Tasneem Khalil is has a new weblog. This is excellent news. I discovered his old site utterly by chance, and was fascinated for technical, literary, and artistic reasons, as well as the interesting and articulate content. Then the site disappeared, and I was concerned. Khalil is a journalist who writes on, among other things, human rights. Had he been disappeared himself? But he is back, and right on time for my own purposes. I am practically out the door, and I may or may not be posting over the next three weeks. And anytime is an excellent time to start reading Tasneem Khalil.
I am going to the Andes, and dreaming of the highest peaks, but I do not really intend to do the entire Aconcagua climb. I am not in shape for that. I do not have the money or the time, nor do I possess all of the necessary equipment.
It costs money to climb such mountains because you need some emergency support staff, and some radios, since you will rise to nearly 23,000 feet. There are many routes up the Aconcagua, some of them quite challenging. The route I would take, and that I may take one day, is the easy one, on the northern wall. It is a non-technical climb on a regular trail. The only special equipment you need there are crampons and ski poles.
I do intend to hike on the slopes of this mountain, and to climb on other hills and mountains near it. And the Andes are like the Himalayas, and their peaks are gods. And I am a masked narrator, but not an unreliable one.
A lot of people who climb the Aconcagua have sherpas. Perhaps this really is necessary, but who carries the sherpas’ packs? Once when I was hiking in Peru with some Brazilians, and some of the Brazilians got altitude sickness, sherpas rose up out of the trees, we’ll carry those packs for you for $4 a day.
They had been watching us the whole time, just waiting for this to happen. It was very interesting to see who actually hired sherpas: the straight white guys. These were the people in our group who were, at least apparently, in the best physical shape of all of us. But they had no endurance, as it turned out, and no psychic strength.