January 16, 2006 - Summit Dreams from High Camp

Camping high on Aconcagua

It’s the afternoon of the 16th of January and we are over 5,900 meters (19,358ft).  We are all at high camp, the highest camp we will use on our attempt for Aconcagua which is just about 1000 meters above us now.  Our camp is set up and it’s quite a comfortable camp in this high barren but beautiful place.  Leila is starting our dinner and Oswaldo is tightening up the tents to make sure they’ll do well if the winds increase tonight.

These high camps are very different from the camps on Ojos and certainly very different than the two lower camps on Aconcagua where you can literally eat in restaurants.  If fact we used a restaurant in Plaza de Mulas that Leila and I identified years ago as the best restaurant at Aconcagua base camp and we’ve used it ever since. But up here we are using our small camp stoves and of course in this high climate all of our drinking and cooking water is melted from ice form the glaciers.  We live quite well, comfortably and simply.

Niki decided to return to Plaza de MulasEarlier today as we began climbing to this point Niki reported to me that he was not feeling that great and he went with me for another hour or so and then finally at about 5,770m (18,931ft) we decided that he and Juancho should go back down to base camp and see the same doctor that saw Niki’s oxygen saturation in the low 90’s a few days ago who will check Niki out again to make sure that he is ok.  I know Niki will be happy to be back down at base camp with all the friends he met earlier.

Our last night at base camp we all went for steak and Niki went for pizza and he in fact introduced to the Argentine cooks, the North American concept of leftover pizza for breakfast.  He didn’t finish his pizza and he explained to the cooks that he wanted it brought back to him for breakfast.  So Niki will be having pizza tonight and something tells me he might finish the whole thing and have to order scrambled eggs or something else for breakfast.  He is satisfied and happy with the effort he has put in on this climb.

The rest of us, Ken, Roger, Leila, Oswaldo and I are preparing to climb Aconcagua.  Right now we have a light snow coming in and some clouds so we’ll see what the weather does.  The good news is we have plenty of supplies and a great home here so if we have to wait for weather we’ll just do that.  If things do clear tonight we’ll be on our way to the summit of Aconcagua early tomorrow morning.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters