2000 - 2001 Aconcagua Cybercast

Dispatch #44:  2/23/01 2:05pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, with the latest from climbing group 6 led by Allen and Dmitry.  Its February 23rd, we've got a beautiful day here.  I last called in bringing messages from the group from the summit.  I did hear from them again last night: they made it back to Camp III at about 6pm or a little bit afterwards.  Very tired but happy to be back at camp.  Today they've been packing up and we are expecting to see them back in Base Camp just anytime now. 

Lhakpa has been running up and down the mountain like the Energizer Bunny. He went up to Camp I and Camp II to help bring some of the extra loads down.  There's some bags of garbage and some personal gear that he brought down yesterday and today he went all the way up to Camp III to join the group up there and pick up a load of tents and came racing down ahead of them, so now we have tents set up for them in base camp when they return, so they can just collapse into them when they get here.  

In the meantime I am also preparing a feast for when they get here.  We'll have a huge vegetable stew, I have cornbread cooking and I'm also going to make a big vegetable salad coming up real soon.  They'll also have snacks and we might even be able to find a beer or two - that'll be a surprise for them  So we'll hear from them when they actually get down.  Our plan is to start hiking down to Casa Piedra tomorrow and the following day down to Pampa de Lena and the day after that down to the trailhead.  So we'll give you an update as we make our retreat from the mountain.  That's it from Base Camp.

Dispatch #43:  2/22/01 12:02pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Howdy Alpine Ascents, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's February 22nd, it's about 3 o'clock in the afternoon local time here and I've just heard from our summit team calling in from the summit.  It's been quiet for several hours because I have no radio contact with them as they're going up the other side of the mountain and up the Canaleta but I've heard that there's a bit of snow up there which probably made it easier for the folks.  I finally heard from Dmitry at about 2 and the last of the folks were up there by 3 and they would like to send some special messages out to some folks. First we'll hear from Allen Carbert: 
"Alrighty I have climbed this mountain for my best friend Wes Gridley and Wes, I now that you have climbed bigger mountains than this one and you have to do it everyday.  So this one's for you Wes, I love you baby!. 
"Hey this is Cam, I'm on top of the world. Anthony, Spruce Shaggy, I love you.  Mom and Dad I love you."  
"This is Charles Girard, I wanted to say hello to Jacob and Taylor and I'm at the top of the world at the western hemisphere. Wish you were here, love Dad"  
Caller unknown: "Family Friends everybody I am standing on the highest point in the western hemisphere, thank you so much for all of your support, for watching the cybercast I love all of you, I miss all of you I'll see you soon, and I'll talk to you once I get back down to Mendoza."  
"This is Dmitry Sidorov. Gosh, I just want to say as little as possible up here but there was a moment when I was up here and thinking about everything in the world that i left behind (unintelligible) and  they all asked me how (unintelligible) and the one right now possible. I would like to say hi to my wife Gretchen, to my friends back in Russia.  Thank you for this opportunity."

Call #2:  Howdy folks, Ellie calling back just to finish the cybercast.  So that's it from our summit team. As a sidelight  Mark M. came down to Base Camp yesterday. Lhakpa brought him down, he was having some chest congestion, and not breathing really well up there, the thin air at 19,200 feet.  He started out on the walk over to high camp yesterday and wasn't feeling real well, so we welcomed him back to Base Camp with open arms yesterday.  He's still coughing a little bit, a little congested but he is doing really well here at base camp.  So we're all eagerly awaiting the return of the summit team hopefully sometime tomorrow afternoon, so we'll give you an update as the folks return from the mountain.

Dispatch #42:  2/21/01 11:22am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, calling in for group 6 led by Allen and Dmitry.  The troops have been dug in at Camp III at 19,200 feet for two days, they've had two rest days, the first one they did some hiking around the area and went out by the big ice cliff out by the edge of the Polish Glacier and from that edge you can look several thousand feet off this huge cliff.  Today they took a second rest day there at 19,2 and also did an acclimatizing hike up towards Camp IV but in having discussions among themselves with all of our electrical activity these days and everybody is feeling very well, they made the decision to spend tonight at Camp III at 19.2 and they will still make their summit attempt tomorrow starting at about three or four in the morning and going from 19,2 rather than putting in a high camp.  The high camp place that we usually use is up on a ridge and fairly exposed, they've had quite a bit of snow up there and of course we've had consistent lightning in the afternoon, so they're going to be getting an early start and hopefully reaching the summit by early early afternoon and then coming all the way back to Camp III again. So I'll be listening on the radio during the day tomorrow and I'll be calling reports as they happen so stay tuned and the boys are on their way.

Dispatch #41:  2/20/01 9:04am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with the latest news from Group 6.  Yesterday they made their move from Camp II up to Camp III at 19,300 feet. this is the highest they've been yet.  And once again we had another afternoon of electrical storms, this will be about our fifth day in a row.  Here's Allen calling in from Camp III to tell us about it. "Hello this is Allen calling in from Camp III to report on little more excitement that we had last night.  As Dmitry and I were serving up hot drinks to the group we could feel a static electric charge build up in our hair, heard some snapping crackling and popping, and didn't really take much more than that to get us back into our tents.  And it was definitely exciting, we're hoping that the weather system of electrical activity has ceased, and will allow us to go up to high camp and continue with our summit climb on schedule.  So that's about it for excitement from Camp III. I would like to say that our group is going extremely well, everybody is sleeping well, eating well and acclimatizing beyond my wildest expectations.  So we are looking forward to a strong summit climb in the next couple of days.  We'll be keeping you informed as to our progress.  This is Allen and Dmitry signing out.

Ellie:  So now it's the morning of Tuesday February 20th.  They are having a rest day up there at Camp III.  We've got beautiful sunshine, and were crossing our fingers there's a light breeze this morning and were hoping that that's going to keep the updrafts from happening that form those big electrical clouds, and maybe that will be the end of our electrical excitement.  I'll be calling back soon with some personal messages from the group so this is Ellie signing off from Aconcagua Base Camp, and I'll be right back with you. 

Second Call:  Today the group is spending a nice rest day hanging around camp, they had a nice breakfast of ham and potatoes this morning, and soon they'll be headed out for an acclimatization hike out to a big ice cliff right at the edge of the Polish Glacier.  Very spectacular views up there.  Tomorrow they'll be heading up to high camp, Camp IV,  and while they're waiting today everybody's speaking to family and friends and we've got some messages from most of the folks.  "Ellie this is Charles, I'd like to say hi to my sons Jacob and Taylor, and I'd like to say hi to Christine my friends, and I wish you all well, and we're at Camp III at 19,300 feet. Bye.  "Hello this is Jeff and I'd like to say hello to my family and friends and we are poised for the summit and all feeling strong and we can't wait to see you all soon"  "Hi its Chris I'd like to say hello to the entire family, thank you everybody for watching us and all you well wishes, I'd like to say hello to of course all of my friends, Hello my peanut, I miss you hello Jacob and Ann.  Hello Cool Girl and Woody, thanks again for watching, talk to you again after the summit.  "Ok this Camilo,  at 19,300 feet, Camp III.  We are moving up to high camp tomorrow, just wanted to send my love and good wishes to my whole family and everyone back home.  And we are doing well at camp here, and we are hoping we don't get some more thunderstorms.  "Hello I just want to say hello to my mom and I want to say hello to Orla(?) and my dad in Ohio, and my three sisters, this is Allen, and I will be thinking of you at the summit. And that's about it.  Okay I think that's all of our messages from everyone, hopefully they'll have a good rest day up there and well be hearing from them tomorrow as they move up to Camp IV. 

Dispatch #40:  2/19/01 10:20am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp its Monday February 19th. A bright clear sunshiny morning.  But we had a little bit of excitement last night.  The crew, Group 6, with Allen and Dmitry moved up to Camp II at Amagino Col last night, and got all settled in when the thunderstorm hit.  Here's the report from Allen at Camp II last night:  "Good morning this is Allen working with Dmitry reporting in we are up at Amagino Col from Camp II .We had a rough night last night, we've seen a weather pattern for the last three days of electrical storms occurring late afternoon and evening, and last night was no exception.  We had lightning strikes probably no more that two or three hundred yards away form our camp.  Fortunately we are in a little col with high rock pinnacles surrounding us.  So we took the necessary precautions, putting everybody on their foam pads squatting on their pads, hands on their knees sort of a typical procedure when that first bit of lightning strikes.  We expect that the same pattern will develop again today as the snow falls we see the moisture evaporating up into the atmosphere. Once this moisture rises up high enough it will crystallize, assembling a snowflake. When those flakes begin to fall, an electromagnetic charge will develop...as moisture rises and the snowflake tries to fall the electrical charge (unintelligible) so these are clear warnings of the type of weather pattern we need to watch out for we'll definitely make sure we are in a good safe place. 

