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Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua expedition. December 2014

By January 13, 2015Current Trips

Team leader and updates: Carrie Gibson
View Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua expedition info and book online

21st December
Carrie and the team have completed their International flights to Santiago & domestic onward flight to Copiapó. All of our luggage minus some cheese arrived safely here but we are all happy as we had no excess baggage charges, result!
Hotel is nice but no more phone signal after today so I will text from Sat phone from tomorrow.

23rd December
Carrie called in this evening, all is going well for the team in the very warm Atacama desert. They have completed two acclimatisation walks so far one at Vallecito and one at Laguna Santa Rosa. Tomorrow they will climb Siete Hermanas which is 4950m and on Christmas day they aim to celebrate by breaking 5000m on an ascent of Cerro Pastillitos. Finally Carrie and the team would like to wish all their friends and family a very Merry Christmas from Chile.

25 December
The team celebrated Christmas day by climbing Cerro Pastillitos. Tina turned around 300m short of the summit as it turned very cold, but she was happy with her progress at altitude and plans to wrap up a bit warmer for the team next peak Volcano Copiapo (6052m). Everybody then enjoyed a slap up meal of steak in red wine sauce and a drink that tasted a bit like Baileys! A bit of well deserved luxury!

28th December
On the 26th the team enjoyed the dramatic views surrounding Laguna del Negro Francisco with flocks of pink flamingo feeding in the Lake. Then today they made their ascent of Volcano Copiapo. Carrie described the weather as extremely hot when no wind is present and then any wind causes the temperature to plummet so it’s essential to have warm kit to hand. The team are being really well looked after by the local staff with good food in plentiful supply.

29th December
Carrie reports that the team have now reached The Atacama Refuge at 5200m where they have set up their base camp. They reached here in true ‘Top Gear’ style, pushing and shoving their heavily laden jeeps over the rough roads. We have updated Carrie with the latest weather forecast for the rest of the week which is pretty much wall to wall sunshine all the time, with but with the wind strength varying. As they have a few spare days for their summit bid, they hope to pick a day when the wind is least strong.
Today they will do a carry up to Camp 1 (5825m) and return to base camp for the night. Carrie says the food continues to be excellent and plentiful with steaks, currys, fajitas, bacon etc – they are certainly not going hungry!

30th December
Today everyone is enjoying a rest day at Base Camp, and all are feeling well and happy. Yesterday they did their carry up to the Tejos Refuge at 5825m (high camp) as scheduled which took about 3 hours, and then returned to basecamp. Carrie says there are very few other teams on the mountain; and on the acclimatisation peaks they did not see any other climbers – definitely a bonus!
The weather was fairly good yesterday with the wind just picking up a bit later in the day. It seems to be following the same pattern today. Tomorrow the group will move up to the Tejos Refuge once more in preparation for their summit bid which hopefully will be on Thursday. They aim to leave the Refuge at 2 a.m. local time and expect to make a 12 hour round trip. Most of the route can be seen from where they are, apart from the true summit on the other side of the crater rim. It looks at the moment like they will not need their crampons and ice axes as there seems to be just one avoidable area of snow, but conditions can change, so they will see how it goes. Good luck to all the team!

1st January
Success! Philip, Robert, Iain and Jeff reached the summit of Ojos del Salado today and Barry reached the crater rim. Tina did well but decided to turn back as she was feeling the cold so went back to High camp where Carrie, Barry and her are now resting. The others are on their way down to join them. No further news at the moment as the satellite phone reception when Carrie rang in was not good, but well done to all the team – a very good effort by all of you.

3rd January
An email in from Carrie below shows clearly the joy of returning to ‘civilization’ after the reams time high on the Altiplano:
What a difference a day makes, well 12 hours ! 7.00 am this morning my alarm went off and snuggled in my sleeping bag I could hear the chorus of whatever the South American version of Khumbu cough is!  Base camp today was bitterly cold and windy and it was a struggle to pull myself out of the bag but its amazing what the thought of a shower can do after 12 days .  Breakfast then base camp cleared, a final visit to the rocks and we were on our way on the 7 hour drive to the beach resort of Bahía Inglesa. Here the sun is in the sky people are still on the the beach and the hotel is just across the road. Showers, another shower just in case and out to celebrate the teams success!  For the team its a time to relax after a tough trip and for Rob, Barry and myself its a time to recharge our batteries physically and literally and then get back to being roughty toughty mountaineers on the next leg of our journey when we head off to Aconcagua.

