Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 6: Camp IV to Camp V

It was nice to have a solid five hour day after the agony of days three, four, and five. It was a rolling day, first down into a winding valley and then slowly up the valley to the base of the Jaya range. Apparently Base Camp is a five hour walk over the range. I can't tell you how excited I am that this hike is nearly complete.

Today was very similar to all of our previous days: hours of trudging through deep mud up and down hills in the rain--sometimes a light drizzle and sometimes a massive downpour. The group morale has definitely improved now that we are within sniffing distance of the mountain. People are already discussing how to best avoid or shorten the hike out...! Unfortunately, our best option appears to be combining days 1 and 2 and 5 and 6 of the hike, coming in in four days instead of six. This would be difficult but doable. The other potential options have major roadblocks: getting a helicopter from base camp is both expensive and impossible since there are no longer any pilots trained to fly in and land there; accessing the Freeport Mine road is very risky and potentially dangerous, as other climbers who have done that have been locked up in shipping containers or worse...

This leads me to one serious concern I've harbored the entire trip: our safety. If something were to happen and one of us was seriously injured, what would we do? It is an unbelievably difficult four to six day hike back to the nearest village, and the nearest medical clinic is still an hour plane ride from there! The reality is, we cannot afford to injure ourselves. Without access to the mine road or a helicopter rescue, there is no realistic way we could reach medical assistance in a timely fashion. This hike is life or death. You either stay healthy, or you're screwed.

Anyway, not such a pleasant thought to end on but sleep is calling. If all goes well, we'll be at Base Camp tomorrow afternoon and pushing for the summit tomorrow night!

We're at the base of the Jaya Range! Soooo close to Base Camp...

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