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Everest with Mountain Madness

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