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Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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March 14, 2014

Summit Success on the Aconcagua Polish Traverse

MM Guide Gaspar Navarrete reports of a successful Aconcagua climb via the Polish Traverse! Derrick T. and Gaspar reached the summit despite fresh heavy snowfall and low temperatures.

After enjoying many days of great weather while acclimatizing, when we arrived to Camp 2 at 5500 meters, a weather front hit the mountain with big snow storms. We knew it was going to stay for several days so we stuck to our original program and kept acclimatizing. The day we moved to Camp 3 (Colera Camp at 6000 meters), we had to endure very low temperatures and lots of fresh snow on the trail, causing us to expend a lot of energy. 

 

Fresh snowfall at camp. Gaspar Navarrete photo

Still snowing. Gaspar Navarrete photo

We reached Camp 3 very late and Felipe, our local guide, and I melted snow for clients and started cooking diner. It was a windy day with low temperatures but we still had the confidence that the next morning was going to be a good day for our summit push. We planned a later start due to the low temperatures, and we knew we’d have to move fast to avoid getting too cold. 

 

Keeping dinner warm. Gaspar Navarrete photo

At 6:00 on the morning of the 17th, Felipe and I woke up and started melting snow for breakfast and for our summit day. While doing this and waking up clients, the first lights started warming up the day, and we did not leave camp before 7:30am. After an hour of walking on a very cold day, Dan and Felipe turned around because of the extreme cold. Felipe took Dan down to Camp 3 (Colera) and once they arrived, they, decided to pack up and head down to Plaza de Mulas. 

Derrick at the traverse. Gaspar Navarrete photo

On the way to the cave at 6,550 meters. Gaspar Navarrete photo

After some hours of climbing with a great rhythm, Derrick and I arrived to the cave at 6550 meters, where we took a long and deserved break. Derrick left his pack at this point and we moved together until 200 meters below the summit, where we met some other climbers who were breaking trail. From this point, I decided to go in front breaking trail until one meter below the summit because I wanted to arrive together with Derrick. Since there were about seven climbers ahead of us and I was breaking trail, Derrick ended being at the end of the line. Just before getting to where I was waiting for him, he managed to pass four other climbers and we ended up reaching the summit together. 

 

Almost to the summit. Gaspar Navarrete photo

At the summit. Gaspar Navarrete photo

It was a great experience to reach a summit like Aconcagua with those winter conditions and lots of snow on the route. After 20 minutes of pictures and hugs we started our long descent knowing that the rest of the team were already on their way back to Base Camp. Since Derrick was performing great and had some energy left, we decided to do the same. After some hydration and food at Camp 3, we also headed down to Plaza de Mulas where our team was waiting for us with a big smile and a great dinner.

Afternoon on the way down. Gaspar Navarrete photo

~ MM Guide Gaspar Navarrete