The seven summits, the highest peaks of the 7 continents: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, Carstensz! Trips, Statistics & information!
Back to Basecamp... Back to Basecamp...

Aconcagua

Summit of South America, 6962m

                 

 

On the new 7summits site we will place trip reports to the 7summits, so send them in and we will add them!

Below is the report of 7summits' Harry Kikstra climbing the Falso de los Polaccos route.

Happy reading :-)

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Click the pictures below to enlarge:

Hi All you (armchair) mountaineers!

In December 2000-January 2001 I climbed Aconcagua with a few friends, Erik Slot from the Netherlands and Don Cook from the US; we also met several others which we teamed up with. We raised money for SOS Children's villages. Here's the total Aconcagua trip report, including pictures and even a video from the summit! 

Prologue: this is what happened before we even reached Mendoza...:

  • Harry & Erik were on national radio (3FM) to talk about the trip
  • Our plane was already broken in Amsterdam and 31 volunteers were needed to stay the night in A'dam. Hell no! We have spent enough nights there and want to go to South America! 
  • After 2 hours they (=Iberia) finally got the persons they needed and only then started to search for their luggage: another 1.5 hours and we were sure to miss our connecting flight: Madrid- Santiago de Chile 
  • Although the flight to Santiago is a 14 hour flight and we were only 5 minutes late, the plane did not wait for us (30 passengers in total, thank you Iberia). 
  • Instead, they put us on the only plane left.... to Rio de Janeiro! 
  • As our plan was to take a taxi from Santiago to Mendoza (Arg), we inquired about the possibility to fly to Mendoza and that seemed to work out fine: we got boarding passes from Rio-Buenos Aires & BA- Mendoza. 
  • What they did not tell us was (A) that we had to change airports (!) in rush hour and (B) that even if you make the transfer in time it is impossible to board with a boarding pass only, without a valid ticket... Anyway, after some delicate political plays between the Evil Lady in Red, two innocent charming Dutch mountaineers and some beautiful Ladies in Blue, we worked it out, exactly 2 minutes for departure. Special business class check in, short cut through the airport, jump aboard and before we were seated the plane took off for Mendoza, base of all Aconcagua climbs!

 

Mendoza Airport, 15-12-2000

When we arrive at Mendoza airport, the weather is great. It is nice and warm and we are confident that most of the transportation problems are behind us, seems that getting there is half of the expedition.

We get a cab to our reserved hotel, where Don -our 3rd team member from the US- will be waiting for us. The hotel is there, but where is Don? He was supposed to arrive this morning and it is now already late at night. We make some calls to other hotels and check our email, but complete radio silence. This is quite annoying as not only we have no idea where he is, we also have booked a complete line of services for the next days: transportation to the mountain, mules for the luggage etc. We go out for some dinner, but even a midnight email check does not give us any answers and we go to sleep.

 

Mendoza, 16-12-2000

The next morning we get our permits; as Aconcagua is a national park you have to register if you want to hike or climb the mountain. Even in the morning the temperature is very pleasant and we decide to spend some time on one of the many terraces in the pedestrian zone. Now this is vacation! We wait until the permit office is closed for today and have everything we booked (mules, transportation) postponed for one day. We haven't heard anything from Don and if he doesn't show up by tomorrow morning, we will have to go without him.

We take a walk in the relaxing park (plaza Indepencia) and find some white gas which we will use for cooking and melting snow on the mountain. Decision time: will we see Don today? Then we should take 6 liters in stead of 4. Think positive!

This seems to help as Don is alive and kicking and just checking in our hotel when we get back! We thought we had a long trip from Amsterdam (30 hours), but he has been on the road/into thin air for 48 hours, just to get from Dallas, Texas to Santiago! Anyway, we are very glad he's here and together with Justin and Andrea, a young couple he met on the plane we are going out for some pizza and burgers to celebrate. I arrange a good deal for J&A as well and we decide to start our real trip together. The rest of the day we enjoy all of the wonders of this magnificent city: nice atmosphere, good food and views ;- )

 

Mendoza, 17-12-2000

The next morning all we have to do is get the permits for Don, Andrea and Justin and we are off! It takes about 3.5 hours to get to Puente de Inca, a natural bridge, formed by hot springs. Am amazing place and a good spot do do some first acclimatizing (2700m ASL). 

Then the big sorting game starts, which is the first part of parting with the comfortable world: what do we take and what do we leave behind? You cannot just go back and get that extra pair of socks when you are at camp II, but you certainly don't want to carry too much stuff on your shoulders as well. We have rented 2 mules, they will carry a max of 60kilos each for us. Our bags are weighed and after some reshuffling we seem to have exactly 4 bags of 31 kilos each and we get approval from ´sr Pollo (chicken)´ who handles all the luggage. One last good meal and off to bed!

H&E in the 3FM studios with the 'Stenders Vroeg' team

Rio de Janeiro as seen from the plane

Harry, being pissed off at the Buenos Aires airport counter

Erik at the permit office, Mendoza

Harry, enjoying the good life in Mendoza

Don & Erik enjoying some extra calories

Harry, trying to cheat Pollo while weighing

Justin & Andrea 

Don

Erik

Harry

Hosteria Puente de Inca, with the best showers!

Puente de Inca, 18-12-2000

The next morning we are taken by car to Punta de Vacas (2500m asl), the trailhead for the Polish Glacier approach. We will ascend all the way to the base of the glacier, traverse to the normal route at 6000m and summit from there. This does mean that all the stuff the mules are currently carrying will have to be taken up to 6000m and down the other side of the mountain by us...

