Mt. Aconcagua

aconcagua_peak

The Mt. Aconcagua Misadventure

In January 2007, I tagged along with a group of uber-athletes to climb Mt. Aconcagua (22,841 feet), the highest point in the Americas. Armed with a satellite phone, I kept a daily audio blog that transfixed hundreds of listeners during the dangerous, two-week ascent.

As the climb got harder each day, I struggled with a question that is new to outdoor adventure in the 21st Century. When technology enables an intimate connection to home…and the climb starts going badly….does it change the outcome of the adventure itself?

My struggle made for a heartbreaking and sometimes funny tale. I experimented with telling the story in both written form (in Smith magazine) and as an audio broadcast (streaming and on iTunes). Enjoy it below.

1) Download the “Tough Call” iTunes podcast (includes slideshow, 30 minutes, 18 MB):

http://theferrisfiles.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Tough-Call.m4a

2) Read “Tough Call” in Print: As it appeared in Smith magazine (read Part I and Part 2)

3) Listen to the satellite phone feeds day by day, below. Use the “Click to Listen” links.

puente_del_inca

Journey to Puente del Inca

January 11, 2007 Puente del Inca (elevation 8,900 ft. / 2,725 m.) (Post cuts off at end) “…our last indoor lodging kind of smells like diesel.”

Click to Listen (1 min 22 sec)

Hike to Pampa de Lenas

January 12, 2007 Pampa de Lenas (elevation 9,400 ft. / 2,867 m.) “…45 mules and 30 campers, and very chaotic…”

Click to Listen (2 min 50 sec)

mule_train
ead9903forig

Hike to Casa de Piedra

January 13, 2007 Casa de Piedra (elevation 10,650 ft. / 3,245 m.) “…this huge ridge came into view up the Relinchos Valley.

Click to Listen (2 min 40 sec)

Post by Frank Fumich

January 13, 2007 Casa de Piedra (elevation 10,650 ft. / 3,245 m.) “…I have never erected a tent in my entire life.”

Click to Listen (2 min 13 sec)

 

frank_fumich
plaza_argentina_approach

Climb to Plaza Argentina (Base Camp)

January 14, 2007 Plaza Argentina (Base Camp) (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “…quite a desolate landscape…”

Click to Listen (2 min 53 sec)

Post by Rich Shear

January 15, 2007 Plaza Argentina (Base Camp) (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “…less of a ‘rest day’ and more of an ‘anxious day’… “

Click to Listen (1 min 22 sec)

rich_shear_2
base_camp

Rest Day at Plaza Argentina (Base Camp)

January 15, 2007 Plaza Argentina (Base Camp) (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “met people coming from summit attempt…they didn’t make it.”

Click to Listen (2 min 41 sec)

Click to Listen (2 min 54 sec)

Carry to Camp 1: Penitentes Discovered

January 16, 2007 Base Camp (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “…great to look at, but not that fun to climb.”

penitentes
marshall_ulrich

Post by Trip Leader Marshall Ulrich

January 17, 2007 Base Camp (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,200 m.) “…the team is fit and very well matched…”

Click to Listen (1 min 39 sec)

Life at Base Camp

January 17, 2007 Base Camp (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “…buy a shower for $10…”

Click to Listen (3 min 24 sec)

cimg1469
snowstorm_2

Snowstorm at Camp 1

January 18, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “…the beginning of a new phase…”

Click to Listen (2 min 25 sec)

Rich Shear Drops Out

January 18, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “…he’s homesick.”

Click to Listen (55 sec)

rich_shear
tired_hikers

Carry to Camp 2: A Hard Day

January 19, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “…50 pound packs filled with crampons, ice axes and food…”

Click to Listen (1 min 58 sec)

Post by Louise Cooper

January 20, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “…day of anticipation…”

Click to Listen (2 min 0 sec)

louise_cooper
mountaineers

A Note to My Clients and Students

January 20, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “What is your Aconcagua?”

Click to Listen (1 min 12 sec)

The Calm Before the Storm

January 20, 2007 Camp 1 (elevation 16,240 ft. / 4,950 m.) “…too much time on our hands…”

Click to Listen (2 min 37 sec)

img_9518
aconcagua_hikers

Climb to Camp 2

January 21, 2007 Camp 2 (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “…50-mph gusts that nearly knocked us over…”

Click to Listen (2 min 5 sec)

Wind Storm Delays Summit Attempt

January 22, 2007 Camp 2 (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “It huffed and puffed and tried to blow our tent down last night…”

Click to Listen (1 min 34 sec)

cold_camper
sleeping_camper

Waiting…

January 22, 2007 Camp 2 (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “…it’s about 25 degrees in our tent…”

Click to Listen (1 min 40 sec)

A Restless Rest Day

January 23, 2007 Camp 2 (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “…wind rammed into our tent like a gunshot…”

Click to Listen (2 min 5 sec)

spindrift
happy_camper

Summit or Bust

January 23, 2007 Camp 2 (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “…we are excited and scared about the ordeal to come.”

Click to Listen (1 min 16 sec)

Return to Camp 2

January 25, 2007 Summit Day (elevation 19,000 ft. / 5,800 m.) “…mind and body are intact…”

Click to Listen (31 sec)

cold_climbers
aconcagua_dog

Team Stray Dogs’ Summit Day

January 25, 2007 Summit Day (elevation 22,841 ft. / 6,982 m.) “…50 people including a dog…”

Click to Listen (1 min 46 sec)

David’s Summit Day

January 25, 2007 En Route to the Canaleta (elevation 21,300 ft. / 6492 m.) “…from the beginning I felt like a frozen lobster…”

Click to Listen (6 min 51 sec)

aconcagua_trail
img_9564

What Went Wrong?

January 25, 2007 Plaza Argentina (Base Camp) (elevation 13,790 ft. / 4,203 m.) “…it’s a question that hurts to ask right now.”

Click to Listen (1 min 42 sec)

Descent to Lower Ground

January 26, 2007 Pampa de Lenas (elevation 9,100 ft. / 2,800 m.) “…Bursts of wind and snow clattering against the tent…”

Click to Listen (1 min 59 sec)

img_9388_2
Be Sociable, Share!