Sometimes no matter how determined and prepared you are to summit, the mountain has other ideas! Success on high altitude mountaineering trips cannot be measured in summits alone.
Aconcagua can be a dusty trek to the summit, but with high winds and lots of snow the trek becomes completely different.
We first ran into poor weather on our load carry to camp 3 Guanacos with a lot of snow and the winds picking up we dumped our cache early, just before the col and retreated quickly back to the comfort of our dome tent. After a rest day we moved up to camp 3 hampered again by high winds and breaking trail up to our knees in the snow; it was a long, tough day. The weather was nice the following day at Guanacos but we could see the winds building higher up the mountain. We hoped that the predicted weather forecast of strong winds would be less than predicted and had time with our spare summit days to wait it out and try to move to camp cholera for the best opportunity to summit.
Through the night unfortunately the winds picked up and the tents were being buffeted so much it felt more like the summit height forecast than that of 1500 meters below. We struggled to get the tents down, without blowing away, even with 5 or 6 people helping, there was no way we would make it to cholera, instead we opted to traverse round to Nido de Condor, this was a long cold day. Once again we broke trail the whole way, with an ice cold wind in our face, we were buried deep in our buffs and hoods. The views between being battered by the spindrift were absolutely stunning, when it did clear you could see an endless range of mountains.
The team may not have reached the summit, but they have had a great expedition whilst enduring the worst of conditions. Back in our warm hotel in Penitentes it’s been nice to meet with all the other teams that were on the mountain and to hear their stories, sadly no one has reached the summit but all have great tales of deep snow and windy tent nights.
The team arrived back at Penitentes last night after trekking out from base camp. Depsite no summit bid the traverse over to Plaza de Mulas was still very challenging because of the strong winds. Carrie said that one section that should have taken 2.5 hours took 6! Well done to the team having to cope with very extreme conditions.
After a very wild night and wild morning it now feels like what the forecast had been predicting for the summit. It is with heavy hearts that the team have had to come to terms with the fact that a summit bid is impossible with the current weather forescast with extremely high winds throughout their summit window. The team will now make their traverse over to Plaza de Mulas into the Horcones valley.
Despite challenging conditions the team have made it up to Camp 3 Guanacos at 5450m. The outlook for the next week is looking like very strong winds. The team are remaining optimistic and hoping that the forecast is not going to be as bad as it says it is.
AToday the team attempted to make a carry to camp 3 guanacos but due to heavy snow and strong winds they had to stash kit and turn around 40 mniutes below the col at 5300m. The team are now back at Camp 1 and have a rest day planned for tomorrow.
Today we head away from the luxury of base camp, we have been well fed and looked after by our amazing cook team. We have had 2 rest days and a carry to camp 1. The route up was stunning with plenty of snow. The weather closed in once we got there and we were very grateful for our dome tent to sit for a while before heading back to base camp. Everyone is feeling good!
Great to hear from Carrie yesterday evening: Hello from base camp, it’s a bit of a grim Scottish day here. We had hail stones but everyone is in good spirits and feeling well. We’re still to put the tents up but the distraction of pizza was too much! We have had good weather since leaving the park gates and it only turned in the last hour into camp.
Fingers crossed it returns to clear skies. The team are now enjoying the comforts of base camp and getting everything prepared for the climb today as they spend a rest day there. They are also having fun playing with a wee coffee machine!
Carrie has been in touch to say that everyone is doing well in the group. They are leaving today for the three day walk up to Base Camp and they are particularly looking forward to the BBQ this evening at Pampa de Lenas.
The luggage is all here and we are ready to go. Next stop is the National Park where we get our permits then we are off to Penitentes. Not wanting to be rubbing it in but the sun is in the sky and it’s hot!!!
Carrie Gibson has traveled on many of our expeditions including Everest North Ridge, Denali, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Island Peak & Ama Dablam. Carrie is also the first British woman to summit Himlung Himal.