Forum Index > Trip Reports > Peakbagging South America / Part 4: Argentina (Aconcagua)
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Gimpilator
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1473 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 15, 2011 11:57 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Have You Seen Part 3?

We landed in Mendoza and were met by a young lady named Luze.  She was the representative of the company Mallku, whom we had hired to take care of our transport to the mountain, and also mule services.  From the airport, we drove downtown to secure our climbing permits and were dismayed to discover that the fee for a summit attempt had increased again this year, to an exorbitant 3000 pesos, which was approximately 750 US Dollars.  That's $750 each.  I opened my money belt and handed over the just about all that was left of my budgeted cash.  We signed the liability release forms which made it clear that climbing Aconcagua was a very dangerous undertaking.  One that could end in loss of life, and often did.  It reminded me of the forms I had to sign when I went sky diving.  But in all seriousness, Aconcagua was a major undertaking not to be underestimated.  We were facing at least 55 miles round-trip, and 14,000 feet of elevation gain, not counting extra carries up and down between camps.  To think that this is the shortest and easiest route on the mountain!

Near Punta del Inca
Near Punta del Inca

Aconcagua is also notorious for strong wind.  Combine this with temperatures that can drop well below zero and you have conditions that get people into trouble.  We were now much further south than Ojos del Salado so it was likely to be much colder than the previous climb.  The only way we were going to get this peak was if the weather cooperated.  The majority of people who attempt Aconcagua do not get it on the first try.  Some have to put in three attempts before they succeed.  Adam Helman had shared an email with us sent to him by a friend who had been climbing on the mountain just last month.  Severe wind storms in the upper camps had brought WINDS OF 140 MILES AN HOUR.  During the night, several tents had been blown out of camps, with people still inside.  Some people who went outside to re-tie their guy-lines returned to their tents minutes later, only to find that their fingers were frozen solid.  When Adam's friend emerged after the storm, his pack which had been stowed in the vestibule was nowhere to be found.  He was forced to make a speedy retreat.  Unable to carry his gear down, he had to hire porters to come back up and get it for him.  The thought of facing winds like that put the fear into me.  I was well aware of the fact that Aconcagua has one of the highest mortality rates of any mountain in the world, claiming 10 to 20 lives every year.

30 Second Exposure, South Face
30 Second Exposure, South Face
The South Face Seen From Lower Horcones
The South Face Seen From Lower Horcones

After getting our permits, our next stop was the grocery store.  This was one detail of the trip I had been wondering about from the very beginning.  What sort of food would we be able to buy?  Against the advice of others I had brought extra food in hopes of having plenty left over for the last leg of the journey.  When I had first left Seattle, one suitcase was entirely full of food and nothing else.  There was even more food in my duffel bag.  Now I was down to about half a suitcase, but it seemed to be enough to get me through this last climb.  In the grocery store our choices were somewhat limited.  We found assorted pastries and cakes and some fresh fruit and whatnot.  Unfortunately the dehydrated meals that Greg and Rob had hoped for were not available.  Thankfully I had about 9 of those left and I could share them.  Plan B was to make pasta dinners.  We found some 5 Minute Alphabet Noodles which we could add tuna and soup packets to for flavor.  That would have to do.

Alpenglow
Alpenglow
The First Mules
The First Mules

After shopping we had nothing left to do but drive to the mountain.  It was about a 2 hour drive.  During the entire trip Luze drank Yerba maté out of a small, round, wooden cup with a curved metal straw.  She explained that drinking maté is an Argentinean tradition and is considered a social activity.  She offered the cup to us several times but I was fearful of picking up germs right before the climb so I declined.  After the first hour we entered a narrow canyon with the De las Cuevas River running down below.  As we drove on, the peaks on either side of the canyon were growing progressively higher.  It was a lovely stretch of countryside and I realized we were entering the heart of the Andes.  We pulled off the highway at Punta del Inca (bridge of the Inca) where a natural formation spans over the river from one side of the canyon to the other.  I jokingly called the place Puta del Inca (whore of the Inca).  Greg was not amused.  My limited Spanish vocabulary wasn't sufficient to make an attempt at humor.

Nearing Confluencia
Nearing Confluencia
Mountains Above Confluencia
Mountains Above Confluencia
Mountains Above Confluencia
Mountains Above Confluencia

We were shown to our hostel which turned out to be a dump.  Only once during my travels have I stayed in a smaller room.   But that was what we had requested, just some beds for the night.  It would have been much more expensive to stay at the hotel.  There was one final task to perform before bedding down.  We had to pack our sacks for the mule the next day.  Usually for Aconcagua, you rent one mule for every two people.  Each mule can carry a maximum of 30 kilos on each side for a maximum weight of 132 pounds.  Since we were already acclimatized and wouldn't be spending the 20+ days on the mountain, we hoped to fit most of our supplies on one animal.  Anything left over we would have to carry up ourselves.  We weighed out the 60 kilos with what looked like a giant fishing scale and found that it wouldn't all fit in the two duffels, so we made two light duffels for one side of the mule and one heavy one for the other.  I weighed my pack and found that it was just over 20 pounds.  I knew the first day of the climb would be a hard one.  We would walk 16 miles and gain over 5000 feet of elevation.  Then we would spend the first night at the new location of Plaza de Mulas at 14,400 feet.  It would be a grind for sure.  Most parties stopped to take a rest day at Camp Confluencia before reaching Mulas but our tight schedule would not allow for that.  Also, we couldn't afford to spend any more nights at low altitude and risk losing our edge.


The following morning we got up early and hit the trail in the dark.  I was surprised when a ranger at the trailhead stopped us to check our permits even though it was 5:30 am and pitch-dark.  We couldn't see very much for the first hour.  The first several miles were a road walk.  Eventually we came to a large steel bridge.  The road ended there and a trail picked up on the far side.  After some time, pre-dawn light illuminated a massive snowy cliff face ahead of us, which stood higher than the surrounding peaks.  We were looking at one of the most dangerous big walls in the world, the south face of Aconcagua.  I stopped to take some 30 second exposures.  This 9000 foot high wall was first revealed as a climbing objective by the mountain explorer Lionel Terray.  It has been called the "Eigerwand of the Andes" and was first ascended by French climbers in 1954.  Later in 1974, Reinhold Messner completed the route solo.  Having read about this incredible wall years ago, I was thrilled to the max to be looking at it in person.  And to think that if conditions permitted, I might be standing at the top of it in a few days... That was a real rush!

The Gorge
The Gorge
Entering Upper Horcones Valley
Entering Upper Horcones Valley
Entering Upper Horcones Valley
Entering Upper Horcones Valley

We continued our trek and after dawn, some of the first groups of mules passed us carrying heavy loads strapped to their backs.  At 10,800 feet we came to Camp Confluencia just as some large guided groups were departing for Plaza de Mulas.  We blew right past the camp without stopping.  A short distance from Confluencia we came to a gorge where the path descended to the Horcones River and a small bridge.  We took a break before descending into the gorge.  I watched the large guided groups.  I couldn't help but feel superior in some way, knowing that we were doing this climb on our own without the support or advice of guides.  My second thought was that I had just experienced an ego flare-up and needed to keep that in check.  We went down into the gorge and I stepped off the trail to jog uphill past the long line of twenty or so folks.  My acclimatization gave me an edge and I used it to keep from getting stuck behind the large group.  It was fun to jog past everyone as they looked at me like I was a mutant.  I was feeling good so I put the speed on and went uphill until I couldn't see them anymore or even Greg and Rob.  I then waited for a few minutes until Greg and Rob caught up.  On the far side of the gorge we entered the upper Horcones Valley.  Wow!  What an amazing place!  When it came to visually stunning valleys, I had never seen its rival.  This is what I had imagined the approach valleys of Nepal to look like.  The peaks on either side were massive and somewhat snow-capped, with amazing strata and other interesting features.  Any one of these peaks would make a worthy climbing objective, but I knew that because of their proximity to Aconcagua, they would rarely ever be climbed.

