February 16, 1997 failed solo attempt up False Polish Glacier Route on Aconcagua. My slow acclimatization kept me lower (managed to save a solo climber’s life who was probably dying of pulmonary edema, you’re welcome) than my two team mates (Philippe G./ Thomas B.) Phil and Tom summitted via the False Polish route on Feb. 14. I left our camp below the Polish Glacier for a solo attempt on Feb. 16.
Cruised to the Independencia hut, but then the weather began to deteriorate. My traverse of the Gran Acarreo was in near whiteout conditions, with high winds and this is where I began to suffer from high altitude sickness. I managed to scramble up to the top of La Canaleta, when my condition, and the weather, became very serious.
Sitting alone in a complete whiteout with the temperature likely below -30 degrees Celsius with probably 80 km/hour winds and feeling like my worst hangover ever (no energy, strong desire to vomit, severe headache) a group descending from the summit approached. Their leader, a friendly English speaking policeman from Medoza (who had just completed his fourth Aconcagua summit) told me that the weather was only going to get worse and likely the Viento Blanco could occur. I assured the gentleman I was fine as they moved on. I just sat there the next half hour, sort of aware of my position, completely alone, questioning what I should do. Eventually I descended.
I am guessing I reached 6900 metres (?). For about ten years it really bothered me that I didn’t push on, and thought about returning to Aconcagua. Now, with a family and a busy career, I am happy to pursue local summits. But maybe when I retire ;-)
I went with Alpine Ascents so we had 4 camps rather than the usual 2 or 3. Very high winds meant we had to take an extra 4 days in Plaza Argentina. I really enjoyed the climb. Up to that point, the highest I had been was the top of Whitney.
I wrote more about it in the Aconcagua log. Easy route but hard conditions. Something to remember.
Intended for the direct Polish but ended up on the Polish traverse...we then circumnavigated the mountain to see something different...very good trip. Met some good people.
Climbed the Traverse with Sue and we both reached the summit on a perfectly windless, sunny day. Climbed with Muddeer below, snocat and cdog all really strong climbers. Glad you enjoyed the expedition Muddeer.
Started from Camp 2 at around 630am. Reached the summit almost 9 hrs later. Didn't stay more than 2 minutes on it, as bad weather was moving in. I climbed solo and was the last person on summit that day. In fact, I didn't see a soul, not even from distance, as descended back to camp in snow. Great trip. Was a part of Brad Marshall's 2006/2007 expedition. Special thanks to Brad and Sue for organizing the trip.
See the report on our multi-page expedition web site. This expedition traversed the mountain (up the Polish side, down Ruta Normal), spent 40 hours 5 folks in a 3-man tent at 20,300 ft getting blown to bits by the Vente Blanca, but did not summit.
My wife and I climbed the Polish Traverse on our own but got pinned down in 100 mph winds at Camp 2 for 36 hours and ran out of time. The weather wasn't getting any better and we had a flight to catch. Met a lot of nice peolpe along the route including William Marler and Laurie Skreslet (SAS) and Lapka Rita Sherpa (AAI).
Fast time to the summit with Jonathan Stanley. Great day.
Excellent day as the weather which had been bad co-operated.