Tag: 6000 meter peak

Climbing Aconcagua – Summary

I have come home from my attempt at climbing Aconcagua, one of the Seven Summits, and highest peak outside the Himalaya. I’m working on transcribing my notes now from my phone and little notebook into a document to prepare as another book. In the meantime, here are a few interesting key points.

Climbing Aconcagua - view from Horcones Lagoon
Aconcagua from Horcones Lagoon

Climbing Aconcagua: Failure?

I left the Horcones Ranger Station, 9,185′ elevation on my attempt at climbing Aconcagua on the morning of November 26. I spent a cold night at Confluencia, and barely passed the medical check to permit me to ascend to base camp. I left the next morning for Plaza de Mulas base camp at 14,110′ elevation early on the 27th of November. I took a very long time to arrive. The ranger in attendance told me to go to my hut and rest for the night. I was to check in on the 28th and do my Medical Check then.

The next day I checked in and did the Med Check. My results were poor enough that the doctor suggested I wait another day and do a second check. Climbing Aconcagua with the blessing of the doctor at base camp is a requirement now. My original plan was that I would already be carrying loads for my camps. I would be behind by two days waiting for the second check.

Climbing Aconcagua - loading the mules
Loading up the mules to descend after storms.

Others had bailed on their attempt at climbing Aconcagua, primarily due to poor weather conditions above Nido (Camp 2) . They loaded their gear onto the mules and descended before the weather got worse. A large lenticular cloud cap on the mountain brought winds in excess of 100 km/hr (about 60 mph) to basecamp. Conditions were bad enough above Camp Canada (Camp 1) that the rangers “closed the mountain”. They insisted no one go above Canada until Sunday or Monday (four more days).

That would put me about 5 days behind on my schedule, leaving me only 3 days to accomplish the gargantuan task of climbing Aconcagua. I had calculated about 8 days to acclimatize, a very short time actually. I was pretty sure I could not do it in 3, but I hung out for the next Med Check. Finally I went in, and my numbers were even lower. The doctor thought maybe it was the storm system messing me up. She recommended I go another day and decide then. If I’m weaker or sicker, I should descend. If I feel better it was just the weather.

Climbing Aconcagua - 100km/hr winds above base camp
100 Km/Hr Winds above Plaza de Mulas base camp on Aconcagua

Climbing Aconcagua: Grim Reality

I had not mentioned something to the doctor, primarily because I do not want it documented. I was having symptoms very similar to those I had on Denali. With the weather this bad there was no chance of a helicopter evacuation. I had to decide quickly if it was going to get better or not. On Denali I was out of action for 3 days with my team taking care of me. Here no one could take care of me. I called Angie, upset that I was going to let down all those offering Skate For Hope donations. She pointed out that I’d also let them down if I died.

Overnight the symptoms became worse, so I decided to load up my gear for the mules and descend while I was still strong enough. I had to quit on this attempt at climbing Aconcagua. I made it down in time to check out after hours at the ranger station, amid blowing snow and sand with high winds almost knocking me over at times. Others descending were hiding among the scarce boulders large enough to block the wind. I did not see them again.

Climbing Aconcagua - grim reminder of death
A grim reminder along the trail that in this remote environment rescue would be difficult. Mule skull.

I spent a couple days recovering in Penitentes then flew home. I am still very weak, and still having symptoms. But here I know I am among family, and am being taken care of.

Climbing Aconcagua and Skate For Hope

I had asked people to challenge themselves to donate for my attempt at climbing Aconcagua. I did not succeed in the whole project, but I was able to ascend 4,925′ from Horcones to Plaza de Mulas. If you pledged a penny a foot, that’s $49.25. If you pledged for any section of trail other than Horcones to Plaza de Mulas, then of course I did not go there.

For anyone that already donated, or will go ahead and donate anyway in recognition of the attempt I made at climbing Aconcagua in spite of several serious setbacks, I have an offer.

Angie’s Donation Page at Skate for Hope: Click Here

I will be publishing a paper version of the journal I kept, and photos I took from this trip. I will send a signed copy of my book about climbing Aconcagua to anyone who has already, or will before the end of the month, donate $50 or more to Angie’s page on Skate For Hope. Leave your name on your donation, and we’ll get in touch to send you the book when it’s published in the next 60 days.

Thanks, and I sincerely apologize.

Aconcagua Logistics Flights and Visa

The key to Aconcagua logistics is planning before you go. Flying to Mendoza Argentina is relatively painless. I went before in March of 2010 during the earthquake in Chile that closed the Santiago airport. LAN (the airline) was really accommodating to get me back to the states. If you book with American, you’ll most likely end up on LAN anyway at least from Santiago to Mendoza. Some people fly in to Buenos Aires with the intention of switching to a local flight to Mendoza. Be aware that there are two airports with a 90 minute bus ride between them. One is primarily International and the other local. Plan accordingly.

Aconcagua Logistics select airport carefully
Buenos Aires Oceanside Airport View

Another important consideration for Aconcagua logistics is planning for your Visa. From the United States there is no particular requirement except the Reciprocity Fee. In Santiago Chile, if you will be leaving the terminal you will have to pay the Chilean Reciprocity Fee. This fee represents what a citizen of Chile would pay for entry to the USA. You shouldn’t have to leave the terminal though. Most of the flights I’ve looked at on LAN have reasonable layovers in Santiago. The International Terminal had quite a few shops, though I haven’t been there since the earthquake.

Aconcagua Logistics airport information Santiago Chile
Santiago Chile Airport

Aconcagua Logistics Reciprocity Fee

In Argentina you have to pay their Reciprocity Fee. In years past they would often only collect this if you were to fly in to Buenos Aires. Now they require you to pay online previous to your trip at the Provincia Pagos website. You are required to create an account and pay online. When you get to Mendoza then you are to trade in your online printout for an official copy.

