Mount Aconcagua Expedition 2017

Mount Aconcagua Expedition 2017

 

 

Mount Aconcagua 2017, the highest mountain in South America Continent, standing at 6980 (m) altitude

 

 

For Viswa, this will be the biggest mountaineering challenge at age 61….

 

 

Viswa and Ravi left Kuala Lumpur on 9th December night from KLIA and after 2 stopovers in London and Miami, they reached Santiago, Chile on 11th morning.  Viswa was cool traveling all the way crossing 4 continent to reach South America Continent.  Viswa will be joined by Paul from France and 3 others from USA, Kevin, Simone, and Jake. The climbers from the USA are part of a study on Epoxia Tent and they are aged between 28-30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey to South America Continent has 2 stopovers in London and Miami. Viswa had the chance to go and visit Buckingham  Palace in London. Buckingham Palace is recognized around the world as the focus of national and royal celebrations as well as the backdrop to the regular Changing the Guard ceremony. The second visit is to London Bridge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a cold day….in winter….and the short daylight.  We take the subway train using One Day Pass and travel from Heathrow Airport to Central London. 

 

The journey continues to Miami, USA and landed in Santiago, Chile. The baggage of equipment arrives directly from Malaysia to Santiago safely. After taking the Habagat Duffle Bags, we get the Airport Buses to local Bus Terminal. From there, we get the Turbus Bus Co to take us to Mendoza.

 

 

 

 

 

We reached Mendoza at 8 pm and check in to Square Independencia Hostel, located next to the most popular Independencia Park. We start organizing our plans for 12th Dec for Climbing Permit Application and making all necessary payments to Aconcagua Park. We got our Climbing Permit on 12th morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We received the climbing permit from the new Aconcagua Park office and we also take the time to visit the old Aconcagua Park office locate at San Martin Street.

 

 

 

 

 

On 13th.  Dec, we leave the hotel early in the morning at 5 am and to the west to the highest mountain of South America, Mount Aconcagua. We take the first bus to Penitentes at 6 am and check in to the Aconcagua Park Entrance. We leave the city and passing through vineyards and wineries and after 3 hours of bus ride, we will start getting the first mountain landscapes and reach Horcones,  the main entrance to the Aconcagua Park. Our cargo was dropped for the Mules to transport to Plaza De Mulas. We start our journey at 11.30AM after taking few pictures at the entrance gate.

 

 

 

Aconcagua National Park

 

 

 

 

DAY ONE – TREK TO CAMP CONFLUENCIA (BASE CAMP 1)

 

 

We are going to start our trekking at 2800 meters above the sea level, from where we will have the first views of the South face of the Aconcagua with its glaciers on the top and the beautiful colors and shapes of the valley that we will start crossing following the Horcones River and Horcones Bridges, that will be next to us the whole day. Our aim is to get to Camp Confluencia (Base Camp 1), the first stop for all the climbers of Aconcagua Expedition from around the world to acclimatize at 3400meters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a short break, Ravi lead Viswa and Paul to a small peak very close to Camp Confluencia for acclimatization. The technique of “Going High and Sleep Low”.

 

 

 

 

Viswa doing his acclimatization walk

 

 

 

Ravi and Paul prepare their tent for the night stay at Camp Confluencia while Viswa and Kevin get to enjoy dinner and stay prepared by service providers.

 

 

Ravi and Paul preparing tent for their stay at Camp Confluencia

 

 

 

Simple dinner prepared inside the Mountain Hardwear tent using Kovea Stove and Kovea Cooking Pot.  

 

 

Stove and Cooking Pot from Kovea, South Korea

 

 

As it was quite cold, Ravi was depending on his Thorlos Socks and Salomon Trekking Boots for a comfortable sleep inside his Marmot sleeping bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its summer here in South America and it’s a long daylight. The sunset is late and but it’s beautiful. Viswa and Kevin get to sleep inside a Dome Tent. Ravi takes the opportunity to enjoy the sunset.

 

 

 

 

DAY 2 – TREK TO PLAZA DE MULAS (BASE CAMP 2)

 

 

We wake up early as the second-day trek is long and usually takes 8-9 hours reach Plaza De Mulas (Base Camp 2).   We got up early, in the dark around 7:00 am, packed our tents away, and had breakfast. Kevin and Viswa had their breakfast together in the mess tent by the service provider. We had started walking shortly after 8 am just as the sun had risen above the surrounding peaks to warm us up.

 

 

 

 

 

The journey to Base Camp took about 8.5 hours and we saw many mules during the day. The mules work very hard to carry the load for the climber from Penitentes to Plaza De Mulas.

