Summit Day

I’m glad we got up early! It took two hours to melt water for the day. I started to put on my crampons and get the ski poles, and had to sit back down due to dizziness. This happened on Mt. Elbrus in Russia. My blood pressure just drops and I get a shaky reaction. I needed to lie down and get my head some blood and all-important oxygen. I decided to get up slowly and get going. The Welshman, John was up and coughing blood.

They had to head back down. I caught up to Stan and Matt at around 19,800′. Matt was going back because he was cold and his feet were numb. Independencia hut is at 6250m (20,625′) and Stan and I got there before Noon. It’s easy to go the wrong way up here! We marked our trail with wands. The hut itself is in ruins. Some climbers camp here the night before the summit attempt but I don’t think it would give that big of an advantage. We continued up a hill to the Del Viento col 6300m. Here is the Gran Acarreo where the wind howls. This is a beautiful area. We made lunch out of sausage, cheese and a couple mini Nestle crunch bars. We left our packs here and headed up the infamous Caneleta. The Caneleta is an area of steep unstable terrain. Lucky for us there was packed snow instead of the dreaded scree. The height difference between the bottom and the top is around 400 m (1320′). There were some paths up but not many switch backs. We decided we were making great time and to take this section slowly. I started out doing 20 steps before getting a 15 or 20 second breather. This whittled down to five steps near the top. The slope is extremely steep towards the top. The view from the summit was spectacular! It just seems to go on forever. What a beautiful climb! We took many summit photos, and spent about 15 minutes on top, enjoying the view. The book I have on Aconcagua say that the average climber burns around 8000 calories on summit day. I totaled up what I ate today and it comes out to around 500.

Berlin to Plaza de Mulas
Big day or should I say big pack day. We got going at around 9:30 and packed up to leave. The pack seemed to get heavier and heavier with each minute. We made it down to Camp Canada for lunch, and quick loaded up again. My pack was around 70 pounds, I only weight 110. Plaza de Mulas was practically deserted. The Germans who camped next to us before we left were still there. They were having altitude problems and have spent 10 days in base camp. Finally Matt showed up, looking like he had been through WW II. I’m looking forward to sleeping since we haven’t really had any for 3 days.

Plaza de Mulas to Confluencia
Finally got some sleep last night. The mules got here and were quickly loaded. We took off and started the long walk out. The weather was great and the scenery spectacular.

Confluencia to Puenta del Inca
The walk to Puenta del Inca seemed eternal. We got to the ranger station, were they checked our permits. We finally checked back into the Hosteria, which was packed with tourists.

We looked like hell but it was good to be back. A nice hot shower was the first item on my agenda. I also took one look in the mirror and was stunned at how much weight I lost.

Stan and I look like we’ve each dropped five-10 pounds. Lean and mean! I’m usually a Pepsi drinker but a Coke never tasted so good. Like the return of all climbs, after a hot shower, a hamburger, fries and beer … life doesn’t seem to get much better!

September 25th, 2012 - Posted in Sport | | Comments Off

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