7th January
We are now into our second day of the trek in and will be arriving at Casa de Piedra later today.

It’s still only 10.30 in the morning and have been walking for a few hours enjoying sunny skies with mild temperatures and a light breeze so very pleasant conditions today.

Yesterday we enjoyed an amazing meal with the mulateers. I don’t think I can remember ever eating as much with huge steaks and black puddings! Tomorrow we will be arriving at Aconcagua Base Camp.

8th January
We have all now arrived at Base Camp and the team are all feeling good, mainly due to the fine meal we enjoyed yesterday evening prepared by myself. The team appreciated my fine Glaswegian cooking and chopping skills, even followed up with some Chocolate cake bake by my fair hands 😉

It was a windy walk up today but now we have arrived the forecast is showing high winds on the summit so we will take a rest day here and make our plans for summiting from the 13th onwards.

11th January
Carrie, Barry and Robert are all going well and feeling good on their assault on Aconcagua. Today they will move up from camp 1 to Camp 3. Strong winds are still forecast for today and tomorrow afternoon, but easing off for Tuesday when they hope to make their summit attempt.

12th January
Carrie has called to give us the plan for the next 2 days. The weather is now good and settled so they have now left Camp 3 and will be walking up to Camp Colera in around 5 hours time. After arriving they will rest and preparing for their summit bid.

Everyone is positive, feeling strong and moving well so if all goes to plan will be standing on the summit around midday UK time.

13th January
Summit Success! Carrie has just called in with a quick update to say the team arrived at the summit at 2 pm local time and arrived back at camp at 5 pm local time (roughly 8.30 pm UK time). It’s been a long and tiring day for all. A huge congratulations to Rob and Barry from everyone at Adventure Peaks, well done guys!

15th January
Carrie has called in to say the team made it down to base camp yesterday and enjoyed the comforts of what base camp has to offer. They are trekking back out to Pampa de Lenas today, all being well they will be celebrating in Mendoza by tomorrow evening.

17th January
Carrie reports: We are back in Mendoza! Time to reflect on what has been a fantastic trip, well two trips! We have been away for what feels like forever as we have fitted so much in.

It is 10 years since I’ve been here and the first thing I would note is, if you are going to climb Aconcagua go by the Vacas Valley, it is an absolutely stunning valley, it is like a completely different mountain. Secondly if you get the chance go to Ojos del Salado first. Rob Barry and I loved the fact that because we were already acclimatised, we could appreciate every step of Aconcagua, we did no carries to camp, just arrived at base camp all set to go for the summit, so that’s what we did! To put it into some perspective for you, teams that we walked in with were moving or carrying to our Second camp as we were returning to Base Camp after the summit.

We have been blessed with good weather to appreciate our surroundings. We have met lots of nice folk along the way, we saw lots of birds, guanaco, foxes, lizards a wee mouse, and a floating croc! (ok so the croc was my shoe but it did float downstream!) We managed most days to walk as if we were the only folk there, very different from my memories of my last trip.

Rob and Barry put in a super effort to reach the summit and will have many stories of their own to tell. We arrived at Aconcagua very well fed after Jeff’s Cooking on Ojos, ably backed up with Tina’s cooking skills, we were also truly spoiled after having spent our entire time on our acclimatisation peaks seeing no people whatsoever and only a handful of folk on Ojos itself.

The scenery and varying landscapes on both these trips has been truly stunning. Coming over the desert high passes to see Laguna Santa Rosa was unbelievable. I will get the pictures to you as soon as I’m back.

Carrie Gibson

About Carrie Gibson

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.

One Comment

  • Dr Iain Greig says:

    A big thank you to Carrie and Jeff for taking such good care of us – a really satisfying trip (even if, or perhaps precisely because, it pushed me to my absolute physical limit). Good luck to Carrie, Rob and Barry with Aconcagua – something tells me that the food might not quite reach the standards to which we had become accustomed on the Ojos leg. Hope other groups get weather as sunny as we had. Clothing recommendations were pretty much spot on for decent weather, so definitely not something to cut corners with.

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