Camp, Day Four
we approached base camp, looking up the valley, we had a fantastic
view of Aconcagua and its summit. It towers the surrounding mountain
peaks. You can see the normal cloud movements obstructed by this
great mountain; smashing into its face and rolling over the top.
It was quite a sight. We set up base camp that afternoon, which
consisted mainly of setting up the tent, finding water and sorting
out the gear and food. Then we could rest through out the next
day. The summit attempt would still be approximately 12 days
out. Most people attempt Aconcagua from the West side, via the
Standard Route. We chose to climb the less traveled Polish Glacier
Route on the East side. Once at the base of the glacier at 19,000
feet, we would then traverse to the North Side and attempt the
summit via the Standard Route. This
way, we would not need to carry the ice-climbing gear needed for
the glacier. This was a big weight advantage for a two-man team.
There would be on average 5 climbing teams in base camp on any
given day, with new teams coming in or leaving every day. The
East base camp is much smaller that on the West side, where there
could easily be 25 teams camped there at any given moment. We
started checking our heart rate and oxygen saturation levels when
we would wake up, during the ascent, and while we rested during
the day. This was very useful in monitoring how we acclimatized
to the higher altitudes. My O2 Sat was currently 82% and my heart
rate at 80bpm. I was feeling great but I could tell that my body
was working to adapt to the higher altitude. Normally, my O2 Sat
would be at about 95% at sea level.
speaking with the other teams at base camp, we learned that only
a U.S. military team has made the summit in the last two weeks.
The weather higher up on the mountain had been very bad: storms
and high winds were blowing away tents higher up and making the