Blyth & Co. touts mountain climbing for 1999

TORONTO -- Blyth & Co. Adventure here has organized five mountain-climbing excursions timed to coincide with New Year's Eve 1999.

climberThe trips include Nevado Aconcagua, Argentina; Bhutan; Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, Tanzania; Antarctica and Mount Everest.

In Argentina, the firm is offering a climb of Nevado Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere at 23,000 feet. On the border of Chile and Argentina, it's also the highest mountain in the world that can be climbed by individuals without technical expertise, according to the company.

Mount Aconcagua stands at the center of an arid desert and, as a result, offers views across the Andes to the north and south, eastward to the Argentine Plain and westward to the Chilean capital, Santiago. The ascent follows the northeast buttress below the Polish Glacier.

The group sets its base camp at 16,000 feet and, for 12 to 14 days acclimatizes and carries equipment to upper camps located at 18,000 and 20,000 feet. Plans call for the summit to be reached on Dec. 31, with the descent to Mendoza for celebration of the millennium scheduled for Jan. 1 to 3.

Timed in the midst of the austral summer, the climb is high enough to require the same cold-weather equipment used on high Himalayan expeditions. Strong winds and temperatures of minus 20 degrees centigrade add to the challenge. In preparation for the trip, participants are required to spend a weekend training with trip leader Laurie Skreslet in the Canadian Rockies sometime in the fall of 1999.

The cost of the trip, which departs for Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 15 and returns to North America on Jan. 5 is $7,110, including roundtrip air to Santiago and the Rockies training weekend deposit of $1,666.

The trip to Bhutan begins with two days in Bangkok touring Thailand's capital by foot and by boat starting Dec. 27. On Dec. 29, clients fly to Paro, Bhutan, and visit local temples before departing the next day on foot to begin the Himalayan climb. On Dec. 31, clients climb to 10,000 feet and celebrate New Year's Eve with Everest's peaks in the distance. Jan. 1 includes a walk to 13,000 feet before starting the descent to Thimpu, the capital city, in the valley below.

On the return from Bhutan, participants spend two days in Phuket relaxing on the beach or playing tennis or golf. The cost of the Bhutan expedition, which starts Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 7, is $5,330, including air fare from Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto.

Blyth & Company Adventure, Phone: (800) 387-1387, Fax: (416) 964-3416

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