Never ending climb to the Summit of Aconcagua, 2015

What a weather, what a view – how could I share my passion, how to explain, why I love to climb to the high mountains.

Aconcagua, at 6961 meters, is the highest mountain outside Asia, and by extension the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Success rate on this mountain is between 25 – 40% due to mainly two reasons – weather conditions and altitude sickness. Aconcagua can have brutal weather with cruel winds, driving snow and white-out conditions that can create a nightmare scenario and the atmospheric air pressure is only 40% of sea-level at the summit, meaning that the effective amount of oxygen at the summit is only 8.7%.

Compared to my earlier trips, this will be much more longer, 3,5 weeks altogether. This is also my first international group – we are group of 5, with me there are two Norwegian women, Russian woman and American man. Very uncommon set of climbers, typically there is more men that women.

My first target is city of Mendoza in Argentina where we meet each other and our guides. We have cloths and gear check a day before we leave to the Aconcagua Provincial Park for the following 20 days. Walking to the base camp (Plaza de Mulas, 4,370 metres) takes 4 days.

Base camp, Plaza de Mulas in 4,370 metres, is quite big, some say that it’s the second largest one, next after the Mt Everest base camp. Our first acclimatisation climb will be to the Mt Bonete, which is at 5100 meters (btw, it’s not that often you do a acclimatisation climb to the over 5000m 😀 ). Mt Bonete is convenient – close to the base camp and climbing up and down takes only 7-8 hours.

Next day we do 8 hours climbing to the Camp Canadá (High Camp #1) and back and then finally a rest day. Preparing and fueling ourselves for the following 4 days. We are all feeling good.

There are several high camps available, we are using following ones: Camp Canadá at 5,050 metres, Nido de Cóndores at 5,570 metres and Camp Colera at 6,000 metres. Summit attempt is done from Camp Colera.

We climb in beautiful weather, nights are getting colder but luckily I have my extremely warm (extreme limit -75C) sleeping bag with me. I have been able to sleep well and let the body focus on acclimatisation.

Summit attempt starts at night, 1am. I wear all my warm clothes, even down pants. Walking helps, but the coldness is gone only after the sun is rising. Steady and slow pace, no rush nor too much other climbers are seen. Surface is time to time very soft and it makes walking quite hard. Finally after 9 hours walking we reach the summit. Feeling good, not tired, no headache nor feeling dizzy. Some snack and drinks, photos and after about one hour of rest we are heading back to the high camp #3.

Descending was more or less “never ending story”, 5 hours, I was very tired, my muscles were out of energy, literally. When I finally reached my tent in high camp 3, I managed to crawl into my tent and woke up next morning almost from the same position. Rough day, have to say.

Descending back to the base camp continued right next morning, felt good and managed to eat and drink enough to get the energy levels back.

In base camp was time to celebrate our success, whole team made it. We heard that teams who tried to summit a day after us, did not succeed due to bad weather. Sure we were climbing under the lucky Milky Way!

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Summit date: 26.01.2015

Aconcagua, 6961 meters

Operator: Aymará Adventures & Expeditions/ Mariano Galvan

Enjoy the picture collection from Mt Bonete and Mt Aconcagua 2015!

Mount Bonete and Mount Aconcagua 2015

By Teija Sirko

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