Jan 12 DNA Aconcagua live update

Hello all from base camp, Plaza de Mulas. The entire DNA group hiked up to
this almost 14,000 foot camp from Confluenza yesterday. It was a long day
for all, with about 9 hours on the trail, but everyone did great. The hike
started with a steep climb up out of the glacial valley./stream that marks
the end of the Horcones minor glacier right outside of the Confluenza, Once
we were up above that valley we entered another broad, wide valley that was
fairly dusty – especially when the mules went by. The dirt gave way to a
broad, rocky glacial valley, complete with a few streams of glacial runoff
that had to be crossed. There was a slight upgrade in the valley for several
miles, with the steeper parts saved until the end. More mule trains passed
us, this time going down, as the mules load up at Confluenza, come up here
to base camp, unload, and go back down all in one day. Certainly the mules
work very hard, and all climbers should be grateful that they do the,
literally, heavy lifting, of most of the climbers gear as well as tents and
food. I wonder how many people would climber Aconcagua if they had to carry
all of their own gear and food, etc.? Certainly I would think a lot fewer.
The very steepest section was the final mile or so into camp. All of the
climbers did INCREDIBLY well. Certainly there was a sense of accomplishment,
and a clearer view of things to come, for all. In particular we were all
THRILLED that both Malcolm and Reyna made it to Plaza de Mulas; their summit
here on the mountain. Yet again we were very impressed with how well they
did. We have all been learning more about these two young adults, and the
challenges they face in their everyday lives, and are all even more
impressed with their attitude and character. In addition, the climbers are
really seeing the value in having Reyna and Malcolm along – what a wonderful
opportunity this is for both the climbers and the kids. We can only hope
that they will carry this as a positive experience for the rest of their
lives. Making some small difference is satisfying. The question is: what do
we do for them from here, after they leave the mountain, we continue the
climb, and leave the country?

After arriving at camp we had dinner and went to bed – everyone sufficiently
tired to attempt a good night’s sleep. However, the winds had a different
idea, with gusts reaching maybe has high as 50 mph. Luckily the winds
stopped in the early morning and allowed a bit more rest for all.

This morning, following breakfast, all climbers had to go to medical check –
again (just as they did in Confluenza). The check includes blood oxygen
levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and a listen to their lungs and heart.
Everyone was cleared to continue – another sign of how strong this group is!
For the rest of the day it’s rest, relaxation, and hydration. Tomorrow the
group will be making the acclimatization hike to Camp Canada, and back down
to base camp, tomorrow.

… An update from later in the day – around 5 pm local time. We actually
said goodbye today to Reyna and Malcolm. After the long and difficult over
11 mile trek here yesterday the local guides decided that it would be best
for them to trek down as far as Confluenza today, sleep there tonight, then
hike the remaining approximately 5 miles down to the trail head/ranger
station tomorrow; rather than having them do the entire appx 16 miles in one
day tomorrow. This was a smart decision. But… it was very hard to say
goodbye to them! And, they had a difficult time saying goodbye to all of us,
and their new friends the local guides and staff. There were very few dry
eyes as we all said goodbye, hugged, and promised that they would not be
forgotten. Another day I will post more about their personal stories, and
what it meant to them to have this experience. I know I will never be the
same.

And now, messages from the climbers!

Mick Donoff

Hi Guys.

We are here in Plaza de MMulas. Great camp and food and lot’s of wind and
cold. Rest day for us. Love

to all.

Paulette, Corrine, Evan, Family and Friends,

All continues to go well. I am acclimating just fine with good B.P, Pulse
and Pulse Oximeter readings.

It was 12F in the tent this morning but my sleeping bag is super warm. This
is a blast.

Love Michael

Namaste to all from Robin. Yesterday was our first big climb and I revel in
it. Plaza de Mulas is beautiful and the Horcones glacier stunning. You are
in my heart.

Ciao

Hi all, lieve allemaal, here is Marieke.

Plaza de Mulas is fantastico, we can see the route up from our tent, about 2
days ahead. The tent is next to a field of penitentes, what a view! We just
waved bye bye to our ‘jovenes’ Reyna and Malcolm. It has been a great
experience and already has made this trip very special. We all were very sad
that we had to part. Love to you all!

It is a different life here at base camp. Very windy, a bit cold, but not
uncomfortable. I miss my family. It is getting a bit more serious now that
we can see the hard hukes ahead. Tomorrow will take me to the highest
elevation I have ever been.

Love and miss you all, Rick

Hello TeleTech from 13,993′ Plaza de Mulas, our base camp. The youth who
joined us from the Crescere Foundation left today after a wonderful once in
a life time experience in the mountains. Thank you to the TeleTech
Foundation.

Hello from Jim at 14,000 feet! It’s strange to camp at an altitude that is
usually the height of the peak I’ve climbed. We hiked 11 miles yesterday. It
was almost as hard as my marathon tennis matches with Tony Miller. Okay,
maybe a little harder. I’m feeling strong and I miss all of

Mike Monahan

Hi Sandy, today is a rest day so we are just laying around. A very pretty
day. I hope things are well at home give Bob a big hug. Great people and
guides here,a very congenial group. Love and hugs, I miss you. Mike

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