We just met a Swiss man who told us that a Japanese movie star has been climbing the mountain, supposedly he had brought over 4000kg of luggage, including 20 kilos of pornography and many, many rolls of toilet paper... of course many of these stories are hearsay, but the many crewmembers we saw coming down from the mountain did look exhausted.

The mules are late and we decide to start walking without them. The Vacas valley is very beautiful and it's a pleasure to walk along the rivers, mountains and hidden valleys. We meet the Alpine Ascents group, the only other group that starts that day on this route and meet two soloists, the college professor Barry and Mike, who wants to climb the Polish Glacier. The next few days we act as one group of 7 and it's great fun listening to each others stories and plans.

At the end of the first day we arrive at Pampa de Llenas, where our permits are being checked. The muleteers unload Pablo and Fred, our two mules and stay in a small tent. We decide not to put up tents, roll out our sleeping bags on the sandy floor and sleep under a cloudless sky, filled with billions of stars...

19/12/2000

the next morning we are awoken at 6.30 AM by a helicopter bringing materials to the next camps. Daylight is already there and we pack our stuff. Then the fun starts: how to cross a river that is 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide? That's where the muleteers come in. They saddle one horse extra, let you climb onto it with a heavy pack on your back and head into the river. This is even more exciting than it sounds as the river is icy and muddy and flowing fast. We are taken over one by one, but just as it's our turn the empty mule returning from the other side cannot longer hold on and falls into the strong stream. He manages to get up again, but is still shaking like a leaf when I mount his back and isn't planning on getting back into the river. But the muleteer doesn't really give him another option and so we head down into the water. I can feel he's scared stiff and try to comfort him, but I am not too happy myself either as this part of mountaineering is out of my control...

But we all get safe to the other side and after some changing of clothing we start walking on the banks of the Vacas river. Another beautiful day of about 18 km takes us over small rivers, moraine fields, heather, hills and valleys and finally brings us to a wide river delta where a little rock hut stands, the Casa de Piedra at 3200m asl.

This is also the first time we can actually see the mountain we came for: in the west we see through the narrow valley of the relinchos river a magnificent mountain covered with glaciers. Still more than 20 kms away, but really impressive! As there were some drops of rain and some winds this afternoon we decide to pitch our tents on the valley floor. Don does not feel to well and Erik and I go for a little acclimatization walk, about 150m up. We have a great view over camp and the valley floor and even spot a big rabbit. Satisfied we go to sleep and dream of wild rivers, cold glaciers and rabbits.

The Vacas Trailhead

Erik, Harry, Andrea & Don at the Vacas trailhead

Justin, jumping one of the smaller rivers

Don, 1 hour before Las Llenas

Las Llenas Camp

Pablo & Fred, our faithful mules

Harry on the mule crossing the river

Erik, 1 hour before Casa de Piedras

First view of Aconcagua from CdP

20/12/2000

The next morning starts out with another river crossing, but the river is very wide and therefore shallow and it's no problem. The sun is already burning hot when we enter the steep and narrow Relinchos valley. Today we walk about 15kms and have to go up 1km, so it will be a tough day and ´pole, pole´ (´easy´, as the porters on Kilimanjaro say) is the word.

Soon we have two choices: cross the river again or make a high traverse. We opt to cross the river, some guys including Erik jump to a big slippery rock, but I don't want to jeopardize my cameras and decide to wade trough the cold and fast flowing river. This gives me the nickname from Mike: the wading Dutchman... it's knee deep and wild and I have to use both of my walking poles upstream to stay upright, but manage to get on the other side where I have to dry out my boots and socks.

Just a few hundred yards away we cross again, but an old part of the glacier is still there and acts as a natural snow bridge. We continue the rest of the day moving up the steep hills and can feel the altitude gain. After another river crossing and numerous climbs up and down (mostly up) gorgeous hills and hot valleys I finally arrive with Mike at a big flat area where Base camp should be. But where is it? I get out my GPS and check my bookmarked waypoints: hmm, it should be 80 meters in that direction! Exhausted we climb a small ridge and suddenly another glacier appears, covered with rocks and moraines and a big sign that says: hot dogs!

Mike does not hesitate and tells me he's going to get me a hotdog. A nice looking woman appears from the tent and looks like she wants to hug us and welcomes us us to Plaza Argentina. Her name is Paula and she smiles a lot; first of all Mike and I are convinced it is because of our incredible good looks, but later the suspicion lurks that it might also have something to do with the coca leaves tea some people drink over here... Anyway, she is friendly and the hotdogs ($5 each, just the same price as Yankee stadium, according to Yankee Mike) taste good after the long and strenuous walk. 

 

 

 

                         

                Mules to Base camp       Mike, Paula and the hotdogs

 

 

 

After the hotdog still nobody else of our group has arrived and we decide to find some good camping spots. Mike finds a nice little spot for his small tent and I reserve 3 spots for our, A&J's and Don's tents.

Erik is the next one who enters base camp and is clearly exhausted, beating his previous altitude record with more than a kilometer (won't be the last time...). We put up our tents and have to take a rest after every few actions. Especially the carrying of the 31kilos heavy bags the mules brought to the edge of the camp makes us look like a one-legged retired chain smoker after winning the Tour de France...

We get a bit worried about Don, as after another hour he still isn't in and the last time we say him was only about 3 hours away from base camp. But then again, the big organized AAI group is not in either, so maybe he is joining them.

CdP (right) & camp

Dawn at Aconcagua...

Erik, x-ing snow bridge over Relinchos river

Harry, getting another wet foot...

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3