Cerro Aconcagua (Highest Point in the Americas 6,962 m)
The team started on December 5th with tests and pulling permits in Mendoza, Argentina. Georgia. We began climbing on December 9th starting with a series of acclimatization climbs on neighboring peaks, including Cerro Bonete, and summited on December 16th.
The team summited Aconcagua at approximately 11:30 am MT today. The map below shows their exact location. You can move the map to turn off the labels - click on "Ter" for the best image.
**UPDATED** More details on the day: The team left Camp Berlin (high camp) at approximately 5:00 am. The round trip took about 14 hours. Mike reported that everyone summited and were pleased but tired. The weather was amazing and there were only a few very light flurries at the top. They will spend the night at high camp tonight and start the journey down the mountain tomorrow.
Aconcagua is the highest peak in the world outside of the Himalayas topping out at 22,840 ft. We are very proud of Matt and the team for taking on this huge challenge. Summit #3 is one for the books!
**UPDATE** - The team has reached Camp IV - Camp Berlin at 19,600 ft. It is lightly snowing and cold but everyone is doing well. They will spend the night here and then make the summit bid tomorrow! The team will leave Camp Berlin at 5:00 am and climb the last remaining 3,236 vertical feet to summit. The weather is forecasted to be clear with 10 mph winds and temperatures peaking at a balmy 3 degrees. I will update with SPOT locations as they arrive. This is it! ______
I finally figured out a way to show the SPOT updates in a way that makes sense. The top of the mountain in those pictures is the goal. You should be able to move the maps to line up the peaks to really see their progress.
For those of you living in the Denver/Boulder area, it is a bit easier to imagine what they are facing. Our temperatures today are very similar to their conditions - the high today is 5 with a low of -6. I know that I thought of the team this morning when that biting cold made me catch my breath. Send every warm thought you can muster!
The team has now moved out of email range and is sending updates via sat phone. Matt, Mike and John moved up Aconcagua today to Camp I, aka Camp Canada at approximately 16,000 feet. They will spend tonight and tomorrow night here, hiking tomorrow to 18,000 feet to acclimate before moving onto Nido de Condor. They will spend one night at Nido then another at Camp Berlin with the summit attempt being pushed to Tuesday.
The weather is very cold and snowy - although there isn't any snow falling. The snow actually makes for an easier climb as the team can use ice crampons on snow rather than scrambling up gravel. Spirits are good even through the effects of the high altitude. They are currently 2,000 feet higher than the highest point in the continental US right now!
December 11, 2008
As promised here are some pics from yesterday's climb of Cerro Bonete. We have one more aclimatizing climb today, rest day tomorrow, and Saturday is "Go Time" where we will push up the mountain, each day to a higher camp with an expected summit attempt on Wednesday. The weather is projected to be good this weekend through our summit attempt but we have an unusual weather pattern today called a Viento Blanco (White Wind), not good for a summit attempt in the next few days. Everyone is in great spirits and looking forward to getting up the mountain!
December 10, 2008 - Cerro Bonete!
We had a wonderful climb of Cerro Bonete 16,523 ft. We all reached the summit, strong and with no signs of any acclimization problems. Extrodinary weather and views greeted us on top. Cerro Bonete is the fourth highest separate mountain in the Americas (after Aconcagua, Ojos del Saladoand Monte Pissis). Pictures will follow!
December 9, 2008 - Base Camp! Argentina and Aconcagua are spectacular! The team of Matt Moniz, Mike Moniz, John Banks and guide Tom Torkelson have been together since Saturday when we entered the park in which Aconcagua resides. A four day trek to Base Camp at Aconcagua has taken us from approximately 8,000 feet to 14,200 feet.
Everyone is doing well, both physically and mentally. We are looking forward to the next four or five days of acclimatizing day climbs out of base camp to bring the equipment up to next highest camp. Over the weekend, we will be leaving Base Camp for Camp Canada followed by Nido de Condor which is at approx 18,500 ft. From Nido de Condor, the plan is to climb to Camp Berlin which is just under 20,000 ft. From Berlin, it will be the big push for the summit which is at 22,860 ft.
Everyone is excited to be a part of this expedition climbing the highest peak outside of the Himalayas and to be among some of the most striking mountains in the world. We will be able to communicate well while at Base Camp with some of our thoughts and pictures from our acclimatizing day trips but once we break camp for Camp Canada communications will be limited. Our current schedule has us back in Mendoza by the 20th. \
We've been in Mendoza now for two days. The weather has been hot and dry, very nice. The Argentinian people are some of the kindest people I've ever met, we've made several new friends. Special thank you to Arturo Argumedo who without his help and planning the Aconcagua attempt would not be possible.
The past few days have been very difficult. In order to comply with the Court of Argentina's conditions to gain a permit I've had to get a medical exam from a Pulmonologist and a Cardiologist. Unfortunately, we learned today that they had to be performed by a special public hospital so I spent the day back with the Doctors doing the same test over. Dr. Luis was especially kind.
At 3 pm I finally was granted my climbing permit. We begin the trek in to Confluencia tomorrow morning. Now we can start climbing Aconcagua.