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No oxygen, no fear

MOUNT CHACHANI, Peru — The distance between us grows slowly but surely in the gray light of dawn as we head up the steep snowfield 18,000 feet above sea level. Richard Hidalgo, Peru’s most accomplished mountaineer, is taking short, deliberate strides but his metronomic rhythm toward the 19,872 foot summit of Mount Chachani is relentless. Unlike me, he doesn’t need to stop to catch his breath every few seconds, readjust his backpack, or just take in the stunning view of arid, rocky valleys through the clouds below.
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