Hi guys Ellie calling back, Sorry about the static on the message from Allen Camp II is our worst connection.  Also as a sideline, we're hoping if the weather cooperates should be summiting on the 22nd back to base camp by the 23rd.  

Dispatch #39:  2/17/01 8:40am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents and friends and family this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp.  And today's message comes from Dmitry and the group up at Camp I:  "Hello everybody out there in the real world, This is Allen Carbert, Dmitry Sidorov and Alpine Ascents International Group 6,  reporting from Argentina, from the beautiful mountain, Aconcagua.  Currently we are at Camp I and we have a carry today to our Camp II at Amagino Col.  Yesterday, the weather presented us with a surprise:  we got about 3-5 inches of fresh snow. (unintelligible) thunder and lightning a lot.  (Unintelligible) So the carry went quite well...(unintelligible)  Lhakpa Sherpa till tomorrow when we are at Amagino Col at 17, 500 feet (Unintelligible) So that's about it for the night and we hope you have a very god night, thanks you very much, bye bye.

Ellie: So that was Dmitry from February 17, Saturday and we expect them to be moving up to Amagino Col on Sunday. We also have a message from Cam, he says "Hello to Anthony, Jim and AJ and the rest of the class, class 5D at Parliament Place Elementary School, also hello to Mom and Dad Bruno Allesander and family and everyone at Ocean Rock, Tracy's Karate and Tree Guy. Also love to Spruce and Shaggy.  That's from Cam. So that's it from Base Camp and we'll be bringing you the news as the group moves up to Amagino Col on February 18th, and hopefully our sunshine and the morning's good weather holds and the winds and the clouds don't hit them too hard.

Dispatch #38:  2/16/01 10:02am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hi Alpine Ascents this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp on February 16th.  The team is doing very well, they're moving up to Camp I, but we have a few words from Allen Carbert: "Hello this is Allen Carbert working with Dmitry Sidorov, Ellie Henke and Lhakpa Sherpa. (transmission fails)

(resumed)...with Dmitry here on the mountain.  As mountain guides there are some things are of primary concern, of primary concern for all a a expeditions the first thing are positive forces. We also have certain types of (unintelligible) This is a long trip and its important that people have as much fun, a positive experience whether they make the summit or not. So we want to make sure that people enjoy themselves...(unintelligible)

The third thing that we want to do is reach the summit.  This is what we are all here for.  Although Dmitry and I have our share high altitude climbing we will certainly do everything we can to get as many of these people safely to the top of the mountain as we can.  Fourth thing we really want to do is really educated people as to what high altitude climbing entails and what expedition climbing  entails.  For many people on this expedition this is their first high altitude climb, it is their first experience in an expedition effort, so we want to give them as much knowledge as we can so that when they come back to climb Denali or Mt. Vinson, they have a good foundation from which to climb on for their attempt.  So we educate people as to some of the fundamental skills involved in climbing such as river crossing, personal maintenance like staying well fed, well hydrated wearing lots of clothing, protecting yourself from the sun's effects etc.  We also try to emphasize that expedition climbing at high altitude on a mountain like Aconcagua is a process not an event. We need to fulfill intermediate goals before we can really look towards the summit:  establishing various camps higher on the mountain acclimatizing properly these are all components of a successful climb that need to be accomplished before we can consider summit day.  So that's just a bit of background on how it is that Dmitry and I will operate and in general how all of our expeditions are run. Look forward to be filling you on some more progress as the days go by.  For Dmitry, Ellie, Lhakpa, and the rest of the group, this is Allen signing off.

2/16/01 #2:  Hi Alpine Ascents and friends and family of Aconcagua Group 6 led by Allen Carbert and Dmitry Sidorov.  As we heard earlier they took off from Base Camp this morning February 16 and packed up their things and moved on up the mountain and established a new camp up at Camp I,  at 16,100 feet. The weather was really good in the morning, but toward the afternoon we had a big cloud buildup and by the time they reached Camp I it was dumping snow pretty good up there.  We had about and inch or two here at base camp and Allen reported that they had about 4 inches of snow up there at Camp I so they got heir tents up and snuggled into their sleeping bags, had hot drinks and a good dinner, and sounds like everything went very well, there wasn't a lot of wind, it wasn't a major storm, just afternoon snow.  By the evening, the clouds cleared off and we had a beautiful starlit night it was fairly cold, but it has definitely cleared off and should be an excellent day tomorrow for their carry up to Camp II.  So we'll have an update on that tomorrow morning or tomorrow evening when they have completed that carry. Everybody's healthy.,  I would also like to report that we lost two of our members Chris Y. and Richard S. to non-serious medical problems.  We sent them down to Mendoza and the lower elevations and they are doing much better.  So we are sorry to miss those two.  But in the meantime the remaining six are going strong and happy and were wishing them the best up there on the mountain.  So that's it from Base Camp and we'll be updating you with news from here soon.

Dispatch #37:  2/15/01 9:50am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hello Alpine Ascents family and friends, this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp and reporting in for Group 6 led by Allen and Dmitry.  The group had a successful carry up to Camp I yesterday.  This is the first time moving above base camp.  The group got everything organized to carry various gear that is not needed here at Base Camp but they will  needed higher up on the mountain.  So everybody packed up their packs with parkas, down pants, with food, dinners breakfast, fuel for running the stoves, everything that is not needed down here but will be needed higher up.  And they left a little after ten o'clock in the morning and they got up to Camp I in about 5 hours, and had a very nice sunny day. The group arrived back in Base Camp in time for a delicious dinner made by Ellie. And actually we were awake enough and still had enough energy to stay up chatting a little bit into the evening and slept in a little bit for today's rest day. 

Today's rest day has been a fun one.  The big activity for the day has been deciding who is and who is not on the summit team.  It's easy to get kicked off of the summit team for such things as refusing to eat fourth helpings at dinner or some particularly bad jokes, that type of thing.  However it's also easy to get back on the summit team for such things as helping to crush cans that are left over form the kitchen, washing dishes, or generally helping out around.  So at this point most of the team has been on and off of the summit team at least 3 or 4 times per person and I'm sure this will continue as we go on up the mountain.

And in closing, we've got a special hello from Chris Wayne says "Hello to family and friends, peanut, Mrs. Wayne and Miss Hogan's third grade class, we are glad to have you folks with us and the land rover."  He says everything is fine, he's feeling great they have been resting today to get ready to move up to Camp I tomorrow. He hopes everything is okay at home and everything here has been just great, so Chris says hi to everybody.  And so do we all.  Hope everybody had a good Valentine's Day yesterday and we'll be reporting in tomorrow probably with a message from Allen.

Dispatch #36:  2/14/01 9:30am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Hello Alpine Ascents folks, we're playing catch up here now that we have the satellite phone back in operation. With all the intense activity in Mendoza getting ready for the last expedition and we're making sure all the radio batteries got charged up and it the midst of all the chaos, we neglected to charge up the battery on the satellite phone.   So with our first dispatch attempt we discovered we would indeed have to wait until base camp.

So let me backtrack a bit to the beginning of the expedition and first of all say hello to Darien School Groups, we'll be giving you some personal recognition as we go, and glad to have you listening in.  The group arrived in Mendoza on Thursday, February 8th.  Everybody arrived all in one piece.  All of the luggage was here and the following day, February 9th, We caught the bus, Our personal bus picked us up, took us by the Aconcagua Park office where everybody went in and signed for our climbing permit.  And then we took off for the mountain stopping on the way in Uspallata, which is famed for the filming of Seven Years in Tibet.  We had lunch in Uspallata and then continued on up to the small community of Penitentes.  And Penitentes is our jumping off place for the mountain.  So we unloaded all of our gear there and immediately set up an operation to weigh everything.  Each bag can weigh a maximum of thirty kilos.  For all you school folks out there you can figure out how much that is in pounds.  All of thee bags are sent up to base camp on mules.  Each mule can carry up to 60 kilos, they put 30 kilos on each side so we have to be very careful in how we pack these bags.  So the whole group filled in and participated we set up a line for getting all of our bags passed through a scales getting them all weighed and we used chalk and a magic marker to write the weight on each bag and end up with a whole pile so that we can tell the Arrieros, the mule skinners, how much weight we have, and they know how many mules to bring in to carry our gear to base camp.  So that started us off on the first day. We finished up with  wonderful Steak Milanese, which is breaded steak dinner, and we were all very glad to hit the hay, it was our last evening in a hotel room.

