Aconcagua: Mallory and Team Reach 21,700’

Posted by: Linden Mallory | December 23, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 21,700'

Just as we hoped, we awoke to a beautiful morning here at high camp. After a quick breakfast we started climbing just after 4am. The waning moon cast enough of a glow we could follow the trail without lights for certain portions and the southern cross hung above Aconcagua’s summit pyramid. We climbed well through the darkness, reaching ~20,500’ just as the glow in the eastern sky finally erupted into sunrise. The brief sun was welcome as we passed into the shadows on the western side of the summit massif. Daybreak also brought some consistent winds which chilled us to the bone, despite the multiple layers of down and gore tex we wore while climbed.

We soon passed the forsaken Independencia Hut, now not much more that a few 2x4s echoing the shape of an A frame and crested the aptly named Windy Ridge at 21,000’. From here we began traversing the giant scree slope with bowling ball sized rocks sitting right at the angle of repose known as the Gran Acarero. The path started gently but soon began climbing steeply through the loose stones, occasionally covered in stretches of icy snow that required crampons to cross. The climbing became very challenging, steep loose rocks and ice patches slowed our progress and after several hours our legs began to tire. By midday we reached 21,700’ at
the base of the final couloir to the summit ridge. It was getting later in the day than we hoped and the challenging terrain behind us took more energy than we planned. We decided to call that our high point, a bit dismayed but still thrilled to have reached 21,700’, a good stretch higher than any point in North America.

After catching our breaths and enjoying the views, we retraced our path back to high camp, arriving in the early evening. We’re tired, but certainly not disappointed as the expedition provided everything we’d hoped. After a much deserved nights rest we will descend back to Base Camp tomorrow.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

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Posted by: phyllis bronson on 12/29/2013 at 2:18 pm

Wow!!!!  Thats higher than any point on North America, Africa, Europe or Antarctica.  GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!!  Be safe and enjoy the steak in Argentina!!  Very jealous of the experience.

Posted by: Bill McGahan on 12/24/2013 at 2:38 pm

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