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2010 Aconcagua debrief
Our Aconcagua 8000m Preparation Expedition
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 L-R: Ken, Malcolm, "Good times" Tom and Jamie
More to come.
The sunset from Guanacos camp is usually stunning - Jamie
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.
The amazing US Geological Survey plug in on Google Earth that maps the earthquakes from the last seven days.
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.