ACONCAGUA

Posted on: June 1, 2003


The 2400-meter south face of Aconcagua, showing: A. South Summit (6930m) B. North Summit (6962m) C. Upper Glacier D. Pasic Glacier E. Middle Glacier F. Lower Glacier Approximate route lines are as follows (routes are ca. 2400 meters long unless otherwise indicated): 1. Sun Line Route (ED1 5.10+ 90, Romih-Sveticic, 1988) 2. Slovenian Route (ED1/2 5.9 A3 90,Gantar-Podgornik-Podgornik-Rejc, 1982) 3. Slovenian Variation to the French Route (ED1 5.8, Discak-Crnilogar-Skamperle-Sveticic, 1982) 4. French Route (ED1 5.9, Bernardini-Dagory-Denis-Lasueur-Paragot-Poulet, 1954) 5. Messner Variation to the French Route (ED1, ca. 1000m, Messner, 1974) 6. La Ruta de la Ruleta (ED1, Romih-Sveticic, 1988) 7. Central Route (D, Fonrouge-Schonberger, 1966) 8. French Direct (ED1 5.7, ca. 1000m to join the Argentine Route, Chassagne-Dufour-Raveneau-Vallet, 1985) 9. Argentine Route (D, Aikes-Pellergrini, 1966) 10. Southeast Ridge (AD 5.9, ca. 2700m, Horak-Rocker-Sause, 1966) [Photo] Ken Sauls

Five p.m., 6300 meters; it had been snowing for more than two hours and the 600 meters of slope above me were starting to slough. A steep mixed slope covered with thin ice forced me to down climb. The spindrift increased in severity. There was no getting around it: I had to take shelter.

I felt like I was in the heart of the avalanche; it was hard to evaluate the power of the nearly continuous flow that brushed past. Inside my bag, though, I had my own world and was isolated from the elements, even if it was damp. There was a chance that I would spend the night seated that way, and in those conditions, the stove would stay in its bag as well.

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Would I freeze? You bet your life I would! The guy hanging ten meters to my left wasn't going to come and warm me up. He looked like he had been in osmosis with the surroundings for some time. It made my head spin; I wasn't very chummy with him.

Go back down, then? Maybe, but not by the same route; it was bad enough to have been exposed to those seracs for a few hours already. The sky cleared up just before sunset; Aconcagua had finished fluttering its wings, and I started off again. There was one final dilemma: Should I tackle the big final slope and run the risk of a last avalanche, or split it up and take shelter from the seracs? I was attracted to the second option. Around 1:30 a.m., in the moonlight, with snow up to my waist, the other side appeared to me. An intense and rich adventure was coming to an end; how novel!

— Bruno Sourzac, Passy, France (translated by Eric Bye)

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