2002 Aconcagua Cybercast
#60 February 28th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Hello everybody out there in cybercast world, this is Allen Carbert working with Forrest McCarthy on Alpine Ascents' last Aconcagua expedition of the season. Let me start off this cybercast by wishing all of our best to Matt Lepisto in hopes that he has a speedy recovery, we understand that he has been feeling a little under the weather lately with viral meningitis, so all of our thoughts and best wishes are certainly with him.
It was a great expedition that Forrest and I led on Aconcagua with the assistance of Willi Prittie and Ellie back at base camp. I guess what was most remarkable about this expedition was that we lost a few people, to say the least, and again our thoughts and best wishes go out to those people. Tom as you might have heard from a previous cybercast, was suffering from pulmonary edema, a very serious condition, but I understand that he is back in good health and has arrived home safely. Felix also came down with a chest cold, that developed into pneumonia, Once again a very strong climber who was taken down by something completely out of his and our control. Donna with a chronic hip flexor problem that's not easy to climb uphill with a heavy backpack on, in that event. So our thoughts and best wishes go out to all of those people and hopes that they recover and that some time in the near future they might again get a chance to climb Aconcagua.
So in keeping with the tradition of my last expedition I would like to capture some of the most memorable moments that our expedition members had. Toby remembers getting down from Camp III to Base Camp after the summit attempt for him, and just enjoying the thick oxygen. He wishes his best to his family, friends and co-workers, he'll be in touch soon. David F. remembers topping the Canaleta to realize that his goal was mostly accomplished. And he wishes to thank all the people who in a small way made a sacrifice to help make his adventure happen. Alex, well she remembers not being able to breathe very well at Independencia, until I was able to peel of the capilene, the neoprene and the polypropylene that was covering up her face. After that she was able to breather much better. David M, remembering when 66-year-old Takao elected to go into the fast group when we made a carry to Camp I. I was also surprised by this, he is sort of the strong silent type, and when he raised his hand saying he wanted to go faster, I think we were all taken aback.
Ellie's most memorable moment was having to ride a mule out that was very spirited. She was a little bit surprised that the mule needed to be blind-folded, for her to get onto it. A sign of a not-well-tamed animal, but with her experience as an equestrian, she was able to manage it real well. Forrest, my co-guide, remembers being very, very hot at 20,300 feet on summit day. Truly an unusual summit day for the entire expedition, in that we had no wind and exceedingly high temperatures in the Canaleta, a lot of reflective sunlight. It was incredibly unusual, in my eight expeditions on the mountain, it was certainly a unique and stand-out sort of day. Willi remembers most, chipping out a tent site at Camp IV, primarily out of ice on a very cold and windy day. He definitely helped us set Camp IV up by getting this tent site in place and we all thank him very much for that, not an easy task. My most memorable moment was at Camp I, when I saw Mike, Felix, Dolly, turn back to Base Camp, it was really sort of a sad moment, and kind of a rough time for me personally, just to see people who deservedly should have had a chance to reach the summit, but for circumstances largely out of their control, were unable to do so. At any rate this concludes the last cybercast for Team High Exposure. I wish you all well in your future mountain climbing endeavors and all that stuff. We'll catch up with you later, see you, bye.
#59 February 22nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Ellie: a quick report that everybody on the mountain from Team High Exposure led by Allen and Forrest are now safely back at camp, they have picked up their tents at Camp IV, had a quick bite of soup and hot tea and everybody is now down at Camp III where they will get a good night's rest for tonight, probably sleep in the morning, and tomorrow head all the way down to Base Camp , where I will be preparing a nice feast awaiting them when they arrive. So everybody's down safe and snuggled into camp, that's it from Aconcagua.
#58 February 22nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp. it's February 22nd. I just talked to Allen on the radio and Allen reports that he has arrived at the summit with David F. and Takao, and coming up shortly behind is Forrest and Alex who should be reaching the summit there shortly. Allen called in a little bit after 1:00 and reports that conditions up there are as good as it gets. They are wearing lightweight long underwear and are still a little bit hot. However, afternoon clouds are building, it looks mostly like cumulus, cutting their views, but it doesn't look like the weather will turn too bad for them, so they should have a good trip back to High camp as well. David M opted to wait at High Camp so they'll be seeing him on the way down, and Toby was waiting out the climb at Camp III with Willi for most of the day, he was feeling the altitude and decided it wasn't the thing to do, to go up. So we send out congratulations to the entire team and we'll call again once we confirm they are all back down to camp safely.
#57 February 21st, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V, Team High Exposure
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's February 21st and this morning was a frenzy of packing and cleaning as Team V led by Matt and Cece packed up and prepared their mule loads to head back to Mendoza. We sent them off at about 10:00 this morning to walk all the way down to Pampa de Lena, and they should be hitting Mendoza by tomorrow night. So we wish them well down there and to drink a beer for all of us.
Here on the mountain, Team High Exposure led by Allen and Forrest, spent yesterday at Camp III. They had a rest day, basically uneventful, but they spent part of it practicing their basic ice axe and crampon skills and got a good rest in preparation for going to the summit. Today the group moved on up to Camp IV, and they report that it was a big effort to dig out the tent platforms up there. Apparently the snow was pretty hard-packed and they reported that it took them about two and a half hours to dig out the platform for the first tent, the second tent went a little bit faster but it sounded like that was a pretty big job. The weather has been mildly unstable, but today it's been pretty good. They said there was some blowing spindrifts and generally sunshine, so we're crossing our fingers and are hoping for a good day for their summit day tomorrow.
On a personal note, Team High Exposure has said goodbye to three of it's members. Felix went down, he was tentatively diagnosed with pneumonia, and he is enjoying the friendlier environment down in Mendoza. He was joined on the mule ride down by Donna and Mike. They were missing their friends and family and just decided that they'd rather be home than up here on the mountain. So we wish them well on their trip home. Alex says hello to everybody back in Canada, she misses her family and friends and looks forward to being home. Forrest says hello to Lister (?) and his lovely girlfriend Amy. Allen also passes along a hello to Simon and Laura. And Dave sends his love to his daughter in Tampa, Florida. SO that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp and stay tuned for tomorrow's summit attempt by Team High Exposure, I'll be calling in as I hear from them. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#56 February 20th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hi this is Matt Szundy and Cecelia Mortensen calling from Base Camp, after a few long difficult days. So yes we summited in good style and with smiles. To brief you on our summit day, Cece and I had the honor, experience and strength of Willi Prittie joining us at high camp. This made our climber-to-guide ratio 1:1, allowing us a lot of flexibility. Glen hung with Willi at The Independencia Hut, after a very strong comeback from intense oxygen deprivation and AMS. He reports a mental brown-out on summit day, but attained several personal goals. We are all quite pleased with his efforts and perspective on his experience. John and Cece cruised to the summit in 6 hours from High Camp, at 20,300 feet, at an incredible pace. They were among the first to the summit, racing the winds and the building lenticular cloud. In the mountains, the lenticular over the summit always means high winds, and a potential storm, a phenomenon that all climbers are wary of, especially on Aconcagua.
Our summit morning began at 10:00pm the night before. While I was trying to sleep in preparation for our 1:00am start, Cece was quietly melting snow for our water bottles. Outside our tents, a very cold and overdue climber asked for directions to the normal route high camp. Cece and I knew he would never make it alive, so we squeezed him into our two-person tent, and spent the next few hours warming him. I woke Doug up at 1:30am, we left camp at 3:00am. We descended the Polish Falso, picked up our cache of pickets, ice screws and technical tools, and traversed onto the Polish Glacier. The Polish Direct Route is about 3,500 feet of up to 70 degree ice. Doug climbed so consistently, and the conditions were so good, that we were quite high and committed on the route when we saw the first signs of the lenticular. Our only option was to top out on the summit ridge and to go over the summit to our descent route on the Canaleta. The decision was made and we pressed on. We summited at 6pm and were in camp greeted by hot drinks and hugs by 8:00pm, making it a 17-hour day. We were both fully exhausted. Doug's consistent energy, fantastic attitude and honesty with me and himself, combined with the outstanding Polish Direct Route, made for an unforgettable experience. So for now, that's it from Aconcagua base Camp. We are hiking out in two days starting tomorrow, love to all our friends and family we can't wait to see you soon. This is Matt Szundy from Aconcagua Base Camp, bye bye.
#55 February 18th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in again from Aconcagua Base Camp, this time for Team High Exposure led by Allen Carbert and Forrest McCarthy. Talked to them on the radio and they are firmly ensconced at Camp II at Boureasa Col. The team had a very good carry up to the Col today, everybody is in very good health and re enjoying a reasonably good evening there at the Col. Tomorrow they're planning on moving up to Camp II at 19,200 feet and after that having another rest day before seriously considering their summit attempt. Forrest is also passing along a couple of messages from folks: Dave Mason says Happy Birthday to his Mom, and the other Dave says "Hi to Caitlin and to Heather." So we're watching the team as they work their way on up the mountain and we should have additional news from them tomorrow
#54 February 18th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp where we have the final news from the Polish Glacier summit team. From Matt: They made the summit at about 6:00pm as the lenticular cloud was easing off, they ran into light snow up there, conditions weren't too bad. They were very tired at the time and headed down immediately. We got the call from about Independencia that they were just above high camp and that they were going to be arriving at High Camp at about quarter to eight or so. So big congratulations to them. Cece and the team were waiting at High Camp with copious amounts of hot drinks and soup for the returning folks. They will be spending the night at high camp and tomorrow returning all the way down to Base Camp. We look forward to seeing them tomorrow. A big congratulations to the entire team for pulling off a reasonably difficult climb today.
#53 February 18th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hi this is Ellie calling with the latest news from Aconcagua. I've had various conversations with the climbing teams up on the mountain, and I'd like to report that Cece and John reached the summit of Aconcagua today at about 2:00pm. I also just talked to them at camp IV, it's about 5:00pm local time. Cece and John are now safely back at Camp IV, have completed their summit, returned to camp IV and are now enjoying a good rest and some hot drinks and soup. Willi and Glen had turned around earlier and had spent most of the day at Camp IV. Willi will probably return to Camp III tonight to sleep and then return to Camp IV tomorrow morning to help the group pack up and move down.
