Aconcagua Rapid Ascent – Update From the Mountain

Alpenglow’s first Aconcagua Rapid Ascent team of the season is currently (December 29) at camp 2 on Aconcagua dealing with windy conditions but feeling strong and in good spirits. But first, a little recap of what’s happened so far…

Smooth Arrivals, Quickly into the Mountains

Bus ride to Penitentes.

Between Saturday (December 22) and Sunday (December 23), all 8 clients arrived safely in Mendoza and were picked up by guides Jaime Avila and Carla Perez. No missing baggage made the transition smooth and before we knew it the whole team was together for a night in the Diplomatic Hotel. A few things take place in Mendoza before the team heads for the mountains. Most importantly: a good meal and full nights sleep. Additionally, sorting and re-packing gear to prepare for expedition mode!

The team left the next morning (December 24) at 11am, heading for the town of Penitentes. After a 3 hour drive into the mountains the team began to stage for a short helicopter bump to base camp. Occasionally when weather does not cooperate we spend a night in Penitentes and prepare for an early morning flight. This time everything lined up and over 5 different rides everyone, along with their gear, settled into life in base camp.

Christmas in Base Camp (13,800′ / 4206m)

Nailing the timing on the head, our team arrived to enjoy a hearty dinner prepared by the base camp chefs. Eating delicious and calorie dense food is always important at altitude, and Aconcagua base camp makes some of the best food a climber could dream of. The team awoke on Christmas morning and enjoyed an acclimatization hike up to 15,100ft to get the legs and lungs working. As the team in Argentina settled into the mountains, the operation staff back in the states began pouring over forecasts, analyzing forecast models and looking at weather options.

Windy Conditions
With the forecasts calling for high winds on the mountain for a few days, the decision was made to hold in base camp for a few days giving the weather time to settle. On Wednesday (December 26) the team did another hike, this time downhill to conserve a bit of energy. Pouring over the forecasts, the guides and operations team decided to begin moving up the mountain in preparation for a weather window on January 1. Another comfortable dinner in base camp and the team was ready to begin moving up the mountain.

Moving up the mountain

Moving Up
On the morning of December 27 the team shouldered their packs and began the move up the mountain. They arrived in camp 1 feeling good and settled in. December 28 was a carry day up to camp 2 in order to further acclimatize and bring a bit of gear up higher. They moved at a good pace and touched camp 2 in less than 3 hours. Descending back to camp 1 they again settled in for another night. Today (December 29) the team moved to camp 2 in windy conditions and ate a bit of food before hunkering down in their tents.

The Plan
Our guides and office team are reviewing forecasts every day and it’s looking there may be a window on January 1, allowing the team to start their climb in 2018 and finish in 2019! As always, weather forecasts change and the team on the mountain is in regular communication with the operations team in the states, looking at forecasts and comparing the forecast to actual conditions on the mountain. Stay tuned!