 

 

 

 

The path was along the Horcones valley which was mostly a wide and fairly dry river bed. This was the middle of summer so the river was only a couple of meters across at its widest point. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and hot sun.

 

 

Aconcagua Patch Sponsored by Rand Asia from Malaysia

 

 

 

 

 

We pass the Puente Del Bridge before going up again.  This is where some visiting Plaza Francia will turn right and take a different route passing glaciers from the South Face of Aconcagua.  

 

 

 

 

After 4 hours or so we reached the nominal halfway point and had lunch.

 

 

 

 

After some lunch, we continue our journey going higher.

 

 

 

This old sign indicates the halfway stage. After the long walk up to Plaza de Mulas, we were rewarded with an incredible view of Aconcagua´s West Wall at sunset.

 

 

 

Plaza De Mulas

 

 

 

DAY 3 – PREPARATION AT PLAZA DE MULAS AND MEDICAL CHECK UP

 

 

All climbers Viswa, Kevin, Simone, Jake, Paul will gather here and a chance to get to know each other and a day rest here will enhance their chances of making it to the summit. They also had the chance to spend some time with mountaineers from all over the world that get ready to reach the summit.

 

 

 

Viswa resting at Plaza De Mulas and getting ready for summit push the following day

 

 

Base Camp was the highest point that mules are allowed on the mountain.  So our cargo has arrived and we start to prepare for moving up to Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3 and ready for Summit Push. We will be trying Alpine Style where we will move our camp higher every day until summit push.

 

 

 

DAY 4 – MOVING UP TO CAMP CANADA (CAMP 1 – 5030 METER)

 

 

On 16th Dec, the team of 5 climbers starts to move up to Camp Canada located at 5030 Meter and its a 4 hours climb with the load.  Jake was not feeling well and decided to stay back and recover. Viswa was doing fine and all team members reached on time at Camp Canada or Camp 1.

 

 

 

 

Viswa moving up the glaciers slowly followed by Ravi.

 

 

 

Viswa passing the glacier towards Camp 1

 

 

 

After 4 hours push, we reach Camp Canada at 2.30pm.

 

 

 

 

The weather was slowly getting worse all other teams were a little worried.

 

 

 

 

 

Later at 4 pm, the wind starts to blow towards Camp Canada and it. was getting worst by hours. 

 

 

 

 

 

It was difficult with such strong wind. The poles of Kevin’s tent broke and he has to share a tent with Simone. It was a tough evening. 

 

 

The sunset at Camp Canada (Camp 1)

 

 

The wind still blowing strong until early morning 4 am, the next day.

 

 

DAY 5 – CLIMBING TO CAMP NIDO (CAMP 2 – 5380 Meter)

 

 

 

The climbers wake up early and start planning breakfast. At 9 am, Viswa start to move first followed by Kevin and Simone. 

 

 

 

 

 

The morning was a perfect day and Viswa was the first to move up on 17th Dec towards Camp Nido (Camp 2).

 

 

 

 

The air was getting thin and climbers were finding it difficult to move and the pace becomes slow. Kevin and Simone started their move upwards to Camp Nido.

 

 

 

 

 

Viswa and Ravi reached halfway mark at the black rock and take a break. It was windy and Ravi asks Viswa to stay warm at all time.

 

 

 

 

Ravi with Deuter Backpack Guide 45 Plus and staying warm with his Salomon Down Jacket.

 

 

After the break, they continued their journey to Camp Nido.

 

 

 

 

We hear some bad news about strong wind from the higher camps. The climbers who have stayed and waited for summit push have to cancel their plans and go down.

 

 

 

Some teams heading down after failed summit push due to bad weather.

 

 

We continue our push towards Camp Nido (Camp 2). 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing glaciers and blue ice.

 

 

 

 

Simone and Kevin are following closely and stay in touch with Viswa and Ravi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 3 pm, all climbers Kevin, Simone, Viswa, and Ravi reach Camp 2 or Camp Nido located at 5350 meters. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After making the tent, start to settle down and start cooking snow for making water and dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking snow to make water

 

 

It was a tiring day and Viswa almost slept off while cooking. 

 

 

Viswa …..sleeping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul manages to catch up the day earlier and join our summit plan.

 

 

 

DAY 6 – CLIMB TO CAMP CHOLERA (HIGH CAMP / CAMP 3) AT 6000 METER

 

 

 

Viswa and Kevin

 

 

 

It was a good day and all climber get ready early to reach Camp Cholera at 6000-meter altitude.  Viswa started early to push to Camp Cholera.