Matt and Doug started on the Polish Glacier very early this morning, about 2:00am. I talked to Matt at 4:00pm local time, they had just topped out on the Polish Glacier, and they still had the summit ridge to finish out to actually reach the summit. So we're still waiting for news from them to reach the summit, it's been quite a push for them and it sounds like it's going to be a few more hours before they're safely back into Camp IV again. We've been watching them very carefully because after a beautiful calm sunny morning, by late morning, a big lenticular cloud formed over the summit, and we've seen a few lenticulars out East, and Matt and Doug had to climb right up into that cloud to reach the summit. Cece reports that when they came down the winds were not as bad as when they went up. It looks bad up there, but with the reports it sounds like its not as bad as it looks. We'll be waiting for news from Matt and Doug at the summit. I will not be able to talk to them by radio as they come down the other side and hopefully we'll have news again from them when they actually reach camp IV later this evening. That's the news from Aconcagua and we'll bring you more news about Matt and Doug as we hear from them.
#52 February 18th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Good morning this is Ellie Henke calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's February 18th and today is summit day for Group V. I talked to both Matt and Cece at about 7:00 this morning. Cece was just about ready to take off from Camp IV, with both Glen and John, heading up towards Independencia and above that they'll be crossing the ridge, and heading to the Canaleta and hopefully on to the top. At the same time Matt had left at about two o'clock this morning with Doug to head for the Polish Direct Route and at 7:00 they were a good way up. Matt reports that the conditions up there are excellent, and "they are cruising the route". Things are going well up there for them. They had a little bit of excitement during the night, about 10:00 last night, an Argentinean climber from the other side of the mountain, from the Plaza de Mulas side, came by their Camp IV in the dark, he did not have a headlamp and was fairly hypothermic. They brought him into the tent and fed him hot drinks and soup and put him up for the night. He was okay and was going to be heading back down the mountain at about the same time our group was going to be heading up. It was a little bit tight in one of their tents, but things worked out well for everybody. That's how it's going up on the mountain this morning an we'll report back when we hear more.
#51 February 17th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team High Exposure led by Allen Carbert and Forrest McCarthy. It's February 17th, and the team is finally on their way up the mountain after getting a rough start out of Base Camp yesterday morning. Tom had to leave the expedition with a lung problem but he is now down safe and is doing okay. Yesterday they continued with their move up to Camp I and they spent the night last night at Camp I, and today their plan is to carry their gear on up to Camp II and do a cache there before returning back to Camp I to sleep tonight and tomorrow they'll be moving for real up to Camp II. So we'll keep you posted as team High Exposure moves up the mountain and we wish them well.
#50 February 17th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp calling in for Team V led by Matt Szundy and Cecelia Mortenson, Today is Sunday February 17th and the word for the day is cold up at Camp III. Matt Cecelia and the team are up at 19,200 feet and Matt called in last night and he was standing out there in his down suit and reported a chilly minus 10 degrees F, so it's been a bit chilly up there. Glen, John and Doug and both of the guides had a nice rest day up at camp III yesterday. They did have sun and a little bit of clouds in the afternoon and today the entire team is planning on moving up to high camp. Doug and Matt will get a brief rest at high camp and they'll be taking off at 2:00 in the morning which will be real cold and they will be making an attempt up the Polish Direct Route. So we wish them well on that attempt. In the meantime Cece will be taking off with John and Glen and they will start up the normal route about daybreak, so they'll get to sleep in a little bit longer. And that team will be joined by Willi Prittie who went up to Camp III from Base Camp today to assist them n their efforts. So we'll be standing by as the team makes their summit attempt tomorrow and I will call in when we have any news and we sure wish them calm winds and warm toes as they head for the top, so more news as we get it.
#49 February 15th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team High Exposure
Forrest: Hi this is Team High Exposure on February 15th. We're glad to report that Mike has recovered from being mauled by a horse fly. The group has convinced Alex to leave her make-up kit at Base Camp. Takao gets the silver star award for the day for his incredible strength as we did our first carry up to Camp I. We did complete a big carry up to Camp I yesterday where we did practice the summit sprinkler dance successfully. We are now resting from our carry with a heavy breakfast and we'll be moving up to Camp I tomorrow. That's all from team High Exposure.
#48 February 15th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's Friday February 15th and I'm calling in for Team V led by Matt Szundy and Cecelia Mortensen. We join Team V at Camp II where they've spent two nights. Yesterday they carried gear from Camp II up to Camp III, this is some of the supplies food and gear that they will need higher on the mountain. Then they returned last night to Camp II, it's been the second night, and today their plan is to move their entire campo tents sleeping bags and everything, up to Camp III at a whopping 19,200 feet. The team reports that conditions have generally been pretty good, last night they reported that some wind started up in the middle of the night at about 3am or so. Sounds like nothing out of the ordinary for Aconcagua, but after the team has enjoyed several calm and sunny mornings I think they are getting spoiled and we're about due for a little Aconcagua wind. Aconcagua is definitely one of the windiest mountains in the world and it sounds like they've been pretty lucky with the weather.
The team also spent last night congregated in one of their tents and came up with the following cyberbabble, which I hope you'll appreciate as it comes from almost 18,000 feet:
"Recognizing the rhythm of the weather on Aconcagua calm sunny mornings spent building clouds, sheer chaos in the afternoon, ranging from freight train winds, lightning storms, inches of snow, plumes of cloud, snow pouring over the summit and the occasional surprise calm. The continuous challenge of each step, and the brilliance of that most stunning beauty that surrounds us daily. The ability to mindfully move through the difficult landscape. Learning to become one with the endless free."
There's more but we'll leave the team on a scree slope, battling their way up to Camp III, and wish them well as they move closer to the summit and we should be hearing from them again in the next day or so to find out how things went on their move up to Camp III. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#47 February 14th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team VI, Team High Exposure
Hello cyberfans this is Allen Carbert working with ace mountain guide Forrest McCarthy leading Team High Exposure up Mount Aconcagua. We had a great trek in up the Vacas Valley and had good weather. We chose to take an alternative high route up the Relenchos Valley to avoid some river crossings and thus chose our expedition team name, High Exposure. Today we are at Base Camp acclimatizing and enjoying a a day of rest. Tomorrow we'll update you on our carry to Camp I and we're also very pleased to find out today that Willi Prittie will be assisting our efforts on the mountain.
So for now, this is Tom, Dave, Donna, Alex, Takao, the other Dave, Tobias, Mike and Felix, Forrest and Allen of Team High Exposure saying stay tuned and Happy Valentine's Day!
#46 February 10th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hey cybercasters, this is Matt Szundy and Cece Mortensen at Aconcagua Base Camp with Team V. We thoroughly enjoyed our rest day today and are anticipating our move to Camp I tomorrow. Sadly our beloved teammate David Moore, rode a mule out today. He had a tough day yesterday on our carry to Camp I and chose to leave the expedition. I would like to read a note explaining his decision in his own words, because I think it very accurately describes how we all often feel and think about our loved ones when we are so far away.
"I climb with Alpine Ascents because they have probably the best acclimatization schedule and safety record in the business. However high altitude mountaineering remains an extremely dangerous sport that requires the setting of mental and physical goals and personal/responsibility lines before the climb and to be sure to stick to these boundaries for the duration of the ascent. To move these boundaries is both foolish and is letting the people down the who love you the most. Yesterday, with moderate AMS, I reached my line. And although I am now safely down back at Base Camp and I am sure that after a day's rest I could safely continue the ascent, I intend to keep all the promises I have made to the people I love, and return home to my little princess Lacey (His 4-year old daughter). To climb a mountain like Aconcagua it has to be the primary focus in one's mind. My mind is elsewhere. When Glen asked yesterday "How many times have you thought about your daughter today?" I said, "just once...for seven hours." I'd like to thank Cece and Matt for guiding the group so well, and to my teammates John, Glen, Doug and Dave, you are a strong group of climbers, and it was a pleasure pushing the limits with you. I wish you all the best, be strong, have fun, but most importantly, be safe. God bless, Dave."
So CeCe and I now have four strong, motivated climbers, including three for the Polish Direct. Incidentally we have heard from other climbers that the Direct is in excellent shape. So we are praying for continued stable weather. Okay, gotta go, Cece made yet another fantastic fresh veggie salad for dinner. Hope all is well with our loved ones, Matt.
#45 February 9th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team V
Hit there cybercasters this is Matt Szundy calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with Team V. As always it's great enter into such an impressive mountain landscape as this arid rugged region of the Andes. Rocks and striations of every color, red ,orange, brown and gray passed us as we walked the three days here to Base Camp. As in any desert where water emerges, lush green riparian zones can be found in contrast to this stark, harsh landscape. The many mountains up to 5000m surrounding Aconcagua, are streaked with snow from earlier storms. As the sun melts it they form wild penitentes, spikes of ice that stand like pillars up to ten feet tall. Tomorrow on the carry to Camp I at 16, we must ascend the snowfield that commonly has two to three foot penitentes.
Everyone is doing great, and acclimatizing well, we're in great spirits, all enjoyed the three day hike into base camp. Today has been spent resting, eating, packing, eating, hanging out, and eating. We're trying to store reserves to draw upon higher up on the mountain. So for now this is Matt Szundy from Aconcagua Base Camp.
A couple of personal messages regarding the hike in from folks. The first one is from John Soebbing: "Overcoming the challenges, crossing the raging river and of climbing the upward slopes has provided lasting memories." The next one is from David Moore "Dodging the stampeding mules, jumping across rapids, and getting the best suntan and mountain beard you can imagine, love you all David." Jumping rivers, Star Wars landscapes, gulping oxygen for 30 miles, life is good, love to all, Dave Page. "Hello to everyone from Base Camp, the guides are spoiling us with food, but I sure could appreciate more oxygen. The Andes are spectacular, Aconcagua is imposing, miss everyone but still don't miss work. Good luck on your basketball game, Pat (?), Glen. So for now this is Matt Szundy calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with the up and coming Team V. Good bye.
