Like most families mine has been touched by cancer many times. I lost my mother to lung cancer and my father has survived two bouts with cancer at 76 years old. Dharmashop.com has long supported Tibetan charities and human rights groups and we are excited to announce our partnership with Radiating Hope.
From Brandon Fisher, director of Raditaing Hope
Mt. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia, standing at an impressive 22,840 feet above sea level in the Andes mountain range. The success rate for reaching the summit is approximately 30%. !We spent the past year training as much as possible to prepare for this 18 day expedition."
The trip began by flying into Santiago Chile where we dropped off art supply care packages to the local pediatric cancer children’s hospital. We then flew to Mendoza, meeting our guide, Juan Tomaselli, a local from Buenos Aires. !After a several hour bus ride, weaving our way into the Andes Mountains, we came to Puente del Inca, at 9,185 feet, where we spent the first night on the mountain. !From here we unloaded a good portion of our gear to be carried to base camp by a team of mules, and began our trek to base camp. !It took three more days and more than twenty miles of walking before we reached base camp, spending two nights in !Confluencia at about 11,000 feet. !It was during these first few days that we caught a glimpse of just how massive Aconcagua is, this mountain stands high above the Andes with a steep, glaciated south face which is very intimidating (see picture)."
On day 7 of the expedition we made it to Base camp—Plaza De Mulas, at 14,200 feet and stayed here for three night acclimatizing, which consists of climbing high and sleeping low and carrying our gear in small loads to higher camps. !Base camp is a unique place with people from all around the world. There is a helicopter that continually comes in and out of the camp for medical purposes and to drop off supplies. !You can use the internet for 15 bucks, buy a coke for five, or even warm shower for 10 dollars. !We got our gear the mules had carried, as they could go no higher."
The highest art gallery in the world is at base camp, where artist Miguel Doura sells his paintings. Miguel was impressed with Radiating Hope and stated that he would give 20% of his online sales to our cause and hung a string of our prayer flags which can be seen from his art gallery via a live webcam which updates every three minutes. !Go to aconcaguanow.com to check out our prayer flags. !It will be fun to watch these flags as they will give you a real time idea of how the flags slowly unravel in the wind, so check out the website to watch the process."
By day 10 of the expedition we were ready for the high camps. !The move to high camp I at 16,075 feet, started with a big storm of wind and snow which made climbing a little miserable, but we pushed on and within three hours we were setting up our tents at camp Canada. After only one night in Canada we made our way to high camp II, Nido de Condores (or condors nest), at nearly 17,720 feet. !Here we stayed for two nights, spending most of the day melting snow in order to have plenty of drinking water. The view from here was amazing, we could see far into northern Argentina and see all the way to Chile, we were above most of the mountains in the area and the views were absolutely breathtaking (literally)."
Next we were ready for the last and final camp, high camp III, Colera, at 19,600 feet. !We had planned to stay here for two nights, and had scheduled in an additional day for bad weather. !Well, when we arrived to camp III on January 10th, the winds were strong and we were forced to quickly make shelter and hunker down for the night, the summit attempt was going to be the next day, but due to extreme weather we had to abort the summit attempt and instead spent the day in our tents hoping that the next day would be better. Two of our strong climbers elected to head back down the mountain due to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) from the high altitude."
January 11th started for us with a tap on our tent from Juan at 4:30 AM telling us to get ready as there was a break in the weather and we were going for the summit. !The wind was still strong and it was cold, but thanks to good gear (and a special thanks to Sherpa Adventure Gear), we felt up to tackling these final 3,000 feet. Quickly into the climb another one of our climbers was sent back down the mountain with AMS leaving four climbers."
We pushed our way up the steep slopes, concentrating on our breathing and making sure every step counted, this was not easy. !To quote David, “this was beyond difficult,” and in the words of Alex, “this is by far the hardest thing I have ever!done.” We were elated to make it to the top of the Americas, 22,841 feet!!!!"