This Peak Never Seems To Get Any Closer
This Peak Never Seems To Get Any Closer
Part Of Aconcagua
Part Of Aconcagua
Mule Drivers
Mule Drivers
The Wide Riverbed Section
The Wide Riverbed Section

We passed the last of the small bushes and grasses and entered what looked like a wide flood plain where the Horcones River apparently changed its path often.  The trail petered out and broke up into many small indecipherable tracks.  Eventually there was nothing to follow at all and we were forced to walk over the loose rocks which resembled one giant riverbed.  This was tiring terrain.  Ridges of scree jutted down from the right side of the valley and we passed one after another after another, each time hoping that around the next bend we would see a trail rising up out of the riverbed and back onto the dirt.  There was one peak standing at what looked like the far end of this stretch and it just didn't seem to get any closer.  It went on like that for 4 miles.  We had to stop and take a few breaks.  At 12,400 feet we finally came to the end of it and the trail picked up once again.  Before we had been traveling in a northwest direction but here the valley cut more directly to the north.  Cuerno (17,716 feet) at the head of the valley quickly came into view, covered with lovely snow and glaciers.  It was almost like a mini Matterhorn beckoning us forward and I know that we must be getting closer to base camp.  By now many groups were passing us heading down to Punta del Inca.  Some of the individuals bore sunburns and smug confident smiles which revealed their recent success.  Would I too be bearing such a smile when I returned to this point in a week or more?

This Peak Never Seems To Get Any Closer
This Peak Never Seems To Get Any Closer
First View Of Cuerno
First View Of Cuerno

The last part of the trail was the steepest gaining 2000 feet in under four miles.  Once again this would have been no big deal under normal circumstances, but at altitude it was a chore.  On the left side of the valley I caught my first glimpse of Cerro Catedral (17,238 feet) which was a peak I hoped to climb if we had the time after success on Aconcagua.  I had researched the route and it would include steep snow climbing and a rock chimney scramble near the summit.  We passed the remnants of the old site of Plaza de Mulas at 13,500 feet.  There was not much left except an old building with a collapsed roof.  The new site for base camp was at 14,340 feet.  Beyond the building the trail came to a very steep slope.  The ground was loose here and we trigger off a couple of rolling rocks.  I was fairly exhausted by this point and hoping that the camp was not much further.  The cough that started on Ojos del Salado had not gone away and it made me worry about my ability to climb back up above 20,000 feet.  I told Greg and Rob that if it got better over the next few days I felt I had a good chance for success, but if it got worse, I might have to give up my summit attempt.  Either way, I would climb as high as I felt my health permitted.  We crested the slope and I was amazed to see exposed ice among the rocks.  This was one giant glacial moraine.  A little further, the first tents came into view.  So there we were at the biggest base camp in the world outside of Everest.  It blew my mind that the 200+ tents were set up on a giant layer of ice insulated from the sun by a layer of boulders and rocks.

Ranger Hut / Medics Building
Ranger Hut / Medics Building
Plaza de Mulas
Plaza de Mulas
Greg And The West Face
Greg And The West Face

Plaza de Mulas was a very surreal place.  We had just walked 16 miles through stark wilderness and here was a seasonal community the size of a small village, but filled with climbers from every corner of the world.  Special services were offered here and there.  We saw signs advertising hamburgers, pizza, beer, hot showers, and satellite internet connections.  One sign even boasted the highest art gallery in the world including the world's highest webcam.  There was a Japanese TV crew that was perusing around the camp, getting footage of people walking around in plastic boots and mountaineering garb.  They took some clips of us as we walked up the trail.  Even stranger was the army troop decked out in full camouflage.  What the heck were they doing up here?  Apparently climbing the mountain like everyone else.  At one point in the afternoon, we heard a couple of loud booms that sounded suspiciously like gun shots.  It must have been those army guys messing around.  Stereos powered by generators blasted reggae here and there among the giant dome tents.  Down by the medical hut a group of men played some form of football with their shirts off.  And then the occasional mule would pass us by, seemingly knowing where it was going.  There was even a hotel across the valley, constructed on solid ground, well away from the moraine.  But the most impressive feature of the camp was not anything man-made.  The west face of Aconcagua towered 8000 feet above us and it served as a constant reminder of where we were and the toil that lay ahead.

