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Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Rest-Step their way to Camp 3

Today began with a team meeting at breakfast. Last night there was a possibility that mud slides in the Vacas Valley would prevent us from coming down the mountain the way we came. Fearless leader Dom confirmed we would not be able to backtrack the way we came and instead would go down the other side of the mountain to the Mulas base camp, a route known as the "360." Since we would not be able to go back to our original base camp, we'll have one of the helicopters pick up our duffels and bring them to us at the Mulas base camp. 

Our carry day to Camp 3 today brought many us to new high points, with Camp 3 at nearly 19,600ft. Since we would have to carry all our gear up and over the mountain, as opposed to caching it at Camp 2, we all had pretty heavy packs. As we climbed today, the air got thinner and thinner, for most of us requiring a breath every step. Even though we have been at 18,000ft for almost two days, it still required significant fortitude to keep climbing. 

High elevation does a number on your body. As you climb higher, the decreasing oxygen makes it difficult to even do the very basic tasks, you loose your appetite and have to force yourself to eat, and for most climbers there is a point where they need start taking Diamox to help prevent high altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema. 

After a few days at a particular elevation, we get acclimatized and start feeling good. But we can only bring so many supplies and we have only so many days to get to the summit and back. So our schedule keeps us moving to a new higher point just as we were getting used to our current camp. This is mountaineering and one of the many things that makes it so difficult and the act of doing it so rewarding. Getting to a rest stop on a hike or the next-higher camp on a carry or move day brings a sense of relief that is hard to find in any other activity. 
As we approach our last uphill move day, and followed soon after by our summit bid, it's important to remember what a great feat we have accomplished so far, and how lucky we are to be up here with the best climbing team you could ask for. 

Climber Andy Green

Comments (2)

This just got even more exciting. Mudslides, helicopter transport and an alternative route. You’re all so close!

Posted by: Ed DaPra on

Amazing! Difficult! Rewarding! And the VIEW!

Personally could have done without some of the detail on the altitude challenges on the body Dr. Green. I trust the spirit of the team to check on each other.  Difficult day for sure.

And, best of all, The Summit is Just There!

Posted by: Michelle DeMers on

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