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Published: February 25th 2008
This saved 2 hours hard slog up volcanic sand and scree. However there was still 4.5 hours of climbing still to do.
We had a nice small group of 5 with two guides. We had to start at 7:00 AM and had to reach the top by about midday because the heat of the day melts the ice near the top which releases boulders and stones making it very dangerous.
We were given all the kit to carry - helmets, ice axes, boots, gaiters, crampons, hats, gloves, sunglasses, waterproof trousers and a bum protector. More about the last later. In a addition we had to bring food and at least 1.5 liters of water, and a spare jumper. This lot was very heavy!
The weather was extremely hot and cloudless - the area was having the worst drought in 50 years, causing the glacier on top of the volcano to shrink, causing crevasses to appear and loose stones and boulders to be released from high up the mountain.
After a couple of hours we reached the snow and had to don crampons and have lessons in using an ice-axe if we slipped.
Because of the time constraints we had to keep up a fierce pace and I couldn't quite keep up. So on of the guides brought me and Anne down fro a
Anne and one of the guides 300m from the summit
My cardio vascular system wouldn't let me go any further than here. (My excuse anyway)
point about 300m from the top. This was very frustrating. As you can see from the photos the top looked quite near. In relaity it was another 90 minutes very hard climbing, even steeper than what we had done so far, so I guess the decision was correct. As it turned out the "summit party" were nearly hit a coupler of time by large boulders rolling down from above. We would have slowed the group down even more and might even have prevented them from getting to the top.
Dan and Jocelyn did get all the way up however and the photos from the top are theirs.
Coming down was much more fun and was where the bum protectors came in. They were like large nappies and you simply slid down the snow on your bum using the ices axe as a brake! Brilliant!
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