Where's Our Stuff?
Where's Our Stuff?
Cuerno And Mulas
Cuerno And Mulas
A Long Way From Everywhere
A Long Way From Everywhere
Cuerno And Mulas
Cuerno And Mulas

We walked around while Greg asked in Spanish if anyone knew where the mules had dropped off our duffel bags.  After a half hour we found them stashed under a tarp.  We determined where we had rights to a locked outhouse and a barrel of water which was filled each day from a nearby stream.  These amenities were part of the deal we had made with Mallku.  We set up our tent in the flattest spot we could find.  With all the other tents around, there weren't many spots left to choose from.  After dinner Rob and Greg crawled inside the tent, but I stayed out to watch the evening light.  As soon as the sun dropped behind Cerro Catedral, the temperature at Plaza de Mulas dropped dramatically.  The west face of Aconcagua, towering high above, stayed illuminated for nearly an hour and that was the reason I stayed out.  I watched as it slowly turned yellow, then orange, and finally bright red.  I was very tired and cold but I didn't want to miss out on such spectacular scenery.  For years now I had hoped to be here, and get one shot at the summit.  But I had never been certain if that opportunity would materialize.  And now here I was, with the very peak right in front of me.  Standing there I didn't care if I was cold or tired.  This was my dream.  The other peaks of the trip had just been a bonus, a warm-up, but this... This was my real objective.  Aconcagua was the one I wanted.

Our Tent
Our Tent
The West Face Turning Red
The West Face Turning Red

After such a demanding first day, we decided to take a leisurely a rest day.  Following breakfast, we went over to the trail leading off to the hotel.  We wanted to have a closer look at the structure.  This trail also was the approach to Cerro Catedral and Bonete (16,417 feet) which is a popular acclimatization hike.  It was a half hour walk over to the hotel and we crossed a tiny footbridge over the headwaters of the Horcones River, which was fed by the glacier at the base of Cuerno.  The hotel was a large three story structure reinforced inside and out with crisscrossed steel cables.  I thought to myself that there must be some terrific wind in this valley to necessitate that sort of reinforcement.  Inside the hotel the reception area was piled high with expedition duffel bags but other than that it had sort of deserted feel to it.  There was nobody at the front desk but a few people were sitting in a side room that appeared to be a restaurant.  Peter had told us that this hotel was not heated and that the rooms became extremely cold at night, so one was just as well to stay in a tent.

Helicopter Delivery
Helicopter Delivery
The Hotel
The Hotel
Cuerno
Cuerno

Back outside I looked over at the base of the southern glacier on Cuerno.  I could hear roaring water and I spotted an interesting looking waterfall with raging brown water coming out of a tunnel in the glacier.  I voiced my intent to go explore it and Greg said he wasn't feeling well and would meet us back at the tent.  Rob and I crossed back over the river and left the trail, aiming for the waterfall.  As we got closer, we saw that some other people were already there, exploring the waterfall.  The water was gushing out of tunnel underneath the edge of the glacier and then spilling down over the ice in a huge torrent of brown water.  Occasionally a big rock would come crashing down, dislodged by the water.  On the left side of the falls, sharp towers of ice pointed skyward.  It was an amazing sight.  Rob and I tried to find a place to climb up onto the base of the glacier for a different vantage, but without crampons, it was not a good idea, so we went back to camp.  On the way back I found a decent sized lake near the base of the moraine.

People At The Waterfall
People At The Waterfall
People At The Waterfall
People At The Waterfall
Ice Towers Over Brown Water
Ice Towers Over Brown Water
Ice Towers Over Brown Water
Ice Towers Over Brown Water
Horcones River Headwaters
Horcones River Headwaters

