limbing Aconcagua has its periods of inactivity because of the need to acclimatize. Often this entails entire days of nothing but rest and eating.
In the effort to maintain some connection with the "outside world", and as entertainment, I carry a portable, seven-ounce shortwave radio up Aconcagua.
At Base Camp I receive shortwave broadcasts from Brazil, Canada, Europe, and the Far East. I have been twice to Bolivia and have a weakness for that land because of its mountainous topography; Indian heritage; and cheapness for the foreign traveler. I resolve to receive Bolivian radio stations - a much easier task than from California due to their proximity. I succeed in identifying at least one station from Santa Cruz - and possibly others from La Paz.
Adam listens to the shortwave radio
at Plaza de Mulas base camp.
At Camp Berlin I listen intently at 15,000 KHz and, due to extraordinarily favorable ionospheric propagation, receive both the WWV time signal from Fort Collins, Colorado and the WWVH signal from Hawaii. I can distinguish the two stations only because the latter has a female voice announcing the minute. We set our watches to 7:12 p.m. local time. The signals are understandably weak due to the modest power output of 2.5 kilowatts and the great distances involved.
However I do not anticipate the most enjoyable use of my radio. As we ascend the mountain the FM reception from Santiago, Chile improves due to the line-of-sight nature of these signals. We hit upon a gem at 99.7 MHz - a public station broadcasting classical music from the Universidad de Santa Maria.
It is wonderful to hear Beethoven and Mozart at Camp Berlin with near-perfect clarity. As a violin-playing member of the La Jolla Symphony in San Diego, Edward in particular enjoys this radio station.
At times the classical music lets the hours pass more smoothly while lying in our tent with little else to do but acclimatize. Indeed, here is an instance when simply doing nothing (except possibly listen to the radio) is the most beneficial of all possible activities!
My seven-ounce metallic box is well worth carrying to 19,450 feet.
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