On the entire expedition, I have few items that I can say I am glad I have, it has been very very useful. Some of it are already on my gear and equipment list, I just want to reiterate it's usefulness on the climb.
At first I thought of trying my best not to use it for I can't imagine how on earth will I use it, besides, my friend P.S. who climb the same mountain last year said she did not use it at all. She brave the cold night of doing the pee outside. On lower camps 1 and 2, I managed to hold my bladder until the morning but from base camp (even if our tent is the nearest to the latrine) up to the last camp, I use this item every single night, more than twice each night. The challenge when you are on 2 or 3 layers of pants is having to squat on the vestibule of the tent on a freezing temperature with one hand holding the bottle making sure that my pee will shoot to the mouth of it while the other hand is holding onto something to make sure that I will not be off balance with my position. It helps to practice using this before leaving for the expedition, in my case I did not.
When up on the mountain on a high altitude for several days already, I always have this tendency of having my hands a minor swelling. The skin around my nails become sensitive and every time it bumps into any sharp object it bleeds. Band- aid is very essential to make the bleeding stop and to make sure that it won't be exposed to infection. I use leukoplast and athletic tape when I can feel that blister is almost starting on some parts of my feet due to long trek.
Since I do not get a chance to take a bath and wash my hair (actually on the 3rd day at Plaza Argentina, there is a hot shower but it cost 25USD) for so long, 14 days to be exact, my every day beauty routine after saying my daily prayer every morning, it's automatic to get my mirror, check if there is a swell on my right cheek, then get cotton balls with baby oil and rub it on my scalp. With no bath this is the only way that I get rid of dandruff on the expedition.
The only way for me to feel fresh every after a dusty trek at the lower camps and a long exhausting trek on the higher camps and each morning before going out of the tent is the wet ones. This is also very very essential in keeping my hygiene clean despite my no taking a bath at all on the entire expedition.
For us ladies, it's a must to change underwear everyday but I did not do it. Thanks to the invention of panty liners, I do not have to bring so much number of underwear but rather I maintain my hygiene by changing panty liners every after a trek and every morning.
6. Tissue Paper (I brought 2 rolls but I asked for one more on the last high camp)
I always have colds even when I am at home. All the more I have it when I am on the extreme cold environment. On this expedition, I keep one roll of tissue on a ziplock on the side pocket of my tent especially at night. When I feel that my nose is already congested I know where exactly to get a tissue paper, and also when I feel I need to pee, I can grab it easily even when it's dark.
I am so much insecure with my colds on the climb, being a person who always have colds even on a normal day. So I bring nasal decongestant and use it in all the campsites before I go to sleep, that way it helps clear my nostrils.
Aside from my many medicine pills like biogesic, alaxan, diatabs, even diamox, this three pills that I ready and easily accessible every night on the campsite. It helps decongest my nasal as well.
I brought 3 pieces up in the mountain and I lost all of it when I go down, sad. I use this while trekking not just to cover the lower part of my face (from my nose up to my neck) from the cold blow of the wind but when my nose will just be runny I just blow it here. Sounds disgusting but when you are struggling yourself to move up with heavy load and managing your big double plastic boots, I just do not have the time to get tissue paper on my back pack or from the pocket of my trekking pants anymore. It works for me, but I know it does not sound good, Lito even noticed it and offered me his small pack of tissue paper.
I got this from the US when I to visit my sister last May, 2011. I thank God I brought one. Aside from the lip balm, I use this lip ointment more than thrice a day to prevent my lips from chapping and bleeding. And it's a big help. It work for me, I do not have that much burn on my lips.
I seldom change my long sleeves and inner layer pants every time I arrive on the campsite, so I seldom use lotion on my arms and legs. But I use facial lotion every single day, this is to prevent the skin on my face to be too dry being exposed on the sun and wind. I also make use of a body spray every single day, I still want to smell good despite not having been able to take a bath. Though as we stay longer I cannot help but already smell myself. Note: all this items are being transferred to a smaller container.
When you are up on the mountain for several weeks, and you have nothing to do, it's best to have this two items. Your nails will definitely grow longer and it does not look good especially if it's dusty, the color of your nails is not also good, and in my case I sometimes use my hands while trekking on a difficult part. So with that, some particles are inside my nails. It's good to cut your nails, but one good tip that others should remember and should not do, do not cut it too short. Promise you will thank me on this one. In my case, since I do not know as well, I cut it short enough up to the skin near the nails. And as my hands swell a little, it's just very painful every time the skin near the nails touches sharp object. I regret that I cut it too short. The puller on the other hand I use it when I have nothing to do by plucking my eyebrows.
These are items not really essential on the climb itself, in fact these things that one can do away with especially on the higher camps. But on my case, I am glad I have it all the time. In each campsite, I made it my daily mantra to write what I feel during the day and I am glad I did it, it keeps a record of what I've been through each day. And these also serve as my note pad every time I think of asking email address from my acquaintances on the trail and and campsite.
Another non-essential especially on the mountaineering, but I am glad I bring one. It becomes my daily routine to say the rosary every morning after bed before doing anything. I just feel confident knowing that He will always be with me on this adventure.
This has been very useful every time we move to higher camps. It is where I put all my not do big gears that I need to give to be carried for each move. I just compress all my things here. That way it's more compact and less bulky.
This is not available in the Philippines, I get mine in Singapore. Not highly needed though for my stomach is not so sensitive with where the water is coming from but when you are on a very long expedition, the very last thing that you want to happen is to have an upset stomach. It would all the more be a very challenging one to stop at the middle of a slope because you need to poo. With this I just want to make sure what I am drinking is safe. So on the water that we drink every day I put every single liter with this before putting either juice or tea just to have a different taste on the water. And mind you, we are required to drink at least 5 liters of water every single day. A big challenge.
When you are required to drink at least 5 liters of water every day and when you are in high camps with melted snow as the only source of water, it's best to have an alternate of these items. It gives flavor to fluid that one needs to drink each day. In my case it has been an option of chamomile, peppermint, ginger tea or juice. Thanks to Lito and Cesar they have this ready.
I keep few pieces on my trekking pants and outer shell every single day on my trek and also on the pocket on my tent every single day. Even if I do not have sore throat, I thought of preventing me from having one by having this on the trail. It also gives me additional sugar when I cannot bring out any trail food while on the trek. And on the campsite, I have this as alternate something to my trail food.
Because the expedition will take so long, in my case, I already expect that I will have it while on expedition, on our 3rd day at base camp to be exact. Being a woman on expeditions like, one has to anticipate it already. Hassle, not easy, very challenging but I just have to deal with it. Though Heidi told me, it wont be that strong or I'd be lucky if it will stop, in my case it did not stop but it was not as strong as I have it at low land.
If you are on a guided expedition, for sure you will be provided with a trail food every single day. But it's also good to bring your own favorite food. After eating a not so familiar taste for so many days, it's a good reward to eat what is familiar to my taste buds. In my case this are my reward to myslef. I also alternate the cheese and skyflakes as my midnight or early morning snacks, when it's so cold and I feel hungry and the breakfast food is not yet ready. I thank God I brought something with me.
List of Gear from Outfitter
On Being a Woman on Aconcagua