Aconcagua …Hangs in the balance

Aconcagua …Hangs in the balance



It’s now Sunday morning 10th January and over night after lengthy discussions with expedition leader Milli and my weather wingman back home in Ireland Pat mc Dermott ,a small weather window looks possible, forecasts showing a short break in the roaring winds for a possible summit attempt on Wednesday 13th or Thursday 14th. It would require a mammoth endurance task though to leave ourselves in a high enough position to strike for the summit…..the storm would continue to rage between 75/90kph at 6000meters and topping at 142 kph on the summit 6942mts on Tuesday 12th and dropping dramatically to 50kmh but with bitter super low wind chill of -30deg for the two day window , questions after questions passes through my mind….with my fully loaded expedition gear weighted at 32kgs can i move safely & fast enough , what if the weather changes for the worse ,surly not , can i avoid the effects & dangers of high altitude sickness .. JezS my head is spinning. Its going to require myself an Milli to climb from basecamp to camp 2 direct avoiding camp 1 and the following morning climb to camp 3 resting for a few hours enduring the desperate low temperatures and finally that night or morning at 4am thursday push for the summit at just under 7000 meters & have enough time to climb back down before the weather window closes and turns dangerously bad again…. Is this plan two aggressive….It would require every piece of endurance physically & mentally I can muster to pull it off. By now most of the mountain routes are not climbable due to the severe weather conditions with most if not all teams abandoning any 2016 summit attempt. Few if any are summiting and reports are leaking out its the worst weather the mountain has every experienced in over 30years….. All dude to the El Niña weather pattern bring with it an extreme cold phase ….Typical and me stuck right in the middle. It was now clear that a few critical decisions had to be carefully made , firstly i had to establish was the land support company “Adventuras Patagonicas” who’s climbing licence permitted a further solo ascent ,thankfully news came through Milli that company owner Rodrigo Mujica gave the green light ,it was a go. Now came the most critical decision and with my mind clearly focused i made that difficult phone call to Sharon my wife and without doubt my pillar of strength & inspiration. After explaining the dyer situation as the expedition unfolded she placed her trust in me and supported the summit attempt…this was it. It was decided and my destiny was set to return to the mountain for one final attempt. Saying goodbye as I watched my fellow team mates make the two day trek back to civilisation i could not but smile to myself that they have left this mountain enriched fruit filled with a better understanding of life in the great outdoors in a way that will possibly help build a stronger resilience for life ahead….. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. As i turn, i look up at Aconcagua with mixed emotions of excitement and fear of the Unknown ,knowing that in life the worst decision is not making a decision, quietly going back to my strongest strength & asking my greatest sherpa the man above to guide my path, i knew deep down this was going to be a battle. For now it hydration and rest time , prepare my kit mindful to travel as light as possible for speed yet balancing the practicality of whats required up there to survive. Keep me in your prayers. Jason

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