 

 

 

Viswa the first person to leave Camp 2 (Camp Nido) to Camp 3 (Cholera)

 

 

 

The rest of team members Kevin, Paul, and Simone followed the same route slowly. 

 

 

The rainbow starts to appear again like at Camp Canada (Camp 1)

 

 

 

Kevin, Simone, and Paul followed closely at the back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team stay on pace and hope to reach Camp Cholera in 4-5 hours time. 

 

 

 

 

 

The air is thin and all of us find it difficult to move higher. We start climbing slowly and we manage to reach halfway mark.

 

 

 

 

 

The weather was slowly getting worse and Ravi was a bit concern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The temperature is so cold until the formation of ice on Viswa mustache. After climbing for 2 hours, we reach the halfway mark and Ravi pointing to Viswa to finishing part of the trail to Camp Cholera (Camp 3).

 

 

 

 

 

Every step counts…Ravi keeps telling so all climbers using Alpine Style Mountaineering understand not to stop but move slowly. Never look up. Always look down on the steps and move up slowly by staying on the trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had our lunch break at a cave-like place halfway to Camp 3 (Camp Cholera). 

 

 

Lunch Break

 

 

 

Pack lunch just biscuit and drinks. That’s enough carbo and energy to continue for the remaining 2-3 hours to reach Camp Cholera (Camp 3). We reach Camp Berlin. Ravi shared his experience on 2 previous climbs to Mount Aconcagua and his experience to push to the summit from Camp Berlin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Camp Berlin, we waited for Kevin and Paul, who reach Camp Berlin after 30 minutes and together with some climbers from Argentina. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viswa first to reach the steel rope section at the end of the trail to Camp Cholera. He moves up slowly followed by Ravi at the back. This is considered to be a high-risk place where climbers can drop and get injured. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All climber have to really work hard to finish the trail and Viswa reached 2.30pm.  

 

 

 

 

We go and start looking for snow and ice for cooking and get ready for the bad weather.  After dinner, we stay inside our tent as the wind was blowing very hard and snow storm started at 5 pm. It was a total white-out and the visibility was one 1 meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY  7 – SUMMIT PUSH AND BAD WEATHER WITH SNOW STROM AND WHITEOUT

 

 

All climbers were waiting for 2 am, the initial time to push for the summit on 19th Dec 2017. But due to strong wind, all climbers stay inside their tent and we check with each other every one hour. Kevin and Paul are sharing a tent. Simone stay in her Mountain Hardwear Tent.  

The wind condition never changes and the wind only slows down at 9 am. At 11 am, the team decided, it’s too late to push for the summit.

 

 

 

 

 

We have to shut all ventilation on the tent to avoid the snow from being blown inside. The temperature drop to very low and at 2 am, everything was frozen inside our tent.

 

 

 

Viswa sleeping inside the sleeping bag with frozen and ice condition at 2 am at 6000 meters.

 

 

 

Kevin and Simone have been checking with Ravi on the departure time for Summit Push on several occasion. But the wind condition never changes on the 19th Dec morning. 

 

 

 

 

The GEC Aconcagua Team together with Kevin, Simone, and Paul waiting very anxiously since 2 am….and checks the wind condition at 4 am,….and again at 6 am.

 

The wind condition never reduces the speed or the chill factor until after 10 am. The team in a meeting decided to proceed for summit push on 20th Dec.

 

At 11 am, Simone had to make contact with her USA based friends for weather updates and we received bad news that the weather will be the same like on 19th Dec and it’s safer to head down to Base Camp before the wind condition get worse.

 

 

 

Team Highest Altitude Achievement on

Mount Aconcagua Expedition 2017 – 6100 meter on 19th Dec.

Picture by Ravi, the Guide and Leader.

 

 

 

 

Kevin, Paul, Simone, and Viswa. Picture by Ravi.

 

 

 

Viswa was happy to reach the best highest altitude of his life at 6100 meters and descend down safely.  Ravi was happy that none of the team members have to get frostbite on toes or fingers with the wind chill and low-temperature condition.

 

 

 

Viswa happy to reach the highest altitude in his life at 6100 meters.

 

 

Overall, it was a good achievement and the team descends down safely with no problems. After a good rest at Camp Nido, Viswa reached Plaza De Mulas on 20th and exit the National Park on 21st Dec. The team started on 13th December and finished on 21st December. It was the fasters ALPINE STYLE CLIMB ON ACONCAGUA FOR A GROUP FROM ASIA OR GLOBAL EXPEDITION CLUB MALAYSIA lead by Ravichandran.