The two girls (Melanie and Gerdien) we spoke to yesterday evening ask us at brekkie if they can join us for the day as we are all going to the same refugio, Refugio Jakob (http://www.refugiojakob.com.ar/). The more the merrier as far as we´re concerned. We all agree that if either party gets bored waiting on the other we´re allowed to abandon each other and that there will be and should be a lot of swearing as the hill gets hard, they even agreed to teach us swear words in French and Dutch as well as more Spanish.
As we´re about to set off we have another uninvited guest – a dog! We all assume it to be from the refugio and guess it´ll give up and go back soon, or at least go join its owners who are probably nearby. But Nope! It stays with us the entire day. When we stop, he stops. When we are struggling with the terrain he sits near whoever is at the front and whines, like he´s worried for us. He seems to know the way and Huw is convinced he does the journey between the two refugio´s pretty often as he as good as guides us on the right path.
There is a lot of swearing as the trek today is pretty hard core. It´s straight up 600m, down 600m, along a forested valley then straight back up 500m and finally back down 500m. Overall we got to a height of about 2100m. The ups were steep rocky scrambles (yes Fi really is scared of heights, and yes she really did do it! Brilliant effort, we´re proud of you girl) and the downs were named scream running, as that’s pretty much what we did all the way down.
It was a good day´s effort by all and we were all very tired and relieved to have made it. Refugio Jakob was in a similar setting to Frey, situated on a lakeside at the edge of a col. Think “Stickle Tarn” but higher and harder to get to!!!!
We were rewarded for our efforts though, as it is the birthday of the Refugio today, It´s been there 59 years. So it was pretty packed with climbers and members who had made the trip just for the party. Even though we had brought food to cook we decided to join in the festivities and have the celebration meal with everyone. They had a whole load of carcasses sitting on a nearby table waiting to be BBQ´d as we were signing in and requesting a bed for the night. These places are amazing, think bunkhouse in the UK but one that´s fully catered and has a bar into the bargain!
Some of the other tourists we got talking to had been told it was dog on the menu, it´s ok don´t panic, it was Lamb! But funny to think it might have been. As we wait on dinner we teach the others how to play Shithead (we still haven´t come across a polite name for this card game, sorry folks) and we also get a few games of Jenga in.
Dinner is excellent and we were amazed at the huge open fire they created that they then stood the carcasses around to cook. There was inevitably birthday cake, but whether its and Argentinean tradition or just a mountaineers tradition (we´re guessing the latter) we´re not sure but after the singing, everyone seemed to be taking it in turns to help themselves to cake – hands behind their back and take a huge bite! Nice!!
We thought our bed had been interesting last night, seven dwarfs beds all the way, but tonight we had an even more interesting layout – 3 tiers of seven dwarf beds, with us five obviously on the 3rd tier up in the rafters! We think they assigned these beds (oh, yeah they book you in but you can´t go into the dorm till a specific time at which they count you in and assign you a bed) to us for two laughs – (1) because we were girls (apart from Huw obviously) and see how we´d manage with loo trips in the night and (2) put us up by all the spiders! To get up and down we had to literally climb over sleeping bodies, not something we wanted to do too often. And as for the loos, at this refugio they were miles away, so there wasn´t much drinking being done by any of us, and it had started raining not long after we arrived, timed to perfection for sure! Ear plugs donned and we all fell off to sleep pretty easily, regardless of the fiesta still going on in the main room zzzzzzz…….