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Published by teampeak
Summiting Aconcagua
Summiting Aconcagua

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Published by: teampeak on Sep 09, 2008
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January 8, 2007 – Aconcagua Overview
Marshall departed Denver for Argentina in order to arrive a day early, on the morning of January 9, 2007. Here is anoverview of Aconcagua, including some history and general information on what the climbers will be facing on themountain.
Mount Aconcagua (22,841ft) is located entirely in the province of Mendoza, in western Argentina.Aconcagua is one of the highest peaks in the world and the very highest outside the Himalayas in Asia. The first climber to successfully reach the summit was Mathías Zurbriggen of Switzerland. He reached thehighest point on Aconcagua on 14 January 1897, following the northwest trail (Normal Route), which hassince become the most popular path to Aconcagua 's zenith.Over the years, the number of expeditions arriving at Aconcagua Provincial Park, eager to face thechallenge of height, strong winds and extreme temperatures, have increased steadily, making it one of themost popular destinations among mountain climbers the world over. Aconcagua is part of the "sevensummits" circuit.According to some international expert mountaineers that have climbed the Himalayas, the almost 23,000feet of Aconcagua represent an even greater physiological distance. This phenomenon is due to severalfactors. The Himalayas, for instance, have vegetation up to 16,400 feet, while in the Central AndesMountain range the vegetation reaches only to 11,500 to 13,000 feet. The relative ambient humidity isvery low and the atmosphere of the Earth is thinner in this region of the globe. All of this makesAconcagua a terrain appropriate to test and prepare for later expeditions to mountains higher than 8,000meters.Climbers attempting to climb Aconcagua must properly equipped and in excellent physical condition.From the technical point of view, Aconcagua presents all types of difficulties on rock, ice and snow. Andhe who confronts the ascent should have a good climbing technique, excellent physical fitness,considerable experience, and most importantly, a lot of enthusiasm and perseverance.All participants fly into Mendoza, Argentina, which is 690 miles west of Buenos Aires and is at 2,500 feetabove sea level. The best climbing season for Aconcagua is between late November and late February,when the weather is warmer and more stable.Aconcagua generates its own weather. There can be a wide range of temperatures, from warm days (50to 69º F) to freezing nights (-4 to -13º F), depending on the altitude. Large snowfields; strong winds, whichare very common; and major snowstorms, in particular above 13,000 feet, are a possibility. The humidityis extremely low, but humid winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean, 100 miles to the west, generate mostof the bad weather of Aconcagua.
January 9, 2007 - Arrival in Mendoza and the Route
Marshall arrived safely in Mendoza, and greeted several members of the group: Nancy Bristow, LouiseCooper, David Ferris, and Terri Schneider. Frank Fumich and Richard Shear will arrive on January 10th.Unfortunately, due to a recent biking accident that resulted in some broken ribs, Mick Donoff (who was amember of the Kilimanjaro 2006 climb through Stray Dogs Adventure Travel with a Purpose) had to cancel at the last minute. Marshall was sorry that Mick couldn't be a part of the group, but looks forward tofuture adventures with him.Marshall reported that Nancy, Louise, David, and Terri are all fit and healthy, and ready for the climb!None of them have been above 20,000 feet before, so it will an exciting challenge for all.Here is an overview of the expedition.
Expedition Overview
The approach to base camp is by a three-day hike up the Vacas Valley. The group will spend two nights atthe intermediate camps of Pampa de Lenas and Casa de Piedra before getting to the Plaza Argentinabase camp.Once in Plaza Argentina, the group will spend the next six days for acclimatization and rest. During theacclimatization period, the group will practice using their equipment and working in teams. Whileharnesses and roped travel are not required on this route on Aconcagua, Marshall will be teaching thesetechniques to those who are interested for several reasons: first, for general knowledge; second, so thatthe group can travel roped together if anyone is unsure of the slope/terrain higher on the mountain; and,third, because several of the members of the group may go on to climb other mountains where theseskills will be required, and it's never too early to learn (and practice)! By going up, then back down, themountain, the climbers' bodies will be given the opportunity to adapt to the new altitude. As a group, theywill also be transferring equipment and supplies up to the higher camps, so that they will have well-stocked camps when they arrive.On the mountain the group will set up two altitude camps. By experience the local guides know that athird camp (after Camp 2) would be too high and extremely windy to rest and sleep properly. They havealso learned that an intermediary camp between Camps 1 and 2 is not necessary. Maintaining a thirdcamp demands too much energy on the part of the climbers and is a waste of mental and physicalenergy.After leaving Camp 2, the group will head for the summit, traversing the mountain to reach the NormalRoute, just below Camp Independencia.The local guides (1 guide for ever 3 or 4 climbers), will be responsible for leading the climb, along withMarshall, paying special attention to the safety of everyone in the party. Guides will also be in charge of various chores, such as cooking and providing hot water.The expedition also includes two extra days to get to the summit, in case the guides judge the weather tobe too rough to continue.
