ACONCAGUA

On December 30, 2017, six members of Cascade Leadership Challenge flew to Mendoza, Argentina. On January 3, they began an attempt to traverse and summit Mount Aconcagua. You can see the most recent posts on the CLC fb page: https://www.facebook.com/cascadeleadershipchallenge/ or on twitter at https://twitter.com/CLCExpedition.

Aoncagua is the highest mountain outside Asia, at 6,960.8 metres (22,837 ft), and the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. It is the second tallest mountain of the Seven Summits. Being a high altitude desert, Aconcagua has routes that can be entirely snow-free, requiring no technical climbing or running belays. (A running belay involves a team of roped climbers who travel simultaneously rather than one at a time).

The CLC climb occurs during the southern hemisphere’s summer. The sun will be above the horizon line about 14 hours per day. Nautical Twilight will add slightly less than an hour of useful light before sunrise and after sunset. It will be truly dark just under 8 hours per night. Because most of the climb will be on the north side of Aconcagua, the mountain will not obscure the sun or cast deep shadows on our camps or route, except on summit day, when we ascend the north western flank of the mountain and the sun rises at about 25 degrees south of east.

20 Jan 2018The sun rises late in Plaza de Mulas. Mule bags are packed and we explored the highest art gallery in the world. Now for a 16-mile hike out. Woohoo!

19 Jan 2018We’ve made it to Plaza de Mulas!! We descended 5,300ft in 4.5 hours and it began snowing halfway through. Everyone feels they can breathe deeper here.Through the descent, Maddy improved to the point of cured! We all feel good, ready for the hike out tomorrow, and thankful to be here eating good food.

This morning Maddy woke up with a very bad headache. We like Maddy more than Colera camp, so we’re descending now to Plaza de Mulas.

The image is the Aconcagua summit, looking down upper Canaleta chute at other mountaineers still ascending. The south peak can be seen on the left. Photo from Shutterstock.

18 Jan 2018

Ian, Maddy, Kestrel, and Frances here. We’ve made the call - 19,600ft is our group summit. We’ll stay here until the 20th, health allowing. We tried to blitz up for tomorrow’s summit window and ended up working harder and longer than anticipated. We’re proud to be here and in good health. Here’s to a good night’s sleep and a fantastic mountain to live on! Best of luck to all those attempting the summit early tomorrow morning.

Beds are made and dinner is cooking. The only thing we’re missing now is our dear teammates Bella and Mark! Hoping they have a safe journey out.Camp is made at Colera - 19,600ft! Today’s hike was longer than we thought and we had more weight than anticipated. It made for brutal work.

It’s a beautiful day at 18k on Aconcagua! We’re all packed and starting our journey to Colera camp at 19,600ft.

The image is the high Camp for the Aconcagua Polish Glacier and Polish Traverse routes. Photo from Shutterstock.


17 Jan 2018 If us remaining at Guanacos have good responses to the altitude tomorrow morning, we move to Colera camp at 19,600ft. Thanks for tuning in and goodnight!

We’re headed to bed at Guanacos camp. It was a long trek to get here but the weather has been relatively mild and warm. All here are in good spirits.

Bella experienced AMS on the way to Guanacos today. The decision was made for her and Mark to descend go Penitentes - descent is the surest cure.

Wind dropped this morning! Packing to move to 18K, Guanacos camp. We’ll give you a shout once we’ve made camp. All are ready to say goodbye to Camp 1!


16 Jan 2018 Wind drops tomorrow for 3 days. We’ll stick to our plan to conserve strength by moving in better weather. It’s the mode we’ve chosen. We’ll see.

11AM here, 6AM @ home. Wind continues to howl but many teams have started up into the teeth of it. It’s very draining to be out in wind like this.

The image is actually of Denali, of when the team was there in 2014.

15 Jan 2018 Maddy and Ian returned with food & gas! Now we don’t have to risk a bad weather move. Everything improves on the 17th We will ascend then. All’s well

If they return we wait out weather here and ascend on the 17th. If not, all descend and call it a climb. Taking the safest/most reasonable options.

Weathered a huge blow last night which scoured all the new snow away back to bare rocks. The tents are bomber. Ian & Maddy headed down to BC for supplies.


14 Jan 2018 Wind blown snow and all surface water has frozen. Melting snow for water. Gonna be at 16K for awhile. All are holding up well.

Next 2 nights at Camp One. High winds have us pinned. Cold out in the wind but with the sun blazing our tents are greenhouse warm. Watching forecasts..

13 Jan 2018 ...It will keep snowing at One and snowing and blowing hard at 18K tomorrow so we plan to sit the storm out here at One. Had a good dinner. Tired but well.

Back at Camp One after our gear carry to Guanacos at 18,000. It’s been snowing most of the day. We moved through blizzard conditions above 17,000...

