Last Great Unclimbed Mountains

Acclimatisation, Nuns, punctures and rescues!

This part makes me nervous.  I know I’m going to be really sick with the acclimatisation, because my body just doesn’t seem to start acclimatising until at least 4000 metres, if not higher.  We have been creeping up in altitude, sleeping at 3,800 metres for several nights, but I know I haven’t been acclimatising because I’m the only one sleeping like a baby at night, while the others suffer with poor sleep as their bodies adjust to the altitude.  This is exactly what happened last time, when suddenly at 5000 metres I got really sick.  At least I know it’s going to happen this time!

We decided to climb two local mountains to acclimatise, called Tuzgle and Acai.  Tuzgle is 5530 metres high and Acai is 5750 metres.

At Tuzgle, we could drive fairly high so we only had around 500 metres of altitude to gain.  We were on our way up, when we saw some figures in the distance.  We hadn’t seen any signs of civilisation for hours!  Then, when we got closer, we couldn’t believe our eyes.  Three Nuns were walking up the mountain road!  They were wearing habits, and one of them was carrying a little backpack.  Unbelievable!  We stopped and offered them water and food, but they declined.  It turns out that they often pass by the mountain, but have never been up it, so they decided to stop and walk up!  They parked their car very low, so they had 1000 metres of altitude to gain.  I should say at this point that the youngest was significantly older than me.  We wished them well and continued – I’ll try to get a photo for you so you don’t think this story came about through my altitude sickness!  They didn’t make it anywhere near the summit, but they totally put us to shame, with all our mountaineering equipment and experience!

The road was bad as we continued up.  At one point Conway ended up sliding off, resulting in a lengthy recovery with the Troller, and the winches.  The ground was steep, and sandy, and we could get no purchase for the wheels.  We had to put rocks under the wheels, and try to keep them from sliding down the mountainside with the car!  We eventually got Conway out, and decided to stop there and start walking!  Here are some photos from the top!

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Next, Acai, at 5750 metres.  On the way there we got a puncture, and realised our jack didn’t work!  Max got a nail and an elastic band and made a temporary fix…  We climbed from 5000 metres, and I felt the altitude much more this time.

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So, we tried to drive down to the city, but the puncture wasn’t really fixed properly and the tyre blew. Then we found out that our nut-taking-off device didn’t fit the wheel nuts!  Amateurs!  Thankfully a police car was driving past, and we flagged it down.  Needless to say, we didn’t let Max speak, as he doesn’t have a good history with the police!  They were very kind, and helped us change the wheel and we made it back to the town.  I spent the night huddled in a corner being sick, but after that seemed to acclimatise better.  Onwards and upwards; the acclimatisation phase was over, and it was time to hit the 6000ers!