Second Call:
Howdy Alpine Ascents,  Ellie calling back from Aconcagua Base Camp for group 6.  Group 6 is still trying to come up with a group name, "Group 6" is not very flattering so stay posted and hopefully they'll come up with something better sooner or later.  Calling in with another update from February 10, Saturday, which was our first day on the trail leaving penitentes and heading  to our first camp at at Pampa de Lena.   And the group was hot, the group was so hot, we were sweating, we heard rumors of it being 40 degrees Celsius in Mendoza and it sure felt like it was almost that hot up here on the trail hiking up.  Luckily there was a little bit of a breeze most of the way so it cooled us down a little bit, but we were looking for every bit of shade we could find, and there wasn't much.  Hiking into Aconcagua is like high desert: the only plants we see are small scrub and within twenty minutes of leaving the trailhead we saw our last trees for the duration of the entire hike.  So we took lots of breaks, everybody was drinking lots of water.  That's one of the important things for climbing a mountain especially when it is hot, is to stay well-hydrated, so we stopped at every stream and drank and filled our water bottles and finally arrived at Pampa de Lena at 5:30 Saturday evening.  And luckily our mule loads beat us up there so we had a nice session of everybody learning how to set up our VE-25 tents and had a delicious spaghetti dinner and everybody settled in for the night at Pampa de Lena. 

The next morning we crossed the Vacas River.  This year they actually have a bridge in instead of us riding mules across the river.  The water is very high, it seems like it keeps getting higher all season.  And we continued on up the trail to the next camp site called Casa Piedra. And our hike all during this day takes us across huge alluvial fans which are big fans of dirt formed with water coming down from the hillside, and they carry soil and rocks and particulate down the mountain and when it hits the bottom it slows down and causes all this soil in a big fan.  And we crossed quite a few of these before we got to our camp site.  By the time we got towards Casa Piedra the wind had picked up and was blowing pretty hard so we had to use extra energy walking into the wind.

Third call:
Hello Ellie calling back again for Group 6.  We left off arriving at our second camp site, Casa Piedra, fighting the head winds all the way to get up there, but it turned out that the winds were a good thing, because this gave everybody a chance to practice putting up the tents with the wind blowing and they've been learning lots of techniques and how to build really really good anchors so when we hit the real winds up on the mountain we wont lose any of our tents up there. So everybody practiced making real solid anchors, we put about 100 pounds of rock on each line coming off the tent and we also put the tents behind rock wind walls that are usually about three feet high, and put them in real solid so that the wind won't blow the tents over.  We also keep them all zipped up and buttoned down real good so we protect our tents very very well.  So we spent the night at Casa Piedra and on the morning of Monday February 12th we got up early. We were up about 6 o'clock which here in the southern hemisphere of course, it is summer her but we are heading towards the fall and at 6 in the morning we can still see stars out and the moon was still up.  But by the time we were ready to move out of camp at about 8 o'clock, the sun hadn't hit the camp yet but at least it was daylight.  The first thing we did was cross the Vacas river which involves putting our Tevas on instead of shoes and using our ski poles for balance and wading across the Vacas and boy was it cold. 

From there we headed up the Relenchos Valley.  The Relenchos River is named after the lead guanacos.  Guanacos are the wild equivalent of lamas and one of the lead guanacos in the herd is called a "relencho" ,which in Spanish means: winning or the winner, because they're the ones that keep their heads up and alert the rest of the herd when danger is coming, which could be our group coming.  So we headed up the canyon of the Relenchos River, and the place we usually cross the water was very high and we couldn't use the usual rock, so we used a new high route that goes up along on shelves of rock along the river and saved us a lot of time from having to change into our Tevas for two or three river crossings,  and got ourselves through the canyon very well. At the top of the canyon we...

Fourth call:
Okay Ellie calling back again for Group 6 from Advanced Base Camp. At the end of my last call we were continuing up the Relenchos Valley we topped out from the canyon and reached the wide open valley at the top of the canyon.  We continued on that for the rest of the day we had beautiful views of Aconcagua. The day was perfectly gorgeous, and we are glad to be going up in elevation.  Where its cooling down up here, we are very thankful for the cooler temperatures.  We got into base camp at about 4:30, people were  feeling a little draggy, its a big elevation gain, you know we came up about 2,800 feet during the day and Base Camp is located at 13,800 feet. So the air up here is a little thin so people were feeling that:  there were a few headaches, but nothing serious.  Everybody did a real good job of getting all the tents put up. We did have a little problem with our base camp tent.  While we were gone with everybody down in Mendoza we dropped the base camp tent and rocked it down, puts rocks to hold it from the wind.  When we arrived back up here, there was a lot of ultraviolet damage on the rain fly on the big base camp tent.  And it had a few tears and shreds in it, so we took the old one off and replaced it with a new one and now its in good shape.  So we moved into that and had a wonderful dinner and everybody turned in early, because they were plenty tired after coming all the way up here.  The following day will be a rest day before carrying equipment up to Camp I.  So we will continue with our next report which will be an update on how our rest day at Base Camp is going. So we'll be calling back later this is Ellie signing off from Base Camp.

Fifth Call.
Hello Alpine Ascents,  this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Reporting in for Group 6 led by Allen and Dmitry.  And they have not chosen a name for themselves yet so they are still "Group 6".  They had a wonderful rest day in base camp: the weather here has been gorgeous bright sun, hardly any wind at all everybody is almost complaining about too much heat.  Which once they get higher on the mountain they'll be wishing they had a little bit more of it up there. They had a really good day in base camp eating and sleeping and walking around the area here.  We have no water right in the Base Camp proper so various people helped out hauling water from a stream that is running a little bit farther away, maybe a quarter of a mile away or so so we appreciated their help on that, everybody had a good time. 

A couple of special messages here.  We have one from Cam" happy Valentine's Day and love to Anthony Spruce and Shaggy.  He's feeling good."  I'm getting another battery low sign so ill call back with the next message and reports from the carry to camp I when I get the battery charged. 

Dispatch #35:  2/10/01 9:10am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group VI)
Yo Alpine Ascents, this is group six doing our first cybercast on the first morning of our first night out heading up the mountain.  We've had an exciting time.  The group is hot and The weather has been even  hotter: we had reports yesterday that down in Mendoza it was 40 degrees Celsius.  For all you school classes listening in for us, we have several,...Our battery is low we'll have to call in later, it may be a couple of days.

Previous Expedition Dispatches:

Dispatch #1:  12/18/00 7:30am, Penitentes, Argentina (Group I)

Hello, this is Willi Prittie from the Alpine Ascents Aconcagua expedition, giving everyone a welcome to our website and our cybercasting this year from Argentina. A quick update from the start of the expedition: everyone arrived on time with all their luggage. (For those of you coming on later trips:  make sure if you change airlines you personally change the luggage, but all worked out fine on the first trip). Our climbers are:  Luis Branco, Derek Joynt, Jay Marchesseault, Jim Walkley, Lionel Lavenue, Teresa Lavenue, Sherry Tankersley, Michael Strauss; and they are joined by guides: Matt Walker and myself with Lhakpa Rita Sherpa as a guide and Ellie Henke as base camp manager. Ellie will be sending many of the future cybercasts.

We are having beautiful weather here, quite warm for up high, and it was blistering in Mendoza.   The first few days were better, but very, very hot when we left. There is a fair amount of snow in the mountains, rivers are the highest level in ten years due to snow melt, so we'll have some hard river crossings in the next few days. The Polish Glacier is said to be in excellent condition. and we are looking forward to getting the climb started...looks like a very strong group. We hope to have climbers introduce themselves soon on the cybercast, so that's the first update and we'll talk to everyone soon.

Dispatch #2:  12/19/00 7:32am, Pompa de Lena, Argentina (Group I)

Top of the morning to everyone in computer land, this is Willi Prittie calling from the Alpine Ascents Aconcagua expedition.
It is a beautiful morning here, camp 1 on the trek into Aconcagua base camp. We are at a place called Pompa de Lena.
We had a great dinner of zuni stew, that we all whipped up and we are raring to go and get our feet wet, crossing the river--- here are a few messages from some of the climbers:

A message for Robin and the PCG crew...I am not missing work at all.  From Jay.
Hi from Luis, for the crew at Median (sp), to let you know I may never return.

Willi: so today we are looking at some great weather and have an 11 mile hike to Casa de Piedra (house of stone) and at the end of the day we'll have our first view of the mountain. Everyone is doing well, as I mentioned it is a very strong group. Signing off from Camp 1 of the trek, and looking forward to our climb.  Signing off until tomorrow.

Dispatch #3:  12/20/00 2:36am, Trek Camp 2, Argentina (Group I)

2:36am our time: This is a big hello from Argentina at Camp II on the trek in. We had some mixed weather in the afternoon, thunder showers, rain and some good lightning. We made it to camp in good time and had a very dramatic unveiling of Aconcagua for the first time, lit up like neon in the first light.

