8000 Meter Peaks

Cho Oyu
Nanga Parbat
Broad Peak

Seven Summits

Vinson Massif
Carstensz Pyramid
Mount Kosciuszko
Speakers List
By Region
Contact us
By Fee
By Topic
Join Our Team

Project “Diabetes-8000”

Patrick Hoss: Project ‘Diabetes-8000’ 

The second stage: Cerro Aconcagua, 6962m (Argentina) 

“Life is not what happened, but what we remember and how we remember it.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

On January 6, while I had a final medical before my departure, my worried GP asked if I had chosen the right moment for the ascent of the highest mountain in the Americas.

My preparation was all but perfect. Several minor health-related problems and a badly twisted ankle prevented me from attaining the level of fitness that I had achieved before I left for Alaska. My divorce and the financial problems that hovered like vultures over this expedition were an important mental burden. Yet, I tried to ignore the difficult circumstances and decided to face the challenge. Regarding my stamina, I somehow convinced myself that there was still a basic energy reserve left from my previous training programmes and that I could draw on those to climb the mountain. As for my mental state, the expedition was certainly going to be a most welcome change from my everyday problems.

So, I was in a good mood when I left Luxembourg on January 11, looking forward to the arrival in Argentina. Time would pass quickly on my 26-hour journey that took me from Luxembourg to Frankfurt and from there to Buenos Aires and finally Mendoza, despite an excess baggage weight of 20kg. On January 12, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon local time, with a temperature of 32°C and a freshly squeezed orange juice in one hand, I was lying next to the hotel’s pool in Mendoza and recovered from the flight. Later that night – the restaurants don’t open before 8.30 pm – I had my first 750g Argentinean steak. I thought some proteins might come in handy during the ascent.

The following day we had our first meeting. I met Daniel Alessio, the boss of the Argentinean agency ‘Daniel Alessio Expediciones,’ and, of course, the rest of the team. There were Max Becker, aged 43, a Mexican, the Canadian Julius Rosa, 48, and David Rhodes, 39, Chris Sharp, 38, Martin Docherty, 43, and Richard Allman, 51, who are all British. Max had tried to get used to the heights by climbing several volcanoes of over 5000m in Mexico, the other five went to the Elbrus last year, and Dave, the ‘interpreter’ in that group of five, was there for his second attempt at the Cerro Aconcagua. During that first day we quickly managed to forge a rather homogenous unit. We went shopping together – postcards, stamps and such things – and to the exchange bureau  before we took an afternoon nap by the pool. 

While we were having dinner with Daniel we were informed about the proceedings. Up to the base camp there would be one guide, for the ascent we would have two guides and a porter (for the tents). 

The group

The reception area in our hotel was a rather hectic area the following morning. We had to stuff the entire equipment into two large duffle bags and our rucksacks. One of the bags would be transported to Confluenzia by mules the following day, and the other bag, with all the climbing equipment, would be taken to the base camp ‘Plaza de Mulas.’ The rucksack just served to carry the things we needed for the day.

Accompanied by our leader Khalil, who is 28, we went to the administration of the national park ‘Parque Provincial Aconcagua’ and paid 200US$ for our permission to climb the mountain. Passing Uspallata, where we had another steak, we headed along the Mendoza River towards the spectacularly colourful and rugged scenery of the Andes. We used the ‘highway’ that leads to Santagio de Chile to reach the ski resort of Los Penitentes, where we arrived in the early afternoon of January 14. Having stowed away the equipment in our rooms, we started our acclimatisation process by marching up to an altitude of 3000m. There we stayed for about an hour. During the entire day we had to drink as much as possible which also helped us to get used to the heights. Khalil, who had returned from the mountain just two days before, recovered in the hotel. He had spent the last 48 hours washing and drying his clothes.

Before dinner Khalil called everyone to a meeting where he asked us what we knew about the mountain, and what kind of expectations we had. I told him about my condition, and gave him a Glukagon set for emergency use in case of a severe hypoglycaemia. I had already explained to the others what they needed to know about my diabetes and the kinds of problems that might occur.

On the morning of January 15 things started to become serious. We drove past Puente del Inca – renown for its hot springs – and the Argentinean customs barrier to enter the national park in the Horcones Valley. When we turned to drive into the park we saw the Cerro Aconcagua for the first time. The massive mountain range was awe-inspiring. After we registered with the park inspection officer we were set for an adventure that would turn out to be of a most dramatic nature. 

We walked along the mud-coloured and roaring Horcones River which took its immense load of sediments down into the valley. After about an hour we crossed the river using a hanging bridge. After a short lunch break we managed the ascent to the busy base camp Confluenzia in about three hours. Camp manager Martin received us with a plate full of fresh fruit – melons, oranges, apples, bananas. I certainly appreciated that welcome gift as my blood sugar level was down to 65 mg/dl, because I had only injected a normal dose of insulin in the morning. I used the experience that I had gathered during the Denali expedition to guide me in my measures.

The first souvenir was sunburn on my thighs and arms, which was a well deserved punishment for my laziness: I didn’t feel like using sun lotion. Some of the first impressions that were to be accentuated over the coming days were related to the wind and dust, of which there was plenty, and a very loose, uncomfortable soil. After walking for 4 hours we were all pretty dirty and therefore we were more than pleased when we were able to wash using a tap with fresh water that sprang from a glacier.

The first night that we spent in the smallish North Face tents was marked by several interruptions when I had to go for a pee. After all, I had drunk between 7 and 8 litres of liquids. However, due to nature’s calls, I was able to gaze at a beautiful night sky full of stars despite the full moon shining brightly.

