Climbers reach fundraising heights

| 23/06/2016 | 0 Comments
CNS Local Life

(L-R) Vico Testori and Derek Haines with the Cayman Islands flag on the summit of Mt Acotango in Bolivia

(CNS): Despite bad conditions and a health issue for one of their team, Derek Haines and Vico Testori finished the last of three climbs in Bolivia, as part of the Mountains & Marathons Challenge to benefit Have a Heart Cayman. Third team member, Barry Yetton, was forced to abandon the last climb due to respiratory issues.

A lack of snowfall and increased hard ice coverage presented a challenging landscape across the ranges in Bolivia and the men were advised that to attempt Mt Illimani would be dangerous and foolhardy, so instead they took on the volcano, Mt Acotango (6,052m/19,855ft), on the Chilean border for the final task. “This proved a blessing in disguise,” said Haines, “as we had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery and geology as we drove south to the Sajama National Park.”

He said that summit day commenced early as usual, well before dawn, with a strong and icy wind at -10 Celsius and threatening frostbite. The climb was steep and testing against the wind with conditions and underfoot treacherous. At 5,700m, the climbers took a short break and that is when Yetton determined that due to respiratory issues, and following advice from the lead guide, he needed to descend.

Haines and Testori continued and, following a traverse around a rock band, rested to attach crampons for the glacier climb to the summit. The Cayman flag was once again unfurled at the summit and almost gave the climbers a taste of paragliding into Chile. Elated that the team had made summits on all three climbs, Haines said they returned for a celebratory beer whilst soaking in the volcanic thermal springs.

On their final day in La Paz, Haines addressed the full meeting of the city’s Rotary Club to apprise them of the Have a Heart programme. He also discussed the local challenges with a fellow Rotarian and cardio surgeon from the children’s hospital.

Speaking during training in Cayman last month, Haines said of the fundraising effort: “We have already over $100,000 pledged and every dollar will go to saving a life. Have a Heart runs with commitment that every cent raised for the charity will go directly to saving children. No funds are diverted to administration or overheads.

“In the past two years, Have a Heart has saved 74 children from around the region, Central and South America.”

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