We decided to get up at 6:00am and take some photos. Everyone is very psyched, a bit chilly here with frost on the ground. The night was very cold. Despite the cold rivers, very very high, the second crossing of the Vacas Valley was on mules. I normally do not use mules here but thought it best to make it to Base Camp. Everyone is doing well, healthy, and looking forward to the challenge ahead. This is Willi Prittie from Alpine Ascents signing out…and have a good day

Dispatch #4:  12/22/00 7:38am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group I)

Hello, this Willi Prittie at Aconcagua Base camp and we had a beautiful day for walking yesterday. Sunny and breezy so we were not overheating, everyone did real well, no headaches or anything else and we got to camp in the late afternoon. Had a great rice and vegetable dinner and then some good sleeping. Today it was sunny and warm, very calm and feel blessed with good weather. It’s a rest day today, we are doing laundry and we are ready for the first carry tomorrow…hoping the weather pattern stays the same. Although looking to the east I see a lot of thunderstorm build up. (This does not affect the mountain but is a great light show! The show usually starts around midnight.) So that’s it for now, we head into the real climb tomorrow and will let you know how our carry to camp I went. Have a good day.

Dispatch #5:  12/22/00 7:52am, Pompa de Lena, Argentina  (Group II)

From Brian Celler: Good evening Alpine Ascents cybercast enthusiasts, we are on day one of Matt Szundy’s and Pat Timson’s Aconcagua expedition…and here is your host the impressive and amazing Matt Szundy…

Hello everyone this is Matt Szundy.   I would like to introduce the team, a great time so far…our team has lead guides already mentioned and…Kim, Brian Richard, Jennifer, Manisha, Matt and Mannish. We are all looking forward to day 2 of walking up the valley some more and on day 3 we head to base camp and have a rest day. We will celebrate X-Mas with a load carry to Camp I and will keep you in touch with our progress.  Big cheers from Aconcagua (whole group cheers) – ciao!

Dispatch #6:  12/24/00 7:59am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group I)

Group I : Matt Walker here from Alpine Ascents and Aconcagua Base Camp. We just enjoyed a wonderful rest...it’s been beautiful and sunny. Yesterday we made a load carry to Camp I, our first carry, an 8 hour day, with high winds and a bit of snow, We are all fit, doing well and excited for our move tomorrow. I wanted to take a moment to introduce our team:

“Ranger” Jim from Chicago
Sherry “Tinso” (? poor connection) from New York
Luis “The Tiger” from Germantown, MD
Derek “A” from Toronto
Lionel “Lovin” from Virginia
And his wife Theresa –“Mrs. T”
Guide 1 – Matt "Young Skywalker” Walker from Seattle
Guide: Willi “Obi Wan Kenobi” Prittie – from Olympia
Guide: Lhakpa Rita Sherpa – “the energizer bunny” from Khumbu, Nepal
Ellie “Den Mother" – Henke from Olympia and is our BC manager

Our official team Mantra – "Do or Do Not.  There is no try"

This is Matt Walker signing off

Group II has arrived safely at Base Camp and they are doing well.

Dispatch #7:  12/25/00 9:10am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group I)

X-Mas day cybercast…This is Ellie form Aconcagua base camp and Willi and the team are at camp I, we will try and connect to his radio…go ahead Willi….we are doing very very well, we have high winds but made it here in good time, a strong team ...we have an X-Mas poem started by Derek Joynt and the rest of the team…twas the night…(transmission ends)

This is Ellie again and will patch to Willi for an Xmas poem:

Twas the night before X-Mas and all through Camp I , not a creature was stirring
cause the wind was so strong

The climbers were nestled and snug in their tents preparing for summit bid
which lie ahead.

Their stockings were on hung on the vestibules with care…

(transmission ends)

But we all settled in for a high altitude nap

When out in the cliff came such a clatter, and what to our wondering eyes did appear
Willi Prittie checking and re-checking the gear

With satellite time so precious we wish we could all call our friends , family
and loved ones so we pass on a merry Xmas to all

We also has a mini exchange of gifts which involved a coca cola for Matt Walker
and a Lego airplane (transmission Ends)

Dispatch #8:  12/26/00 8:15am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group I)

Hi to all this is Ellie at base camp where we have had some incredible winds in the last 24 hours, I think we are about the only team with al our tents still standing/ Willi is up at Camp I and both groups seem very good…and I’ll patch you through to him…Hell from Camp I , we just witnessed the most massive "cloud?" covering I have ever seen here, maybe 20 miles around covering the entire mountain. Conditions were rough yesterday but we did make a carry to Camp II – transmission fails.

Group II performed a carry yesterday and is doing fine.

Dispatch #9:  12/27/00 8:46am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group I)

This is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp..Willi will try and a radio transmission later. Team I spent the night at Camp I, very stormy weather and Camp I had 70mph winds...they had a rest day at one, playing cards, drinking tea etc. This morning Willi and team are planning to move to Camp II (which is between a neighboring mountain and Aconcagua), Lhakpa Rita left early this morning to go and set camp. So we hope to hear from Willi later or tomorrow from Camp II.

Team II led by Pat Timson and Matt Szundy has completed a carry to Camp I and is taking an extra rest day at Base Camp, bathing, doing some laundry, and will hopefully enjoy some good weather as the storm has passed.

This is Ellie signing off and hope everyone had a Happy Holiday

Dispatch #10:  12/27/00 11:23am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group II)

Hey there web enthusiasts this is Matt Szundy from Aconcagua Base Camp this is team #2. We spent Christmas carrying to Camp I in terrible winds, so we are now taking a rest day at Base Camp and will move to I tomorrow. Couple of things from our "home office" in Maui, HI – the top ten reasons why we stay an extra day in Base Camp…

10- Box wine is tasting better ( just kidding)
9- Powdered Eggs
8- Finished counting dimpled chads
7- Laughing at those coming down
6- Higher camps are higher
5- $5 cokes
4- Boxed wine getting better
3- Getting hammered by winds
2- Twister the game and weather phenomenon
1- Watching the shitter blow away with someone in it…

So a little poor humor from base camp, we will move to Camp 1 tomorrow and hopefully get you another update.  Best from everyone here – Matt Szundy – out

Dispatch #11:  12/28/00 12:10pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina

Team I - This is Ellie from Aconcagua base camp with a brief daily update. Willi and the entire team settled well at II last night and is moving to camp III today. Weather conditions are harsh with high winds but the team is doing very well...

Team II - has moved to Camp I after a rest day and plans are for them to carry to Camp II tomorrow and then return and sleep at Camp I.

Dispatch #12:  12/28/00 1:19pm, Aconcagua Camp I, Argentina (Group II)

Hey there friends and family of the Aconcagua 2000 Alpine Ascents Climbing Program.  This is Matt Szundy and Pat Timson calling from Camp I on Aconcagua.  We finally made a carry today to Camp I.   We have a dedicated few left on the team, we have Saxon, we have Manisha (not to be confused with  Manish), we have Rick, and we have little Matt (otherwise known as Viagra Matt) (hypoxic laughter).  We are enjoying balmy 20 mph winds as opposed to the usual gusts of 60.  Everybody else on the team is down at base camp awaiting departure, because of the weather...(transmission fails)

Dispatch #13:  12/30/00 5:19pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups I & II)

Hello AA this is Ellie Henke calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with all of the latest news from Aconcagua. Well we finally had a big change of weather after battling high winds and clouds for about the last two weeks, it seems like it has been windy and  high winds just about every day, finally yesterday the weather changed, the winds calmed down and the sun came out and we've had two days in a row of beautiful weather. And this has been very good news for both of the climbing parties on the mountain.

The big news for today is that the first climbing party led by Willi Prittie and Matt Walker and their seven climbers have just moved up to high camp, Camp IV, And this camp is over twenty thousand feet and puts them in position for a bid on the summit tomorrow. So this will be exciting news for tomorrow to see how they go.

High Camp is a bit of a battle up there, its getting pretty high, its a little hard to breathe, I'm sure they'll have a little trouble sleeping tonight.  But I just talked to Willi and he says that there is hardly any wind at all and its very clear up there which means that they also have beautiful views of all the surrounding mountains:  looking up to north you see the big glaciers of Mercedario, and also see another mountain called El Mano, which looks like that could be an interesting climb for somebody Sometime.

Their plans are to start out at 6:30 in the morning, tomorrow morning. Lhakpa is staying at the camp III at 19.2, and he'll get an early start tomorrow morning and come up and join them.  And all of them will then head up past Independencia, and across the ridge and a traverse over towards the Canaleta and after their steep climb up the Canaleta, hopefully they'll have a little bit of snow there would really help them to get up the scree, which is really a battle getting up to the summit through that area. So I'll be monitoring through the day tomorrow and call in with any news of Willi's group reaching the summit.

In the meantime, Pat Timsons and Matt Szundy's group, Aconcagua II, have been moving steadily up the mountain.  Yesterday they moved up to Camp II which is at Boureasa Col in between the mountain next to Aconcagua which is Amagino(sp). And they passed a very good night there, actually that is tonight that they are camping there, and tomorrow they will be moving up to Camp III, at 19.2.  The people that they have with them: everybody is healthy and is doing very well. Pat's group has four people left in their group: they had four climbers who left the party and are heading back to Mendoza. Four others, Brian Kim Jennifer and Manish have all decided for various personal reasons to leave the mountain and they are on their way back to Mendoza, which has been a busy time for base camp arranging all of the travel arrangements to get them off the mountain.  But Everybody was in good health, both the climbers leaving and the climbers still on the mountain, everybody is doing very well. And we wish them luck and we'll bring news of them as they get higher on the mountain and they'll be heading for their summit bid soon as well.

