Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rest Day

I woke up around 2am to nausea. I sat in the tent with a ball in my throat and stomach. I was going to throw up. I quickly tried to drink water, but it was difficult to drink enough since it was literally as cold as ice. I was dehydrated. I realized sitting up helped my stomach. In an attempt to go back to sleep I rolled up my foam sleeping pad and placed whatever clothing I could find under it. This would prop my head up. I hoped and prayed to god I was not getting altitude sickness.

At 6:30am I woke up. My stomach was feeling quite a bit better. I unzipped the tent. It was a perfect day. The sun was shining. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. I looked up at the summit with excitement to see the climbers. It was difficult to spot them, but if you looked hard enough you could see a line of small dots moving slowly.

By 7am Tonya woke up. She said, my lips feel swollen. How do I look? When I saw her I couldn't help but laugh. Her lips were three times their normal size. She asked what she looked like. I said, you know that uh actress.. what's her name?... Joan Rivers! She said, I expected you to say any other actress but Joan Rivers. Tonya's lips were swollen from not putting enough sunscreen on them. My nose hurt. I would later find out that I should have put sunscreen chapstick on my under nose from my upper lip up. I had no idea the under side of my nose was blistered and burned (in a panic to not have a scabby nose for the wedding, I would buy several forms of moisturizers and healing ointments). We prepared oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Tonya had brought a small Bialetti stove top espresso maker with freshly ground espresso. It was wonderful to have good coffee after all the hard work. The only thing, she lost the filter for the maker at basecamp. In desperation to have this one treat, we contemplated our best options. Tonya suggested a clean sock or shirt, but those are valuable items on a mountain whose weather changes quickly and drastically. I suggested using one of the million and one plastic bags my parents put our things in (everything in our packs had bags to keep the goods dry. The number of plastic bags became a joke on the trip. Tonya must of had 50. She looked like a bag lady). We quickly tore pieces from a plastic bag and used our spork to poke holes. Coffee brewing was a slow process and we were probably ingesting loads of toxins from the plastic and the dyes, but who cares, we had good coffee.

8am my mom had me put on crampons (spikes you clamp on to the bottom of boots. They are used for climbing up ice) to practice how to use them for that nights climb. We had to find spots that were icy enough. The spot I found was the most trafficked area in camp, where the loose snow had been trampled away and all that was left was ice. This was the trail to the outhouse. I walked up and down the trail trying out different techniques. I could walk duck footed or side ways. The different ways of climbing would help rest and work different muscle groups. The crampons were bulky, stiff and awkward to walk in. My mom warned me that it is easy to break an ankle in them so just be careful and pay attention to how I am walking.

9am we chose a sunny spot on some flat rocks and melted snow for water. We shoveled snow from areas that appeared to be untouched by boot or urine. We not only needed to hydrate ourselves for the day, but we needed to prepare enough water for our meals and our climb. Tonya and I lucked out a bit since a couple who were going to climb that day decided not to. Their feet were covered in blisters. Instead of hauling water out with them, they gave us a 3 liter bladder that was half full. After 2 hours of melting snow our bottles and water bladders were loaded. We had about 6 liters of water.

10am we had a visit from the forest service chopper. They dropped off a few guys. They were what is called back country carpenters. Their job is to build and rennovate high camp ranger stations. After they are finished they are picked up and dropped off to snowboard down the mountain. Today they were assessing the station at Schurman. The chopper spent the next couple hours dropping off supplies. We were not allowed to go near our tent until they were finished (our tent just happened to be in the perfect zone for getting blown about and a potential hazard for supplies to fall). Tonya and I were itching to take a nap, but we were held captive on top of the rocks. We crossed our fingers the tent would not get blown away from the wind of the chopper.

11am While we sat waiting to go back to our tent. The teams who climbed to summit started to appear. The first 2 were brothers. One from Yakima and one from New York. They looked exhausted and happy to be down. At the same time you could sense their pride. An hour later the other teams began to arrive. There were 17 people in all. They were from the Colorado Climbing Club. They were screaming, hooting and hollaring almost to annoyance. These were the people who yelled at us the night before.

3pm Tonya and I finally got to go back to our tent. At this point we had drank a lot of water and needed to melt more snow. We cooked dinner, which was probably one of the most god awful meals. We wanted something light and easy on our stomachs so we thought soup would be the perfect solution. Tonya had lipton cream of chicken soup and some rice noodles with lemongrass. We also wanted to get rid of some weight in our packs so we used up our last package of chicken chunks, mixed it altogether and could barely stomach it. Me made a side dish of dried herbed mashed potatoes. They were flavorless. I told Tonya we needed to eat the food. We needed the energy. Her reply, I can't eat it if it makes me nauseous. We ended up throwing out a lot of food, which we would also have to pack out.

7pm we tried to hit the hay. However, we were right next to the shitter (we joked about how we dug an igloo for 2 hours only to end up next to the shitter) and people were lined up to tim buk tu talking loudly as they waited to use it. The Colorado Climbing Club partied all night. Yelling back and forth across camp. I wanted to ring their necks. If we were lucky, we got an hour or two of sleep.

Melting snow for water
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Backcountry Carpenters dropping supplies off
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