A largely unintelligible satellite phone call from Alex Strauss does little to convey the sentiments of the team. A bug that was picked up at some point before the expedition has really hit Jenni hard in the past days and given the challenges placed upon the human body at altitude, she just wasn’t getting any better. The decision was made to get her out of Base Camp, so she can heal and rest in a warmer, more humid environment that is not subject to the many layers of harsh conditions found at over 13,000 feet.
Yesterday, Jenni flew out to the trailhead in a helicopter and Aaron and Alex started the long hike out the Relincho and Vacas Valleys to join her. Jenni was met by friends and spent the night recuperating at the ski lodge of Penitentes. Aaron and Alex hiked to the site of their first cam, Pampa de Lenas, and then completed their hike out this morning. They are all having lunch now, en route to Mendoza. Fermin headed back up the mountain to clean caches from the upper camps that had been stocked in the past days. He will descend shortly and join the team in Penitentes for the drive back to Mendoza.
Health challenges are endemic in life and we get no respite from them when we head off on our personal adventures. A long flight, passing through crowded airports, can really tax one’s immune system and exposes us to numerous opportunities for picking up a nasty bug. Once we head up into the thin air of altitude, it is often just plain impossible to recover. Our hearts go out to Jenni and we wish her a speedy recovery. There was no real choice in this decision – it was the best course of action and we laud Alex’s decision to support her in the coming days.
Happy New Year and warmest wishes to the climbers.
Here is Alex (kind of…):