So that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp and we'll be bringing you news of Willi's team heading for the summit tomorrow.

Dispatch #14:  12/31/00 3:40pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group II)

Hello Alpine Ascents from Aconcagua Base Camp.  It's December 31st and here at Base Camp all of the New Year's parties are starting to Warm up.  And from up on the mountain, Aconcagua team I led by Willi and Matt Walker send a special new year's greetings from the top of the Americas.  They reached the summit of Aconcagua today.  They will probably not be staying up for any midnight new year's parties after a very strenuous day.  They reached the summit about two o clock this afternoon.  It was very strenuous conditions going up the Canaleta, most of it was loose scree, and not helping them much at all.  But the weather from the top was very good, fairly warm, light snow flurries.  Five of the party plus two of the guides did manage to get up to the top.  So special congratulations go out to:  Jay Marchesseault, Jim Walkley, Luis Branco, Sherry Tankersley, and Derek Joynt for reaching the summit today.  They managed to spend about an hour or so up on the top and enjoyed the view from up there.  Special congratulations to Derek for his fourth of the seven summits.  They were also joined by Willi Prittie and Lhakpa Rita Sherpa.  Also congratulation to Theresa and Lionel Lavenue, for reaching over 22,000 feet before they turned back with Matt Walker.  These folks have shown incredible perseverance after Theresa had boot fitting problems on the first carry up to Camp I and with getting that solved they stuck with it and have reached a high altitude record for themselves, they did turn back with Matt Walker at about 22 thousand feet.

They have made the decision:  There will be no Polish Glacier climb.  So the whole team will be returning to Base Camp tomorrow.  In the meantime Aconcagua Group II with Pat Timson and Matt Szundy:  they are firmly ensconced at Camp III at 19.2.  They moved up there today and tomorrow will have rest day and have a bit of back carry to go back and pick up gear that is now below them.  Rick, Matt, Saxon, and Manisha, are all doing well and they will be moving up to high camp soon they'll do a rest day tomorrow and then they will be moving on up the mountain for their turn at the summit.  So I'm sure that the team coming down will have lots of stories to share with these folks on their way up.  So with that Happy New Year to everybody out there and...(Transmission fails)

Dispatch #15:  1/2/01 10:15pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups I & II)

Howdy, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Argentina for the Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua program.  Our trip pretty much got down to Base Camp a couple of days ago, we have been lounging in the thick air of 14,000 feet, everything being relative, getting some good night's sleep, eating a lot, trying to eat our way through the rest of our supplies here.  We actually started out on the trek back to Mendoza today.

We also got word that today, the other team did in fact summit Aconcagua.  Pat and two of the others summited in fairly good time and were back to their high camp by 4pm to dismantle it to return to Camp III for the evening.  So big congratulations to Pat and I believe he was with Matt and one of the other male members of the climb (Rick), I don't recall his name off hand right now.   So they should be heading back to Base Camp tomorrow and organizing also for their trip back to Mendoza, so again a big congratulations to them.

It is extremely windy here, lots of tents lost at Base Camp, this afternoon as well.  This is proving to be a bit of a challenging season, at least wind-wise, unlike last year which was quite benign.  We will probably be doing a final cybercast from my party, certainly when we get to Mendoza, and we have a last party with all of the expedition members together, and we'll do a function at that point.

Dispatch #16:  1/7/01 3:50pm, Mendoza, Argentina (Groups I & II)

Hello everybody out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting for the Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua Program.  Our first group of this 2000-2001 season is pretty much wrapped up at this point.  I'm actually doing the cybercast from poolside, at the Hotel Nutibara on a very hot and sunny day here in Mendoza.

Our team had a very enjoyable walk out.  For about three days worth or so, we spent two gorgeous nights just kind of slumber party fashion, just throwing the sleeping bags down on the ground.  Star watching in the beautiful southern sky, looking at the southern constellations.  Satiated ourselves with steak dinners last night here in Mendoza, we've just been enjoying lounging around the the swimming pool here today.  This is about the last day we are all going to be together, and everyone will be going their separate ways at this point.

As we speak also , Pat's expedition, the number 2 trip, should be leaving base camp.  As I reported last time, Pat with two of the members, summited.  Also the rangers had informed us and thanked us that Matt Szundy helped them carry out a very important carry down rescue of an incapacitated German climber.  Its seems like there are always people on Aconcagua that far exceed their own abilities and collapse due to exhaustion and altitude illness:  its usually a combination of the two.  And word was that he (Matt) had given some valuable assistance to people who were rescuing this German climber and that he was descending the Plaza de Mulas side of the mountain.  So congratulations to Matt and a big thank you from the ranger service here in Aconcagua Provincial  Park.  So that's going to be about the end of the Aconcagua I for the 2000-2001 season and we'll be talking to you more on subsequent trips.

Also, Allen and Dmitry are gearing up for their #3 trip, purchasing food and expecting climbers to be flying in to begin the trip here in just a few days, and we'll give you more updates on that as they come.  So that's all right now from sunny Mendoza and the sunny southern summer.

Dispatch #17:  1/9/01 8:50pm, Penitentes, Argentina (Group III)

Greetings this is Ellie Henke calling in for Group III, led by Allen Carbert and Dmitry Sidirov on December 9th. The group will take on an official name soon and I’ll be reporting on that. Today was an exciting day, we got out of Mendoza and took a bus and trailer to the little town of Penitentes. Everyone learned the weighing system for mule carries and people learned that al those little extra goodies they took put them overweight. So we re-adjusted our packs…also our missing person Justin Ralph arrived in the evening , his bags arrived early on arrival day without him, at our airport pick up. We were happy to see he finally arrived and we al got a good sleep before heading out.

Dispatch #18:  1/10/01 4:20pm, Pampa de Lena, Argentina (Group III)

This is Ellie calling in for Group III, now titled Group Galactica, we had an exciting walk in what turned out to be very high winds. The group split into two walking teams and it was very windy in the narrow sections where we all clung to the side of the mountain. I have a recording that we made during a very windy lunch as we tried to keep our sandwiches on the table (recording inaudible) …following the recording…sure enough the wind calmed down…This is Ellie and we’ll call again tomorrow or the next day signing off for groupo Galactica and from Pampa De lena

Dispatch #19:  1/11/01 3:50pm, Pampa de Lena, Argentina (Group III)

Hi guys this is Ellie calling for Groupo Galactica Jan 11 from the Vacas Valley, Here's Allen:
Hello AAI this is Allen with group 3 on Aconcagua:  Groupo Galactica. Today we had a beautiful hike. Last night we camped at Pampa de Leinas.  Tonight we are headed to Casa de Piedra up the Vacas Valley, otherwise known as the valley of the cows because the locals used this valley to graze their cattle. We have been making good time a nice light breeze has been blowing up the valley to cool us off. We just finished our lunch of sandwiches, fresh melons and apples and some great chocolate. We are all having a great time and are getting excited to reach Casa de Piedra to enjoy the spectacular views of the mountain. Tomorrow we are going to be heading up the Relenchos Valley towards base camp. Tomorrow we are going to be heading out pretty early to avoid high water in the river. It is ideal to cross early to have to lowest water possible the Relenchos is a very narrow and confining canyon, potentially lots of fast moving water. As usual it should be an exciting river crossing for everyone. we are expected to arrive in BC tomorrow afternoon. So for now this is Allen C with Groupo Galactica saying goodbye, bye bye.

Dispatch #20:  1/12-14/01 3:50pm, Pampa de Lena, Argentina (Group III)

Groupo Galactica: Today started out being a big day of crossing the Vacas River.  There were ice crystals all along the edge of the river and we had the pleasure of Craig teaching us on the finer points of crossing a river and then had a chance to put these skills to the test:  We used the method of 3-4 people crossing at a time with their arms linked elbow to elbow and using ski pole to inch our way across this freezing cold Vacas River.  Once on the other side we spent several minutes warming our frozen toes.  The excitement continued as we headed up the Relenchos Valley and had to make a couple more river crossings. We had to do a bit of scouting around to find a good crossing point; the reason is because the regular crossing was a bit too treacherous because it was a warm day and all of the snow and ice already started to melt and the rivers were flowing high and fast.   We did end up finding a point farther upriver to cross.  After a couple more interesting crossings, we headed up the Relenchos towards BC.  

