MT. ACONCAGUA – SUMMARY: Dec 2015 – Jan 2016
I am back from my latest trip and here is a quick summary:
Aconcagua was very different from my Alaska trip. In Alaska, the plane lands you on the glacier with all your gear and then it is up to you and your teammates to take everything with you as you move up the mountain. You do a series of climbs to cache gear and then back down to sleep for the night before moving the whole camp higher and repeating the process. Most days you have a full backpack and are pulling a sled with another 50+ lbs of gear.
On Aconcagua, it is partly a trekking expedition along with climbing higher on the mountain like we did in Alaska. We started in the town of Penitentes, Argentina at a hotel. There we separated our gear into 3 piles: 1) items that would not be needed until base camp – these items would be transported by mules directly to base camp, 2) items that we needed the next 3 days but would be transported by mules to us each day, and 3) items that we carried with us.
The first 3 days of the hike were very warm, mostly in the 70’s-80’s. The first two days were in shorts and tee shirts carrying a day pack with snacks and an extra layer of clothing. The third day was cooler but still sunny and warm although breezier. We still had our day packs until we reached base camp.
From base camp, we adopted a more traditional schedule of carrying/caching gear higher and returning lower to sleep and rest. Then, moving everything up to higher Camps. Ultimately we continued this process to Camp 2 and Camp 3 which is main camp before the summit.
My goal going into this was obviously the summit first, secondly I wanted to get over 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and my last goal was to at least reach high camp (approx 19,600+ feet or 6,000 meters).
Unfortunately I was unable to summit. However, I did make it somewhere between 21,400 (6,522 meters) and 22,200 feet (6,766 meters). I am still trying to check with the guide and get a good estimate of where I ended up. Although I did not make the summit, I was still very happy with how I did. The views are pretty amazing that high up!
The first picture below is a shot of the horizon from Camp 3 (19,600 feet, 5,970 meters). Most of the surrounding mountains are probably 15,000 – 19,000 feet/4,572 – 5,791 meters.
The second picture was taken on the summit day after sunrise. The sharp, pointed shadow in the middle of the picture is actually the shadow that Aconcagua makes on the surrounding terrain during sunrise. I believe I was somewhere around 21,000+ feet in altitude when I took this photo.
If you compare the two pictures you can see that the first one we are just above most of the surrounding mountains whereas the second photo is significantly higher than everything around. Both photos were taken in roughly the same direction.