Okay – this is not the first trip report about Aconcagua normal route. But I have taken some nice pictures that I hope you will like. So I will tell the story by pictures.
The trip was an organized one from December 22nd 2007 to January 14th 2008 – by the German company Adventure Train, that I can recommend warmly – everything worked well, and it was cheaper than other companies. Therefore we did not get full meals all the time at basecamp but prepare some ourselves with the camping stove – no problem but a good exercise for the high camp.
Mendoza to Penitentes
2007-12-23 – Christmas in Mendoza – this year we have to do without German winter christmas romantic in the South American midsummer season.
2007-12-24: interesting morning light over Mendoza
Each aspirant for climbing Aconcagua must personally obtain his permit in the Mendoza tourist office
Afterwards we travel by bus into the mountains: valley of the Horocones river just besides the main road
Two nights for acclimatization in a hotel at Penitentes (2580m). The nearby railway is fine for an afternoon walk. Since many years no one risks of getting hit by a train here.
Idyllic scene near Penitentes – in the background is Cerro Tolosa (5432m)
Unknown bird at Penitentes
Penitentes ski station (2580m) – behind the building on the right is our acclimatization peak for the next day, Cruz de Cana (3686m)
2007-12-25: there we climb in single file. The slopes are still green
As long as there are still flowers it is worth taking pictures of them
We did not expect the approach of this short snow shower
Obviously this fellow did not get enough to bite on these meagre slopes
Summit of Cruz de Cana, 3686m. At least we are 20m higher than Grossvenediger…
"Backside" of Cerro Mano Ardito (3655m) – on the other side it falls down to the main road
Interesting evening light – left in the shadow is our acclimatization peak Cruz de Canaz.
Punta del Inca to basecamp
2007-12-26: there it is – Aconcagua south face as seen from the entrance of the National park at Horocones
After having controlled the permit each climber gets his waste bag, that must be returned full at the end of the trip
Still green here – nice hiking into Aconcagua National Park
The track gets dusty but remains very easy
The only danger comes from meeting horsemen in a hurry
A snow shower welcomes us to Camp Confluenza (3410m)
But the evening is nice again
2007-12-27: we are on a daytrip in direction to Aconcagua south face. Look back to Cerro Tolosa
Very interesting plants are growing here!
Along impressive glacier "Vadretto de los Horocones Inferior" we are walking long and flat. We are satisfied with having reached an elevation of 4000m – above all Aconcagua hides again behind clouds.
A Halo is a sign for bad weather
… and there is snow again when we come back to Camp Confluenza.
2007-12-28: long walk to basecamp. Only in the beginning remains the valley as green as on the picture. On the left is Cerro Mexico (5007m)
Landscape has turned into a desert. Adverse winds blow constantly. Best tactic is slipstreaming like in cycling sport!
Taking a rest before (almost) the final ascent to basecamp. For some of our group this ascent was already a hard one.
Still Christmas time at basecamp Plaza de Mulaz
Aconcagua as seen from basecamp. The main summit is on the very left.
acclimatization from Bonete to Berlin
2007-12-29: storm clouds above the summit. But today is a rest day for us.
Nice clouds also above Cerro Bonete that we intend to climb the following day.
We receive gear and food. Instant meals are waiting for us in the next two weeks.
2007-12-30: great weather for our next acclimatization climb – on Cerro Bonete (5004m)
Crossing fields of Penitentes snow is a new conquest for an European climber!
Later there are zigzags over slopes of scree, then we traverse beneath the summit to the right and climb it from there via the easy ridge to the highest point.
Over all the ascent is nice because of this instructive overview of Aconcagua and almost the whole normal route.
The route to basecamp runs through this desert valley
Basecamp plaza de Mulaz: "Who names the names, who counts the people / Who gather'd here together cordial?" (Friedrich Schiller)
desert also in the neighbouring valley on the other side of Cerro Bonete
Man (right) wants to climb mountain (left)
Among the best of these mountains here is the quick and gentle (for the knees) descent through soft scree
Landscape with penitentes (and the Aconcagua hotel) – very bizarre for an European climber used to the alps
Penitentes. The slope from basecamp to Nido de Condores is right in the background
2007-12-31: while the rest of the group does another rest day my partner Johannes and I carry the first loads up to Nido camp. Struggling with the effects of elevation and the heavy backpack for the first time I have the feeling of "doing an expedition".
Having arrived at Nido we settle a depot in the midst of the nicest campsite. But we should not have done this – three days later the depot was cleared some meters apart to use the site.
Back in basecamp. Sylvester evening with campfire
2008-01-01: now the others of our group carry loads and themselves to Nido de Condores
… and we settle back in basecamp
2008-01-02: the every-morning helicopter flight affects us today: Marlis suffered a lung oedema and had to be evacuated
2008-01-03: after another rest day (on that I did a walk to Camp Canada just for better acclimatization) we are again in time with the whole group. Today we climb up to camp Nido for staying the first night there
Behind this pinnacle is Camp Canada – that is only a place for a rest today.