We arrived at BC around 4:00pm.  People were a bit tired and winded but happy to be at camp and ready for a rest day.  After a short rest we set up tents and settled in for a good dinner and a good night's sleep.  On the 13th, we awoke to a beautiful morning, had French toast followed by various personal activities of washing clothes and bathing.  It has been a good day: the sun is shinning and everyone is enjoying the tranquility of BC and looking forward to the carry to C1 and starting the climb. 

January 14: This was an exciting day, we actually started our climb. We started the day with a carry from BC to C1.  Everyone put on full packs for the first time.  This carry is a very important part of the climb: we go to C1 and cache all of the gear and food that is not needed until we head up the mountain, it also helps with the acclimating process.  Once at C1 we will put all the gear into plastic bags and bury them under rocks so they will not blow away.  The day started early; there were a few clouds in the sky but no wind so we decided to head out.  We made it out of camp at 9:00am, everyone was feeling strong and ready to go.  We made it back to BC at 4:00pm a very successful carry. 

On the 15th we are going to take a rest day then start up the mountain again on the 16th. That's all for now we will be in touch good bye from Groupo Galactica

Dispatch #21:  1/16/01 2:33pm, Penitentes, Argentina (Group IV)

Greetings to everybody out there from Penitentes Argentina.  This is Willi Prittie reporting for the Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua program.  We're beginning expedition #4 of the season here. We've got a really good group looks like were going to have a lot of fun on this particular trip.

Right now with us, we have: Mike Lagana, Andy Headley, Brian Ballinger, Jim Peacock, Sally Forry, Andrew Thorby, Alan Weissman, Sheik Shah, and Eitan Aizenshtein, Unfortunately, Mark King has had a little bit of bad luck: he had some kind of flight problem and started out 24 hours delayed, and also has lost his luggage, so we are unsure at this point if he is going to be able to catch up and join the expedition.  At the moment the other assistant guide, Matt Walker, is with him in Mendoza, trying to deal with the problem.  Hopefully we'll have some good news about that tomorrow. 

At any rate we're kind of beginning our acclimation schedule here at just under 9,000ft here at Penitentes Ski Resort.  We had a nice second group dinner for the second night here in a row and everybody's getting to know each other and starting the team building process here at this point.

I'm actually calling on a land line rather than a satellite phone to do this report. Tomorrow morning we will be starting our approach into base camp so there will be no more news from this team in particular until we actually get to base camp three days from now, at which point we will call in on the satellite phone and update everybody on how things have been going on the trek into base camp.

It looks like a very strong team: a very strong group of people, and also a fairly experienced group of people.  So we're really looking forward to this expedition, and like I said: we're going to be having a good time.  So that's all for now and we'll be updating you next time by satellite phone from base camp on Aconcagua.

Dispatch #22:  1/17/01 12:15am, Penitentes, Argentina (Group IV)

This is Willi, reporting from Penitentes Argentina for the #4 Aconcagua trip one more time.  I just wanted to do a quick update, I have actually spoken to Mark King from Mendoza and Mark and Matt will be coming up and joining us today. He's had quite an epic - the airline cancelled his flight;  and he pretty much got behind the 8-ball  from all that, and lost his luggage. But he managed to get everything together, yesterday, so we are very pleased that they will be coming up to join us in the morning and sometime today we should be back 100% whole as a team, which is great.

Also wanted to do a quick hello to Everett Thorby who is Andrew Thorby's daughter, at 6th grade class in Shelton School in Dallas.  We understand that the whole class is studying some things the Andes and is following us on the cybercast line so a big hello to everyone there in Dallas.

So that going to be all for now until we get to base camp, and like I mentioned in the last report well do a quick update.

Dispatch #23:  1/18/01 12:20am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III & IV)

Hello Alpine Ascents, this is Ellie calling with the latest news from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Its January 18th, Thursday and we are tracking Groupo Galactica, Group #3 led by Allen Carbert and Dmitry Sidorov.  Yesterday they moved up from Base Camp up to Camp I  and we have a report from Allen from Camp I:  they are getting ready to move up to Camp II.  Here's Allen from the Mountain...

Okay this is Allen Carbert.  We're at Camp I,  we just made a carry to Camp II today.  The group is doing really good; everyone is acclimatizing really well.  And this afternoon we are having our first taste of Aconcagua-type weather with wind gusts of probably up to 30 mph. But the tents are all secure, everybody's warm and tucked in their sleeping bags at the moment, looking forward to a move to Camp II tomorrow.

The wind walls also look like they are in good condition at Camp II so it should be a smooth transition from here on up the mountain.  And if the weather holds and everyone continues to acclimatize well, I think we are going to be right on schedule for summit day.

Ellie:  Okay we are also going to be tracking Aconcagua Group #4 led by Willi Prittie and Matt Walker.  They should be coming into base camp tomorrow night.  Today they should be moving up from Pampa De Lena the first camp site to Casa Piedra.  Last time we camped at Casa Piedra, we had moth attacks, there were thousands of Moths around.  We'll see how these guys survive.  And we should have news from them starting tomorrow night.  This is Aconcagua Base Camp signing off.

Dispatch #24:  1/19/01 6:19pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III & IV)

Hello this is Willi Prittie reporting from Argentina for the Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua program. We actually arrived to base camp today.  Everybody's doing really well, everybody felt good here at base camp. This is actually a very experienced party as it's turning out and people have a lot of good hard camping skills, know how to take care of themselves, do things very quickly and efficiently.  And as a result were getting to pretty much each camp an hour or two sooner than what I generally consider normal on these trips.  So it's a real pleasure to be with these guys; we're having a great time, a lot of fun and it also points up the importance of having experience before you come to Aconcagua: something that is at least like one of our 6-day courses or something of that nature.  It teaches a person a lot, and these types of skills definitely are harder to pick up when you are coming down on a big expedition.

Anyway, people are doing well here, we have a big rest day tomorrow, just kind of hangin', doing some acclimating here tomorrow, eating lots of food, and all sorts of good stuff like that.  Tomorrow we'll have a little longer cybercast, we've got a few messages that people would like to send out.  At this point that is all from Aconcagua Base Camp for the Aconcagua trip #4 this season.

Ellie:  Also reporting in for Aconcagua #3, Groupo Galactica.  The night before last, I guess it was last night, they moved up to Amagino Col and got a taste of the Aconcagua winds while they were setting the tents up.  Allen claims that this was a good experience for everybody, especially since the winds did drop towards the evening and they had a good evening there at the col.

Today they moved on up to Camp III at 19, 200 feet and Dmitry reports in that everybody is feeling well, there are a couple of minor headaches, but in general everybody is very strong. They got their camp all set up, it is fairly cold up there tonight so everybody is snuggled into their sleeping bags after a good hot dinner and they're looking forward to a rest day tomorrow.  Also, we'll hope to have an update from them tomorrow and we'll be bringing you the latest from Aconcagua.

Dispatch #24:  1/21/01 5:01pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III & IV)

Hello this is Willi reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp in Argentina group #4 did our first carry to Camp I  today.  Everything turned out very very well.  It took us just a little over five hours to five and a half hours, to do the carry to Camp I and spent about an hour and half in the beautiful weather up at Camp I breathing in the rarified air at 16,100ft and then about an hour and twenty minutes down.  Everybody had a wonderful dinner:  we had a vegetable salad and soup and hors d'oeuvres course and a big spaghetti feed, no room for the dessert afterward, and we had Famous Chinese Dessert tonight too.  I'm sure some of you must know what that is out there in computer land.

We also got word from Allen's party, the Alpine Ascents #3 trip. They are doing very well, they are up at high camp. Everybody is up at high camp and they are poised to leave at 7am tomorrow morning for their summit bid. Looks like they are going to have spectacular weather conditions, its very very nice here:  its very light winds virtually no afternoon clouds and nice warm sunny conditions during the day.  So we're psyched for them and we hope that we will have similar good luck.

We also have a few messages that people wanted to send back.  First from us, Willi and Ellie, we have "H-I-R-A".  And then from Sheik there's "a big hello to Mary Ann, Ethan and all the folks back at Achille(sp?), we are having a good time here, we miss you all".  From Brian Ballinger we have:  "Hello Mom and Dad, Brandon, Janice and Nicole.  All is well,  happy birthday,  I love you Mom".  And from Mike we have:  "Hi Judy, Zach, and Tammy.  I hope you feel better Mom.  And we'll do one more here tonight, spread these out again for tomorrow.  From Hadden: Hadden just wants her dad to know that she is taking part of him up this mountain with her and she wants her mom not to worry.

By the way everybody is doing exceptionally well, just a couple of headaches at Camp I when we were up there, which is totally normal at this stage of the acclimation process.  But everybody continues to be showing a very strong showing and is doing real well with the acclimation process. We also have high hopes. That's all for today from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Tomorrow there's not going to be anything happening with us because we've got a rest day here at base camp, the final before we start moving up. However, we are going to be watching very closely to see how Allen's group does on their summit bid.  So that's all for now.