#44 February 5th, 2002. Mendoza, Argentina. Team V
Cybercasters !!……. a big South American "Hola" from Matt Szundy, Cece Mortentson and our Alpine Ascents Aconcagua expedition- Team "Mystery"…for now. As always Mendoza, known for its tranquility, large green parks and relaxed living, never fails at welcoming weary travelers. I am happy to report that all of our team members have arrived with their gear and the group is extremely psyched to start our three-day walk to Base Camp tomorrow. Everyone copiously enjoyed our first class welcome dinner last night at one of my favorite restaurants, La Fecundo. With garlic shrimp, world-class red wine, steak and a salad bar that had dozens of interesting fresh veggies, I fear we may well have fantasies of La Fecundo at high camp. You may notice in most cybercasts of our long expeditions, there is often a lot of talk about food. It is quite difficult to keep real foods fresh with such drastic temperature variances. Above Base Camp, digestibility, weight and preparation time are such important issues that we often go with simple meals. People love them, but dreams of La Fecundo have been reported in the past… So we spent the entire dinner discussing what our expedition name should be. A theme has developed, and dozens of witty puns followed as the wine flowed, however good judgment prevents me from allowing everyone's favorite to be official. There was talk of keeping it our secret and dropping hints in our cybercasts… perhaps that's what we'll do. Stay tuned… all I can say is that it will be big.
Tomorrow we leave behind the warm wonderful evenings of Mendoza to join nature and its cyclical rhythms. We will be up with the sun and back in our tents by 8pm as we work our way towards Plaza Argentina our Base Camp. Tomorrow night we sleep at Pampa de lena, (I often bivi out here to see the stars and the moon if it is a calm night)… the next day we continue up the Vacas valley to Casa de Piedra, and the following day we turn North and up through the exciting Relenchos valley to Base Camp.
We will call in again from Base Camp with another update when we arrive on the 7th (Happy Birthday Tobi!). Until then, this is Matt and Cece from Penitentes…. Chao!
Here are some personal messages from the teammates:
May the Tortus find happiness….
Dave Homayk: ….Says HI and sends his love to Patty Chris, Pat and Ben.
John Soebbing: To my family, friends and supporters at CGE&Y, thanks for your encouragement as I ascend Aconcagua.
David Moore: To my princess Lacey, Bubba, Mish, my family and the Amigos as True Management LTD. God Bless…. I'll be back!
Doug Sill: Sharon, JD, Nathan, Adam, Chandra and Zach….sending all my love to you.. "you the man" Nate while I am gone.
Glenn Ceigler: Hello from our starting point to all my family and friends, especially Tess and Keri. I already miss home, well except work; though the next 3 weeks may change that too!
#43 February 1st, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hello this is Willi Prittie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for team IV for Alpine Ascents this year. Welcome again to everybody out there, checking into us on the cybercast. I just wanted to do a quick update, Ellie had already mentioned that we summited. We spent seven hours climbing up and and hour and a half down. And three of us I did want to mention, had everyone else in mind, everyone on the team actually summited with us in spirit. We just wanted to mention that Colin, Stuart and Jackie had to leave for personal reasons, Nick and Tom had to leave for health reasons, Adrien was waiting for us at Camp III due to acclimation problems, Mark had actually turned back at just under 21,000 feet and Bill had turned back at under 22,000 feet. So it was a tough season and tough conditions, very very windy up there, but we really wanted to mention that we had all the rest of the team members with us in spirit when we did summit. Despite the extremely windy conditions, it was then an unlimited perfect view from the summit, which we enjoyed for a few minutes before we fled the increasing winds.
Yesterday when we descended to Base Camp, we all luxuriated in the thick air and warmer temperatures. The 5,000 foot descent with very heavy packs cost us hard, physically, but in balance the air is getting thicker and warmer every step that you take going down. One of the interesting things on the route from Base Camp to Camp I, is it crosses the Relenchos Glacier. This is not really obvious unless you are a careful observer, its all moraine covered, the moraine being the debris that glaciers leave behind. But when we descended there were many many changes in the route, it was actually very interesting. New crevasses were actually forming and opening up, new ice walls were becoming exposed, narrower canyons in portions of the glacier. So it was an extremely interesting descent, for the reasons of the changing scenery around us. And it very much struck home how dynamic a situation that the mountains are in.
Today we are going to be doing some resting, a lot of eating, packing and organizing for things, we had fresh salad, hamburgers and beer last night, and we have much much food and fresh fruit to go through, which we are all enjoying. After our packing tomorrow we will actually be heading out to Punta de Vacas, on our three-day combination backpack and trek to get back to civilization. And we certainly all hope to have warm clear southern hemisphere skies to sleep under and enjoy on the way out.
Two quick messages: From Don: "Miss you, Vicki." and "To Lisa, Kira and Erin, missing you at the summit have fun at your semi-formal, see you on Thursday, love Dad." So this is probably the last dispatch from Team IV from Base Camp, and we'll do a quick wrap up when we get back to Mendoza. That's all from Aconcagua for now.
#42 January 31st, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp where we just heard from Willi and the team. Willi and Will and Don reached the summit today at about 2:30pm local time. Mark and Bill ended up turning around and going back before reaching the summit. Conditions up there were horrible, the wind was ripping around the entire mountain including down here at base camp. Down here the Argentinean flag went down but I did manage to keep Lhakpa's prayer flags up. So congratulations to Willi, Will and Don, and I have also heard from Willi that the team is now safe down at Camp IV, the high camp and they're planning on packing up and everybody will spend the night tonight at Camp III before tomorrow coming all the way down to base camp. So hopefully by7 tomorrow we can get a message from the team themselves as they hit Base Camp again. So that's it from Aconcagua until tomorrow.
#41 January 30th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, it's January 30th. We've just heard from Willi and the team up on the mountain, they were making a summit attempt this morning, they left about 7:00 from Camp IV and ran into very strong winds, Willi estimates about 70-80 mph winds, trying to cross the ridge above Independencia. So they decided that it really wasn't worth it for the day and they turned around and went back to Camp IV, and they were discussing whether Willi or Lhakpa will go back to Camp III and bring additional food up so they can spend another night and hopefully a deck of cards, so they don't; have to sit there counting the squares on the top of the tent all day. And hopefully conditions will settle down a little bit over the night and they will be able to make another attempt tomorrow morning.
Here in Base Camp it's also blustery, figuring that Lhakpa's prayer flags that are stretched between the two base camp tents are sending out a lot of prayers this morning, so hopefully they will be answered and the team will be safely on their way up the mountain soon. So that's it for January 30th and we'll have more news as it comes.
#40 January 29th, 2002. Mendoza, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hello friends family and followers of Alpine Ascents' Canusa expedition on Aconcagua. This is Allen giving you the latest updates from Mendoza. Yes we have all returned safe and sound and now we are enjoying civilization with all of it's fine amenities.
After summiting by 1:30 in the afternoon on Aconcagua, we were able to descend back to our high camp, break it down and then continue to our Camp III. This is a great achievement, many expeditions simply don't have the endurance to do this, but given the exceptional ability of our team members we were able to do so. We reached Camp III before high winds swept the mountain. The next day we were able to make it back to Base Camp, rest up a bit and then enjoy a fine meal prepared by Ellie, our Base Camp manager. The following day Matt Szundy and myself, inventoried, food, equipment and supplies for our next expedition. We prepared a fine pizza dinner, vegetable salad, cheesecake dessert and a little polenta for Colin, his favorite meal on the mountain. This was also Carter's 24th birthday and we all wished him well and hoped that he is able to someday become an adult or at least act like one.
Now we're all back safe and sound in Mendoza feeling sunburned and searching for the fine cuisine that we all enjoyed up on the mountain, something that was comparable to our "just add hot water" food. Several of us went to the shopping mall to take advantage of the great exchange rates and others just simply lounged out by the pool.
I have for us what many of the expedition members considered their most memorable moments. So I'll quickly summarize these:
Jorma believed that his bivy out at Casa Piedra was his most memorable moment, able to see the Magellanic cloud and the southern cross. Christine thought that crossing the Relenchos River and executing a desperate lunge river crossing was her most memorable moment, where all but her boots escaped the deep waters of the Relenchos River. Ed believed that scrambling over the summit rock and seeing the cross on top of the mountain was his most memorable moment. While Carter though that getting up on summit morning and watching his frozen breath fall onto his lap, realized that "this is it" this is the big day, the culmination of seven months into a mere seven hours. Colin believes that wishing Carter a happy birthday in the tent in the morning with his video camera in hand was also a most memorable moment. For myself, well let's just say that the team did play a magnificent joke on me. While I opened one of our equipment barrels, I was very much surprised to see the leg of a guanaco - pretty gross.
Let me just say that this team was exceptionally fit, we got together and climbed the mountain in very good style, simply one of the strongest expeditions I have ever been associated with. Everybody had a wonderful time and looks forward to being back at home with their family and loved ones. So for now this is Allen signing out, stay tuned for the next expedition with Alpine Ascents on Aconcagua.
#39 January 29th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for January 29th. First item of interest is that we're having technical difficulties keeping the Sat Phone charged. For today Team IV led by Willi Prittie and Eric Remza spent yesterday January 28th, resting at Camp II at 19,200 feet, where Willi treated them to a scrambled egg breakfast with sliced oranges on the side, brought up by Lhakpa a couple of days ago. They also spent their "rest" day by dropping down to Camp II to pick up the rest of their gear and then return to Camp III in time to build up their energy with a hearty lentil dinner. Good thing for them because today the team is moving up to Camp IV which puts them in position for a summit attempt tomorrow.
The weather here has been a little bit mixed, it will be clear in the morning, breezy in the afternoon, and last night we had some of the snow flurries again, so our fingers are crossed that they will at least have a day of good weather tomorrow and not too much wind to help them on their way to the summit. This team has also said goodbye to several of their members over the last several days. I think we already reported that Nick was taken down with a sinus problem and was joined a day later by Colin and Stuart who both were healthy but opted to drop out of the climbing party. A couple of days ago Tom came down with Pulmonary Edema, but by the time he hit base camp he was much better and pretty much looked better than the whole rest of the trip. But he will be going down since that is a problem to keep going up with that kind of a problem. And with him going down, Jackie, who was also in good health, opted to go down as well. Both of them joined Allen's team for the hike down from base Camp. So all of those folks we wish them well. So that leaves Will, Don, Bill, Mark and Adrien with Willi and Eric up there on the mountain. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#38 January 27th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa, Team IV
Hi this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's Sunday January 27th and for once things are a little quiet here at Base Camp. Yesterday we just got Team Canusa sent off back to the big city and they should be reaching Mendoza sometime this evening. They had a whole slug of mules carrying their gear out, and they set of yesterday to hike all the way down to Pampa de Lena spend the night there, and then tonight end up in Mendoza. So we wish them well in the big city.
Up on the mountain, Team IV led by Willi Prittie and Eric Remza, have had a little bit on an exciting time. We all woke up yesterday morning to views of a huge lenticular cloud over the summit and a few lenticulars floating around out east. And usually that means big trouble, so Willi had some decisions to make, because they were sitting right at camp II which is at Boureaza Col, and being a col this is a low pass where a lot of wind funnels through there. It was blowing up there yesterday morning it hadn't snowed yet, but Willi had the decision that they were ready to carry some gear on up to Camp II, but it was maybe a questionable time to do it. They decided to wait out the morning and see what happened, whether to bail out and go back down to Camp I, or whether to stay where they were and go ahead with their carry. They did indeed go on ahead up towards Camp III, but they were unable to reach the camp it was just snowing and blowing too hard. So they cached some gear up a little higher and returned to Camp II. When I talked to Willi last night on the radio, it sounded like they were spending the evening plying cards and according to Willi, the guiding staff is not doing well, apparently the clients are beating the pants off the guides at a vicious hearts game.
So this morning things are beautiful, the clouds are gone, the wind is down, the sun is shining, and when I talked to Willi this morning, they were definitely planning on heading for Camp II and staying there for the night. Lhakpa left Base Camp this morning and will join them up there, and we wish them well for the final push up to the summit. So that's it for January 27th, from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#37 January 25th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is Ellie at Base Camp, calling in for Aconcagua Team IV, led by Willi Prittie and Eric Remza. Yesterday January 24th, Willi reports that they had a great climb up to Camp II they were carrying gear up that they'll need farther up the mountain, food fuel, and various things that they haven't needed at Camp I, and are caching them at Camp II for future use on up the mountain. He says that they had a gorgeous day, finally no more snow, we've got sun and no clouds, they had an absolutely beautiful day. Everyone reached camp II okay, and then everyone returned down to Camp I for their second and last night that they will spend at Camp I. The plan is moving up today January 25th to Camp II where they'll spend the night and then move right on up to Camp III at 19,200 feet, tomorrow. They'll carry some of the gear part of the way up, and then later on tomorrow or the next day they can come down and pick up what they couldn't carry the first time. So they'll only be spending one night at Camp II and then moving right on up to Camp III. So we sure wish them the best as they move right on up the mountain.
#36 January 25th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hey folks The following cybercast is for Alpine Ascents International, this is Matt Szundy, reporting in from Base Camp after our wonderful summit the other day. Team Canusa is down, we are down in Base Camp we descended yesterday from 19,000 feet which is our Camp III, to Base Camp in just a few hours, it's amazing how quickly you can come down and how long it takes to get up there. Tomorrow we hike out 20 miles to Pampa de Lena, and then another few hours to the trailhead, where we will be taking a bus to Mendoza, like horses to the shower. So today we're enjoying a rest day, we're enjoying Carter's birthday ,we had a fantastic scrambled eggs and hash brown breakfast, tonight we're going to have pizza. We're enjoying the weather here at Base Camp it's beautiful, it's in the 60 degree range, sunny and not very windy, so a big change from our 10 below up at high camp. Anyway we're all down safe and sound, and thinking about our loved ones. One message: A big happy birthday to Laura from Allen. This will be Matt checking in from Base Camp for Team Canusa.
#35 January 23rd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is Ellie calling in for Aconcagua Team IV, led by Willi Prittie and Eric Remza. We've heard from the group, this if for January 23rd, and today they just moved up to Camp I, at 16,200 feet. Willi reports that everybody is doing well, although they have two people that were pretty tired by the time they got up there and they got the tents put up, but that's pretty normal after a long move to a new elevation like that. We're expecting that by tomorrow morning, everyone will feel fine, maybe a few headaches but should be going well.
Tomorrow they're planning on carrying more equipment up to Camp II and they'll be leaving at about 11:00 in the morning, especially once the sun hits and warms things up a little bit. It; gets pretty chilly, probably down into the teens at night, so they're definitely happy when the sun hits in the morning. We're all keeping our fingers crossed that our good weather will hold. We've had about thee days of good weather, after a good week of storms, about seven straight days of snow, so we're hoping that is' out of it's system and that the weather has now changed for the better.
So the team is now ensconced in their tents, they've had a good dinner, and are now expecting to get a good night of sleep there at 16.2. An item of interest, Willi repots that they have had a visit from a cara cara. This is a bird of prey on the falcon family and here in South America fills the same ecological niche that crows and ravens do in North America. So the team has had a great time watching a cara cara walking around their tents there at Camp I. So maybe they'll see it a few more times other places on the mountain as well, it's always possible. So that's it from Team IV, they haven't come up with a name yet so I don't know if they're going to by now, and hopefully we'll hear from them tomorrow. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#34 January 23rd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp with a brief message for the family and friends of Team Canusa, led by Allen Carbert and Matt Szundy. Just to let everyone know that the entire team is back at Camp III and safely ensconced in their tents. Everybody is tired but doing well, and I'm sure will sleep well tonight and we're looking forward to having them coming all the way down to Base Camp tomorrow. So that's the last of the news from Team Canusa tonight, and another congratulations to all of them for reaching the summit of Aconcagua today.
#33 January 23rd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. I just received a radio call from Lhakpa and Allen calling from the Aconcagua summit. He says that the entire existing team, is just arriving at the summit along with the third guide, Matt Szundy. So we're sending out a huge congratulations to David, Carter, Colin, to Jorma, Christine and Ed for this tremendous accomplishment reaching the top of this mountain. I've asked Allen to tell them that yesterday we saw a huge parade of people heading down from Base Camp leaving the mountain, and these were all people, there were about 30 or 40 of them, that were up there at the same time as Allen's team and those folks are leaving the mountain while Allen and the folks are all standing on the summit, so a huge congratulations to them.
Allen asked us to tell everyone that they are reading the poem by Kabir for everybody on the top in appreciation of mountains and cooperation with the United Nations effort to call attention to mountain environments. Allen is telling everybody that the poem is translated by Robert Bly, and it's from the Kabir Book, by Beacon Pres in 1976. Here is a copy of that poem for you to read. I'm sure that the team will appreciate that up on the top. So for now it's 1:30 local time here on Aconcagua, Team Canusa is standing on the summit, and hopefully I'll be calling again a few hours later to confirm that everybody is back either at Camp IV or they may possibly be moving back to Camp III. So once again congratulations to everybody, we'll be reporting back when everybody is safe back in camp.
#32 January 22nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling from Aconcagua Base Camp calling in on January 22nd for Team Canusa, where we heard from Allen and Matt. Their team has just moved up to Camp IV, so they have moved camp as far as they are going to move all the way up the mountain. At this point Allen and Matt are joined by Colin, David, Carter, Jorma, Christine and Ed and they all send their best wishes to Nick Scott and Tim who at this point have left the mountain for various medical and personal reasons, and wish them all the best in their next adventures. The next plan for Allen, Matt and Co. will be hopefully heading for the summit tomorrow, we'll cross our fingers that the weather holds.
Allen sends down a message that the United Nations has declared this year, the International Year of The Mountain, and Alpine Ascents is working in cooperation with the United Nations trying to promote greater awareness of mountain ecosystems. So as part of that effort, when Allen and the team reach the summit, hopefully tomorrow, Allen will be reading us a poem about mountains. Team Canusa asks that all the followers at home ask themselves what mountains mean to them, both in a symbolic way, or in a very practical way. But to think about mountains and what they have meant to the human race throughout history and what we can do to protect mountain integrity. So we'll be hearing more from Allen, hopefully from the summit, on this International Year of the Mountain.
We also have a personal message from Colin today, who tells all his girls, Kathy, Riley, Kaley and Madison, that everything is going well and that he misses you, and best wishes to son John, his pal, and Colin very much wishes you were here with him on this adventure. So that's it from Team Canusa for today and hopefully we'll be having news real soon from the summit.
#31 January 22nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Once again hello, from Aconcagua Base Camp this is Willi Prittie reporting for Eric Remza and the Alpine Ascents Team IV on the mountain. We're actually hoping we've turned the corner on the weather, we had an excellent day yesterday with sunny skies, no clouds and very little or no wind for our carry to Camp I. Had a couple of pretty tired climbers at the end of the day but 9 out of 10 completed the carry just fine. I'd also like to make a special mention of Stuart's performance, at 61 he's the oldest member, but also one of the strongest. Now that we are without our mule support, we are carrying everything on our backs.
Today we had a rest day here at Base Camp, at least most people had a rest day, it was also excellent weather, and was celebrated by washing laundry, bodies, lounging around a bit, organizing gear, and we finished the day with a great tossed salad and fried hamburgers for dinner. On a side note, the guide staff is once again being humiliated by climbing members in Hearts. We do have a bit of a sad note today, Nick spent the last two days trying to get over some kind of bug that he picked up, but was still feeling very poorly, so he actually descended with Ellie and is riding a horse out for some low elevation recovery time. Also, we're very sad that Colin has decided to leave the expedition due to personal reasons, his strength and sense of humor will definitely be sadly missed by all. It's important to note that they are in good shape and are doing just fine and on the way out.
