Aconcagua 2016/17 Season Wrap Up
It's been super busy since returning from Argentina in February and I haven't had much time to post about the Aconcagua expeditions until now. I led two expeditions on the mountain via the 360 route which starts at the entrance to the Vacas Valley, heads to Plaza Argentinas Base Camp then to Guanacos Camp at 5500m and joins the normal route on summit day from Colera Camp. The route then descends the mountain to Plaza De Mulas and out the Horcones Valley, a 360 degree tour of a 6962m mountain. I have guided 14 expeditions on the mountain and the 360 route is my favourite one. In my opinion it is also the best route on the mountain for the highest chance of summit success. I have previously lived in Argentina for 3 years in Mendoza, which is the closest city to the mountain. Because of this I speak Spanish, have a good local knowledge of the area and have many friends that work on the mountain, so I really enjoy sharing the whole Aconcagua expedition journey with people.
Both teams were small groups this season and on both trips we made the summit. Everyone that joined me did really well on the mountain and certainly pushed their comfort zones and personal limits, so I am super proud of all the team members. We had to wait out some poor weather on the mountain during both expeditions, high winds and also a blizzard. High winds are to be expected on Aconcagua as it is well known for them, so we made sure we had plenty of days to wait for a good summit window. Fortunately my itinerary allows us plenty of time to plan around these poor weather conditions so we waited it out in the relatively sheltered Guanacos Camp, while other groups had to turn around because they ran out of time. I invest in a weather forecast for summit day and on the second trip this was money well spent. My forecast predicted some snowfall one day then perfect summit conditions the next. It was only predicted to snow 5cm but other forecasts predicted a lot more. I trusted my forecast and we moved camp in a blizzard. Once we set up camp, the clouds began to clear and the sun came out. There were hardly any tents in high camp and there was also hardly any new snow. We had an awesome summit day with perfect views from the top and no crowds. When we returned to camp there were about 30 tents and we struggled to find our ones! As we descended the mountain the next day we saw the clouds come in over the summit and were so happy we went up the day before.
All in all it was a great season on the mountain and all the expedition team members reached their personal highs.