On January 16, after a wholesome breakfast, we started out for an acclimatisation stage to the Plaza Francia, which is also the base camp for an ascent via the south wall. Our way took us through a desert-like scree valley that was opening up in front of us the higher we got. We used the shade under a huge boulder to have our meal. I just had an apple because I had a headache and no appetite. After four hours we reached a viewpoint from where we could see the massive south wall of the Aconcagua and the overhanging glaciers. Those mountaineers who want to conquer the south wall very often go up the normal route to acclimatize, sometimes even to the summit, before they pass the Plaza de Mulas on their way down to the Plaza Francia. From there thy try to climb the dangerous south wall as quickly as possible. At 3 o’clock and after two aspirin, Dave and I made our way down to Confluenzia in one hour. I twisted my right ankle twice and had to use an ‘aircast’ splint to stabilize the foot. At our arrival we had plenty of fruit again. Because of the extreme heat in our tents we could only stay in the team tent where we spent our time reading, writing or just talking to each other.

The following stage was going to be a serious challenge. Not only would it be 22 kilometres long, but we also had to walk for 6 (out of 9) hours facing a sand storm. We left Confluenzia at 9 a.m. by an alternative route which would lead us past the beautifully situated old Confluenzia camp. From there it took us one hour to climb the 200 metres to reach the Horcones Valley. The next 500 metres in altitude required 5 hours because we walked through the Horcones Valley which is almost flat. We crossed the river several times, using sandbanks and boulders to jump onto the shore. In one place the river was too wide so we had to walk through it, barefoot in icy cold and fast glacial waters. After 6 hours of walking in a line and staying closely together, wrapped up to protect ourselves against the sand storm, the wind finally quieted down a little bit and we began to go up. While we were having a short break a medical team transporting an injured mountain climber on a mule passed us on their way down. The poor man suffered from a cerebral oedema. Shortly after that we encountered an exhausted Japanese mountaineer on his way down. Before the last steep ascent to the base camp I filled up my sugar reserves with dextrose. I simply couldn’t eat the ‘junk-food’ or the muesli bars that I had brought and so I trusted the mundane dextrose. At 6 p.m., after 9 hours, we finally arrived at the base camp Plaza de Mulas at an altitude of 4320m. Martin, the camp manager, who had ridden to the camp on a mule, met us again with a plate of fruit. What I needed, however, was something to drink. I was too exhausted to eat. After we had put up the tents I went straight to bed.


I had got over the exhaustion by the next morning. We could all recover from the effort because we had a rest day. I took advantage of the splendid weather to wash some of my clothes, and myself, in the open. The camp was busy; some 250 to 300 people must have been there at that time. Mule caravans keep it supplied with everything that is needed. To improve sanitation, they have put up WCs since last year. Once the toilets are full, they are disposed of with the help of helicopters. In the base camp you can even use a satellite link to phone or use the internet, but it’s very expensive. If you are willing to pay 5$, you can also have a hot shower. The water is heated with the help of a gas-fired continuous-flow water heater. A welcome luxury after several dusty days. By the way, a thirty minute walk will even take you to a horrendously expensive base camp hotel.



Daily News and Notes, what made this site famous among Everest climbers. Updated Everyday !

Send Mail to everestnews2004@adelphia.net.   Copyright©1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003. EverestNews.com  All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Disclaimer, Privacy Policy, Visitor Agreement, Legal Notes. Read it.




 The Best Source for Gear On-line

• altitude pre-acclimatization
• Backcountry Gear
• Backpacks
• Bags & Luggages
• Bindings
• Binoculars
• Blankets & Pillows
• Boot & Fabric Care
• Cameras
• Camp Furniture
• Camping Accessories
• Car Racks
• Carabiners
• Cards
• Child Carriers
• Climbing Bags
• Compasses
• Cooking Supplies
• Cycling Components
• Cycling Repair
• Dry Bags
• Dry Boxes
• Electronics
• First Aid
• Fishing Accessories
• Fleece
• Float Tubes
• Fly Boxes
• Fly Line
• Fly Rods
• Fly Tying
• Fly Vests & Packs
• Food
• Footwear
• Gaiters
• Gifts & Games
• Gloves & Mittens
• Goggles
• Harnesses
• Hats
• Helmets
• Hydration Packs
• Indoor Climbing Gear
• Infant Apparel
• Jackets
• Kayaks
• Kid's Cycling Gear
• Kid's Paddling Gear
• Knives & Tools
• Leaders & Tippets
• Lifejackets/ PFDs
• Lights
• Locks
• Long Underwear
• Maps
• Messenger & Bike Bags
• Mountaineering Gear
• Neckwear
• Neoprene
• Nets
• Paddles & Oars
• Paddlewear
• Pants
• Pet Gear
• Poles
• Pontoons
• Prints & Posters
• Rafts
• Reels & Spools
• Rescue Gear
• Rock Climbing Gear
• Rod & Reel Kits
• Rod Tubes & Bags
• Ropes
• Shell Outerwear
• Shirts
• Shorts
• Showers & Toilets
• Skates & Scooters
• Ski & Board Repair
• Skirts & Dresses
• Skis
• Sleds and Tubes
• Sleeping Bags & Pads
• Snowboards
• Snowshoes
• Socks
• Sprayskirts
• Stoves
• Strollers
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen & Repellant
• Sweaters
• Swimming
• Tents
• Travel Accessories
• Underwear
• Vests
• Videos
• Waders
• Watches & Clocks
• Water Bottles & Bags
• Water Filtration