Dispatch #25:  1/22/01 10:30am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III & IV)

This is Willi Prittie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp in Argentina.  We had a great day for a rest day here today, but more importantly the big news is that our third group is actually going for the summit today.  We had radio communication with them today at 8 o'clock about half an hour after they left camp and they reported light winds, relatively warm conditions, very sunny and very good above. And all team members were actually headed to the summit.  So were anxiously awaiting an evening call to see how things turned out.  A lot of building clouds to the East but very little that is actually affecting Aconcagua right now, so we're very hopeful that they have a good day up there.

Also Pat Timson and Matt Szundy will undoubtedly be calling in with their own cybercast, they have arrived here at Base Camp today in very good form, also with apparently a very strong team.

From Team 4 just a few more messages that some  people would like to post to family and friends:  From Jim: "Hi Cheryl and Katy I'm feeling fine, love you both".  From Mark King: "All is well at base camp moving to Camp I soon, love to Violet, Mom and the kids.  Be safe, love Mark".  And from Allen:  "Greetings to my family and friends;  RAS(?) hikers and the empress Josephine, kisses.  Aconcagua isn't any shorter this year". And a final one for today, from Eitan: "Hola to everyone I'm okay were in base camp and I'm feeling good.  Hello to Gadi and all my family in Israel. And also to Zlana I love you".  We'll have a few more messages here as the days go by undoubtedly, as people like to stay in touch a little bit with their families and loved ones back home.  But the most important thing is that all is going very well:  we had a great carry yesterday as I already mentioned and a very good rest day today and everybody's going to be looking forward to actually moving up and grappling with the mountain above base camp starting tomorrow. So that's all for now from Aconcagua Base Camp.

Dispatch #26:  1/22/01 4:30pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III & IV)

Hello Willi Prittie reporting again from Aconcagua Base Camp in Argentina.  I had to call in with some late breaking news for Groupo Galactica led by Allen Carbert, Dmitry Sidorov and assisted by Lhakpa Rita Sherpa.  They actually reported a little bit ago: 100% summit success, so a big hearty congratulations to them everybody's doing great and they are overnighting again at camp IV before they head back down the mountain.  Everybody was very cheered to hear that news today.

We also have two more messages.  From Andrew:  "There was air in the stairs...not as much here.  Hi to everyone at Achille etc., Connecticut.  Karate twice a week:  miss you all especially LT."  From Andy:  "Hi mom and dad Tina and Gram, Jim, the TF all is well. (also, repeat of Allen's message from earlier)

Group IV is planning on heading up to Camp I tomorrow morning and beyond that we will be doing cybercasts though Ellie and maybe doing some tape recordings.  A big hello to everyone in the office and hope everything is cool there.

Dispatch #27:  1/24/01 7:00pm, Aconcagua Camp I, Argentina (Group IV)

Hi Alpine Ascents folks, this is Ellie call from Aconcagua Base Camp, where we've just gotten a message in from Willi up at camp I its recorded, so let me play it:

Greetings to everyone out there from Aconcagua Camp I, this is Willi Prittie for the Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua program.  Our group 4 yesterday did a move to Camp I from base camp everyone did very very well at that and we had a rather interesting time, with Lhakpa who had been climbing through the snow trails through penitentes. The trail is actually cutting across    an interesting section, where we are experiencing walking through ten foot high penitentes or pinnacles themselves. Pretty bizarre landscape there.

Matt did a very good job of leading up that trail on the first time through then there was actually a bit of trail left for him and other people so we had a really good time on that.  Put up a good night, now people are down climbing with a very difficult climb down  to follow our pace to get her to camp I for acclimation purposes. (transmission ends)

Dispatch #28:  1/24/01 7:30pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group III)

Hello Friends family and followers of Alpine Ascents International's Aconcagua program, this is Allen Carbert reporting from Base Camp. Yes, we did have a very successful summit climb.  About two weeks ago we picked up 8 expedition members at the airport in  Mendoza and now about two weeks later I am happy to say that we had 8 expedition members on the summit of the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.  And of even greater importance: we are all back down at base camp safe and sound.

I'd like to quickly mention that the expedition members all worked very well together.  And these people included Greg a very strong climber from Seattle, Houk Reed a great character who has climbed in Antarctica and other place with Alpine Ascents.  Monique who I met in Alaska while doing our 12-day program.  David Hill, also an experienced mountaineer.  Jeff Madden, another great character.  Justin Ralph also known as the Dark Horse, he was a great contributor of his sense of humor and an unknown quantity until summit day, or game day as we said.  Craig another great character also from Seattle, and its nice to have him along as well, he's basically a mountain guide himself.  And then we have young Britten, he worked hard and was a very strong contributor to the group as well.  I'd also like to mention that Britten, orchestrated the highest chicken dance ever recorded.  In an effort to get Monique a little bit more motivated toward the top, he broke out into the chicken dance and did a real good job despite all the thin air.  So congratulations to him for not only summiting Aconcagua, but in probably deserving a space in the Guinness book of world records.

So at this time we just finished out celebratory dinner:  we had a great meal of pizza, salad, fresh vegetables and a little bit of the  Vino Tinto, so were feeling real good right now and a few people already resigned themselves to their tents where they're probably wrapped in down from toe to head and enjoying the thick air here at Aconcagua Base Camp.  This is Allen Carbert signing out and I look forward to being in contact with you guys:  the rest of the friends and the family involved with the expedition in probably about two weeks from now, so stay tuned for more thrills spills laughter and action.

Dispatch #29:  1/24/01 7:35pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group V)

Hey there friends and family this is Matt Szundy checking in from Base Camp in Argentina on Aconcagua.  Pat and I and the gang made a beautiful carry today to Camp I, 16,100 feet.  The 8-hour day was a tough one, but all 12 of us made it in good style. The entire team is eagerly anticipating the upper mountain.

Here's a brief overview of our team members.  We have Rob Stewart the quiet strong one. Fred Gault the resident network expert.  Nina and Shreesh Tasker, fantastic opera singers.  Dolly Alevizatos, otherwise known as Salvador Dolly, (no reason).  Micky Campbell, were all going to have Scottish accents by the end of the trip.  Ralph Koo, our expeditious doctor and base camp jumper.  Siobahn McFeeney, well we might have an Irish accent by the end of the trip. Terry Trevino, who reminds me of Chevy Chase.  Richard Worm, a scientist with insight on everything natural.  Matt Szundy guide, who is still listed as chimera.  An Pat Timson who is quoted as saying "OK Gang."

Folks, we'll be in touch tomorrow on our rest day with more interesting comments and insights  from the team members.  Stay tuned, take care, Matt Szundy signing off.

Additional Update:  Alpine Ascents has just received word from Base Camp, that our very own Dave Morton and his climbing partner, Jeff Lamoureux have just returned from successfully completing an astonishing climb of one of the "most coveted big wall climbs in the world":  Aconcagua's South Face via the French Route.  We will post more details when we receive a full report from Dave in the next couple of days. Congratulations Dave and Jeff!

Dispatch #30:  1/25/01 8:20pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups III, IV, V)

Hi this is Ellie calling back,  continuing our cybercast message from base camp we've had a busy day:  we sent Allen and Dmitry's Groupo Galactica, on their way this morning.  About 9 mules came in to haul their gear down the mountain and they're heading about over 20 miles hiking today, down to Pampa de Lena and tomorrow they will hit Penitentes and by tomorrow night should be in  Mendoza.  They had an excellent trip and they're looking forward to showers and a big steak when they hit the big city.

In the meantime here at base camp, Pat's Aconcagua Group 5 has been going very well.  They did a carry up to Camp I yesterday and today have been resting at base camp enjoying the sunshine. 

Willi's Group 4 has moved on up the mountain.  They moved on up to Camp II at Boureasa Col tonight and we have a report in from them over the radio from Matt Walker:  "This is Matt Walker with Alpine Ascents, I'm at 17,600 feet and the Boureasa Col, Its a beautiful evening here, we moved up from Camp I up here to Camp II.  It was a  very smooth climb today about three and a half hours everyone was very very strong.  Very light winds here but right now...its about an ambient temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit with about ten mph winds.  We are all spilling into our tents, we've got four tents set up...and well be hanging out here for the next day or two making a carry up to Camp III tomorrow...We'll talk to you guys soon.

Ellie:  Finally I would like to relay a message from Allen:  "Hello, to Allen's 7th grade sister Kristen and her class at Paint Valley High School in Bainbridge, Ohio who have been studying South America and are following our Cybercast every day. So that's it from Aconcagua, we'll be bringing you the latest news as it happens. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp..

