10th February 2011 // Got the bus back to Santiago in Chile and flight home tonight. Will be back for a few days to sleep, re pack and then I’m off to climb Kilimanjaro with Marie Curie Nurse Janet Suart. I am also going to be joined on this leg by some of the challenge’s followers and some of my friends, family and even some of the 737 Challenge team! I am really looking forward to the next leg. Thank you to Daniel, Gianni, Nils, Leo and Tore and to all the guys on Aconcagua for making me feel welcome and being cool. Had a good rest in Mendoza. Would also like to say thank you and summit congratulations to my cameraman Diego for being a great tent and climbing partner! South America done, next stop Africa!
8th February 2011 // Had my 3rd shower of the year last night, awesome! Arrived in Mendoza at 12.30am and I am enjoying a little civilisation and food today. It’s starting to sink in that I have 3 legs under my belt, a little relieved actually! Didn’t sleep well in a bed again, standard really now! Having a meal tonight with the rest of the group and then I travel to Santiago in Chile tomorrow night.
6th February 2011 // Hi Guys, We are back at Plaza de Mulas base camp after packing up from camp 2 Nido de Condores. It took us about 5 hours to get down from the summit meaning it was about a 17 hour day. We were all pretty shattered last night but the team is in good spirits. 4 of our team and leader Gianni summited. Myself, Diego, Brett and Andy made it.
I can fill you in a bit more about the final moments today. When we reached Canaleta, a large gully leading to the summit ridge, and the most strenuous part of the climb, the weather turned on us quickly. This part of the climb is about 500m of rock scrambling before the summit. Diego and I had to split from the group and push on to ensure we made the summit due to the concern about the weather. Our leader Gianni confirmed we might not have the chance to summit unless we moved on so we made the decision to push on ahead quickly. The others arrived at the summit about half an hour after us and I was really pleased that we were all able to make the descent together, it was nice to start and finish the climb as a group.
Not all the group were aware but there were rumours going around that a German climber had slipped off the Canaleta and died a few days before so our minds were extra focused on those last 500m and it was pretty tough. Before that I had been feeling really comfortable and overall I am really pleased that the climb was a success and I have plenty of gas left in the tank, I feel great proving my training has prepared me really well.
Tonight we will pack more gear up and in the morning load it on to mules. Tomorrow it’s about a 27km trek to the ranger’s station to check out of the park and after that it’s back to Mendoza by bus, which is about 4 hours. Then I’ll get a welcome rest by the side of the pool!
Thanks for all your messages on Facebook and Twitter guys, it’s awesome you are all keeping up to date and to know you are all following my progress every day really does spur me on.
5th February 2011 // RICHARD SUMMITS ACONCAGUA! Richard summited at 2.54pm local time (Chilean time) and 5.54pm UK time.
4th February 2011 // Hi Guys, more news. Things have changed. The weather is due to deteriorate over the next 5/6 days meaning we have a small weather window tomorrow to attempt the summit.
I had a long chat with our two team leaders; Gianni from Argentina and Tore from Norway about the situation. I also talked at length with my cameraman Diego.
After a long chat Diego and I made the decision that we would attempt the summit tomorrow from camp 2, instead of moving on to camp 3 or waiting further for a weather window once the bad weather comes in. This means a longer summit day but a better weather window will give us a higher chance of success. We talked it through at length with Gianni and Tore and myself and Diego were planning to leave the group and attempt the summit ourselves. It took a while to come to this decision, but that is the reason why I have spent almost the last 2 years training for difficult moments like this. Diego and I are fully prepared to carry on.
We then had a big group meeting and all discussed the situation further and Gianni, Tore and the group talked through all the options. The outcome now is that the whole group are also going to do the same thing meaning we will all climb together, making the most of our weather window. We plan to leave camp 2 at 3am Chilean time, 6am UK time to attempt the summit. It will be a long day, possibly 14-18 hours up and down at a guess at the rate we’ve been moving, it will be tough.
These kind of decisions are always tricky and need to be talked through at length. I am lucky to have the expert guidance of our experienced leaders as well as a good team. This is what it’s all about, you can never predict what is going to happen on the mountain. Tomorrow I hope my next update is from the summit of Aconcagua. Goodnight guys!
4th February 2011 // Hi Guys. I had phone issues yesterday, ran out of battery and it wouldn’t recharge but back up and running today! Climbed from camp 1 Canada Camp yesterday to camp 2 Nido de Condores, which means “condors nest”. Camp 2 is at 5480m. It took us about 5 hours to climb up fully loaded because we are moving up the mountain now carrying all our gear which is 20-25 kilos. It was pretty windy, maybe 50-55km winds but it settled down in the evening. Today is a rest day at camp 2.
Had some funny tent issues last night. Finding a spot to pitch our tent was really tough as there isn’t much level ground, trying not to pitch on a slope was near enough impossible! We moved our tent once and even spent ages lying down in different positions to ensure we had the best spot before re pitching again. This morning when Diego and I woke in the tent we were in stitches as we had slipped to the corner of the tent, very funny.
