As noted earlier, howling winds, often at 85 km/h, factored directly into the success of our trip to the summit of Aconcagua. The relentless wind speeds have made it impossible for our group to reach High Camp (20,000 ft), from where we were going to make our final summit push. As a result, three members of our team, David, Heather, and Jimmy made their down the mountain this morning. The plan now is for Adam, Jen, Santiago, and Gaspar (our leader) to head for the summit directly from Nido. We plan to wake up around 2 a.m. and head out of camp by 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. We expect the climb up to the top to take 10 or 11 hours -- this is based on some practice climbs that we've been able to do despite the poor weather conditions. After reaching the summit, we will spend another 5 hours getting back down to Nido. Our hope, at this point, is to rest for 2 or 3 hours, and then keep heading down to Plaza de Mulas. Whatever the case, we will be off the mountain by midday Friday. Thankfully the skies have cleared and the winds are dying down. I (Adam) went for a walk in gorgeous weather this afternoon. After days in a tent, this was a wonderful break.
You may be interested to know that oxygen levels at the summit are a third of what they are at sea level. This brings to light the critical importance of the acclimatization climbs. For example, a person taken directly up from sea level to the summit would be unconscious in approximately 5 minutes and dead in 30 to 60 minutes. As a result of our acclimatization on Vallecitos and the time we've spent on Aconcagua, I am thankful to report that I feel strong and healthy. The upcoming climb will be long and difficult but I have a good deal of confidence in our leader, Gaspar, and the rest of our small group.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain