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Happy team on the summit!

Congratulations to our Aconcagua team members that stood on the summit of South America yesterday! At 6961m / 22,837 ft., Aconcagua is the highest point in both the Western and Southern hemispheres.  They made quick work of climbing up from Plaza Argentina base camp on 12/18 through camps 1, 2, and 3.

Today they made the descent from high camp (5989m / 19,650ft) to Plaza de Mulas base camp (4367m / 14,327ft).  Everyone is safely off the mountain and looking forward to hiking down the Horcones valley tomorrow to the end of the trail and back to civilization with cold drinks and warm showers!

We will have more pictures and details soon.  Merry Christmas to all!

Happy team on the summit!

Happy team on the summit!

Team at Plaza Argentina Base Camp

Yesterday the Aconcagua team arrived at Plaza Argentine base camp after a three-day trek in from the trailhead.  Their first segment from the Punta de Vacas trailhead (2415m / 7,900ft) covered 7.85 miles and gained 2,091 ft. of elevation gain to the first camp, Las Lenas.  On the second trekking day, they continued 9.43 miles up the Vacas valley from Las Lenas (2864m / 9,400ft) to the beautiful riverside camp of Casa de Piedra (3245m / 10,650ft), gaining another 1,721 ft. of elevation, where they enjoyed their first views of the Aconcagua peak.  The third and final trekking day to Plaza Argentina base camp left Casa de Piedra camp and headed west, first crossing the chilly morning waters of the Vacas river, then proceeding along the Relinchos river for 7 miles gaining 3,360 ft. of elevation.

The team is now enjoying the comforts of the well-appointed base camp, including three meals a day in a dining tent with tables, chairs, plates, and silverware.  Ah, luxury!

With the base camp trekking complete, the team transitions into the climbing phase of the expedition.  They are making preparations for the first carry of supplies and gear to cache at Camp 1.  On these “double carry” moves, the team first carries loads up to the next camp, places in the cache and then descend back down to the previous camp for the night.  The following day, they move up to the next camp with the remainder of their gear.

Our mule support team will transport the team’s trekking specific duffels of gear back to the Punta de Vacas trailhead and then up the Horcones valley to meet them at the Plaza de Mulas base camp on the far side of the mountain when they descend.

As the team moves up on the climb, communications will be very limited and it’s possible that we will not have another update from them until they descent to Plaza de Mulas.

Team at Plaza Argentina Base Camp (4200m/13,780ft)

 

Today our Aconcagua climbers finished their first carry up to Camp 1 at an elevation of 16,100′, spending 5 hours on the way up and 3 back down towards base camp. The conditions have been beautiful with blue skies as our team moved gear and food up the mountain.

The plan is to climb to Camp 1 and sleep there tonight and then carry a load tomorrow to Camp 2. The following day we plan to move to Camp 2 and then evaluate the weather forecast. If all looks good we will carry a load to camp 3, then climb to camp 3 and sleep, going for the summit the following day.

To see our teams detailed itinerary for getting to the top visit our page here!

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Aconcagua climbers

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Aconcagua climbers

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Aconcagua climbers

After a nice trek up the Vacas Valley, our climbers have arrived at Plaza Argentina base camp. The weather has been perfect on our trek toward Aconcagua. Last night our team enjoyed a traditional open fire barbecue with chicken, steak, fresh salad and vegetables along the riverside. After a relaxing nights rest at Pampa de Lena camp (9,200′) our team woke up early to cross the river (with river shoes or by mule) through the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina base camp (13,900′).

This will be our team’s third day of trekking and they will be greeted shortly with a warm dinner celebrating their arrival to Aconcagua. Tomorrow our team will rest at base camp and begin to organize the loads of gear to be moved to higher camps on Aconcagua.

