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ACONCAGUA – Day 15 January 5, 2007

Posted by Jason in Aconcagua, Argentina.
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Rest Day at High Camp “Colera” 5,970m

The sun does not hit the tent this side of the mountain until 8.35am and so remains very cold until late in the morning. It was -8C in the tent last night, freezing much of the water we had.

The day is perfect, very little wind and clear on top, a perfect summit day! Has our decision to have a rest day and not to go for the summit been the right one?

Once the sun comes up the temperature inside the tent actually becomes pleasant and we have a relaxing morning rehydrating ourselves and resting, praying for the weather to hold for another 24 hours.

We have a wander round the camp again and the view is spectacular across to the west, north and east. The Andes mountains seem to go on forever, a very dramatic backdrop to a very dramatic camp site. We are nearly 100m above Berlin, the traditional top camp for the normal route and we can see people snaking slowly up to this camp with many tents erected. In contrast we have this campsite to ourselves today! A beautiful spot.

At 12pm we begin our chores for the day and begin melting snow and sorting gear for the summit push tomorrow. We need water for the day as well as at least 10 litres for tomorrow for Chez, Geoff and myself. We are all worried about the amount of gas it takes to melt all this snow. You only get about 100ml from a litre of melted snow! Today we use about 2 canisters.

Chezza melting snow on our rest day Geoff´s spot for a bivy at Colera The snow field we take our snow from for melting

We worked out the rations of gas based on possibly 4 to 5 days of melting snow for 2 people if the weather clags in. But of course there are now 3 people to melt snow for with Geoff. I know Geoff is worried about the gas situation but we appear to have plenty left. We still have 9 complete canisters left.

The weather on Aconcagua is a ponderous enigma. The wind is little but picking up after 3pm. To the north and east there are large storm clouds building up and climbing into the sky, covering the mountain ranges. To the west, no clouds at all, just slight haze and sunshine. We SHOULD get our weather from the west, but as the day goes on, grey snow clouds clag in from the east, clinging to Aconcagua´s slopes and we have the odd flake of snow. But for the most part it is still sunny.

Jason´s had enough!!  Even melting snow is tiring!

After melting snow, our chores done, and equipment sorted, we gather in the tent for hopefully our last dinner on the mountain!

We retire to our sleeping bags with our clothing, plastic inner boots and water bottles with us in our sleeping bags! Not much room!! We have 10 litres in Ortelieb waterproof bags between the sleeping bags hoping that they will not freeze.

Views from Colera A view from Colera Views from Colera

We try to get an early night hoping for good rest before a dawn start at 6am. Unfortunately, for Chez and I, we get little sleep. A cross between excitement and nervousness keeps us awake. We are constantly listening out for the wind. Every gust that hits the tent could signal a change in the weather. To successfully summit we need a quiet day with little wind. The temperature drops to -9C in the tent!

Have we missed our weather window???!

View from Colera

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