Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aneto Weekend

My apologies for my lax posting of late. I have been completely overwhelmed with classes and organizing Bar Crawls, soccer teams, trips, etc... You know, important things!

Saturday morning at 8:30am a group of nearly 40 IESE students met at school and hopped into a bus headed for Aneto, the highest peak in the Pyrenees. After several hours of sleeping and riding, we arrived at the town of Benasque to have some lunch and rent our crampons and ice axes.

Walking through Benasque in search of an open restaurant.

After driving for another hour or so, we arrived at the Refugio where we were to spend the night.

The map posted at the dining room of the refugio. We stayed at La Renclusa... Aneto is straight above, at 3404 meters.

After organizing our packs and eating dinner on Saturday night, we rolled into our bunks (yeah! bunk beds! woo hoo!) at 10:30... only to be awakened at 2:30. By 3am, we were dressed, headlamped, backpacked, and headed in the wrong direction.

What else is there to do when you've gone on the wrong trail at 3am but take a photo?! Here's our team, the Snot Rockets. We gave ourselves that name for a reason...

By 3:30am we were back on track and headed up the mountain. We climbed for several hours in darkness, the only light coming from our headlamps and the full moon. Aneto is basically a giant boulder field, so there was a lot of scrambling up and over rocks, scraping hands and knees, and stumbling.

Around 7:30am the sun started to appear. Here I am with Alex, still looking exhausted.

And with Greg shortly afterward

By 9am we were at the foot of the glacier, strapping on our crampons.

Worried we wouldn't make it to the summit due to time constraints, I ignored my burning legs and climbed as fast as I possibly could. Walking in crampons isn't easy. Walking in crampons uphill in blinding sunlight... well, let's just say it was kind of tiring. But completely exhilirating!

But we did finally make it to the top, and in record time.

Greg, Chris (on exchange from UCLA) and me, just before crossing "Puente de Muhammed," a narrow land bridge with a 200 meter drop on either side.

Making my way across the Puente, where I said, "If my mother saw me doing this she'd say, "NOELLE SADLER! Get down from there!"

At the very top, with Chris, Andreas, Bertrand, and Jatsek

Of course, the problem with climbing up a mountain is that you eventually have to go back down. So at 11am we were headed back to the Refugio, completely exhausted. On the way back we met up with some of our group members who hadn't crossed the glacier. While they were resting, they saw a climber fall the entire way down a sheer cliff up above them. They went to try to help, but when they reached him and took his pulse, he was dead. His friend and fellow climber had to sit and wait there with him while the emergency crew arrived by helicopter. It put a bit of a damper on our spirits and reminded us that you can't take anything for granted.

By 3:30 we finally arrived back at the refugio, sweaty and exhausted. My legs refused to cooperate with me any longer, and I was delighted to get back on our bus for the trip back to Barcelona. Now, three days later, my legs are still hurting, but it was worth it to summit my first mountain.

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