Everyone is in good spirits. It’s getting tougher now though, altitude is playing a factor and things are becoming a lot more difficult. Just working out how to approach summit, whether we go from camp 2 and have a savage summit day or move on to camp 3 and make the ascent from there. Obviously it’s a shorter day but sleeping that high is much tougher. We will discuss plans together and the leader will make the decision, will wait and see. Weather good for summiting at the moment but can change anytime as always. Hopefully things will go according to plan and we will summit in the next few days.
Good luck Wales tonight v England and if you are going or watching have a top night! Rich.
2nd February 2011 // Hi Guys. We have moved up to Canada Camp (camp 1) today. Good feeling to be moving towards the summit. One of the group got medic evacuated this morning with chest problems. The rest of us are in good spirits. Pretty tough day carrying all our gear up to camp 1, but all good and looking forward to pushing on.
1st February 2011 // Passed my medical! Pulse 67 and blood oxygen saturation 94%. Not bad for 4300m! Diego passed too.
1st February 2011 // At base camp for a rest day. Conditions bad yesterday at camp 2, 50km winds and sub zero temperatures. Cached gear though (a cache is load deposit at a camp in order to split carrying all your gear at once). Have another compulsory medical tonight. Sorting gear as moving up to camp 1 tomorrow to start ascent for summit.
We are moving slow. Good group, easy climbing and I’m acclimatising well. Still very grateful to be here, it’s a beautiful place but I am missing home a little at the moment. Probably because we are going slower than on Antarctica, gives you more time to think. My cameraman Diego is good fun and my ipod is keeping me entertained as always. The wind is brutal, 80km on the summit yesterday and the altitude is serious, makes everything tough. Altitude is probably the toughest thing, I have been drinking 5+ litres a day and eating and resting at altitude always a challenge. I am sleeping like a baby though!
31st January 2011 // Climbing to camp 2 today, 5490m. Slept well, feel good. It’s getting cold up here!
30th January 2011 // At camp 1 of 3, called Canada Place. At 4970m, sleeping here tonight, camp 2 tomorrow. Passed compulsory medical yesterday. Load carrying gear day to day about 20 to 25 kilos. Feeling good.
29th January 2011 // Thursday we reached Confluencia. We arrived in Plaza de Mulas base camp yesterday and are currently at 4285m. Group meeting today to discuss summit strategy for me and Diego and just catching up with things. Conditions have been bad, not many people have been summiting. We have a good group of lads, I am lucky once again! Met Damian and Brett who are really good guys. There were two avalanches next to camp last night at 5am, they woke some of us up! Rest day today as we had an 8 hour trek to get here.
26th January 2011 // Short climb today. We are at Confluencia camp, 3390m. A pretty beautiful walk today, was nice. I passed Paul Donovan from Cardiff who I was meant to be climbing with before delays. He was on his way back. It’s a shame we won’t get to climb together but I am looking forward to getting together with the other guys too. All good, just grabbing some food and chilling out this evening. More acclimatisation tomorrow.
25th January 2011 // Hi guys. Had one of the best night’s sleep on the bus last night since leaving the ice and feeling pretty good today. I got woken up at 3am by lots of people shouting at me in Spanish to take my paperwork to immigration, which was a bit crazy but all good. Arrived at the hotel in Mendoza at 7am, had a quick shower and breakfast and then realised there was a pool in my hotel as I passed it. As I am still in expedition mode I didn’t bother going back up to find something to swim in so I just sat next to the pool in my pants!!
I’ve been to the department of tourism this afternoon to pay the 750 dollars fee to enter the Aconcagua National Park. So I have my park permit and have met up with my new cameraman Diego and we are all good to go.
Going to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling and sending some photos back for you all. Then tonight Diego and I start the journey overland to Los Penitentes (2,599m/8,530ft). From there we sign in to the National Park and start the 3-4 day trek in to base camp where we will do some acclimatisation along the way.
My tent and lots of things have already gone ahead on mules with the group I will be joining in a few days so for the next few days Diego and I will be sleeping in mess tents along the way, which are dining tents, cool! I am really excited about joining all the guys and climbing Aconcagua. Weather is hot here I am seriously baking! Missing the Antarctic weather a little, but I am starting to get used to it now and I’m raring to go!
24th January 2011 // What a brutal day, sat waiting in Santiago airport DHL for over 3 hours to collect my package from home which including my sleeping bag for Aconcagua, bottle and Rab shell jacket, all of which I left at home. Even chipped my tooth whilst biting my nails! When I located my package, completed paperwork and found out it was with customs it was like a small victory after such a mind-numbing wait!
I lost the will to live a bit today sat in that queue, I missed the 1pm bus to Mendoza so I am now catching the overnight bus, double brutal! I am a little tired as still having trouble sleeping in a bed so I guess the overnight bus won’t make much difference! It’s boiling here, I miss the cold (I know, I did say I wanted to be above 0 degrees!). Will be in touch when I arrive at Mendoza.