Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aconcagua Training

Just completed my training at Aconcagua. This climbing season in the Andes has been quite erratic. Too much snow and wind was the main complaint from climbers trying to acclimatize before the Himalaya season. Romanians, Russians, Slovenians, and myself were the last to arrive for a late season training. AMS also had their ice climbing clinic going on. The harsh weather was perfect for training for the  high mountains. The viento blanco is an Andean phenomenon that many have blamed for the huge loss of lives at Aconcagua this last season. I was coming down from the summit last week when it start to snow and the wind started to pick up slowly. By the time I reached Colera, to clear camp, the storm had reached full force and the visibility as I continued to Nidos was zero. It was all guess work and familiarity with rocks that kept me going on the right direction as I used these rocks as reference point to reach the lower camps and later in the afternoon Plaza de Mulas. In all my summits of Acon, I had never seen the Canaleta covered in snow and the Passaje del Viento traverse with knee deep snow. There were three of us going for the summit and we took turns breaking trail. Most of my training took place near Piedras  and Nidos.  Had a lot of time to acclimatize and the 11 min. on Acon's summit was clear as crystal but we had to run down the Canaleta, literally.  Many thanks to  Grajales Expediciones for the best logistics service available in the Andes! Where else can someone train on a mountain just shy of 7000m and enjoy fillet Mignon and malbec at the end of a hard days work mountaineering? Also, thanks to the Grajales staff for the great barbecue celebration.
I have just gotten home and will focus now on preparing for Kangch. Our M17 will depart to Ramche on the 6th and our porters will leave Kathmandu on the 26th of March. We are very excited about this climb and can't wait to reach Kangchenjunga's BC and face our challenges in this incredible opportunity. Many thanks to my favorite VP at The North Face for going above and beyond the call of duty for me (you know who you are!).