Argentina, Luxembourg · 20 Days · 22 Moments · November 2016

Tom, Philippe & Jean's journey to Aconcagua


15 December 2016

First the good news: Tom & I are safely back in Europe with all our toes & fingers intact 😎
When we woke up on the 10th we realized that with heavy snow fall and the strong winds our chances of summiting in the next days were very slim 😔 We decided together with our guides to hike up to camp3 (Cholera 6000m) and try to access the weather situation and avalanche risk once we arrive. The ascent was hard due to the heavy snow fall. We arrived after a 4 hour hike. No wind & blue sky, hope was rising inside us... but the meter of snow that had fallen the day before had considerably increased the avalanche risks. With a heavy heart we decided to abandon our quest and hiked down to BC on the another side of Aconcagua to Plaza Argentina. Kari our head guide hikes on Aconcagua for over 20 years and has never seen as much snow ❄️ on the mountain. We are all grateful that we had the chance to live this journey together and that we all came home with all our toes & fingers. Thanks for all the encouraging messages. We lost this fight, but we will return to the battleground 🏔 Hast
On the 9th it snowed and the forecast was for 10-15cm. We had +/- 30cm when we went to sleep. At 3AM Tom wakes me up in panic: "Touch the left side of our tent" ... a wall of snow! Same on the right, front, back & top... Were we completely snowed in? Why did no one wake us? Scary moment at 5500meters 😱
On the 8th we hiked up to camp 2 (5500m). We were both good in shape and didn't have to much trouble reaching the camp after an 3:30 hike. Slight headache, but good general feeling was ok. Due to heavy winds we had to stay also the 9th in Camp 2. We eat, we sleep, we drink, we piss... its to cold to stay outside, but too uncomfortable to lay 14 hours a day in your tend... mostly you chose un comfort over cold. Drinking 5 litres a day makes you wanna us the bathroom more than once per day, however it's cold outside so you decide to have 1 bottle for drink and 1 for exiting liquids and then you try to be lucky not to mix them up during the night. As we were told by some American mountaineers: Drinking your own liquids is not nice But drinking your tent's mate is worse 😳 Is guess I still need a couple of trips to cope with this humour 😂

6 December 2016

Due to heavy wind we decided to have another rest day at BC. On the 7th we hiked up to camp 1 to stay there over night. After BC camp that's where the fun starts: 30+ km/h of wind 24 hours a day +40 degrees in your tend when the sun shines - 20 degrees at night The worst is the non-stopping with that rattles around your tend non-stop, doesn't let you sleep and makes you wonder what flying away with your tend would feel like 😎 In the morning while packing our tend we got a feeling of how fast this can happen. Around 7 AM there no wind at BC and we started packing our tend. As we had removed all the stones, a strong wind swooped the tend 20 meters in the air and down the valley. Tom tried to run after it in its Crocks at an impressive speed for being at 4200m , but the tend was gone... we found it back 30min later, 100m lower and severely damaged. Lesson learned!

5 December 2016

When we came back down from Cerro Colorado we were told that even the shitty Wifi we had used before, now completely broke down and that we wouldn't be connected to the outside world for the next 10 days. Next day was a rest day, which consists of fighting your headache, playing cards, drinking 5 litres of liquid, getting your ass frozen on the outside toilet, listing to Manfred's jokes, discussing politics with our Russian, Argentinian & Swiss friends, trying 20 times to really be sure there is no wifi... On the 5.12 the real ascent of Aconcagua begins. The plan is to go from base camp (BC) to Camp 1 (5000 metres) and back to BC. For high altitude climbing the game for your body to acclimatize to cope with lower oxygène is always the same: Go High, sleep low! The ascent was by far the hardest we have done so far. Very steep section, the ❤️ was pumping... We made it up & down in roughly 8 hours