Aconcagua Logistics Argentina Reciprocity Fee
Log in for Argentina Reciprocity Fee

I just now got my flights for November 24 – December 8 and haven’t had a chance to complete my Aconcagua logistics by applying for my Argentina Reciprocity Fee online yet. I will post an updated article when I have.

Denali Avalanche – Four Presumed Dead

A Japanese group, Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation Expedition, was apparently swept down Motorcycle Hill by an avalanche leaving one survivor who scrambled out of the crevasse he was deposited into and made his way down to Kahiltna Base alone to report the accident.

“One team member survived the event. Hitoshi Ogi, age 69 of Miyagi Prefecture, was swept into a crevasse and subsequently climbed out with minor injuries,” she said in a release. “Ogi was unable to locate his teammates in the avalanche debris. Throughout the day, Ogi descended solo to the Kahiltna Basecamp at 7,200 feet, where he reported the accident shortly after 4 p.m.” — National Parks Traveler

Motorcycle Hill above Kahiltna Pass - path of Denali Avalanche
Motorcycle Hill above Kahiltna Pass

High winds and snowfall have prevented many from hitting the summit in recent weeks, and probably contributed to this incident. McKinley is a very large and dangerous mountain, and careful consideration of the risks involved and the skills necessary to increase your survival is paramount. My heartfelt condolences are extended to the survivors, and I hope the rescue workers are safe in their endeavor to recover the bodies.

Alaska Photo Gallery Recap – May 2011

Was going through my old picasa galleries and came across this from May 2011. Climbed with Mountaintrip attempting the Northwest Buttress Route. This is not the West Buttress – this one goes up from the Peters Glacier – you access it by going over Kahiltna Pass on the West Buttress Route, then drop down to Peters and cross over to the route from there.

I was doing good until the Kahiltna Pass Camp, where I got really sick and after a couple days was able to self-evacuate with the assistance of one of the guides and two passing climbers he was friends with. Going up Heartbreak Hill while sick was pretty tough. Later my family physician diagnosed an inflamed gall bladder and recommended some dietary changes that might impact future trips with guided services.

As an aside, my group did make the North Summit (lower) but did not make the South Summit (highest and normal climb).

Anyway, enjoy these great pics and let me know if you have any favorites.

KPICASA_GALLERY(AlaskaMay2011)

World Water Day 2012

Today is World Water Day 2012. According to this report:

There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today … each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres – Unwater.org

Elbrus water source needs to be boiled
Water Pipe above blue building below Elbrus summits. Use at own risk.

And naturally, there’s a solution available for all of us:

Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:
· follow a healthier, sustainable diet
· consume less water-intensive products
· reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten…
· produce more food, of better quality, with less water.
– Unwater.org

Having been in regions with serious major clean water issues, and having suffered the debilitating effects myself, I have to offer my own opinion on this. On Kilimanjaro, the highest point of Africa, one of the Seven Summits, as well as one of the Seven Volcanic Summits, the cooks supposedly treated the abundant surface water by boiling, but it became apparent quite quickly that they did not want to waste porters on carrying stove fuel, so they actually didn’t treat it. As a result, I ended up with diarrhea on summit day and my tentmate ended up puking in the tent all night on the eve of summit day. We both managed to summit.

On Elbrus (the highest point of Europe and also a Seven Summits and Seven Volcanic Summits) in the Spring, they had to melt snow for water, so it was fairly safe, but in the Summer they got their water from a pipe tapped into the water runoff from the glacier. A lazy cook with very poor English skills who wasn’t really all that considerate of the long-term effects just gave me some water right out of the pipe. I ended up with serious diarrhea that lasted for four days and I barely finished the qualifier with one pit stop in the rocks, but was so wasted that I contracted AMS and could not complete the Elbrus Race 2010.

Water is abundant on Kilimanjaro
Abundant water along the trail for drinking on Kilimanjaro

On Aconcagua, another Seven Summits peak, highest point of South America, water came off the glacier in a large pipe that forked all over the camp to each of the outfitters. My outfitter let it collect in a barrel so the sediment could settle out, and we were each on our own for treating it. I used a SteriPEN Classic on mine, and that worked well enough.

Aconcagua Base Camp water supply
Water tubing and tanks at Aconcagua Plaza de Mulas Basecamp

I’ve suffered from the effects of unclean water, so I know it exists. For myself, I will carry the Steripen with me wherever I go, but worldwide, I’m not quite certain how to fix this problem, aside from a treatment plant on both Elbrus and Kili, or maybe education, if it will stick, or somehow making the guides and porters and cooks really care one way or the other, which probably has less chance of sticking. That would have the longest-lasting effects, IMHO – getting people to even care.

7 year old Indonesian on Seven Summits Quest?

I read this story recently about a 7 year old Indonesian boy who will be attempting Elbrus this July hoping to summit on July 23, National Children’s day with a follow-up Climb in November of Island Peak, a 6,000 meter mountain in the Himalayas near Everest normally used as a testing ground for the ability to climb Everest.

7-year-old Indonesian Turns Mountains into Molehills If successful, he will be the youngest climber to do Elbrus.


From a newspaper article about Arya Cahaya Mulya Sugiarto: — the treacherous peaks do not seem to faze Arya — last year the boy told the tabloid magazine Nyata that it was “nice to be able to reach the top of the mountain; I can see God’s creation.”


Some food for thought:

1) Can he possibly become the youngest Everest climber?
2) Can he possibly become the youngest Seven Summits Climber?
3) Is he really self-motivated, and really able to finish all these climbs under his own power?
4) What if something goes horribly wrong?
5) What are the long-term repercussions?

How do you feel about this?