On January 17th 2008 at 10.30am l successfully climbed Mount Aconcagua with my guide Luis Benitez.
I was part of the Adventure Consultants expedition 2008. My expedition leader, Luis Benitez from Colorado, USA is an Adventure Consultants senior high altitude guide and last year guided the Everest Expedition for his 6th summit! He is one of the best mountaineers in the world and has led various other AC expeditions including Cho Oyu, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson Massif and multiple ascents if Aconcagua.
Luis took a small team of four climbers including: Pheobe (AUS) Julian (UK) Nathan (NZ) and myself via the Vacas Valley Route.
Relive my journey…
Expedition Blog from Luis, my guide.
Back in Mendoza
20 Jan 2008 13:07
Well, while enduring a 9 hour day, a bit more wind for good measure, and pizza halfway down in the desert at the final camp, we arrived last night at Penitentes. After much wrestling with computer equipment, I was resigned to call the office and have them post something saying we were safe and sound, as the sat phone signal was being finicky.
This morning, after breakfast and a re shuffle of gear, we loaded up and headed back to Mendoza. The temps here are in the 30s, and everyone cant make it much past the pool deck.
A few sore muscles, and a bit of sunburn later, all are excited to be back in town, and headed home in a day or so.
Thanks to everyone back home following along, as we traversed and climbed Aconcagua. Till nextime, stay tuned for the 2nd trip due to start in a week or so.
Luis for Team Turtle, Beacon, and N. Norway (dont ask).
19 Jan 2008
We have just heard from the Team – they are now off the trail and doin’ fine…safe and well in Penitentes.
Congratulations to you all for completing a fantastic journey!
More tales and photos when the group gets to Mendoza tomorrow.
…from the AC Office.
‘D’ for down
18 Jan, 08 – 13:59
What can you say about returning to basecamp? Bliss!It was a loong way down, in high winds. The lower we got, the warmer the wind, and then chocolate from heaven! We found Swiss chocolate on the trail! Once we were recharged, we continued down to Plaza Mulas, basecamp on the other side. We are all snuggled up in the dining tent awaiting dinner, and looking forward to our LAST day on the trail tomorrow out to Penitentes!
17 Jan, 08 – 10:39
Summit days are a very personal thing. Deep within, there needs to be some sort of rationale to put yourself thru that sort of endeavor, today was no different. The day started off well enough, minimal wind even! However getting going at 2am, by 4 the wind had of course returned. We pushed ever upward. Many today reached their own “summit” of sorts. At about 4.30, Nathan declared he had gone as far as he wanted, and was happy with his decision. We were going to miss him, but he returned to camp where with Pheobe, he would await our return.
Julian, Cherie, and myself continued. The weather held steady, it was windy, cold, and clear.About 1/3 up the final section, the dreaded “caneletta”, Julian made a very smart call, he figured he had enough energy to get up, but wasn’t sure if he had enough then to get down. Knowing that getting back down wasn’t optional, he put on all his down clothing, got out his thermos, and said he would wait for Cherie and I to summit and return to get him.Thus there were two. With the winds towards the top increasing, Cherie and I wasted no time making our way up. Our moments on the summit (read 2min) were very busy, with photos and smiles all around.
What a journey for Cherie!
After we returned to a “really happy to see you two”, Julian, we made our way slowly back to c3 where Pheobe and Nathan met us with hugs and hot drinks. As I write this the storm we attempted to beat has just arrived, making our success that much sweeter.Tomorrow, if the weather will let us, we will descend to Plaza de Mulas basecamp, completing our traverse of Aconcagua, so stay tuned for the fun to come!
Till then, this is Luis for team, “we are so outta here”.
Ready to launch
16 Jan, 08 – 09:12
Well here we are at 6000m, waiting to go for the summit. Tonight is the night if the winds hold steady. Everyone is a bit anxious, but ready to go. Pheobe, after long conversations, has agreed that camp3 will be her high point. So while we head for the top, Pheobe is really pleased that she reached 6000m, and was able to traverse the mountain! As for the rest of us, we are busy melting snow, and resting up for our 2am departure, wish us luck!
15 Jan, 08 – 08:34
Pretty relaxed rest day in the winds at c2. A few groups turned back from the summit due to the temperatures associated with the winds, but we are still planning on crossing to c3 tomorrow weather permitting!
Camp three shuffle
14 Jan, 08 – 12:30
In the ever present winds, the gang persevered and did a carry to camp3 and returned to camp2 in time for tea.
We are contemplating a rest day before moving over to c3, to wait and see what the winds will do. For now, everyone is enjoying some tent time, and catching up on gossip from other teams returning from the top.
Camp two proper
13 Jan, 08 – 13:50
Know the old saying, “let the wind always be at your back?” well today it was in our faces full on!We pushed on thru and made camp2 in good time. Everyone is tired but doing ok. The views are tremendous!Hoping we get the photo out tonight to show you.Tomorrow is still up in the air, rest day vs carry to camp3. Time, and lots of hydration will tell the tale!
12 Jan, 08 – 09:48
Lazy day at camp 1. Rest days are filled with water, food, rest, and draping sleeping bags over your tent to escape the midday heat! Everyone is enjoying the much deserved respite, and we are hearing from folks at camp 2, that its busy up there! We are also hearing that its possible to send photos from up there, so the plan that stands now, its up to camp 2 tomorrow!