4 December 2016

It has been a perfect start into our (Jean, Tom and my) first high-altitude expedition. Above are a few visual impressions of what the four-day hike to BC was like.  As described in one of the previous posts I (Philippe) was unfortunately diagnosed with a hernia which left only one reasonable and appropriate option: even if not acute, going into higher altitude could become very perilous and that is why I had to take the most difficult decision to abort the expedition. Accordingly, my moral is hammered to its lowest. But it is situations like these that are reminders that we have to respect nature at all times in order to pursue our dreams. This time Aconcagua did not let me up but I am confident that the mountain will eventually change its mind. I am most grateful to be in a good condition (in spite of a hernia) and for the unforgettable experience I had over more than one week. [continued below]
[continuation of previous post] I (Philippe) am deeply touched by the support I received from all our expedition members and above all that Jean, Tom and Kari (our expedition leader) promised me another expedition to Aconcagua in one of the following climbing seasons. I am very much looking forward to that because even the trip to BC was unforgettable with Mount Aconcagua being omnipresent as from day two onwards. The mountain has a magical attraction as it reigns over the Andes with its imposing presence. In this regard I want to thank the whole team (Jean, Tom, Kari, Manfred, Sergei, Patrick, Conny, Mario and Benni) for all their invaluable support and I wish them all the best with a good weather window to push to the summit and above all that everyone safely makes it back into the valley... The magic of Mount Aconcagua will forever remain in our hearts… I miss my friends and the mountain a lot...

3 December 2016

Reached Cerro Colorado our first peak in the Andes at 4600m. Behind us you can see the highest peak outside the Hymalayas

2 December 2016

Manfred our doctor in team checks Tom's ❤️ Alles im gruenen Bereich 👍
After 7 hours of tracking we yesterday reached the base camp at "Plaza de Argentina" 4200m Philippe reached the base camp with severe pain in his left leg. One of our team members is a doctor from 🇩🇪 and unfortunately diagnosed him with a serious hernia. On the advice of the doctor and our lead guide it was decided to abord the expedition at this point and he took a helicopter this morning to fly to Santiago & then back to 🇱🇺. The expedition won't be the same without him and I really gonna miss my climbing partner 🙁 Kari (our lead guide), Tom and myself hereby reiterate our promise to come back to Aconcagua with Philippe whenever he wants 🏔

29 November 2016

Some pictures of the last days. It's 6 AM and we will soon leave to leave to camp 1 @ 5'000m to further acclimatize and will come down again to sleep at ⛺️. Go high, sleep low. Long day ahead
Good morning 🌞 Waking up with a slight headache this morning. Probably 50% from 🍻 & 50% from the altitude At the welcome diner last night we exchanged our mountain experiences. In our group we have: 3 Mount Everest summiteers (2 of whom did a traverse) As we couldn't match their mountain stories and they were Swiss guys we reminded them that no matter who high they went we still beat 🇨🇭 at soccer 😎 Let the fun begin

28 November 2016

Today we left Santiago around 2 and drove 5 hours to Uspallata. Just after crossing the border we had a first peak at Aconcagua (or at least some very high mountain we believe to be Aconcagua). The crossing of the Andes gave us an impression of the impressive scenery we will be surrounded the first days of our hike. If you ever plan to come here, the drive from Santiago alone is already worth a trip. Upon arrival we have already met the Swiss & Russians that will join our group for the ascent. One Russians guy luggage is still in Moscow, but "nemmen dei Haart kommen an den Gaart"... Hasta Mañana
Enjoying last moments of luxury! Mountains already luring in the distance

27 November 2016

Enjoying the last Beer at a local street festival in Santiago and having our last food in civilisation for the next 2 weeks at Mezito. We will leave for Uspallata in 🇦🇷 this afternoon and plan to arrive there by 7 PM. From there we will start our hiking to Aconcagua. We plan to reach base camp (4198m) at Plaza de Argentina on 1st of December
View on Aconcagua from the plane. Fantastic view on the mountain chain of the Andes

26 November 2016

Traveling economy class, but drinking first class ;)
Last minute buys! card game for long nights check
On our way to Paris
Flying on a strike is actually quite nice empty seats all around. Unfortunately only just arrived in Paris
First challenge will be to get all my stuff into my Duffle Bag 😳