Haines completes mountain challenge

Vico Testori, left, and Derek Haines unfurl the Cayman Islands flag on the summit of Mt. Acotango in Bolivia.

Marathon runner and fundraiser Derek Haines has completed his latest challenge for charity on June 13 — climbing three mountains in Bolivia.

Mr. Haines, along with Vico Testori and Barry Yetton, set out for Bolivia in May to climb Condoriri, Huayna Potosi and Illimani as part of “The Mountains and Marathons Challenge,” to raise money for the Have a Heart Foundation. The foundation finances lifesaving heart surgeries at Health City for underprivileged children.

With two of the mountains crossed off their list, they were waiting out bad weather to try to tackle Mount Illimani, but Mr. Haines explained that with conditions this season, combined with a lack of snow and increased hard ice coverage, they were advised that Illimani would be “dangerous and foolhardy” to tackle.

Instead, the trio set their sights on the 19,855-foot high volcano, Mount Acotango, on the Chilean border.

“This proved a blessing in disguise as we had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery and geology as we drove south to the Sajama National Park,” Mr. Haines said by email.

They set off before dawn June 13, when the temperature was at 14 degrees Fahrenheit and “threatening frostbite,” he said.

At 18,700 feet, after battling windy conditions and treacherous terrain, Mr. Yetton, who was experiencing respiratory problems, on advice from the lead guide decided to descend.

Mr. Haines and Mr. Testori continued the climb, traversing around a rock band and attaching crampons for the glacier climb to the summit.

The peak of Mount Acotango is seen across Sajama National park.
The peak of Mount Acotango is seen across Sajama National park.

There, as on their other climbs, they unfurled the Cayman flag, almost giving them, in their own words, “a taste of paragliding into Chile.”

With the three climbs completed, they treated themselves to some celebratory beer and a soak in the volcanic thermal springs.

On their final day in La Paz, Mr. Haines addressed the Rotary Club of La Paz to tell them about the Have a Heart Foundation and to talk with a fellow Rotarian and heart surgeon from the local children’s hospital.

The mountain challenge follows Mr. Haines’s 2014 challenge, in which he ran six marathons in a year to raise more than $1 million for Cayman HospiceCare.

The first leg of the latest challenge was the 50K Off the Beaten Track in Cayman, which Mr. Haines ran in February. Also as part of the “Marathons and Mountains” challenge, Chris Bailey and Shane Delaney will take part in Ironman races in Wisconsin and Barcelona in July and October.

In November and December, Mr. Haines will run marathons in Cuba and Grand Cayman.

For more information about the fundraising campaign for the Have a Heart Foundation, visit www.MM4HH.com.

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