January 10 – Mendoza
 The remaining members of the Stray Dogs group - Frank Fumich and Rich Shear - arrived in Mendozatoday. The local guiding group, Aconcagua Adventures, also added two “non Stray Dogs” (although I'msure they'll be initiated!) to the group, a man from France (Fabris) and one from Russia (Demetri). So,they now have a group of 9 climbers: Marshall (who will be assisting the local guides), Nancy, Louise,Terri, David, Frank, and Rich; plus Fabris and Demetri.Marshall reported that everyone was doing well and ready for the climb. He spent some time witheveryone sorting through gear and assisting with packing to ensure that each member is prepared – atleast as far as gear goes.Terri reported onher blog that they have already enjoyed some excellent food and wine, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun in Mendoza before heading off the mountain tomorrow. David posted that they havehad some trouble with the satellite phone, but that he hopes to be able to do audio postings during theclimb.Here is a day-to-day schedule of the climb via the Polish Glacier Traverse Route.
The Polish Glacier Traverse Route
This route, also known as the False Polish Glacier, is an excellent path up Aconcagua. This beautiful,non-technical route is “the road less traveled,” with much fewer visitors than the Normal Route (which isthe route the Marshall climbed in 2003 as a part of his successful climb of all Seven Summits). Climbersfrom all levels in excellent physical conditions can climb Mount Aconcagua by the Polish Glacier Traverse.
The approach to its base camp is by the Vaccas Valley, an amazing valley where it is possible to see wildguanacos (similar to llamas, but unique to the Andes).The itinerary follows the principles of correct acclimatization before starting the climb. It has also beendesigned as an expedition-style climb, climbing high and then returning to a lower base camp to sleep.This is a non-technical route similar to the Normal Route, but longer. Due to the altitude, it can be verytiring and very challenging. There are some brief treks on the glacier, but neither rock nor ice climbing isinvolved. After Camp 2 there is a traverse to the Normal Route from which the group will approach thesummit of Aconcagua. Expedition members will carry packs (30 lbs average) for multiple days. The Stray Dogs are following this itinerary for the Aconcagua '07 climb.Jan 10 – Arrive in Mendoza 2,500 feetTransfer from airport to hotel - LodgingJan 1– Puente del Inca 8,900 feetAconcagua Park permit purchasing. Drive to Puente del Inca - Lodging Jan 12– Pampa de Lenas 9,100 feetTransport to Quebrada de Vacas (trail head). Hiking to Pampa de Lenas - Camp Jan 13– Casa de Piedra 10,500 feetHiking to Casa de Piedra - Camp Jan 14– Plaza Argentina 13,700 feetHiking to Plaza Argentina Base Camp Jan 15– Plaza ArgentinaRest day at Base Camp Jan 16– Plaza ArgentinaCarry to Camp 1 and back to Plaza ArgentinaJan 17– Plaza ArgentinaRest day at Base Camp Jan 18– Camp 1 16,240 feetMove to Camp 1 Jan 19 – Camp 1Carry to Camp 2 and back to Camp 1 Jan 20– Camp 1Rest day at Camp 1 Jan 21– Camp 2 19,000ftMove to Camp 2 Jan 22-24–
Summit 22,841feet
Camp 2 to Summit (traverse to Normal Route ) and back to Camp 2Jan 25 – Plaza ArgentinaDescent to Plaza Argentina - Camp Jan 26 – Pampa de LenasHiking to Pampa de Lenas - Camp Jan 27 – Puente del Inca

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