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High, cold, tiring, beautiful, delightful, proud... Should I go on?

[ Warning: Long post follows ] Just today, I read that H01ger is happy he can wear just a T-shirt somewhere in Northern Germany. Well, from my point of view, much the opposite has happened. And I’m not just happy - I’m fucking proud! About four years ago, Nadezhda went almost every weekend to hike to the mountains with the Grupo de los Cien people. I’ll sidetrack a bit to speak about them: Grupo de los Cien is a group of mountain lovers (no relation with the enviromentalist group which later took the same name) that, since the 1950s, have built and maintained the high mountain shelters in Central Mexico. It is a group, by the way, with which Nadezhda fell completely in love - and now it’s up to me to find out why ;-) But lets go back to the main topic. Almost every week, she came back delighted and loaded of energy from a mountain hike. Almost every week, I told her I wished to go with her, of course, if they went to a simpler route. Of course, lugging around over 130Kg of humanity is no easy deal. And, after over a year and because of many problems that came together at once, she stopped going to the mountain as well. She always kept an eye on their friends, but so far had not been able to return to the mountain. Ok, so last week she heard the group was organizing volunteers to go fix the Ayoloco 2 shelter. She signed up, and invited me. I was afraid, but accepted the challenge - Of course, full of fear. Being this a historical event (at least in my life), I cannot but offer you some of the photos I took. And, yes, I’ve just started playing with Flickr. Lets see if it works for me ;-) Saturday, 5 AM, we woke up. 5:50AM, we met part of the group near Daniel’s house, in Condesa. 7 AM, we were having a nice breakfast (tamales and coffee, yum!) in Amecameca, still 28km from La Joya. From Amecameca, we went to Paso de Cortés, where we met the rest of the group, and from there we went by a little, bumpy and unpaved road until La Joya. Somewhat around 20 people started the hike at around 9 AM. According to Google Earth, La Joya (just South of the Iztaccíhuatl - white woman or sleeping woman in Náhuatl) is at 3995m - And, of course, to start at that altitude is not easy. The air is very thin, and walking a little bit too fast quickly makes you feel the blood pumping, trying to get some more oxygen. I often remembered how my Bolivian friends behave in Potosí, walking slowly even when in a hurry :) We first went down a little valley, then up. The first portion of the hike was on soft, wet sand, with some grass (what we call zacate - Strong, hard grass, not what you commonly see in a garden). I soon learnt that was a blessing, as it was by far the easiest part. Then we went up a steep and quite rocky area - It started getting tricky for somebody not used to trusting his own feet. And it was steep, yes. This was the first time (of many, of course) I started thinking whether I should head back. We reached what I foolishly thought was the summit, only to find a steeper, longer way to go. It started getting common to find little deposits of snow/ice (I don’t know the exact term in English - it’s called aguanieve in Spanish, literally snow-water. [[Update]: Thanks to the now-DD H01ger, I now know that aguanieve in English is called sleet]. I understand it’s a bit harder than snow, but still much lighter than hail). We crossed a completely rocky section - No sand to hold the rocks to their place. That meant being extra careful (and thus, extra slow). But just afterwards, in case it was not enough, Mother Nature answered my pleads for some sand - we crossed a section made exclusively of loose sand. And, please, if you have ever walked upwards on sand, imagine doing so at over 4000 meters. I was taking so much care of how and where I stepped that I strayed not more than 5 meters down of the path the group was following - Being able to climb back to the right path was really not easy. This was the point that not only I was thinking about heading back, but I’m sure Nadezhda thought I would abort the mission. She cheered me up, took some pictures of me as soon as I got out of the sand trap, and we were able to move on. After the sand, some more rocks, and we started feeling the chilly wind. We entered a cloudy region - Humidity does get the coldness into your bones! We could not really see where was the rest of the group, so we proceeded the best way we could. Fortunately for Nadezhda and me, just behind us came the very experienced Mario Corsalini and led us. And, yes, we finally saw the Ayoloco 2 shelter. I was by then exhausted, after some four hours of ascent. I ate one of my apples - The sweetest apple I have tasted so far. After resting a bit, and realizing I was almost frozen (we were at 2 Celsius under, with constant chilly, humid wind)… Then I started working with the guys, reinforcing the shelter, while Nadezhda and some other people painted the inside with. People started eating - of course, I joined them. And, after some time up there, we started going back down. Miguel Ángel, a volunteer in the Izta-Popo park, walked a good portion of the descent with me, giving me tons of help and tips. Thank you, thank you, really. The descent is, of course, much easier - We were chatting most of the time, and we made only around two hours back. The weather was quite nice on us - We had some aguanieve falling every now and then (yes! Yes! many of you guys have heard/read me bitch on how I had never seen snow falling before - Ok, this is not exactly snow, but I think it qualifies as my first experience ;-) ), but aguanieve does not make you wet, as it bounces off the clothes. When we approached La Joya we started having some light rain. We hopped in the cars, and then the rain really began. But even if this was not enough: Grupo de los Cien was celebrating the 83th birthday of one of its senior members, Poncho Rico. No, being 83 years old is not an excuse for skipping this memorable hike. We went to Anatolio’s house, very close to Amecameca, and had a delicious dinner, cake and drinks. Nadezhda: Thank you. So, so, so very much. Thank you for being so patient with me, for dragging me up the Sleeping Woman. Thank you for getting me into this so very important and beautiful experience. I hope this will be the first of many. There is still a very long way for me to go before I’m really up to the challenge, but believe me: This will not be my last time on the mighty mountains.


Edgar Acosta 2007-03-30 08:15:07

Re: High, cold, tiring, beautiful, delightful, proud… Should I

lovely post!

Nadezhda 2007-03-14 07:54:05

Re: High, cold, tiring, beautiful, delightful, proud… Should I

¡Venga valiente, salta por la ventana!

¡Te amo! :*