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.
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.