12 Jan 2018 Currently our summit push will be the 18th just as winds are predicted to drop. Of course, forecasts are just that. Gotta stay flexible. We’re well.

Looking at route options and weather. We will make Guanacos our 2nd camp rather than Camp Two. A bit confusing. Guanacos is a better grade and elevation for acclimatization. Weather forecast now is for cooler & drier for the next few days, then dangerous summit winds as we sit tight at Guanacos.

Today is an organize and recoup day at Camp One. The temps predicted on Mountain Forecast presume no insolation. When the sun shines it’s warmer. We feel good but any load carrying or walking uphill is hard. So we need to rest. Tomorrow we carry gear to Two in rougher weather. But the route is easy to see. Snow here is very light and sublimates instead of melts.


11 Jan 2018 The electrical storm passed to the east. We had a dry evening. All in tents for the night. Good thing. A strong, cold downslope wind picked up. At 16,350

Camp One achieved! Very hard day but dinner is on and tents are going up. More later. Weather moving in.

10 Jan 2018 Team at BC 1 more day to be as strong as possible higher up. Food’s good here. All have o2 levels above 90%. That’s good. We move up to One tomorrow.


9 Jan 2018 Rest day at BC today. We want to be patient with our acclimatization and we aren’t quite there yet. Tomorrow: maybe to One, maybe here. We’ll see.


8 Jan 2018 The ascent: 5 hours. The descent: 1 1/2 hours. We’ll rest in BC tomorrow and make our move to One the next day, weather permitting. Tired but happy. Just after the last post it started snowing HARD! We climbed the last 1000 in a blizzard, set our Camp One cache and raced down the mountain. Taking a break at 15,000. We think the zigzag track is due to the satellite signal bouncing off the steep canyon walls we just ascended. All feeling good.

7 Jan 2018 In tents now at BC. It’s sleeting with an electrical storm hitting up mountain. We are packed up and ready for tomorrow’s gear carry to Camp One.

Hey everyone, this is Maddy! The team is loving it here at basecamp. We have a carry day up to camp 1 tomorrow and are exited to see the upper mountain!

Frances here! The mountain’s beautiful, the weather suits us, and everyone we’ve met so far has been incredibly gracious. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Hello all, it’s Ian! We’ve been having a great time here and savoring the experience. We’re so grateful for all of your support back home.

Bella J (sometimes becca j) here! We are getting a little mountain glamour while resting after a tiring approach. Hard days to come. Excited! Nervous!

Hi it’s Kestrel! We're full of hot food and tea, and even got to take showers today! I’m looking forward to tomorrow but also very excited to go to bed.

6 Jan 2018 The team arrived at Plaza de Argentina, 13,500 feet. A hard push, everyone did well. We’ll be here at least 3 nights, more if the coming storm lingers.

5 Jan 2018 Tough hike today bit the team did great. Now at Casa Piedra, 10,600 feet. Saw Aconcagua for the first time this afternoon. It’s REALLY BIG! All well.

4 Jan 2018 Today we hiked to Pampas Lenas at 9400 feet. Here a friendly ranger named Uno checked our permits and the mulateers cooked our dinner on an open fire.

The stars above tonight are spectacular, though unfamiliar, being the Southern sky. All of camp is asleep after a tough first day. Good night!

3 Jan 2018 Hello from Los Penitentes, the Grajales logistics base at 8500 elevation. Today we divided our loads for the mules to take to base camp.

Tomorrow we start the 22 mile approach hike to Aconcagua’s base. The team is in good spirits. Thanks you everybody for your support of this expedition!

3 Jan 2018 We've checked out of our hotel in Mendoza and are off to Los Penitentes! Don't know if we have enough stuff, though.

2 Jan 2018 It's official! We recieved our permits today and are headed to Los Penitentes tomorrow morning. We camp there overnight and then begin our approach.

Mendoza is a beautiful city! We are packed and ready. Tomorrow we make the 3-hour drive to the Aconcagua trailhead.

It was 90 degrees here today in Mendoza and -24 on Aconcagua’s summit! Brrr!

1 Jan 2018 More updates from the Aconcagua team, and Feliz Años Nuevo 2018! We promise we've been doing more than eating good food and lounging around. It's been a busy few days of packing, repacking, shopping, finding our way around the city, and meeting other travelers and climbers coming back from or headed to the mountain.

31 Dec 2017 Greetings from warm and sunny Mendoza! We arrived ealier this afternoon after flights from Houston and Santiago. VERY tired, but we've already managed to get out, explore town, and sample some of the local cuisine!

30 Dec 2017 The Aconcagua team is in the air! We completed our shopping and packing yesterday, grabbed a final photo in Seattle, and spent the night in Blaine. We flew out of Vancouver this morning, are in Houston now, and will board the redeye to Santiago, Chile tonight. On to Mendoza, Argentina tomorrow.