Location: Day 10 camp Confluencia, Day 11 Plaza de Mulaz (base camp)
Distance/altitude: 2 days, 25km- altitude 2,800-4,300m
Thought of the day: use the past to guide to but don’t be consumed by it
Thank you: All of my new climbing friends and my constant support man Rich
Notes: It has been two long years since I last viewed the elusive summit of Mt Aconcagua from the base camp known as Plaza de Mulaz (place of the mules). When I arrived it was clear enough to see the exact spot where I knew my sea to summit campaign of 2013 was over. Although last time blanketed in snow I can still relive my climb through distinctive rocks and features as they have emotions and memories attributed to them.
I met some friends Tilman (Germany) and John (Norway) who were using the same Mule company called Lanko to deliver our gear to base camp. They had also turned around on Mt Aconcagua due to strong wind and were back for another crack at the mountain. We decided to all walk into base camp together and shared some great yarns along the way, it was great to meet some like minded people climbing for all the right reasons. The walk to Confluencia took around three hours of rolling hills along the river with gusts of 70km winds to remind you that you are heading towards a mountain. We met some Chileans, Sebastian and Juan, a Canadian Jeremy and a Russian Ivan to make a true United Nations climbing team.
The next day we all left together on the eight hour 20km trek to base camp. It was very difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature with the sun and wind but the track is very beautiful following the river. The final hour is a steep 300m climb up to base camp on scree and loose rock which is exhausting without the added bonus of altitude. I finally arrived at base camp and was greeted with a freshly cooked pizza by the Lanko staff and I was feeling a million bucks. I drank around two litres of water then Rich and I set up the tent and organised our gear. I decided to have a lye down and slept a couple of hours, but woke up with a head ache and feeling nauseous. Rich and I were walking to the Lanko toilet when suddenly started projectile vomiting. I assumed fetal position and continued vomiting for the next couple of minutes until my stomach was empty of fluids. Luckily this was not the first time I had reacted like this to altitude and I knew that if I replaced the water and had a feed then in a few hours I would be sweet as. I started to feel much better after dinner and was able to get a really goodnight sleep.
Tomorrow is a rest day and then I will make my first climitization climb to Nedo de Condores at 5,550m returning to base camp to sleep. I will post another update in a few days before I leave for my summit bid.
Even though I did not make the summit last time the struggles I faced and the lessons I learnt have made me a better climber and a better person. It was really hard for me to come back to this mountain and face the fear of failing not just once but potentially twice, but I know I will make the right call when it matters and will leave this mountain with respect and my head held high no matter what the outcome.
Ciao for now