We definitely look forward towards tomorrow with anticipation for our planned move to Camp I. And we definitely wish for good weather not only for us, but also for Allen Carbert and Matt Szundy and team who will be attempting the summit tomorrow. So that's all for now from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#30 January 20th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hello everyone out there, this is Willi reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp for the Alpine Ascents #4 Aconcagua Team of the season. We are back in communication after our three day trek in to get to Base Camp ad also having to do some emergency repairs on the phone here at Base Camp today. We had a really good trek in, beautiful walking weather on the first day, kind of cool and partly cloudy, most of us slept out, had a very nice star display at Pampa de Lena. Pampa de Lena by the way means "firewood flat," Lena is firewood, and Pampa is a flat or meadow or field. Thus called because of the last good kind of brush stems that arreiros and also military border patrol used to use as firewood while they were going up valley. We were also walking in in tandem with a small Polish group and three others from the US, also an Australian and New Zealand couple and actually had a lot of fun with them interacting on the trek in. On our second trek day which was Friday, we had a breezy partly cloudy day that was very good for walking. We actually arrived at camp, our camp is a green grassy meadow called Las Vegas, at about 4pm. At that point Aconcagua was all socked in by very heavy storm clouds and we just had time to get all our tents set up before rather violent rain and snowfall also lashed us down in the valley bottom. It was quite cold there that night and we could only imagine it was very bitter cold on the upper mountain. Bill was feeling poorly that evening due to overdoing it a bit in setting up camp, on day three of our trek, he learned from that lesson as did everyone else, and we all arrived in very, very good form at Base Camp again amidst afternoon snow squalls.
A very snowy year it's turning out on Aconcagua. Even our rest day today, we experienced some pretty good afternoon snow squalls, so we're kind of hoping that this weather pattern maybe changes so that we can perhaps see a bit better weather on the mountain. But be that as it may, we can only work with what Mother Nature gives us. A couple of very quick messages: from Will, for Lisa Kira and Erin, "Good luck on your final exams, miss you and love you. And also from CR to DP, "Thinking about you cant wait to be with you."
So that's all for now, tomorrow we'll actually be doing a carry to Camp I and we'll see how all that goes, especially how it relates to the weather and we're planning on getting a bit earlier start than normal to try and beat some of the afternoon snow squalls.
#29 January 20th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp where we apologize for the slight delay in getting messages through. We've had a little excitement here in Base Camp trying to get the Sat Phone recharged. Despite a couple of burned out wires from Matt and some tinkering around from Willi, we finally managed to get the phone back charged back up again. So we're now back in business. So with that, it's January 20th, and Team Canusa with Allen and Matt are currently up at Camp III at 19,200 feet. And we've all been counting, today is our seventh day in a row of afternoon snow, so the troops have definitely been getting early morning starts and they moved up to Camp III yesterday, January 19th and managed to snag a few camp sites. The mountain's pretty busy right now, there are about thirty or forty people moving up at about the same time as Team Canusa, so they're having to hustle right up there to get tent spots. But it sounds like they made it in good shape and have been hunkering down and trying to wait out the bad weather. They're planning on taking another rest day tomorrow, just hoping things will settle down a little bit. Nobody has gotten to the summit in about the last three or four days, so they're hoping that real soon somebody will bash through the snow and get a trail going up there. In the meantime everybody is in good spirits, good health and eating well at 19.2.
Here are a few special personal messages from the folks:
David says that Fancy(?) is with him every step of the way.
Jorma wishes his friends and family well, back home.
Christine would like to wish Ren all the best for her first few days back in college. She says the cats(?) are acclimatizing well, and she wishes well to her news team back in Boston.
And from Allen, he assures Laura that he is taking his Glucosamine.
So that's the news from Aconcagua Base Camp and Team Canusa. We should be hearing from Willi's team very shortly, as soon as I pass the phone to him.
#28 January 17th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi this is Ellie Henke reporting in from Aconcagua Base Camp with the latest news from Team Canusa, led by Allen Carbert and Matt Szundy. It's January 17th, and the latest breaking news form the mountain is that Christine lost yet another time to Jorma in a game of high altitude chess. However, Allen reports that she did redeem herself by finishing her cheesecake dessert a full five minutes faster than Jorma. So I guess that's a congratulations in order to both Christine and Jorma for their different accomplishments.
The team is at Camp I and today completed a carry up to Camp II, taking up food and fuel and things that they'll need higher on the mountain and the plan is that tomorrow they'll go ahead and move their entire camp up to Camp II which is up at a place called Amagino Col. Allen reports that for their carry they ended up breaking trail through a few inches of new snow, it's been snowing here the last couple of evenings as we reported. However the sun did come out during the day and Allen reports that sunlight reflecting off the surface of the snow made it almost unbearably bright, everybody definitely kept their dark glasses on all day, and it also made things very, very hot to the point of being uncomfortable. Everyone thinks of mountains as being cold places but that's not necessarily true, they are a place of contrast. And today proved that by being very hot.
So we have a couple of messages from people. Carter wishes to say hello to all his friends and family in Montana, and thanks for all their support he reminds you all to shine on. Ed would like to say hello to his friends and family in North Carolina and New York City. We'll have more personal messages tomorrow. And we're also saying a goodbye to Doctor Nick, the team Veterinarian, who was himself struck by a bug. Nick unfortunately had a cold when he started out on the trip and things just didn't get better for him, he's still been coughing and had a few ugly things coming out of his lungs. So he did end up taking a mule ride down the mountain and we're hoping him a speedy recovery down at lower elevations. So that's it from Team Canusa for January 17th and we'll be reporting in again tomorrow.
#27 January 16th, 2002. Penitentes, Argentina. Team IV
Hello everybody out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Penitentes Argentina. We're about to begin the first day of our trek in to our Base Camp at Plaza Argentina on the east side of Aconcagua. Last night and this morning we finished preparing our mule loads for the trip into Base Camp. We'll be day hiking with day packs and we have about 740 kg of supplies and equipment food etc that will be going in with us. A good part of that is of course is fresh fruit and vegetables. It's a very important part we feel that we have very good nutrition and very good food to help maintain health and also to assist in the acclimation process. So that's all done and we're looking in just about 5 minutes we'll be leaving and starting our hike in.
One note of information if anybody out there that is following this website and planning on doing their own trip. After the devaluation of the Peso down here, things are changing rather rapidly economically. Other than the banking system it really isn't total chaos, life is pretty much going on like it always does down here. But we actually did exchange for pesos to pay for our Park Service permits. The Provincial Park is trying to keep it pegged to the dollar, they charged the official rate now of 280 pesos which is 1.4 pesos per US dollar. We actually exchanged money on the street at 1.73 which ended up saving us about $500 almost on a full group for permits. So it's definitely something to consider when you come down to save a bit of money and things in general are quite a bit cheaper in Argentina than in previous decades. So this is the final update until we actually do get to Base Camp on Saturday and we're really looking forward to getting out and getting into the mountains, and starting on what promises to be a superb expedition with a really great group of people. That's all for now from Penitentes Argentina.
#26 January 15th, 2002. Mendoza, Argentina. Team IV
This is Willi Prittie reporting from Argentina, hello to everybody out there checking on the internet for Team IV of the season. Looks like we have a very, very strong and also experienced team, definitely a full team for this particular trip. We have Jackie Lundgren, Tom Meyers, Mark Minter, Don Bender, Adrien Jean, Stuart Harelick, Colin Raymond, Bill Bowyer, Will Mestag, and also Nick Winter. And Eric and I are definitely pleased to have them on board and looks like we're going to have a fun trip. Everybody arrived yesterday just fine in Mendoza, with all luggage, which is always a good way to start things. We enjoyed a wonderful meal out for our first evening's dinner and today on the way up to Penitentes, which is our jump off point where we actually begin our trek in. We had a bit of excitement as well, first thing was there is actually a new lake that is being filled behind a dam on the Mendoza River at a place called Puerto Arrios, which is about half way up to Penitentes on the International Highway.
This will actually be the largest artificial lake in South America when it is filled. The Mendoza River is very silty, but the silt settles out quite rapidly. There is however also a lot of rock flour in the water which is very very fine rock particles ground up of glacial origin. This does not settle out quite so quickly.. What this actually does is turn the water a very beautiful shade of aquamarine and it's pretty much synonymous with glacial lakes that kind of a color. So the growing lake behind this new dam actually contains that very pretty color and it was a very good sight today.
The actual International Highway over the next two years it's going to take to fill this lake is going to have to be relocated and a couple of towns are being relocated as well. So it's actually a fair amount of work in compensation for that, they should have a more stable irrigation system and water supply and they will just about double their ability to produce hydroelectric power on the Rover.
Also on another note, a little bit of excitement today is we had a bit of a delay getting up to Penitentes due to a burning semi on the International Highway. The tractor was actually fully involved, but luckily for everybody the fire was limited to the actual tractor and the tank, semi trailer itself which was filled with liquid petroleum gas was not involved in the flame. Kind of after our hurried calculations it suggested that the 300 yards separating us from this potential 40,000 pound bomb wasn't enough so we hastily retreated a bit and watched fro a safer distance but all's well that ends well. and the fire was put out eventually after about an hour and a half delay and we safely made our way to Penitentes.
So we had a great dinner here at Penitentes tonight and are enjoying final showers and the final amenities of civilization before we actually start on our trek tomorrow morning. So that's our first and current report from Team IV for the 2002 Alpine Ascents Aconcagua season and we'll be pleased to actually be doing reports on a daily basis once we get up to Base Camp, it will actually be three days of no reports, while we're doing the trek in until we actually get to Base Camp where our satellite phone is located. So we'll talk to you briefly tomorrow morning and then the next time will be updates on about Saturday. That's all for now from Argentina.
#25 January 16th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in for Allen Carbert and Matt Szundy's Canusa group on Aconcagua. It's January 16th and the word for today is Snow. The day started out well, we had lots of sunshine melting yesterday's snow. Allen and the group started up from Base Camp on their move up to Camp I carrying the rest of their tents, sleeping bags and everything they will need to actually stay there and move on up the mountain. Matt reports in that Allen broke trail up some of the snowfields and ended up with about 40 other people following in his footsteps, so good work Allen, and sounds like a lot of people appreciated your efforts.
They report in that there was no snow, but when Matt called in during the evening it was snowing again. They reported about 6 inches of snow and more falling up there at Camp I. here at Base Camp it was also snowing and we could see snow all the way down the valley. Tomorrow they'll be carrying up to Camp II, this will be a fairly easy day, shouldn't take more than three hours or so to carry up and a quick move down, so they'll be able to rest some for the rest of the day.
There are a couple of quick messages from the group. Allen says hi to Laura. Tim says hit to Julie, Tyler and Jack. David had a message for I think it's Denise and Nancy, saying hi to them but I will double check that to make sure I got that right for next time, and we'll have more messages later on from the rest of the group.. So with the group is hunkered in at Camp I in the snow, and Ellie and Lhakpa down in Base Camp enjoying a nice Dal Bat, that's it from Aconcagua and we'll report in again tomorrow.
