be back in the mountains again!

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Caio’s on the far right, then anti-clockwise we have me, Max, Jiovani and Pedro.

Right, we set off the following morning for the mountain.  The winds were high, but we were climbing a protected face.  Sierra Aliste is 5200 metres.  I set off with Jiovani, Caio and Pedro to climb the ridge.

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I climbed independently of the others, and reached the top after 90 minutes!  It was sheltered up there, and I sat and watched Max climb the snow face below me.  He’s the black dot down there…

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I sang along to my music loudly (because nobody could hear me) and enjoyed the beautiful views, curled up among the rocks on the sheltered side of the mountain.

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I got a bit carried away taking photos of the clouds that were floating by just above my head:

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and then the others arrived.  We took lots of photos on the summit.

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and then headed back down.  I had been at the top for nearly two hours by that point, so I was cold and headed down fast.  28 minutes later, I got back to the tent, and started doing the washing up.  A huge gust of wind came and hit the tents hard.  A minute later another gust came and this time I heard a huge snapping, ripping sound.  I abandoned the washing up and ran to look at the tent next to mine.  It was torn apart, with poles snapped, and with every gust it was getting worse.  I saw one pole snapped on our trango two (the best mountain tent in my opinion) and Pedro’s little one man tent was flapping furiously.  To make matters worse, our food boxes (some of which I can barely lift) had blown out of the tent porch, tipped over, and our supplies were rapidly disappearing into the distance.

Ok, now I had a choice.  I ran to the destroyed tent first, afraid it was going to tear and blow away along with Pedro and Jiovani’s belongings, and pulled out the poles, collapsing the tent, and bundled it into the car.  Pedro’s small tent followed shortly after, and then I managed to get all our food from the mountainside.  At that point, the others arrived and we managed to put all of our things into the two cars, although the gusts were incredible.  We were just about to leave….when Jiovani’s car wouldn’t start.  We checked it…and yep, even though he put 100% antifreeze into it, it must have been terrible quality, as the whole thing was frozen.

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With broken tents, and one car out of action, we had no choice but to use Conway to tow the other car.

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Of course we had a compulsory stop at the waterfall, which was incredible with the strong winds.

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On the way down, Caio decided it was warm enough to run around taking pictures in his underwear (maybe the altitude got to his head?)

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We had an 8 hour drive back to Copiapo towing the other car.  On the way, a freak gust of wind scoured the car with sand and stones, and smashed poor Conway’s window!  He’s looking a bit sorry for himself, with smashed rear lights (thanks to the mine at Famatina), a broken boot (thanks to the wind), and now a broken rear window.

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Shame we couldn’t get some more mountains in, but we’ll be back up there soon!  We’re hoping to leave tomorrow, even though the weather looks pretty terrible, with a storm coming in at the weekend.  Copiapo is at least surrounded by lovely hills, see below.  The boys came back last night and announced that they had brought me back some Chilean ‘fish and chips’  Better than anything I can get back home in the UK apparently…

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So despite freezing yet another car, the wind smashing our tents, and Conway’s window, and having to get out of the mountains towing our backup car, we’re still having a great adventure!  Sorry for the huge essay – more in a week or so!

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