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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 07 - Carry to Camp 2

Without a doubt, today was one of the hardest days I have spent mountaineering. Our objective today was to place a cache up at Camp 2 located at 17,500 ft. on the col between Aconcagua and it's satellite peak of Ameghino. That's an elevation gain of about 2,100 ft. Gaining 2,100 ft. is usually a pretty easy hike in the Cascades, but today we were starting at 15,400 ft. which is 1,000 ft. higher than the top of Mt. Rainier and we were carrying heavy packs once again.

That's all fine and nice, but today Aconcagua threw it's secret weapon at us: WIND. There was a forecast for high winds on the summit, but for us at Camp 1, the day started pretty mellow. About half way up to Camp 2, it started to blow a bit with some strong gusts. And by the time we reach the point on the traverse where we cut right towards the Camp, we were really getting blown around.

Just before reaching Camp on the ridge, the gusts were so strong it dropped me to my knees and at one point I was nearly prone and grabbing onto a flat rock with both hands just to hang on until the gust subsided. Kajsa, our guide yelled at me to move up to where she was, but my glasses were so fogged up from the pressure breathing that I couldn't see her about 15 feet above me. So I just made a break so it, staying low. She was positioning behind a big rock and from there we waited out the gust. The name of the game at that point was to climb fast in-between the gusts. It was the strongest wind I have ever been in in my life. They say that 50 mph wind will knock you over, so I would say the wind speed was about that or higher!

After placing our cache, we jetted back down to Camp 1 in just an hour and 15 minutes, skiing down a scree trail. Back in Camp the wind continues and I have been in my tent nearly the entire time. I shot a video of one of the strong gusts from within the tent. The guides asked everyone to stay in the tents and they brought dinner of rice around to each tent. These are two GREAT guides!

Forecast has the wind subsiding and thankfully tomorrow is our rest day at Camp 1. The day after we will make the move to Camp 2 and by then I think we all hope the wind is gone.

Everyone did great today and are well. Once we were back in the tents, we all thought it was great mountaineering fun!


Mike (from mtn conditioning) said...

You Rock Kurt! I was in the pro club locker room this AM and saw your website advertised. :) Love it.

Hopefully, you'll get to enjoy a great filet (a "lomo", order it "jugoso" for "bloody") and a Malbec on your return to Mendoza. Also, try a "Lomito" - it's a steak sandwich on crusty bread with tomatoes. :)

Audrey said...

Go Kurt! Sounds exciting so far! Congrats on your personal altitude record! Hopefully now that the wind has knocked you down and got your attention, she'll leave you in peace for the rest of the climb. I'll try an offering of Argentinian wine and cacao to help things along. It's the least I can do. Really.

Take care (you too Leslie!).