Charity climbers scale Andean peak

Vico Testori, Derek Haines and Barry Yetton at the summit of Bolivia’s Mount Tarija.

The Cayman Islands flag was flying at the summit of Mount Tarija in the Bolivian Andes this week as charity mountain climbers completed the first part of a “three-peak challenge.”

Derek Haines and a mountain guide, top left, approach the summit.
Derek Haines and a mountain guide, top left, approach the summit.

Led by Derek Haines, the trio of climbers are raising money for the Have a Heart Foundation, which pays for life-saving heart operations for underprivileged children at Health City Cayman Islands hospital.

Mr. Haines, Vico Testori and Barry Yetton aim to scale three mountains in Bolivia, with a combined height of 57,285 feet, during the next month.

Peak one was chalked off the list this week, when the three men reached the summit of Mount Tarija after a 12-hour climb, including traversing a glacier.

Starting from base camp high in the Andes, the three began their summit attempt at 1 a.m., reaching the glacier at 4 a.m.

“We donned our crampons and helmets, roped up to our local mountain guides and set off upwards with ice axes in hand,” Mr. Haines said in an emailed account from Bolivia.

“Throughout the long slog, we traversed crevasses, quickly and delicately crossed snow bridges and eventually arrived at the final steep approach to the summit at 9:30 a.m. The sun now with us, we were afforded superb views back to our base camp and across the Andean ranges,” he wrote.

The next peak – Huayna Potosi – was visible in the background as the three climbers posed for pictures with the Cayman flag at the summit, before returning to base camp.

The three-peaks challenge is part of “The Mountains and Marathons Challenge,” a team fundraising effort that also involves multiple marathons and two Ironman challenges.

All money raised goes to the Have a Heart Foundation, which has funded operations at Health City for scores of young children from across the Caribbean, Central and South America.

During their trip, the group visited two Bolivian children, Carlos and Abidael, who previously had surgery at Health City.