Aconcagua Trip Report

13-21 Jan 1996 - by Bob Gross

During January 1996, a group of San Francisco Bay Area climbers traveled to South America to attempt the ascent of Aconcagua. Translated loosely as "the stone sentinel," Aconcagua is the highest peak in the world outside of Asia. Its surveyed height is 22,835 feet above sea level, which makes it approximately 80% of the height of Mount Everest.

Organized by Aconcagua veteran Warren Storkman, this group was made of twelve men and two women. Ages ranged from the twenties to the sixties. All climbers were experienced, but Warren's previous experience on the mountain was invaluable.

This group of climbers traveled by air to Mendoza Argentina enroute to the mountain. After negotiating the necessary permits and purchasing last-minute supplies, the expedition proceeded to the trailhead by bus. The trailhead, Puente del Inca, is high in the Andes at 9000 feet, not far from the Chilean border.
Horcones Valley

In an attempt to avoid excess stresses during the twenty-mile uphill approach, the group used mules to carry the heaviest duffel bags up to the 14,000 foot base camp. The humans walked those two days.

Nido de Condores

Moving cautiously up from the base camp, only a couple of thousand feet of elevation was gained per day in an attempt to prevent high altitude illnesses. Windy campsites high on the ridges were the overnight points, and the threat of a Pacific storm was always in mind. There was some new snow on most days. Navigation along the route was performed by map, compass, altimeter, satellite radio receiver, and common sense.


Finally, each team had moved into position near the 19,500 foot level. Summit Day was here. Striking out in the pre-dawn cold, the string of climbers inched its way toward the Canaleta -- the last steep section, and the most challenging. It seemed like it took hours, but each climber walked, stumbled, or crawled to the summit marker where the victory photos were numerous despite fresh snow falling. Seven climbers made the summit on January 28 and two more on January 29. At the summit, there was only 40% of sea level air pressure, so there was little relaxation.

summit ridge

After returning to the high camp that day, the long descent was begun. First to base camp, then out to the trailhead. One day to bus across the border to Santiago Chile left one day for sightseeing before the long flight home.

Route Map

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