The Americas' consummate high
altitude climb is an awesome experience and superb
challenge for mountaineers. Lodged deep in the canon of
classic climbs, Aconcagua is often a stepping stone for
Himalayan peaks, drawing climbers from all levels, as the
ascent requires little prior technical climbing
experience. Alpine Ascents International has a long
standing reputation of leading successful climbs as well
as acting as a prime resource for guide books, climbers
and the media.
February 28th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp,
Argentina. Team High Exposure Hello everybody out
there in cybercast world, this is Allen Carbert
working with Forrest McCarthy on Alpine Ascents'
last Aconcagua expedition of the season. Let
me start off this cybercast by wishing all of our
best to Matt Lepisto in hopes that he has a speedy
recovery, we understand that he has been feeling a
little under the weather lately with viral meningitis...
here for the full Dispatch
to the Winter 2002 cybercast of the Alpine Ascents
International season on Aconcagua. Americas'
consummate high altitude climb is an awesome
experience and superb challenge for mountaineers.
Lodged deep in the canon of classic climbs,
Aconcagua is often a stepping stone for Himalayan
peaks, drawing climbers from all levels, as the
ascent requires little prior technical climbing
experience. Follow the teams on the adventures, as
they radio base camp from the higher camps in
periodic dispatches when they highlight the day's
events, and keep us updated on their progress.
At 22,840ft, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the
Americas, and the highest mountain in the world outside of
Asia. Located along the Chilean/Argentinean border, the
ascent to the summit offers stunning views of the Andes
mountain range. The "stone sentinel" rises
approximately 4,000ft above its neighboring peaks and
truly dominates the rugged Andean landscape. Aconcagua is
a part of the Parque Provincial Aconcagua which protects
over 71,000 hectares if mountainous terrain.
For those climbers who are interested and capable, an
additional summit attempt via the more technically
difficult Polish Direct route is possible. This option is
for a select few climbers, given the rigors of climbing
ice at 22,000feet. On selected trips, up to two qualified
climbers may attempt the Polish, weather permitting.
Guides may also decide not to take climbers up the Polish
route if their skill level or fitness are deemed
inappropriate during the Aconcagua climb. Alpine
Ascents International makes this summit bid after
the first attempt of the scheduled non-technical ascent.
The climb begins from Camp III and entails a 3500 feet
elevation gain on steep snow and ice. The climb averages a
steepness of 35º and depending upon conditions, may have
technical ice sections up to 60º. Climbers attempting
this route need previous ice climbing experience and must
acclimatize well to altitudes over 22,000ft. This is a
very rewarding climb in itself and is an excellent
training climb for those with an inclination toward
Himalayan ascents. Again, only two climbers on the two
selected trips will be scheduled for the Polish on a
first-come, first-served, basis.
While the first summit of Aconcagua is credited to Swiss
Climber Mathias Zurbriggen, there are traces of Inca
civilization and culture near the summit. The name itself
hearkens back to indigenous roots, the Quechua word Anco
(white) and Cahuac (sentinel). Much like the explorers of
the Himalayas, the passes around Aconcagua came into play
during military expeditions. In 1817, General Jose de San
Martin crossed the range in successful efforts to liberate
Chile from Spain. By 1950 most sides of the mountain were
climbed with variations of these routes being added to the
long line of successful summits.
Day 1: Depart USA.
Day 2: Arrive Mendoza, Argentina. Climbers
should arrive by late afternoon to enjoy welcome dinner
with group. After completing the permit process and
equipment checks, we enjoy a group "welcome"
dinner in Mendoza and good night’s sleep after a long
day of traveling..
Day 3: The following morning we bus to the town
of Penitentes. In Penitentes, we organize mule loads and
spend the night.
Days 4-6: After one night in Penitentes, we
drive to Punta de Vacas (8,000ft), where we begin our
three-day 30 mile trek into Plaza Argentina (13,800ft.),
base camp for our expedition. Mules carry all of our gear
so we can enjoy the trek without heavy loads. On the
approach, we walk through green desert valleys
dramatically enclosed between the mountains of the Andes.
During the first half of the approach, our objective
remains hidden by the nearby mountains. However, by the
end of the second day the stunning east face of Aconcagua
is dramatically revealed.
Day 7: After our arrival at Plaza Argentina, we
set up camp and spend the next day preparing for the
climb, exploring the local terrain and acclimatizing to
the higher altitude.
Day 8: Carry to Camp I. Camp I is located behind
an old moraine at 16,075ft. We double carry to keep pack
weight down and help ensure good acclimatization.
Day 9: Another rest day at Base Camp to help lay
a solid acclimation foundation for the rest of the
Day 10: Move to Camp I.
Days 11-12: Carry and move to Camp II. Camp II
is located in a high pass at 17,700ft and provides
spectacular views of surrounding mountains.
Day 13: Move to Camp III (19,200ft), located
just below the Polish Glacier.
Day 14: Rest and acclimation at Camp III to
maximize everyone's chance of success.
Day 15: Move to high camp, Camp IV (20,600ft),
located on the North Ridge. On the approach, we enjoy
magnificent views of the Polish Glacier. Camp IV offers
breathtaking scenes of many of the highest peaks of the
Days 16-19: Summit day begins at 5:00am. We
climb the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia at
approximately 21,400ft. From there, we traverse the West
Face and climb up into the Canaleta, an 800ft couloir that
leads to the summit ridge. Finally, the Guanaco Ridge
poses an easy traverse to the summit. On the top we have a
spectacular 3600 view. All around you see the Andes
Mountains consisting of several 20,000ft peaks including
one of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario
(about 22,300ft). To the west lies Chile and the Pacific
Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. From the
summit you peer directly down the 9,000ft South Face of
Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world.
Also included are acclimatization, rest and bad weather
days. These extra days are built in to provide the best
possible conditions for each participant to summit.
Days 20-22: Return hike from Plaza Argentina to
Day 23: Return to Mendoza. Note: Should the
expedition finish early, we will have the option of
visiting Mendoza or other sites as the situation arises.
Day 24: Depart Mendoza.
Day 25: Arrive USA.