Aconcagua Team – Tough Times at 20,000′

Jack called in from high camp on Aconcagua, located at just near 20,000 feet above sea level.  They spent last night camped in rough, windy and snowy conditions, hoping that the morning would dawn a bit more clear.  It’s hard to convey how difficult it is to lie there for hours, listening to the wind build in intensity as it climbs up the side of the mountain, gaining both momentum and volume, until… finally… it collides with the thin nylon side of your tent, shaking it violently and threatening to sever the thin cords tethering you to its rocky perch.

When the scenario above is happening at 6000m, it is even more challenging.

The morning broke with little in the way of abatement, and moving upwards was not even a question.  With no decision about attempting the summit to make for today, the team steeled themselves for a long, rough day of waiting to see what the weather would do.  A neighboring team, with which our guys have been parallel for two weeks, decided to descend to the relative comfort of the Plaza de Mulas base camp, 5500′ lower to the west.

Dennis decided to join them on their descent.  He had been battling a bug for some days now, and the combination of that, with a very tough, sleepless and all together miserable night made descent the prudent choice in this instance.

Jack and Fermin are going to give it another night, and when I spoke with Fermin, he said that the winds had died off during the late afternoon.  The forecast doesn’t look great, but sometimes the forecast is not quite right?  They need a very good day, given the very snowy conditions on the upper mountain.  Let’s all think warm thoughts and hope that the clear afternoon can hold out for another day.

Here’s Jack:

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  1. Jack called this morning and told me pretty much all the same things he says in this new audio recording except to brag on the food even more and tell me they are all three doing well, not even any headaches at 20,000 feet. There was a big storm yesterday and the cold wind is the worst in years. This morning 16 of the 19 climbers climbing together in a lose-net group going up to high camp started back down except the three with Mountain Trip. They are all still hoping for a window of opportunity tomorrow morning and will start on up very early if there is any easing of the wind at all. I sent our love, hopes and prayers to all of them.

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