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

The Madison Mountaineering Aconcagua 2017 team has arrived in Mendoza, Argentina and is now heading off to begin our expedition and ascent of the highest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres. Aconcagua (the stone sentinel) stands at an impressive 6962m (22,834 ft.) above sea level and is great training for high altitude peaks in the Himalaya. Please follow our dispatches as we journey from the lush wine region of Mendoza (known for grass fed beef and Malbec wine) to the arid slopes of the Vacas Valley and up to the base of the Polish Glacier, before making our way to the highest point in the Andes. Aconcagua is known at times for high winds (100mph) and sub zero temps, as well as the high altitude extreme environment. This mountain is never an easy feat and over half the climbers who attempt are turned back. We are sure to encounter challenges along the way and with those come potential rewards for hard work and a job well done in the end. On a clear day we might even see the surreal blue of the Pacific ocean from the summit. To the summit!

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Aconcagua 2017

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Aconcagua 2017

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Aconcagua 2017

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2017 Aconcagua

Early this morning our Ecuador climbers reached the summit of Cayambe at 5,790 m (19,000 ft)! Located in the Cordillera Central, this glaciated super-volcano runs along the Ecuadorian Andes mountain range. The volcano and most of its slopes are located within the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve. Weather conditions looked beautiful on the summit today with epic views from high above the clouds! After a short rest at the high altitude hut, our team packed up their gear and will now drive back down the mountain and toward their next mountain ascent on Chimborazo.

Way to go team!!

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William enjoying the amazing summit views from Cayambe.

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Summit success!

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Route to summit.

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Lower glacier crossing.

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Beautiful views in the Andes as our climbers set off for the Ecuador volcanoes! Our team will spend the first few days acclimating on local peaks close to Quito in preparation for Cayambe at an elevation of 18,996 feet. For a detailed overview of this exciting climb please visit our page here.

To the top!

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William celebrating his first summit of Pasochoa. This extinct volcano is located in the Guayllabamba river basin in the Ecuadorian Andes.

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“I am happy to report we (Jared and Andrew) successfully summited Iliniza Norte this afternoon!  Snow and ice made the ascent and descent rather technical as well as frigid temperatures and strong winds (Jose estimated gusts to near 70 mph). It was a fantastic climb to end the trip and Jose took excellent care of us along the way. I can’t say enough good things about him! We were lucky to have him!
Looking back, sometimes the better climbs aren’t the highest, they are the ones that present the more challenging conditions and technical aspects of mountaineering.  Despite being sick for Antisana, weathered off of Cayambe, and switching things up to give up Chimborazo for Iliniza Norte (technically an acclimatization peak), today’s climb made the trip worth it!” – Jared
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Beautiful photos by expedition climber’s  Jared and Andrew!
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“I am happy to report we (Jared and Andrew) successfully summited Iliniza Norte this afternoon!  Snow and ice made the ascent and descent rather technical as well as frigid temperatures and strong winds (Jose estimated gusts to near 70 mph). It was a fantastic climb to end the trip and Jose took excellent care of us along the way. I can’t say enough good things about him! We were lucky to have him!
Looking back, sometimes the better climbs aren’t the highest, they are the ones that present the more challenging conditions and technical aspects of mountaineering.  Despite being sick for Antisana, weathered off of Cayambe, and switching things up to give up Chimborazo for Iliniza Norte (technically an acclimatization peak), today’s climb made the trip worth it!” – Jared
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Beautiful photos by expedition climber’s  Jared and Andrew!
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Our climbing team is having a cloudy and rainy week across Ecuador so far and we all hope that conditions will get better shortly. Starting in Guachala earlier this week the team moved up towards the hut on Cayambe. Despite a smooth start to our team’s summit attempt last night on Cayambe, the weather very quickly turned shortly after roping up and starting up the glacier. Two hours into the climb up the glaciated slopes of Cayambe the clouds appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to dump wet snow on our team.  Not long after, the sky was filled with lightning and thunder.  At this point our team quickly descended back to the hut. The weather turned on our climbers when they reached around 5,000 meters.  It dumped snow most of the night causing Jared and Andrew to be a bit delayed on the departure trying to wait for the hazardous road conditions to improve. Our team is now assessing options for Chimborazo given the weather and our maximum acclimatization height to date.

Mother Nature always gets the final say.

 

Thank-you Jared for the update and pictures!

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View from the Cayambe Hut
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Snowing hard at the Cayambe Hut!
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