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2010 Aconcagua debrief

Our Aconcagua 8000m Preparation Expedition

Aconcagua

Aconcagua may be a "trekking" peak merely requiring crampons for the summit day however it is a formidable mountain where planning acclimatization and reading the weather are critical, and success is not guaranteed at all, so real congratulations are due for the team for our success, 3 out of 4 to the summit on an almost perfect day, and Ken wisely turning back around 6200m before having to push himself too hard. To get an idea of just how critical these factors are, lets look at all the other teams we met on the way.

The "S" team 0 out of 6 due to probable high winds for their short summit window but loved Mendoza

The "T" team with 2 out of 7 summits, and one or perhaps two medi-evacs plus voluntary evacs

The "I" team with 2 out of 11 summits, due to extreme winds, and one HACE medi-evac

The "P" team with 3 out of 7 summits in strong winds and one person down with HACE

The "A" team with 2 out of 2 summits, hitting the window perfectly

The "CK" team with 2 out of 2 in strong winds?

The "AG" team with 3 out of 3 summits in strong winds?

The "C" team with 2 out of 2 but both with frostbite

The "H" team with 2 out of 6 summits and one person suffering real AMS

The "F" team with 0 out of 11 summits

The "I3" team with 0 out of 3

The "SL" team with 0 out of 3, too windy

The "N" team with around 8 out of 11 - good job!

and finally a 0 out of 2 team otherwise unknown to us but one woman near death with HAPE and probably only saved by Amy's oxygen sets

Those statistics add up to around a 33% success rate and an 8% serious illness/evacuation rate, and we saw it all.

But an expedition isn't statistics; we had fun chatting with other teams, especially the geeks with "Good Times" Tom learning to solve the Rubik cube and Jamie losing at poker. And as for Mendoza... Take the siesta and then stay up most of the night, it is an appealing place.

The team

2010 Aconcagua team: Ken, Malcolm, Tom and Jamie

The team L-R: Ken, Malcolm, "Good times" Tom and Jamie

More to come.

Our itinerary

4-Feb

Fri

Aconcagua

Aconcagua actual 2010

5-Feb

Sat

(leave USA/Europe)

6-Feb

Sun

early arrival Mendoza

7-Feb

Mon

arrive Mendoza

arrive Mendoza

8-Feb

Tue

permit, drive Penitentes

permit, drive Penitentes

9-Feb

Wed

trek Pampa de Leņas

trek Pampa de Leņas

10-Feb

Thu

trek Casa Piedras

trek Casa Piedras

11-Feb

Fri

trek Plaza Argentina

trek Plaza Argentina

12-Feb

Sat

Plaza Argentina

Plaza Argentina

13-Feb

Sun

Plaza Argentina

Plaza Argentina

14-Feb

Mon

Plaza Argentina - load carry to C1

Plaza Argentina - load carry to C1

15-Feb

Tue

move C1

move C1

16-Feb

Wed

C1 - load carry to C3

C1 - load carry to C3

17-Feb

Thu

move C3

back to BC

18-Feb

Fri

load carry to Camp Cholera

BC

19-Feb

Sat

move Camp Cholera

BC

20-Feb

Sun

Colera - summit - Colera

to C1

21-Feb

Mon

trek Plaza De Mulas

to C3

22-Feb

Tue

trek Confluencia

rest C3

23-Feb

Wed

drive Mendoza

to Cholera

24-Feb

Thu

spare day

summit

25-Feb

Fri

spare day

down Plaza De Mulas

26-Feb

Sat

spare day

drive Mendoza

27-Feb

Sun

depart

depart

Sunset from Guanacos camp

The sunset from Guanacos camp is usually stunning - Jamie

On the summit of Aconcagua

Looking to the north from the summit of Aconcagua - Jamie

The terrible Chile earthquake, 27 Feb 2010 – Mendoza

On the 26th everyone was keen to get off the mountain quickly so we trekked from Plaza de Mulas down to Horcones in around 8 hours then drove to Mendoza, arriving late at night. At 3:34am the hotel shook and shook and shook, rocking gently but definitely, the first lasting for well over a minute and with multiple aftershocks. There was no real damage in Mendoza but it was a close call. How close? Take a look below. The main 8.8 quake was 480kms away but many of the aftershocks were closer, less than 250kms away.

Chile earthquake and aftershocks - Google Earth USGS

The amazing US Geological Survey plug in on Google Earth that maps the earthquakes from the last seven days.
Aconcagua is roughly half way between Santiago and Mendoza, slightly north.

All my sympathy to the people of Chile who suffered this huge disaster. All credit for LAN Chile and TAM Linhas Aereas for adjusting my flights so helpfully and readily. 

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