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  Aconcagua 2004 Dispatch Five


Dispatch Five:  Saturday, January 10, 2004

We just found out today that our dispatch of two days ago was unsuccessful, and I was voted to correct that mistake and write today's entry.

We spent our first two nights at Camp Confluencia, a densely packed and bustling sight.  Our first night was packed with two huge teams from Russia and South Korea taking up much of the available tent sights.  Andy said it reminded him of Himalayan base camps.

On January 8th we hiked up to the incredible South Face of Aconcagua base camp, Plaza Franzia, for acclimatization.  This 10000 foot wall has been described as two Eiger Nordwands stacked on top of each other.  It was absolutely incredible to look upon, almost beyond belief.  The sweeping rock buttress are broken up by four equally huge hanging glaciers, making any climb a challenge.

Yesterday we hiked the remaining 10 miles into Plaza de Mulas, the Base Camp for the Normal Route and the Routes of the Southwest Face.  The hike was very scenic, up an empty glacier valley past numerous peaks.  The “Alaska Factor” is in full effect, with no visual reference an hour hike seems almost no distance at all.  The final mile included a 1200 foot climb, and we arrived to the Refugio very tired.

Today we are taking a much deserved rest day at the Refugio at 14300 feet.  Tomorrow we take an acclimatization hike to 16500 feet, and then begin two days of load carries to Nido de Condores, our camp at 17600 feet.

Our consensus thus far is that this is a classic climb, with a great approach, challenging elevation, and incredible support.  This trip could be done on the shoestring or big budget, with as much assistance as desired, with diminishing the physical challenge.  Chow! Chris Simmons

Matt on the Summits of Elbrus and Mount Kilimanjaro

 

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