My daughter has been climbing again.
Here she is several weeks ago on "a mountain behind the Cerro Arco," trying to scare me into an early grave.
And doing a damn fine job of it.
She called last night to tell me about the latest adventure. This time she and her boyfriend decided to do a three-day hike and climb Aconcagua (6962m/22,841ft), the highest mountain outside of Asia and one of the Seven Summits. For reference, Mt. Everest (8848m/29,029ft) is the highest mountain in the world.
No, they didn't go all the way to the top.
They started in Mendoza (761m/2497ft), where they've been going to school. Along the way they hiked across a glacier . . .
"Really? You walked on a glacier?"
"Yeah, it was pretty amazing. It comes down the mountain and across a valley and back up the mountain again. We didn't walk across the river part of it, that would be stupid. Too slushy."
"Did you have a guide?"
"No, you don't need a guide. There's a path."
Oh, of course. A path across a glacier. Silly me.
. . . to a base camp (3300m/10,827ft) and camped in their little tent . . .
"That little nylon tent I saw on your last blog post? Didn't you freeze?"
"Our little tent is very cozy."
. . . then hiked up to Plaza Francia (4200m/13,944ft) another base camp. And they saw an avalanche.
"At first, it looked like this huge white mist, billowing up and spreading out, like something out of a Stephen King book, coming to get us."
"It was coming at you?!"
"No, mom, it was a mile away. You'd have to see a picture. We weren't in the path of it or anything. And you could hear it. Like rumbling thunder. Wait until you see the video I took. So awesome."
Uh huh. Awesome.
I remember she had problems with altitude sickness back in July on the hike to Machu Picchu (2400m/7875ft -- and I thought that was a big climb), so I asked whether that had been a problem. She said, "Not really. Usually after a climb I'm starving, but when we got to Plaza Francia I could only eat half of my peanut butter sandwich, so that's one sign. And I had a headache, of course. So it wasn't too bad."
Then she told me the trail just opened on November 15. Before that date it's too cold and too dangerous. Gee, so glad they didn't do anything dangerous.
Next Tuesday they leave for Chile and points south. Where they will see penguins. Oh, and did I mention the ten-day hike they have planned in Torres del Paine National Park? Sounds lovely, doesn't it, camping and hiking in a national park? Innocuous even.
Once I got off the phone, I decided to do some research. Because by comparison, writing more pages in a thriller seemed like such a tame activity. Here are some pictures of Torres del Paine I found on Wikipedia, that calming informative presence on the internet and a friend to mothers everywhere:
Looks benign, doesn't it? And the flora looks so non-toxic and, um, highly edible:
I'm sure it will be perfectly safe. No worries.
Time to go write some soothing fiction about killers and conspiracies.