Morning of Jan 5th - BAI assists with Aconcagua Rescue
This is Leila calling from Plaza de Mulas early on Jan 5th. I need to report that on the way down from the summit yesterday our team saw a woman from Guatemala, Aura Peralta, fall high in the Candeleta... [much noise] I am going to have call back soon because this helicopter is really noisy.
Anyway, Aura Pernalta was climbing on her own. This is the third time she and her husband have tried to climb Aconcagua . They have been unsuccessful each time. This time her husband descended because of altitude sickness, but Aura decided to attempt to reach the top by herself.
Our climbers saw her fall in the Candeleta and roll three times hitting rocks as she went down. (The Candeleta is the steep, loose rock section of the climb that leads right to the summit) I can report that back here at Base Camp now, judging from how torn her clothes are as well as her injuries, it looks like she took quite a fall. She was unconscious when Bernardo and our team reached her. As you know they were at nearly 7000 meters, too high for helicopters, and the only means of communication were the BAI radios. When Bernardo told me what happened I contacted the rescue team here at Base Camp immediately. As they went into action and were communicating with Bernardo, Bernardo decided to take our team to the high camp, Berlin, rather than to go any lower.
Bernardo also left David to carry Aura down. Soon, from this end, three different rescue teams as well a police team were on the way up The only way we could be in touch with the David and the victim (who had regained consciousness) was the BAI radio. Up to thirty minutes before the rescuers reached David he could not see them and they could not see him The police team was behind most of the rescuers with binoculars and another radio system. They were directing the lead rescuers and helping them find David as he came down with Aura.
In all David spent 5½ hours bringing Aura down. When he was relieved by the other rescuers, they put Aura on a stretcher, and amazingly, David started back up to rejoin our team, who by now had arrived safely at Berlin Camp.
This was a really impressive operation from start to finish. The Aconcagua Park people keep doctors on call here at Base Camp throughout the season. And all the Park people were quick to respond and worked hard. They got Aura safely into Base Camp on the stretcher at 2:30 AM.
Aura cound not stop thanking David and spoke highly of the way he remained calm and in control throughout the entire ordeal.
A doctor named Roberto stayed up monitoring her. We know that she has at least one broken rib. She is on the helicopter now and will be checked out thoroughly at the hospital in Mendoza. Aura’a main concern as she left was what her husband would think. He is back in Mendoza waiting for her, but still has no idea about what has happened!
The BAI team left high camp early this morning and should be down here at Plaza do Mulas soon. Congratulations to them again! I will report to you when they have reached Base Camp.
Leila calling in at 3:25 pm local time in Argentina. The team has made it down to Plaza de Mulas. Congratulations to them again. They have reached the summit of the two highest peaks in South America on this BAI expedition.... Great effort!