It was -35, windy, and sunny for our summit bid. We got up at 7 am and were underway by 10:00 am. Ian got off early but his oxygen saturation dropped and his heart rate increased and came back to spend the day at Summit Camp. The rest of us were off: 8 km and 1200m elevation to gain – what a day.
We made good time, but unfortunately at the 4400m mark Pat and I began to wane. 200m from the summit we checked everyone out – Pat’s oxygen saturation was 64, mine was 73; i.e. both of us needed to be on a ventilator. Dale on the other hand was 93%! Since we didn’t want Dale to attempt to summit without an MD present, and since Pat and I clearly had to go down the mountain, the trip was stopped 200m shy of the summit. We were so close we could see the flag.
Dale was remarkable, strong, and had no issues with the elevation. It is likely that the compressed schedule, given our delays in Puntas Arenas, contributed to Pat’s and my problem. We are now back in High Camp and are recuperating from the day – 12 hours long.
Overall I feel the trip has been an overwhelming success, and there is a certain irony that the heart transplant recipient was best poised to summit the mountain!!!
200 metres from Summit, December 18, 2006.