By the afternoon time I had noticed a remarkable improvement in my cough.  I was coughing less frequently and without as much force.  We went down to the medics hut to get our mandatory health check.  Climbers must pass a physical exam to get the signature of permission on their permits, which allows climbing above Plaza de Mulas.  I had been worried that if they listened to my lungs, I might cough, and then they would not allow me to make the climb.  We told the doctor that we wanted to make our first carry up to Nido de Cóndores the following day at 18,270 feet.  He asked us how we had acclimatized and we told him about our climbing in Bolivia and Chile.  I was the first one in the spotlight.  He checked my blood pressure, which was normal, and then he used a pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen level, which was also good.  Then he picked up a stethoscope and asked me to raise my shirt.  The moment of truth.  I took several deep breaths as he listened to my lungs.  Anxiety gripped me.  But I passed!  No major problems.  Greg and Rob also had very good results and we had our permission to climb the following day.  The word at the rangers hut was that the wind was supposed to be strong on the higher slopes, as high as 90 kilometers per hour.  I was glad that we would not be staying the night up there yet.

Approaching Camp Canada
Approaching Camp Canada
Cuerno South Face
Cuerno South Face

We started around dawn, knowing it would be another long hard day, with nearly 4000 feet of gain.  Our packs were very heavy.  We carried everything that we could afford to leave up there for our summit attempt.  There was no mule service to the higher camps above Mulas.  Even our plastic boots were packed as we all preferred to hike in leathers.  I felt good as we made our way up the switchback trail towards Camp Canada.  Once again we were going to blow right past an intermediary camp which most people use as a one day objective.  The higher we climbed, the smaller the tents looked down at base camp.  Eventually they became tiny colored dots, clustered together in a group on the valley floor.  Even the hotel looked small.  Climbers were stirring at Camp Canada, at 16,200 feet, packing up for their push to Nido.  Camp Canada was just a small perch on level ground on top of a rocky outcropping. There was only enough room for about 20 tents.

Nearly To Camp Canada
Nearly To Camp Canada
Camp Canada
Camp Canada

Higher up, we crossed a couple of snow patches, the first of the trip.  Then we came to the top of the slope we had been on all the way up from Mulas.  This was Camp Alaska at 17.000 feet, a spot that was not often used for overnights.  From here, the slope was more gradual.  Most of what lay ahead was covered with snow.  Beyond a certain point, the trail was indistinct so we just climbed straight up the snow.  We could see that Nido de Cóndores, which translates to "Nest of the Condors", was just up and to the left.  Carrying such a heavy pack straight up the slope wiped me out.  I was very tired and I ended up far behind Greg and Rob.  When we reached a height about equal to the camp we traversed north on the slope heading straight for camp.  I got there about 5 minutes after they did.  Using Greg's duffel bag, we found a natural trench to stash our stuff, just downhill from the other tents.  Wherever the snow had melted away, there was a slick muddy clay which stuck to anything that touched it.  I called it the baño del Inca (bathroom of the Inca) and this time Greg laughed.  The wind at Nido was stronger and colder than at Mulas.  Standing around made us cold, so we didn't stay long.  We walked over to the ranger's hut which looked like a small VW bus without wheels.  We told the guy that we had made a cache and would be returning the following day.  The descent back to Mulas went much faster.  We discovered that there were scree trails going straight down the slope, to the right of where the switchback trails come up.

Approaching Nido
Approaching Nido
Nido de Cóndores, 18,300 Feet
Nido de Cóndores, 18,300 Feet

Back at camp we checked the weather forecast which was posted every few days at the medics hut.  The following day was supposed to be extremely windy at the higher camps, especially the following night.  That ruled out our going back up to Nido in the morning.  We would have to wait and take another rest day.  That was fine by me.  Unsatisfied with rest, Rob climbed nearby Bonete the next day while Greg and I took it easy.  In the afternoon we watched the lenticular clouds form over the summit and blow away, one after another.  I was sure glad we weren't up there in that wind.