Stay tuned for hopefully a dispatch AND photo then!
Whoo hoo camp two
11 Jan, 08 – 16:17
Up we went. It was a looong day, carrying a load to camp2, then returning to camp1 in time for dinner. Everyone on the team set a personal altitude record today. Camp2 is at 5850m, no small task!Tomorrow is a rest day here at Camp1, and boy, are we happy about THAT.Everyone did well, and except for the odd headache, is feeling tip top.Till tomorrow.
10 Jan, 08 – 14:48
It was quite a day heading to camp1. The day dawned fine enough, but around lunch time, viento blanco turned up. We fought our way to camp, and with everyone putting in a good effort, got the tents up, and a wonderful dinner made. As I write this we are enjoying our final cup of tea for the night as the tempest rages around us. We are all in good spirits, and crossing our fingers for better weather tomorrow.
Till then. PS: Apologize for no photos the past few days. the weather has made our signal weak. hopefully with some altitude, it will improve!
9 Jan, 08 – 12:45
It was a good idea to take a days rest. Showers and wind were the order of the day. The wind blows so strong down here, it has a few names; “escoba de dios”, or broom of the gods. Higher up, you often hear it called “viento blanco”, or white wind. We are sure we had gusts topping 60mph in infrequent bursts. Overall, if the weather cooperates, we are all set to head up tomorrow.
8 Jan, 08 – 13:50
The word of the day was up! But the “tortugas fuerte” or strong tortoises, did great. We carried a respectable load up to camp1, ate a little snack, and hustled back to basecamp where we are awaiting dinner right now. Everyone is tired but pleased with the days effort. Tomorrow we think will be a rest day, before we move up to camp1 for good, stay tuned!
Sausage and cheese anyone?
7 Jan, 08 – 13:42
Today’s exercise was all about food. What goes where, why, and when! We will have 3 camps above here that we need to stock before we make our summit attempt. Tomorrow, that work begins! We are hoping to be up and out early, to carry a load to C1 then come back to basecamp by late afternoon. High winds are forecasted, but we are hoping we can get up and back before they hit.
Wish us luck!
Dinner and a show
6 Jan, 08 – 16:45
Not much to report today, other than rest, hydration, and yet more gear sorting. Some had headaches thru the night due to the altitude, but all have recovered quite well during the day. We are still debating a 2nd rest day tomorrow or a carry to camp1. The trick is to be fully adjusted to this elevation, (14,200ft) before pushing higher. We will let everyones condition at dinner tell the tale. When I said “dress for dinner”, I am not sure what Pheobe heard! Stay tuned!
5 Jan, 08 – 16:54
Basecamp! Its always a great feeling to roll over the hill and feast yourself on the sights and sounds of basecamp! This is a very international place, with teams from all over the world. We have made “camp buddies” with a team from Norway and Chile, just to name a few. Everyone is really excited to be here, and the afternoon was spent in a flurry of activity, setting up tents, and getting organized. We will be resting tomorrow and sorting more gear for up the hill, but for now, this is team silencio, signing off from Aconcagua Basecamp!
4 Jan, 08 – 16:34
Today’s walk was much cooler, highlighted by the attached photo, our 1st views of Aconcagua! We are still 13km away and 1000meters below basecamp, but even here this mountain rises from the valley floor in spectacular fashion!
Everyone is feeling good, and looking forward to basecamp tomorrow. Our walk will be highlighted by 2 river crossings, at the chilliest time of the morning. Send warm thoughts our way!
Luis for “team silencio”
3 Jan, 08 – 18:04
What a day! The word for the day was HOT! Our 11km walk was stunningly beautiful, and the heat made it even more of a challenge! We all agreed it had to be at least 35c! Everyone arrived to Pampa de Lenas in fine form, and as I write this, we are all snuggling in for bed. It was a typical 1st day shakedown. Learning how to setup tents, and eat my cooking! We all have that good achy tired feeling, so off to bed! Till tomorrow.
Attitude at altitude
2 Jan, 08 – 10:42
Today was the day to get a little altitude and talk about the trek to basecamp that will start for us tomorrow. Everyone enjoyed our walk today, and after a leisurely lunch, we are back on the valley floor making our final preparations for the walk in. I have to say, the sun hats the group have chosen are as effective as they are fashionable! Stay tuned to see if loading the mules tomorrow proves to be a challenge or a easy affair.
Till then; Luis for AC Aconcagua
Birthdays and bobbleheads
1 Jan, 08 – 14:25
Birthdays are always fun. But when your birthday follows New Years, and you are about to attempt the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, that makes it extra special! Pheobe is suffering from all our teasing today, (she has been forced to wear the bobbly yellow thing on her head most of the day), but she is in good spirits about it. We drove 3 hours to penetenties, the little ski resort at the start of the trail to basecamp.We have spent most of the afternoon rigging tents and learning how to use the stoves. This is a beautiful valley, nestled amongst deep red and brown cliffs. We will be here for 2 days acclimating, before we start up the trail. So far, so good. Everyone is in high spirits and excited to be getting some exercise. Till tomorrow, this is Luis for Team Nuevo Ano….