Ascent of Aconcagua on 2011-01-10

Climber: Isaac Heckman

Others in Party:Lakpa Sherpa
Isaac Heckman
Eric Gerlach
Terry Hart
Jude Santana
Date:Monday, January 10, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:22841 ft / 6961 m

Ascent Trip Report

This climb was dedicated to Serving Others Worldwide and the third of the "Seven Summits for Serving Others Worldwide" - A Charity Climb for Children in need.

Our route consisted of a Mountain traverse, which means we climbed up the east side and came back down the west side, covering close to 100 miles of hiking and climbing from beginning to end.

1/12-13 Day 1-2: After one night in Penitentes, we drove 15 minutes to Punta de Vacas (8,000’), where we began our three-day, 30 mile trek into Plaza Argentina (13,800’), base camp for our expedition. Mules carried all of our gear the first three days up the Vacas river valley so we could enjoy the trek in to the base of the mountain without heavy loads. On the approach, we walked through green desert valleys dramatically enclosed between the mountains of the Andes and camped underneath the open stars and Milky way without tents at Pampa de Lenas (9,678').

At the end of the second day the stunning east face of Aconcagua could finally be seen and we camped at the base of the mountain at Casa de Piedras (10,500')just across the river.

1/14-15 Day 4-5: After crossing the river and climbing about 6 hours we arrived at Plaza Argentina (13,800’) and set up camp. We spent the next day preparing for the climb, exploring the local terrain and acclimatizing to the higher altitude.

1/16 Day 6: Carried to Camp I. Camp I is located behind an old moraine at 15,500’. We double carried to keep pack weight down and to help ensure good acclimatization.

1/17 Day 7: Move to Camp I. This camp was very private and we could hear the rocks falling all night from the cliff behind us. This is where we lost our first climber to AMS and he went back down and out.

1/18 Day 8: This day we carried to Camp II, located on a high pass known as Ameghino Col, at 17,700’. Ameghino Camp provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the upper route of the Polish Glacier.

1/19 Day 6: Rest day back down at Camp I. This gave us further acclimatization time and rest before moving higher to sleep.

1/20 Day 7: Carried and movied to Camp II.

1/21 Day 13: Carried to Camp III (19,400’) called White Rocks camp, located just below the Polish Glacier, then returned to Camp II.

1/22 Day 14: Moved to White Rocks also known as Colera Camp III.

1/23 Day 15: Rested and acclimatizated at Camp III. This helped prepare us for our summit climb.

1/24 Day 17: Summit day began at 4:00 am. We lost our second climber at the start due to Altitude sickness and he stayed at camp while we straped on our crampons and begin our long climb to the summit.

We climbed passed Camp IV (Black Rocks Camp) and then passed the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia (Independencia Shelter) at approximately 21,476’ where we lost another climber to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and he had to go back down to camp with our lead guide, Craig Van Hoy.

From there, we traversed the West Face and climbed up into the "Canaleta", an 800’ couloir that leads to the summit ridge. Finally, we travered the Guanaco Ridge which took us traight to the highest point in the Western Hemisphere at the summit. On the top we had spectacular 360º views until the clouds blew in. All around we saw the Andes Mountains consisting of several 20,000’ peaks, including another of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario. To the west we could see Chile and the Pacific Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. Also from the summit we looked directly down the 9,000’ South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world.

1/25 Day 20: We awoke to a blizzard and descended from high camp as quickly as possible to Plaza de Mulas (Base Camp on the West side of the mountain).

1/26 Day 21: We trekked out from Plaza de Mulas to the vistor center at Punta del Inca, where we take a car back to Penitentes for the night.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:14841 ft / 4523 m
    Total Elevation Loss:13841 ft / 4218 m
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Guide, Animal/Pet, Tent Camp
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:14841 ft / 4523 m
    Route:Vacas Valley to Summit
    Start Trailhead:8000 ft / 2438 m
    Time:14 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:13841 ft / 4218 m
    Route:Summit to Mules
    End Trailhead:9000 ft / 2743 m
    Time:2 Days 

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