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ACONCAGUA – Day 11 (NEW YEARS DAY!) January 1, 2007

Posted by Jason in Aconcagua, Argentina.

Carry from “The Col” (5,400m) to Camp 2 (5,830m)

The night was VERY windy (both outside and inside the tent! HAFE).  These rations and the altitude are having no good effect on either of us!

The weather is taking a turn for the worse.  The wind has picked up considerably and has been blowing up all night making it very noisy and hard to get a good nights sleep in the tent.  My Barometer has shown a gradual decrease in the air pressure, not a massive drop but a trend downwards.

In the morning I have to re-guy one side of the tent , some of the rocks have been moved by the wind and some of the guys have slackened.  I have to put yet more and bigger rocks onto the tent!

It is not until 10.20am that we decide that we will move our stash up to Camp 2, risking the high winds.  The wind appears to have dropped a bit. It is still fairly clear on top of the peak which is good news.

Cheryl as we start the carry up to Camp 2

So we finally start moving from “The Col” at around midday. Slowly slowly we head up the zig zags of the slope making steady progress. Traversing the slope above us towards Camp 2 and the Guanaco ridge.

The start of the trail traversing towards Camp 2   Jason in the foreground, looking back down the slope   Loofing east back down the traverse

On the way up we meet Merlin, Norman and Elizabeth from Geoff´s commercial expedition who have all made it to the top yesterday taking advantage of the weather window.  They definitely benefited from hiring porters to do their carries to camp1 and 2.  The carrying of heavy loads at altitude while you are still acclimatising is exhausting.

Then it´s off over the traverse and across 2 snow fields before walking steeply uphill towards camp 2.

Looking north at the Andes mountains    Camp 2 and the Andes mountain looking north    The Polish Glacier, close up from Camp 2

The view whilst making the traverse and from Camp 2 is amazing.  You can see the whole Polish Glacier clearly and see the routes.  But the Vista all around is fantastic. The view north of peak after peak of snow capped mountains is wonderful.  One peak stands out have a Crib Goch like ridge adjoining it and the peak itself looking like Alpamayo.  The view seems to never stop reaching into the distance of the Andes.

Camp 2 at first appears to be a little dishevelled, nestled below the Polish Glacier amongst a jumble of rocks, with a frozen tarn and a myriad of brightly coloured tents hidden behind small walls of rock.  But from here the view is spectacular as the mountain falls away to reveal the Andes stretching into the distance.

We drop our stash near an expedition we know are leaving tomorrow so we may be able to get a good spot, sheltered to pitch our tent when we move up tomorrow.

We then spend half an hour looking for the stash of food left by Geoff´s commercial expedition for him.  Unfortunately, they did not give us good directions to his hidden stash and to make things worse we later found out that an expedition had virtually camped on top of it so hiding it from our view! Very helpful!

We met a guide from Aconcagua Express, whilst at Camp 2 and discussed our options of the traverse to the other side of the mountain.  From Camp 2 on a day like today, you can see the whole traverse face and the ridge to the normal route.  This is a high traverse to the normal route which joins the route near Piedras Grandes where some people camp (6,200M) and a low traverse which goes to a little used camp called “Colera” (or Rocas Blancas) AT 5,970m.

Our cosy camp at “the col”, an isolated tent 400m below us    The higher Polish Traverse that gradually traverses the slope gaining height to around 6,200m    The lower traverse that climbs approximately 150m to Rocas Blancas (the white rocks), to the top of the ridge on the horizon

A choice we will have to make shortly, do we traverse high or low, and once we traverse we have to melt snow to get water which will use up alot of gas.  The guides of Aconcagua Express recommended the lower traverse if we are returning via the other side of the mountain. We shall have to see.

We finally found the food and stashed it with our own gear and then we Vamos back to “The Col”.

Cheryl and I head down in front of Geoff to try and collect water  before he arrives so we can get a brew on.

We do another painful and exhausting water run before the evening is out and before the glacial melt water freezes again.

Cooking tonight seems to take an eternity as we are all tired, then we flop into our sleeping bags for another night´s rest.



1. Paul B - January 22, 2007

Have enjoyed reading the mountain ascent blog, looking forward to getting the missing days…

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