Rest Break
Rest Break
Plaza de Mulas Below
Plaza de Mulas Below
Lenticular Clouds Blowing Over The Summit
Lenticular Clouds Blowing Over The Summit

On the fifth day, the wind had died enough to allow us to move up the mountain.  We packed up our tent and the remaining things we would need.  I carried the rain tarp while Rob carried the poles and so on.  With sleeping bag, mat, clothing layers, and all the rest, my pack was just as heavy as before.  We followed the route we were now familiar with, making good time and getting back to Nido around the midday.  At first, it appeared as though someone had stolen our gear cache.  The landscape looked strangely different.  Then I spotted a small piece of the huge duffel sticking up out of a hard packed snow drift.  The winds of the previous day had buried our gear.  We had to dig it out with axes.  Next, we looked around for the best tent spot.  None of the dirty muck was level enough to make a good spot.  I found a site in a snow-filled trench that would work.  It was just wide enough that we were able to dig out the edges of the snow with our ice axes and make it level.  Also, being in a trench, it would offer some protection from the wind.  We gathered some large rocks to make anchors for the tent.  Bending over to pick up these stones, I quickly became light-headed and dizzy.  After each stone I set on the ground, my vision would start to fade and I knew I was about to pass-out.  I took rapid breaths and this made the tunnel vision go away.  At the worst moment, I had to sit down quickly, or I knew I was going to fall down.  We finished constructing the tent and Rob told me that he had experienced the same thing, almost passing out.  Apparently, even simple tasks are difficult above 18,000 feet.  There's not a lot of air to work with.

Second Carry To Nido
Second Carry To Nido
Early Morning Commuting
Early Morning Commuting
Setting Up The Tent At Nido
Setting Up The Tent At Nido

Our crucial supplies included about two or three days worth of food, one and half cartridges of gas for the stove, and a few liters of water.  Obviously it was not enough water, so we would have to melt snow whenever we needed more.  I melted snow for the first time at Ingraham Flat, on Mount Rainier, in 2005, and it was a job I quickly learned to enjoy.  Between adding snow, stirring the pot, and filtering out the melt water, you can stay pretty busy.  The repetitive cycles remind me of saying a mantra during meditation.  I decided to be the snow-melter for the climb.  Greg and Rob always offered to help, but after the first time, I wouldn't allow it.  Filling all our bottles took nearly an hour the first time and I started to worry that we hadn't brought enough gas.  Water was a must, so if worse came to worse, we might not have the option of cooking dinner after our summit day.  So be it.  If I had to go a little hungry after such a huge success, then that was a small price to pay.  The ranger at Nido warned Greg that the following day was supposed to windy again but that the day after tomorrow was going to be good for a summit attempt.  We would just have to take another rest day, which was again fine by me.  That would allow me to try the black bag trick.  Sometimes if you put some snow in a black plastic garbage sack, and leave it out in the sun for hours, the snow will melt and you can filter it without using up any gas.  It had worked for me when we were low on gas at 16,000 feet on Orizaba.  So why shouldn't it work here?

Our View
Our View

Melting snow in a bag the next day didn't work.  It was just too damn cold.  The constant breeze at Nido kept everything below freezing, even during the middle of the day.  It was so cold that none of us spent much time outside the tent.  Three stinky climbers, crammed into a small tent, all day long and all night too.  I was the only one who had brought deodorant.  It was gnarly!  But I didn't complain, except in my own thoughts.  The tent was a "three man" but it was small enough that we couldn't all sleep shoulder to shoulder.  So I was always in the middle, with my head down by Rob and Greg's feet.  I didn't mind that, because they had allowed me to bring my oversized Exped mat, which was just a little larger than a third of the floor space.  So really, I had more room than anyone else.  We waited out the next day as patiently as possible.  I had about 50 pages of my book left, and I rationed it as carefully as I rationed my food, hoping not to run out.  I noticed that my fingers and toes were randomly falling asleep, getting that prickly sensation.  It's something I've experienced many times at high altitude.

