January 22 - Full Update From Plaza de Canada
It’s the 22nd of January and this is Wally Berg calling in from Plaza de Canada or The Canada Camp on the normal route of Aconcagua at 16,100 feet (4907 meters). The entire group did a carry and occupied this camp today, moving up from Plaza de Mulas which is 2,100 feet (640 meters) below us.
This normal route on Aconcagua has surprised me, it’s exceptionally beautiful and you can see why it’s the most popular route. We’ve enjoyed the social life of all the international teams from the different camps around each of the places we’ve stopped; and we’ve in particular enjoyed the acclimatization we’ve got. I’ve watched this group just breeze by numerous other teams that are starting their acclimatization on this route. Of course coming from Ojos, we are all feeling very acclimatized and it’s paying off.
Yesterday we rested at Plaza de Mulas. The guides did a carry, Grant and an Argentine guide named Marcus we have, I think enjoyed a little friendly competition and seeing who could carry their really big loads up the 2,100 feet to Canada Camp. They were one hour going up and 20 minutes coming down believe it or not. They came in with exuberant smiles, having enjoyed pushing themselves so hard on what was our rest day. They did a good job getting the stock to camp and as I said the rest of the team moved up no problem today.
Early this morning we did have a helicopter come in to Plaza de Mulas however and I’m sorry to say that Dick Jessor was flown out. This is due to a medial meniscus tear in Dick’s knee that is actually an injury that is several years old. He has managed to get by on a number of other mountain trips, but for some reason on this trip his knee swelled.
As you can probably guess, Leila has a great friendship and relationship with both the park rangers and all the doctors on duty here at Aconcagua. As you may recall from last year’s dispatch that she and our climbing staff was involved with a rescue of a woman from Guatemala, from high on the mountain.
So Leila had Dick down with the doctors where there are actually three doctors stationed at Plaza de Mulas. Had him examined yesterday, and they watched the knee, determined it was too swollen for him to walk out and early this morning we put Dick on a helicopter. We are going to miss him, but once again he’s graced one of our climbs with his mountaineering spirit, ability and gracious good humor and we are going to be inspired by him as we continue to climb.
Donna as you know, I mentioned she stopped short of the Ojos summit, her old knee injury and her surgery kept her from continuing on this trip as well. So I’m going to update you now as we are getting in position to move to the high camp on Aconcagua up to where everyone is.
Gary Kenyon in 1989 on Kilimanjaro lost his vision at 17,500 feet (5333 meters) and in 2002 with Berg Adventures on Elbrus he had cloudy vision at 17, 500 feet. Sure enough as we climbed to that elevation on Ojos he looked at me and he said ‘my altimeter’s working’, and he proved to himself that the rest of his mountaineering days will be spent below 17,000 feet. We turned him back at that point, and of course he traveled through Copiapo, Santiago and came to Mendoza with us.
Joel, you know Joel, Sam who intended only to do Ojos, Bruce and Gary came together. Joel really gave me the slip. Bruce said you better give Joel a good motivational talk so he stays and does Aconcagua with me. I was planning on talking to him in Mendoza, but Joel showed up for the flight for Santiago-Mendoza with a hand carry-on bag and nothing else. I knew at that point that he and Gary were in fact planning a beach holiday on a nice beach out from Santiago. They had also talked to their wives and were looking forward to returning home. So with that fabulous foursome I just mentioned, Bruce, Sam, Joel and Gary Kenyon, only Bruce remains to carry the flag to the summit and I got a feeling that he’s going to make it.
So the rest of us, I’ll just run through the list here, Dee, Dave, Richard, Norb, Daniel, Bruce, Tom, Paul and Gary Bacon are here at Plaza de Canada with good acclimatization as we go higher and higher on Aconcagua and hopefully reach the summit in a few days. I mentioned our new Argentine guides Marcus, we also have his partner Pablo. These guys are from a beach south of Buenos Aires, but they are exceptionally fit.