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ACONCAGUA – Day 10 December 31, 2006

Posted by Cheryl in Aconcagua, Argentina.
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Rest Day at “The Col” (5,400m)

The wind picked up massively during the night and has been buffeting the tent in earnest.  Is this the end of the window of good weather that we´ve had since arriving at base camp?  The tales of the 5 weeks of high wind at the beginning of the season rendering it incapable for anyone to get to the summit are fresh in our minds and it is a very sobering thought.  Aconcagua is famous for its high winds named the “white wind” because of the lenticular cloud that forms over the summit indicating ferocious winds.  We´re well aware that if the wind remains high, we´ll have almost no chance of making it.

Geoff finds an isolated spot to bivouac at 5,400m   Cheryl and Jason still smiling at 5,400m!!   Sun shining over the Guanaco Ridge

During the night almost all the huge rocks we spent an hour anchoring the tent with yesterday have shifted and Jase is out early in the morning piling more rocks on the tent and retensioning the loosened guy lines.  Small wonder that Geoff, who eschews tents, and spent the duration of the expedition sleeping under the stars in just a bivy bag hasn´t been blown away.

We were planning on pushing on up the mountain today, but on account of the weather and the fact that we´re all pretty exhausted, we decide to spend the day resting instead.  It´s turned pretty cold and grey, so the lounging in the sun we´ve enjoyed on previous days isn´t possible and we spend the day holed up in our sleeping bags. 

The moon still shining above our camp

Most of the water has been used up after dinner and due to our limited carrying capacity and the fact that the stream won´t thaw probably till the afternoon tomorrow, Jase and I are forced to make the long, slow walk to the stream just after sunset.  It´s bitterly cold and the stream is a mere trickle having almost frozen solid already.   Filling our water bottles and trying to wash the dinner dishes in water that is turning to sludge in the pot is tormenting and impossible.  The dishes remain dirty with the leftover food encased in a layer of ice.  We make the slow trudge back to camp with freezing hands and an icy wind ripping through our clothes.

Lying in our sleeping bags trying to thaw ourselves out I suddenly remember it´s New Year´s Eve.  It´s hard to believe that everywhere else in the world everyone is celebrating the dawn of another year.  I feel so far from civilisation and reality.  I think about my family and friends and what they´re likely to be doing right now, it´s hard to imagine the real world.  This is definitely the most unusual New Year´s Eve I´ve ever had!  Apart from being vaguely aware of the howling gusts of wind which you can hear coming 5 seconds before they rock the tent, I´m asleep by 9pm!

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