Federico Campanini, an international Argentine guide, lost his life on Aconcagua in January 2009. Created in memory of Federico, The “El Fede” Campanini Foundation is dedicated to providing information, guidance, training and financial assistance to support ongoing efforts to improve mountain rescue on Aconcagua and in other commercial climbing areas.
The endeavor will not be easy, but it is possible through the support from those who share Federico’s love for the mountains.
A Brief overview of the Aconcagua season 2015-2016
The season went quite well.There was only one death during the season, a Japanese man of 76 years who collapsed on the summit and was unable to be revived
According to Antonio Ibaceta, head of the Search and Rescue: there were many evacuations, from just the SAR–53
In regards to the rescue equipment from the “El Fede” Campanini foundation, everything was utilized as much as possible. The Skeds were used so much that they need to be replaced.
One hope is that the government claims they will begin to invest money in the park so we hope that things will get even better.”
Amber Christensen’s memoir “The Path of 8” just published
The Path of 8: It Begins on a Mountain, Moves Around It and then Moves It.
Spanning three continents and one of the world’s highest mountains, this is a young widow’s memoir of bicultural love and grief and the agonizing effort to find meaning in tragedy.
In 2002, Amber Christensen was brutally bitten by a dog while traveling through Argentina. She was forced to change her travel plans which led her to Aconcagua—the highest mountain in the Southern hemisphere—where she met a handsome and charming Argentine mountain guide named Fede. After spending only three days together the two had fallen deeply in love.
They embarked upon a bi-continental life together lit by love and adventure, fraught with challenges, and darkened by senseless tragedy. After only three years of marriage Fede was caught in a storm on the summit of the same mountain where their love story had begun. A torturous search and rescue effort ensued, ultimately ending in his death. In the wake of Fede’s untimely passing, Amber was forced to face the mountain that had both blessed and cursed her life, and to find a way to create meaning and purpose from insurmountable loss.
This is a story of love, death, and moving mountains. Christensen recounts her journey of bicultural love and grief, which brings her back again and again to a twisting mountain trail that offers her transformation, transcendence, and an ultimate acceptance: that in any language, culture, or moment, comprender la muerte es comprender la vida (to understand death is to understand life).
If you would like to purchase it please go to: http://thepathof8.com
The project: December 28th-December 31st
On December 28th the SAR, porters, park rangers, workers for the outfitters of each camp, guides, and me, got together to discuss the maintenance of the rescue caches which has to be a communal effort. The caches are there for anyone to use who needs them in an emergency; however, some people, usually independent climbers often open them out of curiosity and do not close them. Or, others steal things from the caches because not everyone has a conscience. Luckily, most often the caches are used in a necessary situation. However, when a person uses the equipment inside, such as oxygen, the tank needs to be refilled and then returned to the cache. Or, if a Sked is used to lower someone from a certain place on the mountain, the Sked needs to be returned to the cache. Therefore, we got together to discuss how to organize and communicate with this as well as how to transmit the message to climbers that the caches are there for an emergency and not for curiosity or anything else. Basically, it is going to be an ongoing process. In order to try and protect the donated equipment as well as remind everyone that it is from a foundation we marked everything with stickers and paint.
On December 29th we left Plaza de Mulas for Nido de Condores. It was a 4 and a half hour ascent and a 1500 meter elevation gain. When we arrived I did an inventory of what equipment was available there. As you can see, there is ample equipment.
I talked with the SAR rangers there and they told me how often the equipment is used to save lives, that at least 100 lives had been saved because of the equipment. Tears streamed down my face when I heard that number. One life for a hundred. Ah, Federico Campanini, you continue moving mountains.
We made our plan for the next day. We would leave at 6a.m. and take more material to Colera and then we would continue up to Independencia.
The SAR rangers and a park ranger, Pablo Ruiz, would take the materials for La Canaleta (a Sked, an oxygen tank and regulator and emergency sleeping bags and blankets). Myself, Matias, and two others would ascend to Independencia. All of us were a bit concerned because wind conditions were supposed to be between 50-60 kilometers per hour. We woke up at 6a.m. to melt snow and hydrate for the mission.
Inside Refugio Elena at Colera. The refuge was donated by Elena Selen’s family (Elena was Federico’s client that also died in the 2009 tragedy).
It was a long day and the wind was strong and the altitude gain was intense. I became frustrated at times with the fact that I had to even be there, bringing equipment and doing the labor to install the equipment. I had to lose my husband to be in that moment. But, then I looked at the people who were there with me, Matias Cruz, who had fought to try and save Federico’s life and who continued to help me because he is just one of those good people in the world. After that realization I continued on and we completed our mission. I am happy to report that Aconcagua now has four rescue caches: Nido de Condores, Campo 3 (on the Plaza Argentina side), Independencia, and the Canaleta.
More pictures to come.
At Plaza de Mulas base camp organizing the project
We left on December 25th for Aconcagua and arrived yesterday at Plaza de Mulas base camp. Thus far, the community here has been amazing. Everyone has offered help and support with what we are trying to do. The most important effort that will have to continue and have to be fostered for a long time is the continued effort to take care of the rescue caches and the equipment inside. The caches are there to help people who have an emergency and for no other reason. Since being here, I have observed a lot of climbers who are trying to summit alone and too fast. This is unfortunate because it puts everyones life in danger.
The plan is to stay two more days here to acclimatize and to then begin ascending to Nido de Condores.
´Tomorrow the community here which includes guides, porters, the camp crew, the park rangers, the medics, and the Search and Rescue rangers are getting together to discuss the project and how they can continue working together to keep this mountain safe.
More to come…