#24 January 15th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hello friends family and followers of the Canusa expedition, led by Allen Carbert and Matt Szundy on the mountain Aconcagua. I'm calling in from base camp today, we just made preparations to move high up on the mountain to Camp I at 16,200 feet. Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful rest day, we did some chores, lounged about, reading, napping and acclimatizing. In the evening hours during diner we were surprised to see four to five inches of snowfall, and Lhakpa walked in to the Base Camp tent from his 30 mile hike all in one day, a little wet and a little covered with snow. At any rate, we're having a good time on the mountain. the group is highly motivated and we're looking forward to a successful expedition. We're going to report from Camp I later on tonight, and Ellie will report in with and information and exciting news at that time. So for now this is Allen Carbert working with Mat Szundy from Aconcagua stay tuned for more excitement and information as we progress up the mountain.
#23 January 14th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hi cybercasters, this is Matt Szundy and Allen Carbert reporting from Base Camp on Aconcagua. Today, Monday the 14th, our team Canusa, carried to Camp I at 16,200 feet in very good style, we did it round trip in seven hours. The Relenchos Glacier has changed considerably in the past few years, making our journey interesting and varied. Everybody was whooped after after our difficult day, but after a great pesto pasta dinner there was still enough energy for a late night game of hearts. The Canadians won. I confirmed my career decision as a mountain guide as opposed to being a card shark, by losing miserably. Allen observed. The weather has been stellar, we've been wearing shorts here at Base Camp and the wind has been a gentle breeze. We look forward to a rest day tomorrow and Allen will touch base then. So for now this is Matt Szundy at Aconcagua Base Camp reporting in.
#22 January 13th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hello everybody this is Allen Carbert with Alpine Ascents Group III expedition on Aconcagua. We came up with an expedition name, we're going to be know as Team Canusa, reflecting our Canadian and American nationalities on this group. Yesterday we left Casa Piedra, after sleeping under the stars and enjoying views of the Milky Way, the Magellanic Cloud and The Southern Cross. Our trip up through Relenchos Valley was made easy due to a brief snow bridge crossing the river which facilitated a real quick approach to Base Camp.. once out of the Relenchos Valley, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch, candy bars and sandwiches with fresh vegetables, it was a great day, we arrived at Base Camp at about 2:00.
So today is a rest day at Base Camp, where we're relaxing despite the moderate winds ripping through camp from time to time, and some of us are preparing equipment for our carry tomorrow which we will stash on the upper mountain. We all want to wish all of our friends and family well back home, despite being a long way from home, we want you to know that our thoughts and good wishes are with you. We encourage you all to stay tuned for our movement up the mountain and we'll do our best to keep you posted as much as possible. So for now this Allen Carbert working with Matt Szundy wishing you all well and that's it.
#21 January 9th, 2002. Penitentes, Argentina. Team Canusa
Hola from Penitentes. This is Matt Szundy and Allen Carbert- Alpine Ascents' Team 3 guides touching base from the launching town for Aconcagua in Argentina. Our group photo was taken this morning at the Park headquarters where every Aconcagua climber is required to get their climbing permit.
Our group, consisting of nine climbers, has arrived in Mendoza in good spirits and are all feeling strong. This afternoon we arrived at Penitentes, did a thorough equipment check, finished packing our fresh food for the mules to transport to base camp and gave a high altitude physiology lecture before dinner. This seems to be a highly motivated team, we are psyched to get on the mountain and begin our 3-day walk to base camp tomorrow. Our first evening will find us at Pampa de Lenias; night 2 puts us at Casa de Piedra where we will get the first view of Aconcagua. The next morning we head up the spectacular Relenchos valley to our base camp, Plaza Argentina, where we look forward to seeing Ellie and Lakpa. Reports are that the weather has been good for the past five days up on the mountain. For now we are enjoying the last night ...for a long while.... of the simple creature comfort of a hot shower and real bed...
We will send another cybercast via the satellite phone from base camp in a few days. Hope all is well.
#20 January 7th, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
The cybercast for 1-7-02 was delayed until the evening of 1-8-02 due to satellite technical difficulties. We apologize for any inconveniences.
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp, where we are catching up with Group II, where they spent a complete day and night in howling wind and snow and drifts and full on winter conditions up there. Fortunately this only lasted about 24 hours and afterwards cleared up and turned very beautiful. The group spent an extra day up at 19.2, they actually took two rest days, one for the weather and one to recuperate from the weather, and yesterday they moved on up to high camp at over 20,000 feet.
Pat reported that it was very cold up there, and I just heard from him, they started out for the summit this morning, they started early and it was very, very cold. As a matter of fact, Meredith decided that it was too cold and she and Lhakpa headed on back down to Camp III and decided not to go on to the summit. But we'd like to congratulate Anita, Guy, Bill and Jay, for making it to the top. We first heard from Pat at about noon today, the first folks were getting up, so that was a real fast trip and Conan arrived at about two o'clock with the rest of the group. I talked to Pat and everyone is now safe back in either Camp IV or Camp III. They've been having soup and hot drinks, everybody's pretty tired, so they'll be sleeping tonight, and heading back down to Base Camp tomorrow, all the way down in one push. So for January 7th, that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#19 January 6th, 2002. Mendoza, Argentina. Team I
Hello from Argentina, this is Willi Prittie reporting for the first Alpine Ascents International expedition of the 2002 Season. We had a somewhat eventful walk out, we left base camp about a day before a very large storm cycle came through, had some adventures with some high river crossings, at least one waist-deep crossing on the Rellenchos River on the way out and in general very damp cold windy conditions on the walk out, including some snowfall. But we all made it to Mendoza in one piece, had a great, truly great steak dinner here in Mendoza last night, and then many people went out for a night on the town, sampled some of the night life here in Mendoza and that of course brought it's own adventures, and most of us began stringing home at about 7am this morning.
In any case, it's a beautiful day here in Mendoza, it's not overly hot like when we left, but temperatures have been in the mid to high 70's, and we're all enjoying what for some people will be the last night here before they fly home. All in all we believe it had been a very successful expedition, we've all had fun, we've all come back with everything we started out with in term of body parts, those are some really important things on an expedition. So this is a wrap-up of the first expedition of the season, and of course there's much more to come here on the Alpine Ascents website, ciao for now.
#18 January 3rd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Well here at Aconcagua Base Camp, it's snowing, and I'm sure that up at Camp III, it's snowing and blowing. This is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua, and I just heard from Pat Timson and Conan Bliss, They did their move all the way up to Camp III yesterday at 19,200 feet, and luckily, just beat all of the snow that came in. Pat said they had a little bit of wind through the night and it's been snowing most of the night so they are thoroughly ensconced in their tents, they're well dug in, nothing threatening at all, everybody is doing well, but now they'll have the adventure of living through a mild Aconcagua storm. Sounds like the winds aren't really really high like they sometimes get, and hopefully once this storm blows through there's a good chance the weather will clear and maybe give them a really good chance for the summit.
Here at Base Camp I'm going to have to suit up pretty soon and go out and do a water run. I'm lucky down here because it's warm enough that the water is running, and all I have to do is dip a bucket into the containers. Up at Camp III everything is frozen up solid, so I'm sure that Pat and Conan today will be spending quite a bit of time melting water for hot drinks and soup and meals for everybody. So that's quite a bit of work up there and I'm sure they'll be spending a bit of time up there.
Dave and Dave and Kim and Brian are also up at Camp III, well dug in, and we'll be waiting to hear from Group I, from down in Mendoza. They took off yesterday afternoon planning on camping out at Casa Piedra, so they took two tents for five people just in case they needed a little shelter, well the storm came through so they may have needed a bit more shelter than they expected. We'll see what conditions they ran into farther down the valley on their next report.
For now, we're well dug in, and everybody's warm and happy, and hopefully they have some books or card games going up there at Camp III, so we'll report in later of how everybody is doing once this storm blows through, that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#17 January 2nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Greetings to all from Aconcagua Base Camp in Argentina, this is Willi Prittie reporting for Alpine Ascents International. Just a quick update on our first team of the 2002 season, and by the way Happy New Year everyone. All expedition members yesterday descended from Camp IV at 20,600 feet to Base Camp at just under 14,000 feet for a good 7,000 foot descent with heavy packs. You can imagine a few gnarly toes from boot bang and a few numb toes etc, from common cold damage on summit day, but here everyone is now enjoying a warm, sunny windless day in Base Camp. A special congratulations to both Eric Remza and Lhakpa Rita Sherpa, they did a fine job of descending with everyone, I had actually picked up a lung infection up high and had to climb on summit day with it, and descended immediately to Base Camp after everyone had gotten back to High Camp, once again congratulations to both of them.
Also a note, Todd Kelley and I made no attempt on the Polish Glacier due to deep snow and windslab conditions prevailing on the glacier. While we've enjoyed in general the best and calmest weather in a decade, about every third day, high altitude (as in over 19,000 feet) afternoon snows, have kept conditions very snowy and unstable on the Polish Direct Route. Therefore there was really no opportunity to make an attempt and no one has climbed the Direct Route probably since late November, or the first week in December at the very very latest.
So that's all from Aconcagua Base Camp for the first expedition of the season for Alpine Ascents. We will actually be heading out on an enjoyable three day trek out to get to the highway and return to Mendoza, and we'll give a final update via telephone for the internet from Mendoza, so that's all for now.
#16 January 2nd, 2002. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hi this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp, it's the 2nd of January, 2002. We haven't had an official cybercast in from Group II, but just to give you an update, they all moved up to Camp II yesterday and generally had a really nice day for moving up, we had sunshine most of the day and I believe they had their camp put up by the time the clouds rolled in as usual, yesterday afternoon. We even had light snow all the way down here to Base Camp, so I expect that they had a bit of snow up there as well. Their plan for today, is to move right on up to the Camp III at 19,200 feet, and again I'm sure that that is the highest most of the people in the group have ever been before, so it's going to be a new experience for them. Hopefully we'll hear from them soon and we'll have a new cybercast from them at that time. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.
#15 December 31st, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp where we've heard from Aconcagua Group II, led by Pat Timson and Conan Bliss. The group spent last night at Camp I, which is at 16,200 feet, that's higher than just about everyone in the group has ever slept before. Today December 31st, the group did a carry up to Camp II, which is at 17,600 feet. When you go up to Camp II, you start seeing a whole new view up there, the mountains to the North (Mercedario and EL Mano, which really does look like a hand). After the group cached their gear up at Camp II, they returned back to Camp I for a huge pasta dinner, Conan reports, and spent the afternoon resting and preparing for actually moving up to Camp II tomorrow. The whole group wish everybody out there a Happy New Year and we look forward to hearing from them tomorrow as they move up to Camp II.
#14 December 31st, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi this is Ellie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp, where I've heard from Willi and the group going to the summit. Willi called on the radio at about 2:30pm local time, this afternoon and at that time he was standing on the top with three people, he didn't say who they were, and soon after that, all seven that were making the summit attempt were standing on the summit! I heard from him again at about 4:30 and at that point they were streaming back toward Independencia which is above Camp IV where they are staying tonight. Willi says he has got some pretty tired people tonight, so they will be staying at Camp IV. Lhakpa and Todd will continue on down to 19.2 where they will join Matthew there for the night. So congratulations to Corey, Roy, Chad, Scott, Guy and Bill, and to Todd, for his climb starting at 19,200 feet. And congratulations to Matthew: it's no mean feat reaching 20,000 feet on this mountain. And even though he didn't reach the summit, we hope he's really proud of his accomplishment, that's way up in the air, where he made it to. So congratulations to Willi's and Eric's crew, and we'll be hearing from Group II a little bit later.
#13 December 30th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi this is Ellie Henke, calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp, where we've heard from Willi and Eric with their report for December 30th. Sorry we're a little bit late with this, because the satellite connections have been a little congested lately. The crew has completed their move up to Camp IV at a whopping 20,600 feet, and I'm sure that this is an altitude record for most of the group, sleeping at that high. Willi said that the trip up was interesting, Willi Lhakpa and Todd had gone up to Camp IV the day before to clear out campsites and when they left today to go up, they had blowing snow that had completely filled in the trail that they made yesterday, so they ended up having to plow through the snow all over again to get up to Camp IV today. Their departure was delayed a little bit from Camp III because of high winds, Willi thinks they were blowing at about 30-35 mph, and for a while he almost thought that they would have to abort their attempt and try to move up the next day. But it turns out that the winds eventually dropped and by 12:30 they were on their way. They had a little bit of everything on the trip up, sun, clouds, snow, wind and even a little bit of a whiteout for a while, until finally in the evening they had a beautiful windless evening with nice warm sun, so you never know.
Everyone did well on the move up to Camp IV, however there are two people who will be staying the night at Camp III with Lhakpa. One of them is Todd Kelley who has opted to test his mettle by starting for the summit from Camp III rather than of Camp IV, so he and Lhakpa will be leaving from 19,200 feet in the morning, so we wish him luck on that summit bid. The other one staying at Camp III is Matthew Gebhardt, who unfortunately has had a little bit of trouble acclimatizing. He started out on the carry to Camp IV and opted to turn around a little below 20,000 feet, so he will be waiting for the group at Camp III while they go on for the summit, and the group says they will definitely miss him on that, and they'll be thinking of him. We have one message from Matthew, who says "Happy Birthday to Andrew." And with that our next report should be from the summit. That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp for December 30th.
#12 December 29th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hi this is Ellie calling in again from Aconcagua Base Camp, reporting in for the Aconcagua Team II, led by Pat Timson and Conan Bliss. The group was in Base Camp all day after having a rest after a long carry up to Camp I the day before. So everybody was ready to sleep in and have a nice big breakfast in the sunshine here at Base Camp. The group spent most of the day hanging out doing laundry, filling water bags, generally enjoying the sunshine throughout the day until evening snow flurries hit, but we never did get hit very hard, and generally the group enjoyed the day and are looking forward to actually moving up, their first official move up to Camp I tomorrow.
We have a couple of individual messages from folks. One from Anita: she says, "Anita Fajita here from Baltimore. Big thanks to my family, friends, jack(?) supporters, and well wishers for all the generous enthusiasm you have shown me for this trip. To date I have raised over $15,000 for the Rena Rowen Breast Cancer Center in celebration and remembrance for all those who have been touched by this disease. And to her Mom.
We also have a message from Paul, from Michigan, wishing the best to his family and friends, no significant headaches yet, and he wants to send a special happy birthday wish to his mother. So that's it from Aconcagua Group II enjoying the sunshine here at base camp and we'll hear more from them as they move up to Camp I tomorrow.
#11 December 29th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp, reporting in for the Aconcagua group I led by Willi Prittie and Eric Remza. This group is up at Camp III at 19,200 feet where they are looking out on the rest of the world. They had a rest day all day today, December 29th and everyone is doing very well with the altitude up there. They had a variety of activities going on throughout the day, Willi Lhakpa and Todd took a brief trip on up to Camp IV to prepare tent sites, so when the group moves up tomorrow, they'll have sites to ready to go to put tents up. They also put up one tent so that'll save additional work when the group moves up.
In the meantime at Camp III, they've switched to a new card game, apparently the guides are tired of getting beat all the time, so Willi reports that they are now playing 45's, which is the official provincial game of Nova Scotia. We'll need verification on that one, it may be a high altitude thing. The group had a nice scrambled egg and toast breakfast and they're all looking forward to a nice hearty lentil dinner, but unfortunately they are getting a few snow flurries up there at Camp III, it didn't sound like anything serious, and hopefully by tomorrow morning the weather will al be clear, and we expect they will all be moving up to Camp IV tomorrow. So that's all from Team I up at Camp III, and we'll be with them as they make their final push to the summit.
#10 December 28th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hi this is Conan Bliss, with Alpine Ascents' Group II here. This group is led by Pat Timson and myself, it includes Jay Hewins, Harriet Mackenzie, Anita McMullin, Bill Driggs, John Skeels, Guy McBride, and Paul Stempin. As Ellie has noted, it's beautiful weather here at Base Camp, at 13,800 feet. Yesterday the group carried up to Camp I, at 16,200 feet. Everybody was strong, people are feeling really good today. People want to say hi to folks back home and let them know they're doing okay. Tomorrow we'll be moving up to Camp I, so today's a rest day. Hi to Jen from me, I miss you, and Pat says hi to Barbara and Miriam, that's it for today, we'll talk to you soon.
#9 December 28th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi this is Ellie Henke calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, reporting in for Team I which today is up at Camp III, they moved up, it took them about three hours to get from Camp II up to Camp III, which as you remember they previously had prepared their tent sites so they were able to just move right in. Willi reports that they had a delicious mashed potato, vegetable and ham dinner. However there was great sadness in their camp up there, because apparently they had finished off their supply of Tabasco Sauce, so I guess that they'll have to make do until they get back to Base Camp, the other groups were not close enough behind them to take them an extra bottle, so too bad for them.
Willi reports that there were several other groups that have made the summit the last several days, and these folks have reported that wind conditions have been fairly calm, which is good, but also that things have been very cold up there with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 below zero at just before sunrise, though Willi said he would rather deal with the cold than the wind any day, the winds can be very ferocious up there, so it's definitely something we're hoping to avoid.
December 29th is rest and acclimation day for the folks at Camp III and they have a running chess tournament going on all the way up the mountain, so I'm sure that they will be taking advantage of their rest day to continue the chess battle up there. How well they'll be doing at the 19,200 foot altitude remains to be seen. Willi also has an editorial comment, it seems that they have encountered folks up there who are going downhill in the uphill tracks which when folks go downhill in them it destroys the hard earned up tracks, it takes quite a bit of energy to put these in, so Willi has asked all mountaineers out there to please respect the uphill tracks that have already been put in and please move aside and come down next to those tracks and don't just straightaway on your way down. So that's the message from Aconcagua Camp III today, and we'll soon be hearing from Team II which is at Base Camp, so that's all for now and we'll be getting back to you soon.
#8 December 27th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I, Team II
Hi this is Ellie reporting from Group 1 on Aconcagua for December 27th. We just heard from Willi and he reports that his group just completed their first carry up to Camp III at 19,200 feet. This is a spectacular camp right at the base of the Polish Glacier and from this camp you can look off to the North to the next big mountain with big glaciers which is Mercedario and also a very interesting, steep looking mountain called El Mano. The group's enjoying an amazing string of good weather. We've had several days of morning sun and a few afternoon snow flurries, but no real bad weather at all, no high winds, no deep snow, they've had to dig out a little. Willi says that it's almost the best conditions he's seen in almost twelve years on the mountain for the Normal Route. The Polish Glacier on the other hand, seems to have pretty deep snow on it, so we'll see what happens as they get up higher.
Everyone completed the carry up to Camp III in about three hours. Then everybody tested their strength working on building their tent sites. They're planning on spending two nights at Camp II so that they can get these tent sites built ahead of time so that they can move right into them. They were digging out snow and chipping ice to level the tent platforms, and also building rock walls, they have to build pretty high walls in case the wind comes up, it makes a good protection for the tents, if the weather turns bad. So tomorrow on December 28th, they'll be ready to move up and they are planning on moving into Camp III and then the following day having a rest day, and if the weather holds, then they'll move on to high camp and hopefully for the summit.
Here at Base Camp, Team II enjoyed their first full day of Base Camp resting, lounging in the sun, some of them did laundry, and the whole group was seen to be gorging on pizza towards evening. So their first day in Camp went very well. So that's it for December 27th from Aconcagua, and we'll be reporting again soon with further news.
#7 December 27th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I, Team II
Hi this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp reporting for Team I. Willi and the group spent last night up at Amagino Col, which is Camp II. They arrived in their carry up to Camp II from Camp I in about three hours, only to discover that the previous night's snow had completely snowed in their campsite. So not only did they have the work of getting up to the camp, they also spent several hours digging out snow and leveling tent sites and building up the rock wall to dig in their camp. Once they got situated they had a beautiful evening up there, very little wind and Willi reports that they had a delicious curry dinner which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
Today on the 27th, they're heading up, doing the carry up to Camp III, at 19,200 feet which will be an altitude record for most of the folks. They're planning on taking up some gear and spending some time this afternoon digging out tent sites up there at 19.2 and then returning to Amagino Col at Camp II this evening to spend another night there, and tomorrow moving on up to Camp III. So in the meantime, today there was beautiful weather, not a cloud in the sky, the sun is shining there's a light breeze, Willi reports that everyone is healthy and doing very well, so we're crossing our fingers for them and rooting for them as they head higher on the mountain.