Dispatch #31:  1/26/01 7:58am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Group V)

Hey there cybercast friends and family this is Matt Szundy checking in from Base Camp on Aconcagua.  It's the morning of the 26th of January. Our team is doing great. (One of our number, Ralph had to leave the climb early, he's down in Mendoza now, he's doing fine).   Anyway the team says hi, we're all sort of bummed, that we're missing Ralph but we have some quotes here from everybody:

We have Rob who would like to say: "Team S & B, the old man is waiting for us above the Canaleta at 22,000 feet. Having a fantastic climb, but pain ahead.  Stewart clan, thinking of you on the way to the summit."  Quote from Dolly: "Hello Pearl Hill and Nacho Mamas Gang.  Making our way up the mountain having lots of fun and miss you all lots of love and Go Ravens UCM."  (Guess that's like a secret password for her). Fred Gault:  "Love you, lets do lunch,  made it to camp I over 15K, I learned getting down needs consideration too.  Hello trainerBob.com, muscles are holding up nicely. Howdy to friends and family this mountain is like a Martian landscape: I keep expecting to see the rover, a wild dark beauty.  The rest of the team is fun and strong, guides are awesome with lots of excellent stories."  Siobahn has a little Irish quote here: "She is having a grand old time you'll love it dad, moving up tomorrow (which is today) can't wait to taste S.F. Mexican when we return, love Siobahn."  Quote from Terry: "Hey there friends and family, Chris and Derek:  this place is big.  Mom and Dad, hope all is well. Having a super time.  Safety first. C and AJB and all are excellent.  She is not driving me too crazy."  Quote from Nina:  "Hi to Dada, N.E.,  AAI, Papa, friends and family.  Doing nicely at 13,8.  Yesterday was a hard day for me (day before yesterday) but easier from now on, eating like a horse."  Dick:  "Tell Mom to be strong.  Sorry I ran off to South America at such a time, I trust Loraine is being strong too."  Mike:  "The penitentes spin of snow made CD trail look easy.  So far, so good.  All of the 30-somethings respect my age and seniority.  Shreesh, "The carry to camp I was awesome, if they could bottle up the feeling and sell it it would be illegal. A big hello to everyone, AAI, Daddy, friends and family."  A quote from Micky:  "We've got a cruising altitude of 14,000 ft, seatbelts are unfastened, the cabin depressurized, but the head is not between the legs yet.  Flying high, love you Sharon." 

So those are the quotes from the team, this is Matt Szundy, I will check in from Camp I tonight with Ellie via the radio.  So hope all is well friends and family and we'll be touching base again, so check in again soon.

Dispatch #32:  1/27/01 12:22pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups IV & V)

Alpine Ascents, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua  Base Camp, where we have reports coming in form the mountain.  First we'll hear from Matt Szundy with group #5.  Tonight they're, I believe, at camp I:

"Hey there friends & family of group #5 on Aconcagua, this is Matt Szundy checking in from Amagino Col.  It is 12 noon on the 27th and we're at approximately 17,500 feet.  The winds are mediocre for Aconcagua, they are gusting up to 20mph, its pretty chilly here.  Everybody made it so far to the Col here with another 200 feet to our Camp II and we're making our plans to descend back down to Camp I.  Yesterday, we made a fantastic move to Camp I, arrived about 3:30 in the afternoon and spent the afternoon sort of lounging around acclimatizing.  And today we're enjoying a nice beautiful carry.  So anyway this is Matt Szundy and we'll check in again later, this is Camp I clear."

Ellie: We also have a report coming in from Matt Walker with group #4 they are at camp #3 up at the base of the Polish Glacier:

"Hello! This is Matt Walker with Alpine Ascents on Aconcagua. We have arrived safely at Camp III, the base of the Polish Glacier.  We are at 19,200 feet.  All is well here, Its quite windy, probably gusts of about 40 mph with a standard wind about 15-20mph.  Its super cold here, which means that its colder than will register on the thermometer. Willi and I made a delicious meal this evening, Kraft macaroni and cheese and smoked ham that was so good there were no leftovers.  I'd like to report that the group is feeling very very strong:  it seems like the group is getting stronger and stronger as we move up the hill.  No real incidents to report, just happy blue skies and light breeze.  We're taking a rest day tomorrow and then if all goes well were on our way to the top in just a couple of days.  This is Matt Walker from Camp III on the Polish Glacier.

Ellie: That's it from Aconcagua and we'll be bringing you the news from the mountain as it happens.

Dispatch #33:  1/31/01 9:42pm, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups IV & V)

Yesterday Jan 30, they made two attempts on the summit it was very very windy they left high camp at about 7, 7:30 in the morning got up as far as Independencia and ended up turning around.  The wind was so strong they didn't even cross over the ridge to the other side of the mountain.  So they returned to high camp.  I talked to them at about 8 o'clock in the morning and at that point the winds starting to drop a little bit and they were just starting out on their second attempt of the morning and made it as far as Independencia again, but it turned out that conditions really weren't any better.  After awhile Lhakpa came down, (unintelligible) with a bunch of weight in his pack, but for 100 pound Lhakpa the winds kept picking him up and he had a pretty tough time up there, so the second bid didn't end up any better than the first and they ended up turning around and heading back to high camp again where they spent the night and the winds kept blowing until about 1 or 2 in the morning and finally dropped.

I talked to Willi a little while ago they made another attempt on the summit today, January 31st, and the conditions are much better: there's not a cloud in the sky, there's a mild breeze. As of about a half an hour ago, Willi called from the summit and there's six people with him and Lhakpa is with two more about a half an hour behind so it looks like 8 out of the 10.  Sheik ended up staying at high camp with a little stomach upset and yesterday we had a little bit of adventure bringing Eitan down to Base Camp with a little cerebral edema.  He's doing fine down here and is sitting here eating the good food at base camp and were all awaiting the return of Willi and the rest of the group when they come down possibly.  Tomorrow or very soon thereafter.  So that's it from Base Camp and I'll be calling back with an update from Pat's group #5.

Call #2:  Group #5:  we're catching up a couple of days.  I have a message from them form the mountain a couple of days ago from January 29th from Matt up at camp IV:

"Greetings friends and family, of the Alpine Ascents International's expedition program, this is Matt Szundy from Aconcagua Camp III.  It's a cold clear beautiful morning here and Willi Prittie is up at high camp with Matt Walker.  They're enjoying beautiful weather and hopefully will continue tomorrow for their summit bid. (rest of message unintelligible)

So in the meantime from Pat and Matt's group yesterday January 30th, they spent a rest day up at Camp III which also included running some fuel half way up to meet Willi because they've been using so much fuel while waiting for the weather at high camp. (Message ends)

Dispatch #34:  2/1/01 9:10am, Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina (Groups IV & V)

Hi guys this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with the update for today, February 1st.  First reporting in for Willi & Matt Walker's group #4.  They did reach the summit as we reported in, with 8 climbers and Willi and Lhakpa.  They did return safely to Camp III  last night at 19,200 feet.  And from that group I have a message from Jim: "Hello it's Jim we're at 21,800 feet hopefully we'll be at the summit by 1 o'clock this afternoon. Just wanted to wish you a happy birthday, give all of my love to Kate. Bye Bye."  

However we have not yet heard from Willi and company this morning, they missed their eight o'clock this morning radio call, I'm sure they are all thoroughly ensconced in their sleeping bags and probably still on the unconscious side.  But we've been preparing a base camp feast for their joyous return to base camp this afternoon.  And look forward to hearing from them later on this afternoon.  So that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp  for Willi's group #4, I'll be calling back with messages from group # 5. 

Call #2: Hi this is Ellie calling back again from Aconcagua Base Camp  reporting on Aconcagua group #5 led by Pat Timson and Matt Szundy.  That group spent last night at high camp and took off this morning for the summit. We heard from them at about 8 o'clock this morning when they arrived at Independencia, one of the waypoints on the way to the summit. Here's Matt:

"Good morning everybody friends and family, this Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua team #5.  We are on our summit bid at just about 8am, we just left camp about a half an hour ago and its a beautiful sunny cold morning at 20,600 feet we are at the Independencia Hut.  Pat and I got up at this morning at about 4:30  started the stoves and started boiling water for the team and watched a gorgeous sunrise to the east and now we are enjoying the beautiful sun its starting to warm up a little bit.  Everybody on the team is psyched and looking really strong, we have a beautiful summit day and I'll touch base again with Ellie as she cybercasts later on.  Hopefully from the summit, we'll see bit this is Matt Szundy checking out and continuing on the climb on our summit day on February 1st.  Hop all is going well with friends & family this is team #5 over and out.

Since then we heard form Matt just before two o'clock when the group arrived at the summit:

"Hey there friends & family this is Matt Szundy reporting from the summit of Aconcagua! (much hypoxic cheering)  We're all pretty winded up here we arrived here about 45 minutes ago enjoying a beautiful day, cold but not really windy summit up here.  And what I am going to do is take my radio and pass it around for people to make comments at this time, so the first one is Dick" I did it in my personal best time okay I love you all I'm very psyched I wish you could all be there." "Hi, (female voice unintelligible) Superbowl!" transmission ends

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