Allyson Towle & Marc Booysen- The Andean Giant Expedition

Allyson Towle
Johannesburg Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 19:00 to 21:30

The Andean Giant Expedition

Sea-to-summit attempt on Ojos del Salado (Chile), the highest active volcano in the world (6900m). How did they know they were ready to take on a peak 6900m high; to do this together; and to push themselves beyond their mental and physical capabilities and what got them to the top?

Almost two years ago Allyson went through a divorce; she began training in earnest. A recreational mountain biker at the time, she spoke to her trainer, Marc Booysen, a climber, about doing ‘something’ in South America. As the months passed, they settled on combining their disciplines for a sea-to-summit attempt on Ojos del Salado (Chile), the highest active volcano in the world (6900m).

Until April 2010, Allyson had never climbed much more than a flight of stairs and Marc had not been on a bicycle since tyres were solid rubber. Together they successfully completed their adventure, ’The Andean Giant Expedition’.  The trip comprised of a 5 day acclimatisation on Del Plomo a 5400m peak just outside Santiago, Chile where they reached 4200m before being slowed down by a bout of altitude sickness, before starting the actual Expedition.  They began the journey in Caldera (a small coastal town near Copiapo a Mining Town in Chile) cycling approximately 370kms from sea-level to 4500m base camp of Ojos del Salado, in the Atacama Desert.  Covering between 50 to 80 kilometres a day through the desert an experience that bought them face-to-face with long, unending sandy roads, dry, cold and windy conditions as well as long climbs up the passes, through the Salt Lakes of Marincunga and to their final night at Cascada Rio Lama.

They spent 4 nights at Base Camp Refugio Claudio Lucero (4500m) acclimatising during this time to 5200m before making the 22km journey on foot to 2nd Camp, Atacama at 5200m.  Here they spent 3 days, acclimatising to 5800m before making their summit attempt on the 25th of December 2010.  They reached the summit just under 6900m after 11 gruelling hours a total trip of nearly 15 hours. 

In so doing they managed to raise R25 000 for their charity of choice MaAfrika Tikkun.


Cricket Pavilion, Johannesburg Country Club


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