We apologize for the delay in updating on Operation Aconcagua, but there has been a lot going on with this team and we wanted to be certain of all possible information before posting.
Neil and Eliana made a strong bid for the summit, but tough route conditions and a fast moving storm front thwarted them the opportunity to stand on top. They had a rough go of it for a while, but ultimately descended and returned to Mendoza, healthy and happy about their decision not to push up the last 2-300′ to the summit.
The intense winds that developed made it virtually impossible for Neil to walk, for portions of their descent. Walking into the wind, his prostheses kept being blown back behind him, as he tried to step forward. He and Eliana had a difficult descent, and ultimately had to spend some time resting at the shell of a hut called Independencia at about 21,500′. We had requested that some strong Argentine friends climb up to help them, and with this additional support, they were able to descend back down to the big, bustling Plaza de Mulas Base Camp on the west side of the mountain.
They opted for a helicopter ride out the Horcones Valley, and were back in Mendoza in relatively short order. Both climbers had endured an extremely long summit push and were exhausted from their efforts, but after resting up, they are now both feeling good and enjoying the thick air of Mendoza.
A massive wind event battered the mountain shortly after their departure, and efforts to retrieve their equipment from high camp have been hampered by the weather. We now have all of their kit back at Plaza de Mulas and will reunite them with their packs this evening.
Great job Neil and Eliana, in the face of extremely challenging conditions! Thanks also to the Argentinians who worked very hard to help them get off the upper mountain and who pushed back up to bring down their kit from the White Rocks high camp.