Updates from the field

  • Disappointed at BC
    This morning I was awakened by Alex asking me to come check on Tony. He felt Tony was making some strange noises when breathing. We all got up and went to the “suite” to check on Tony. After an initial check of Tony’s vital signs – pulse, respiration, oxygen saturation and general appearance I decided to ask the Park rangers for assistance as they maintain a doctor at BC with medical oxygen and medications. Once we contact them they are in control of the situation. They decided Tony had High Altitude Pulmonary Edema – HAPE. It was decided to evacuate Tony by helicopter as soon as it was light enough to fly. At 8am Tony left Plaza Argentina for Penitentes by helicopter and then by car to Mendoza. By the time he reads this he will be in Mendoza greatly improved we hope. We will miss his positive spirit and eager approach to climbing Aconcagua. We are all glad he is safe and able to recover at a lower altitude. The Team took another rest day in BC. Tomorrow we will again make our first carry to Camp 1. We should all be strong with the additional rest in BC

    HAPE is a condition that can effect climbers going to high altitude. It can strike anyone at anytime without warning. HAPE can be deadly if not treated immediately with rapid descent. Tony will recover in Mendoza and for now plans to wait for us to finish the expedition.

    We want to thank the Park rangers and Doctor here at BC for their assistance. We also want to express our sincere gratitude for all the kind support provided by the staff of Fernando Grajales Expeditions here in Plaza Argentina, Penitentes and in Mendoza.

    We will regroup and keep you posted on our progress.

    Thank You all for your continued support.

  • Approach Trek to Plaza Argentina
    We finally got off from Penitentes around 1pm on our first day of the three day trek to Plaza Argentina. Today’s walk is the shortest of all but still a challenge as it is always hot and seems difficult.

    Tony, Alex and Ana (the bullet) went quickly to set up camp at Pampa las Lenas. There are many groups heading to Aconcagua. Camps are crowded with climbers from around the world – USA, Argentina, Russia and Canada …

    The boy’s have now had their first experience setting up the tent that will be their private rooms for the next few weeks. Finally Mario and I arrived in Lenas for the night.

    Each of us had a unique experience – Tony learned an important lesson while resting by the side of the trail the mules came running along and he had to dive out of the way to keep from being trampled – Lesson #1: move out of the way of the mules or you may get trampled!!!

    2012/01/19 Lenas to Casa de Piedra
    Today’s walk is the longest of all the days. We walk up the Vacas River to Casa de Piedra. The sun in merciless as there is not a single tree to provide shade. Although the locals all claim that this season is very dry; the recent rainfall has brought out the flowers and made the hillsides green. There seems to be more fresh water along the route than in years past. The days walk took about 7 hours for us all to reach camp.

    Casa de Piedra on the 19th January has some special significance to Mario and I. We were reminded that we were here with Scott Williams on his 50th birthday the last time Mario was at this camp. We had a BBQ on that night as we did this time as well. The meat and vegetables were cooked over an open fire by the mule drivers and served hot on a piece of wood. Again a memorable meal prepared by the local mule drivers.

    The memorable experience today was spotting a high flying Condor. This huge bird floats on the air currents high above and with it keen eyes can spot a dead animal for dinner from several thousands feet above. The Condor with its white collar around its neck is certainly one of the largest birds in North and South America and possibly in the world.

    2012/01/20 – Casa de Piedra to Plaza Argentina – Base Camp 4,200 meters

    Today started with a short mule ride across the Vacas River as we start the climb up the Relinchos River valley that flows from the glacier at Plaza Argentina. The climb is over 1,000 meters, this was our steepest climb so far this trip. The trail follows the river and at one point the boys jumped across on the rocks while Mario and I took the opportunity to wash our feet in the cold glacier runoff – chilly but it felt really refreshing. Once across the stream the climb continues past a beautiful rock garden and the old site of Base Camp. We finally arrived at our home from for the next few days – Plaza Argentina .

    Plaza Argentina is a developed camp with a wide variety of services available – internet, email, showers, bunk house with mattress and restaurant facilities. We are using Fernando Grajales’ services here at Base Camp. Upon arrival in Plaza Argentina the boys found the only vacant “suite” in camp and promptly rented it all for themselves… The reason given was a better nights sleep!!! Fortunately Alex, after an exhausting walk, got nearly 10 hours of restful sleep. Tony was not as fortunate and still found it a challenge to get a good nights rest despite the lavish accommodations…maybe tonight he will have a better nights rest. The rest of us set up our tents and slept well in our private palaces.

    Meals are served at 9am, 2pm and 8pm with a tasty variety of well cooked meals. The crew here is doing a great job serving more than 60 climbers who are hungry and tired.

    Alex found the walk to BC to be one of the toughest physical challenges so far on this trip. He arrived in camp exhausted, hungry and excited. This was his first time to be in mountains so high. After snacks, drinks and a rest we all enjoyed a dinner of great fresh vegetable soup, lasagna and dessert. Finally Alex was off to recover with a much deserved rest.

    Congratulations to all for arriving in BC in good health!!!

    2012/01/21 – Rest day in BC

    Late morning breakfast at 9am followed by an exercise in packing. Today we will rest and acclimatize to the new altitude of 4200 meters. (please note: on this mountain elevations are given in meters)

    This maybe the first time Tony and Alex have had the chance to assemble their personal gear for the climb of Aconcagua. Leigh Ann back home in Dallas did an outstanding job of getting all the needed gear together and packed for the trip to Argentina. Unfortunately she is not here to pack for the climb so together we went through every piece of gear and decided when to use it on the up coming climb. As neither Tony or Alex have ever undertaken such a large challenge in the mountains the gear is proving to be a new challenge far beyond the physical effort required so far…this will change as we climb higher and higher towards the summit.

    We are all packed for tomorrow’s carry to Camp 1. We will be off in the morning for a 6-7 hour round trip climb of more than a thousand meters to reach Camp 1 where we will drop our loads of personal gear before returning to a good dinner at BC.

    Thanks to all who have supported us in preparation of this climb of Aconcagua!!!

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Live Map

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This is a 22-day expedition, led by Jim Williams, a professional mountain guide based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who owns Exploradus, which will be providing text updates and maps of the trip as well! Tony and Alex Chang will be making the climb together.


Area Map


Trip Schedule

Day 1 15 Jan Arrive in Mendoza.
Day 2 16 Pack food and gear
Day 3 17 Drive to Penitents
Day 4 18 Walk to Lennas
Day 5 19 Walk to Casa Peadras
Day 6 20 Walk to Plaza Argentina
Day 7 21 Rest Day
Day 8 22 Carry C1 & Back to BC
Day 9 23 Rest Day
Day 10 24 Move to Camp 1 with porters
Day 11 25 Carry to Camp 2
Day 12 26 Rest Day
Day 13 27 Move to Camp 2 with porters
Day 14 28 Carry to Camp 3
Day 15 29 Move to Camp 3
Day 16 30 Rest Day/Summit Day
Day 17 31 Jan Summit day
Day 18 01 Feb Descend to Plaza Mulas with porters
Day 19 02 Walk to Penitents
Day 20 03 Return to Mendoza – Hyatt Hotel
Day 21 04 Feb Fly home
Day 22 05 Feb Arrive in USA

We’ll be updating you right here about Tony’s trip as details come in from the field! Check back often!