Settling at camp Nido at 5580m. Views in direction to Chile
It is a nice, almost calm afternoon on this high plain with great views
But in the evening it is getting very soon very cold!
Even here there is a ranger station of the National Park office, placed in this little cabin
2008-01-04: today we are climbing up to Camp Berlin. Did not expect these big glaciers at our feet. At least the glacier on the left is named after Paul Guessfeld, first explorer of the Aconcagua mountains in the 19th century.
Camp Berlin (5920m). In case of an emergency these little huts can be used, but a tent is more convenient. Here we settle a depot of gear and food for the summit day.
Looking from Berlin to the summit. But today we descend to basecamp.
the summit climb
2008-01-05: rest day. I do only a little walk to the glacier tongue.
Allegory for global warming? Normally the creek should have its source at the very end of the glacier – but here the whole glacier seems to melt away under the southern sun!
2008-01-06: starting the summit climb: Unfortunately we are again one man less. We can only beckon to the helicopter with Ralf – our best sportsman – being evacuated with acute pneumonia. At the end of the trip we will meet both evacuees again almost healthy at Penitentes
Heiko and Gerlind near camp Canada. Cerro Cuerno (5407m) is still higher
Having reached camp Nido again we don't like these clouds that announce stormy weather. Therefore we decide to attack the summit the very next day and not to lose an important day just for moving to Camp Berlin.
Evening light at camp Nido: looking through the close-up lens to Cerro Mercedario (6700m
Sunset before summit day
The final rays of sun at camp Nido
2008-01-07: we start at 5,30 a.m. in deep night. High layer clouds covers the stars – therefore it is pitch-dark and somehow weird. Weather is different to all the days before and who knows how it develops. But I'm feeling very fine today and am climbing a little bit ahead of the others. First sunshine at about 6000m. On the horizon is left Mercedario (6700m) and in the middle La Ramada (6384m)
The long shadow of Aconcagua falls on the world…
At the ruin of Rifugio Independencia (6370m)
Looking north. Thank god the dark clouds have disappeared
Uli, Gerlind and Heiko are coming next
Above Independencia the long traverse of Gran Accerero starts
Looking back to Independencia
A friendly mountain troll made us this fine track for crampons as a present.
At the upper part of the traverse. In front of the dark rocks starts the steep "Canaletta" slope.
Beginning of Canaletta. Also here snow and crampons are a big advantage.
"the finger" is the landmark at the beginning of Canaletta
Already at the upper part of Canaletta. Fine climbing with crampons here. I met Matias (almost namesake to me) from Mendoza here who works as porter during the season and wants to climb the summit today himself. Behind him the route runs as white line to the left to the summit. Now I feel the elevation and rests become longer and I don't feel like taking pictures
… until after some final meters via easy blocks I am suddenly standing on the summit plateau. Calm, not to cold and almost no snow here – hard to believe that this is almost 7000m elevation.
I have climbed nicer lookout peaks – here you are just too high above the things. Basecamp is marginally hidden at the lower left (Aconcagua hotel can be seen)
Tupungato (6570) right of the middle can – to some extent - keep up with its elevation
Matias und Mathias at 6962m
never too high for a summit nap
Done! Also Sabine has reached her big goal.
South summit (6930m) an the upper part of impressive south face. That's something for the REAL alpinists!
These clouds will not affect us any more. As a matter of fact it was not stormy until the next but one evening
Back at camp Nido. Because two of our group accidentally descended to camp 2 of the Polish route we are expecting a sorrowful night. On the next day things clear and both of them will meet us again safe and sound.
back to civilization
2008-01-08: for clearing a depot I climb a final time to camp Berlin
Now down to basecamp, fully loaded, each belt of the backpack in use.
Finally down on the easy track in the scree
2008-01-09: back in basecamp – strange effects of mountain air? ;-)
Now man and material urgently have to air
Painful waiting at the basecamp toilet…
A dove of peace flies over Aconcagua
2008-01-10: walking back to civilization
The first flower after two weeks of desert life is warmly welcomed.
Frozen creeks need caution
Today the wind is in our back. And the mountain pokes its tongue out at them who have to fight against the stiff breeze.
The marsh was too hard for Otto's boots.
Gerlind and Karin: not fresh any more but happy…
Also I will soon shift back from mountaineer…
… to civil servant
2008-01-11: driving to Santiago de Chile. Behind Punta del Inca we enjoy a fine view to Aconcagua south face – left is south summit, right is main summit.
2008-01-12: we use the extra days that we did not need in the mountain for sightseeing in Santiago. 6.500.000 inhabitants – you cannot see the borders of the city even at fine weather from Cerro San Cristóbal hill.
View from Cerro Santa Lucia hill to Cerro San Cristóbal hill. Above haze and smog rises Cerro del Plomo (5424m)
Tasting fine Chilean wine.
2008-01-14: on the flight back to Europe we are passing Aconcagua just to say goodbye.
Congratulations on a successful trip. The pictures are fantastic, some of the best I've seen of Aconcagua. What kind of camera did you use? I went just a few weeks after you and opted to bring a simple point and shoot thinking it wouldn't be practical to bring a big DSLR.