Aconcagua 2002!

Dispatch#43 February 1st, 2002.  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV Hello this is Willi Prittie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for team IV for Alpine Ascents this year.  Welcome again to everybody out there, checking into us on the cybercast.  I just wanted to do a quick update, Ellie had already mentioned that we summited.  We spent seven hours climbing up and and hour and a half down.  And three of us I did want to mention, had everyone else in mind, everyone on the team actually summited with us in spirit.  We just wanted to mention that Colin, Stuart and Jackie had to leave for personal reasons, Nick and Tom had to leave for health reasons, Adrien was waiting for us at Camp III  due to acclimation problems, Mark had actually turned back at just under 21,000 feet and Bill had turned back at under 22,000 feet.  So it was a tough season and tough conditions, very very windy up there, but we really wanted to mention that we had all the rest of the team members with us in spirit when we did summit.  Despite the extremely windy conditions, it was then an unlimited perfect view from the summit, which we enjoyed for a few minutes before we fled the increasing winds.

Yesterday when we descended to Base Camp, we all luxuriated in the thick air and warmer temperatures.  The 5,000 foot descent with very heavy packs cost us hard, physically, but in balance the air is getting thicker and warmer every step that you take going down.  One of the interesting things on the route from Base Camp to Camp I,  is it crosses the Relenchos Glacier.  This is not really obvious unless you are a careful observer, its all moraine covered, the moraine being the debris that glaciers leave behind.  But when we descended there were many many changes in the route, it was actually very interesting.  New crevasses were actually forming and opening up, new ice walls were becoming exposed, narrower canyons in portions of the glacier.  So it was an extremely interesting descent, for the reasons of the changing scenery around us.  And it very much struck home how dynamic a situation that the mountains are in.

Today we are going to be doing some resting, a lot of eating, packing and organizing for things, we had fresh salad, hamburgers and beer last night, and we have much much food and fresh fruit to go through, which we are all enjoying.  After our packing tomorrow we will actually be heading out to Punta de Vacas, on our three-day combination backpack and trek to get back to civilization.  And we certainly all hope to have warm clear southern hemisphere skies to sleep under and enjoy on the way out. 

Two quick messages:  From Don: "Miss you, Vicki." and "To Lisa, Kira and Erin, missing you at the summit have fun at your semi-formal, see you on Thursday, love Dad." So this is probably the last dispatch from Team IV from Base Camp, and we'll do a quick wrap up when we get back to Mendoza. That's all from Aconcagua for now.

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