Our Tent
Our Tent

I melted snow again in the evening and we were now well into our second canister of gas.  Dinner used up even more, but it was important that we get some good carbohydrates in our system, because when 3 am rolled around, we would be going for the summit.  It would be over 4500 feet of gain, and that was a tremendous amount for this altitude.  Most climbers attempt the summit from the next camp up, at 19,490 feet, Camp Berlin.  But Peter had told us that Berlin was much colder and much more exposed to the wind than Nido.  He called it a miserable place, and advised us that so long as we were strong, we could make it to the summit from Nido in a long day.  We followed his advice.  So after dinner, we packed up our stuff for the summit.  Just like on Ojos, I would be leaving my 85 liter pack behind, and just use a small day pack, which weighs about 6 ounces.  Laying down to sleep, I had to face my fears and doubts about the following day.  As I've said before in trip reports, the night before summit day on a big peak is a lonely time.  Even if you are part of a strong team, the challenge of climbing high mountains is a very personal and isolated experience.  Each step that you take is powered by your own inner strength.  When fatigue sets in, there's nothing your fellow climbers can do to make it easier for you.  So the fellowship of the group is superseded by the magnitude of the physical struggle.  In a sense, we would each be alone up there tomorrow, fighting against our own weaknesses.

Our Tent
Our Tent

As the sun set, the wind picked up speed, and continued to grow in force.  I put my earplugs in.  I might of slept for an hour or two.  When I opened my eyes, it was noisy in the tent, even with earplugs.  The tent was shaking so violently in the wind that our bodies were shaking along with it.  Each time a violent gust hit, the tremors of the tent frame made everything shake.  I thought back to the story of Adam Helman's friend and worried about our packs blowing away.  They were piled outside the tent.  I had put some heavy rocks on them, but was that enough?  There was no way I was going to go out there and check.  The gusts were 60 to 70 miles an hour (later confirmed by the rangers).  As the night wore on, none of us was able to sleep.  I was just sick with worry.  This was not supposed to be happening!  A major wind storm, now, at this moment.  WTF!  If it didn't knock it off, we were going to lose our chance at the summit.  We didn't have enough food, water, or gas to wait another day.  Nobody said much of anything as the realization sank in.  The alarm went off at 3 am, and we just went on laying there, listening to the rage outside.  At 5 am, it was still howling outside, and we knew it would soon be too late to start.  My attitude took a major dive at this point and I started pouting in my head, like a five year old.  It wasn't fair!  So much money and planning and time had gone into this climb.  What was I going to tell the people back home?  Would I really spend the rest of my life telling people that I had attempted Aconcagua, and had been shut down by the wind?  I wouldn't be the only one.  That's for sure.  Perhaps I could come back and give it another try in the future.  But no, the hell with this mountain.  I wasn't coming back here.  I felt sick and angry thinking these thoughts.  I didn't want to be here anymore.  I couldn't stand any more days crammed into this stinky, dirty, little tent.  All I wanted was to get off the F'ing mountain and never look back.  I don't know what the other guys were thinking, but I know it was a very dark time for us all.



Go To Part 5

--------------
https://www.youtube.com/c/Zogador
https://www.summitpost.org/users/gimpilator/25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
silly_traveler
~ roaming ~



Joined: 04 Jun 2006
Posts: 1525 | TRs
Location: kirkland
silly_traveler
  Top

~ roaming ~
PostWed Feb 16, 2011 12:19 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Finally!  Part 4  cool.gif  I haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but I will soon  agree.gif  Dang, that's one expensive permit, dislike!

--------------
♫ You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  And you're the one who will decide where you'll go.  Oh the places you'll go. - Dr. Seuss
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
onemoremile
Member
Member


Joined: 26 Dec 2010
Posts: 1305 | TRs
Location: Sequim
onemoremile
  Top

Member
PostWed Feb 16, 2011 12:22 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Cool.  That sounds like an awesome adventure.  Love the alpenglow and the ice towers.

--------------
“Arbolist?  Look up the word. I don’t know, maybe I made it up. Anyway, it’s an arbo-tree-ist, somebody who knows about trees.”  G.W. Bush
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
silly_traveler
~ roaming ~



Joined: 04 Jun 2006
Posts: 1525 | TRs
Location: kirkland
silly_traveler
  Top

~ roaming ~
PostWed Feb 16, 2011 12:53 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
OK, I'm done reading Part 4.... you can't end it like that  waah.gif  where is Part 5, I can't sleep now  huh.gif

--------------
♫ You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  And you're the one who will decide where you'll go.  Oh the places you'll go. - Dr. Seuss
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Peakbagging South America / Part 4: Argentina (Aconcagua)
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy