Heading Home

This is Leila Caudwell calling from Plaza de Mulas, Berg Adventures’ base camp on the 6th of January.

The entire team is here and we are very, very excited and happy about a very successful trip.

Last night we had an absolutely fantastic dinner. It was a surprise dinner for the summitters and they were really pleased. There were all kinds of hors d’oevers, lasagna with a fantastic dessert with soft drinks flowing all over the places. There was a really fantastic mood.

Well, this morning we’re ready to leave Plaza de Mulas and I can’t help saying it breaks my heart to leave this place, which has been my home for the past days. I will miss the daily soccer game on the back field behind my campsite, the mules coming and going everyday which usually stop right by my tent – when they show up they sometimes roll up their eyes and there’s always a fear that they will just crash into my tent.

And of course there is Mount Cierdo, which is a beautiful peak right next to Aconcagua. We have a very clear view of it from our base camp, and its daily avalanches. It’s an entertaining treat to hear that cracking noise sometimes even in the middle of the night but we know it’s just glaciers and seracs moving around.

There are a lot of people around here from Europe and they’re always friendly and willing to learn about what’s next.

David - our local heroNow, the last but not the least exciting thing about the trip is David being back and he is the big news here – after he carried the woman from the top all the way down in the rescue the other day. Everybody is talking about him. People are coming up and taking their picture with him. He’s also being interviewed by newspapers from Buenos Aires who happen to be here exactly during the rescue. He was photographed and interviewed by a journalist.

All I can say about David is that he is very shy and he’s very uncomfortable being in the center of attention. It’s not exactly in his nature. His personal comment the whole time is that he could not believe all the people who were just passing by Aura (the woman who was critically injured) and wouldn’t even stop to check whether or not she was alive. He just could not imagine going down and totally ignoring someone in that kind of situation.

One more point is that now here in the process of leaving Plaza de Mulas, and all the park rangers cannot stop thanking us for everything and they keep saying how impressed they were with how professional we were - and how our logistical plans helped save someone’s life. We have had compliments all over.


Today, we’re finally at Horcones after a very long hike which we did at an extremely fast pace. We did seven hours from Plaza de Mulas to the trail head at almost Puente del Inca, which is the Horcones Park Ranger station and is where our driver was waiting for us.

That was a very, very fast speed and John, who has amazingly improved from Day 1 on this trip, was actually running down with Bernardo really, really fast and showing that even though he’s tired from the recent summit, he is actually improving tremendously. He’s actually very, very strong.

We got down here at Horcones to where a car was waiting for us and we thought we might as well go directly to Mendoza where a five-star hotel is waiting for us with all the comfort, well deserved after a harsh but short trip.

I can close this dispatch saying this was a very successful trip and we’re all very, very happy that we’re all down and safe and everyone has succeeded and the Berg Adventures trip is actually finishing four days ahead of schedule due to such a fast success on the Aconcagua summit.

That’s the thing about long expeditions – you never know when they’re going to end, you never know how it’s going to be and we also know we always need to be prepared for any kind of scenario. We were lucky and blessed with good, decent weather – although there was of course the usual same cold and wind situation that goes with Aconcagua – but no major storm or things like that. We were four days ahead of schedule and everyone is making their plans to head back home as soon as possible.

This is Leila signing off. We all enjoyed our Aconcagua expedition. We’ll be back here next January and are already looking forward to it.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters