16 February 2019
Door to door – 3 weeks
Route – Aconcagua traverse
Elevation – 6962 alt
BRUTAL STORM, ENDLESS DESCENT
Base Camp – Plazza Argentina (altitude 4,200 m)
As planned, after a 3-day hike, I, together with my dad and the team of climbers who were from almost every corner of the world, arrived at Base Camp – Plazza Argentina (altitude 4200 m).
Walking along the Vacas Valley for days gave us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the grandeur and beauty of the nature of this national park, while living through a very enjoyable experience.
Since this time we didn’t have to deal with technical climbing, two are things that accompanied us on the journey, the weather on the one hand, and the high altitude on the other, which naturally play their specific role, and together imply that the mountain despite its beauty, also brings challenges that true climbers must never neglect.
We covered the route to Base Camp in fairly hot, dry weather, accompanied by winds, and following the planned itinerary – first setting the tents at Pampa De Lenas (altitude 2,950 m), and then at Caza De Piedra (altitude 3,240 m).
This route selected by the CTSS was a combination of the “Normal Route” and the “Polish Route” for climbing and descending, since going 360 degrees around the mountain offers the best possible experience of enjoying the grandeur and picturesque scenery of the highest mountain of South America from every angle, while giving ample time for acclimatization.
We were all in a good mood, enjoying the Argentinean cuisine, socializing and learning about our mutual cultures, and we very excited about the moments that awaited us…
Camp 2 – altitude 5,500 m
Despite the strong winds of 70–90 km/h during those three days, I and the whole group of climbers remained in good spirits, moving along and keeping with the plan.
When we arrived at Camp 2 (altitude 5,500 m), and set up camp, we had our meal, and then one of the guides, Sasha, organized a girls-only meeting where we discussed various topics related to the mountain and different situations that arise on the mountain. During our conversation, the weather started to worsen again, and we all returned to our tents where I fell asleep right away.
Tomorrow’s morning was brutal. Some of the tent cords were snapping off from the high winds, and we were not sure whether we would continue our way to Camp 3 or not.
After a while, Mike, the guide, came to out tent to let us know the winds were beginning to calm down, so we had to prepare for departure… As we were getting ready, the winds started picking up again the same old tune, but this time they were much stronger, forcing Mike to come to us and tell us “Niti and Mrika, we’ll not be leaving today, because we can’t make it to Camp 3, and if we do, we’ll certainly get frostbite on the way”. “Now we have a problem”, he said, “and we need your help. Two tents have been knocked down by the wind, we need to reinforce the other tents.” The moment we got out of the tents I was almost swept away by the wind… After spending almost one hour working outside, we went back into our tents to spend the night, and the next day we had to continue the expedition…
– Camp 3 Colera (altitude 6,000 m). We were all fine, and most importantly, acclimatization was going well for everyone, always following the rule of mountaineering: CLIMB HIGH, SLEEP LOW. The third camp was busier with different teams. After setting up camp, we went to pick up water, which would freeze at night…
If the weather were to allow for a calming down of the winds, the attempt to climb the summit would be made in two days.
We finally arrived at camp four, and it was my first time at such a great altitude. Despite the great difficulty in breathing and resting, I was feeling surprisingly good. The plan was to set off at 2am.
Headlights were all we could see in the very early morning. It was very cold, and we were looking forward to the sun rising. Because of the coldI could feel my legs no longer, and at a certain point I was scared of the possibility of frostbite setting in.
When we arrived by the famous cave, the sun rose,and we could see the summit. I had a lot of energy and didn’t stop.
The summit, the third successful expedition, I couldn’t believe it. On the summit the weather was not good, a lot of fog and some rain drops. Almost the whole group made it to the top, and that made me very happy.
The descent was long, crossing a completely different route from the one we had climbed, in order to go 360 degrees around the mountain, and it seemed endless to me…