Yesterday, the 26th, Team II got into Base Camp and we'll have a separate report from them later on. This is Ellie signing off from Base Camp.
#6 December 26th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina.
Hello everyone out there on the Alpine Ascents website. This is Ellie, reporting in from Aconcagua Base Camp. I just heard from Willi Prittie's group I, they are up at Camp I at this point, Willi reports that on Christmas morning, Santa's reindeer just flew by and it seems that Santa left candy canes and presents for everyone at Camp I. Everyone was also treated to a white Christmas on Christmas afternoon. We have had some snow flurries, lightning and thunder, and there are reports of snow up high at the 19,200 foot camp and also a lot of snow on the Polish Glacier so we'll see what that looks like when they get up there. The carry to Camp II on Christmas Day went very well, Camp II is at 17,600 feet, so it was pretty much everybody's first time up that high. They spent three hours getting from Camp I to Camp II.
Some additional personal messages going out:
From Eric, "Hello Melissa, Merry Christmas, thinking of you.
From Cory "Merry Christmas everyone, especially Jessica. I love you all, better buy me some damn good presents."
From Roy, "Miss you and love you, Stephanie, R2, and Sky."
From Todd, "Merry Christmas to everyone from Encina, Truckee and Reno, Liz miss you and can't wait to see you, Mom, scratch the dog for me."
So that's all from Aconcagua, from the first group as they are moving up to Camp II, and we'll find out later how that went for them. Bye for now.
#5 December 25th, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina.
Hello this is Ellie Henke reporting Willi's Christmas Day report from Aconcagua group I from Camp I. Willi reports: "The entire team would like to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas. We had excellent weather moving up yesterday. Everybody did very well, we were moving very strongly and arrived in several hours less time than our previous carry two days ago. We joined another team from Michigan and a French-Canadian team up here at Camp I and enjoyed the beautiful conditions. A few quick personal messages:
From Matthew, "Merry Christmas to Linda, Sarah and Andrew. Love you much."
From Guy, "Sherry, miss you and love you, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas Debby and Christmas love."
From Chad, "Merry Christmas Mom and Dad and Caroline"
From Scott, "Merry Christmas Mom, Dad, Chris, cousins and friends."
Willi, continues his report, "today we are going to take advantage of beautiful weather conditions and everyone's feeling good. We still have windless and sunny conditions here at Camp I. We will be doing our first carry up to Camp II at 17,600 feet, the oxygen gets thinner.
Here at Base Camp, the Argentinean tradition is to welcome in Christmas with a big party and fireworks at midnight, I was lucky this year that no exploding gas canisters came near my tent as it did previous years.
Another Christmas message from Ellie: "Merry Christmas to all of my too numerous to name family and friends. And so Willi doesn't get killed when he gets home he also sends love and Merry Christmas to Susan, Mike and Kim. So we're all enjoying a wonderful Christmas Day here on Aconcagua. We're expecting the arrival of Dave and Dave with Brian and Kim this evening, and Pat's Aconcagua group II tomorrow. So we're preparing and ready to welcome them in, so that's all from Christmas Day on Aconcagua.
#4 December 23rd, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina.
Hello from Aconcagua. This is Willi Prittie and Eric Remza reporting for the 2002 Aconcagua Season. Yesterday we actually did our first carry up to Camp I, we had totally perfect weather for the 7 hours it took us to do the carry. It was actually pretty amazing, it's quite rare that you see windless beautiful weather like what we experienced and enjoyed yesterday. There's a few minor altitude headaches, but all made it up to Camp I very well and very strongly and we're all looking forward to the actual move up to Camp I which we are hoping to do tomorrow.
A few things here for Base Camp...we had a final rest and acclimation day here. We had a few new things in camp, here on Aconcagua the mule service providers are required to provide toilets, a kind of a pit toilet, instead of what it has been: a small three foot by three foot tent that you zipped yourself into with a wood framed hole, that you heed nature's call to. Our mule service provider actually got theirs constructed which eliminated one serious objective hazard of the rickety one which everyone had been using here.
The rest day today brought a change in the weather, it was afternoon thunderstorms and snow just above base camp, but that didn't affect us too much here, we are just kind of hanging out doing our final rest and acclimation day, while the Alpine Ascents guide staff suffered greatly in both Hearts and Chess here in base camp. Once again hopefully this is the last Base Camp day before we begin staging up the mountain and it was celebrated by a protracted hot cakes brunch this morning, and also fresh salad and fried hamburgers and falafel burgers for dinner. All are really looking forward to the beginning of the actual climb, staging up towards the summit tomorrow, we should be doing our cybercast from Camp I tomorrow. A couple of quick messages: from Corey: "Hello Jessica, your rose is with me, I love you." and also Eric wishes his mom Frederica a very happy birthday. That's all from Aconcagua for now.
#3 December 21st, 2001. Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina.
Hello everyone, this is Willi Prittie reporting from the first Alpine Ascents Expedition of the 2002 Season. Today was our first rest and acclimation day at Base Camp. A little bit of everything today, some snow squalls coming through, a bit of sun, a real mixed bag. Everybody's here, doing quite well, very good appetites. We just finished a really tasty fresh vegetable stew and Eric Remza is making cheesecake desserts as I speak here on the telephone right now. Yesterday we were a bit busy, we skipped the cybercast. We started the day in a very shocking manner by a very long crossing of the Vacas River. A lot of water, really spread out, and in several places in between channels there was actually water ice, so we all got a very cold wake up first thing in the morning. Beyond that there was a few other little moments of excitement. Having to cross snow bridges in the Relenchos Canyon over old avalanche debris and dodging rockfall in a couple of places. But all went well and the second half of the day after enjoying beautiful sunny weather on the way up things clouded in and we were treated to snow. It is almost Christmas time after all. We did get snow pretty much all afternoon yesterday including the time it took us to set up Base Camp. We were a bit busy getting the tents set up, given the snow conditions and getting everything else going to get the Base Camp all set up last night. But things are going well here right now, everyone's acclimating quite well, feeling the altitude but only in a very minor way. Tomorrow we are in fact planning to make our first carry to Camp I and we'll see how that all goes.
A couple of quick messages. One from Guy: "Hi Chari, love Guy." and another quick message to Bill's Mom: "Bill just broke his leg...just kidding Mrs. Snyder." That's all from Aconcagua today.
#2 December 19th, 2001. Vacas Valley, Argentina.
This is a great big hello from the first Alpine Ascents Expedition going into Aconcagua. We started our trek in Yesterday. Things got a little busy so we weren't able to do a cybercast yesterday. This season, they had a very very heavy snow winter here and with the warm trend, especially with several days worth of very hot weather that's hit, the rivers have been extremely high, as a matter of fact, the highest that I've ever seen in over a decade of being down here. There was a new river bridge put over the Vacas River at Pampa de Lena, last December, and the water a few days ago was actually washing over the top of the foundation rock on that bridge, which at that point in the river is about between 6-8 feet what the normal level of the river is. So it's been quite interesting, many of the small streams even, that are a quick three foot hop over normally, if that, were fifteen foot roaring torrents of water that we had to deal with, which slowed us down a little bit on the way in consequently we were a bit busy last night. But things went well, everybody enjoyed it, a high point of the day I think also due to the wet conditions from the heavy snow that has been running off, has been the riot of wild flowers that we've been enjoying on the trek in to lower desert valley here. Very, very, very beautiful and practically every color of the rainbow, it's been a real sensation for the eyes going in here this time.
Generally we've had very pleasant weather, it's very good walking conditions, and hasn't been too warm here, it's been great here as opposed to Mendoza where it was so hot as in our last report. Partly cloudy, kind of gentle winds in general have been blowing, as I said very comfortable for walking. Today we've covered the second stage of our trek in very well, people are beginning to feel the altitude just a bit, we are about 11,500 feet above sea level here. We have been hiking in tandem with a Canadian pair from Calgary, four other French Canadians and another small American expedition. Of course the high point of today is always the exciting first view of Aconcagua just before we get to camp here this evening. It's always a very dramatic unveiling, there's no way that you can really see it until you get to this point, and suddenly it's totally revealed bracketed by the Relenchos Valley, rising 12,000 feet above where our camp is here. Its a very inspiring, and sometimes a sight for a little trepidation when you realize that we have a lot of work here to do. Despite feeling the altitude a little bit, everybody is doing well, we're having fun and life's too short not to have fun. So this is goodbye for today from the first Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua expedition of the 2002 season.
#1 December 17th, 2001. Penitentes, Argentina. Team I
Hey guys this is Willi Prittie with a big hello from Penitentes, Argentina. We're cranking up to get on the way in for our first expedition to Aconcagua this season. It looks like we've got a good strong team. The team includes Roy Ziegler, Cory Monk, Matthew Gebhardt, Scott Crawford, Chad Neeley, Todd Kelley, Guy Knoller and Bill Snyder. A fair amount of climbing experience and we're good and heavy on guide staff going in as well, we have Lakpa Rita Sherpa and Ellie Henke that will be spending most of the season up there, and as well I have a very able assistant with Eric Remza, coming in with me. We actually met just fine, everybody showed up fine with all the luggage in Mendoza and spent the day organizing and sorting equipment up here at Penitentes, getting everything ready for our trek in tomorrow morning. We had to go through about 1,000 kilos worth of equipment that has to go on the mules, so it's a fair amount of work. That's about 750 kilos or so specifically for our expedition and perhaps another 250 kilos or so for setting up our semi-permanent base camp for our season on Aconcagua.
So all of that's behind us and everybody is definitely looking forward to hitting the trail and getting out into the mountains, especially given the 99 degrees Fahrenheit that it has been in Mendoza, Argentina, the last couple of days. So I guess this would be a goodbye from the Southern Summer to everybody out there.
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