Climbing Aconcagua is a challenging thing. It takes, as we like to explain to climbers in every briefing, every piece of stamina and endurance in your body. So, in a regular season, climbing Aconcagua is a very stressful enterprise. Now, imagine adding one more variable to it: Covid. Just when the whole world was beginning to deal with it and vaccines were available for most of it, Omicron variant hit us right with unusual verve. Not only was the most contagious variant, but also one that spread all over the world like a wildfire in hot summer. Although the strict protocol designed by the Aconcagua Park authorities was designed to prevent Covid from entering the basecamps, it wasn’t enough. To enter, everyone needed a negative rapid test–and all of the climbers had it–but, somehow, the virus entered the mountain, and that was the beginning of the perfect storm. According to what was established by the Park, if a member of a group tested positive, the whole expedition had to leave the mountain, since every person was to be considered as a close contact and a potential positive in the near future. With that forecast, some people had false negatives, meaning that they tested negative but were actually positives, on what biochemist and physicians agreed was due to the extremely low charge of virus, making it difficult to be detected by a rapid test. Nevertheless, we continue to operate in such radical conditions, that also included the worst drought Mendoza Province experienced in the last decades, and that forced us to carry water from the basecamp to the high camps, for our expeditions to have enough water to drink and cook, adding an extra to that already volatile combo.
One more thing that we also need to add to this complex situation, was that the protocol enforced by the authorities of the Aconcagua Park was in discrepancy with what the Federal and Provincial Government were using at the time of the climbing season. The one we had to use in Aconcagua, was more adequate by the times the world didn’t have vaccines or we couldn’t freely test our climbers. For example, the close contact–as per protocol–was anyone just close enough to a climber, even if he or she didn’t present any kind of symptoms. As anybody can imagine, all companies had cases of Covid–in spite of all the testing and precautions taken by everyone–, due the outbreak of Omicron, that struck Argentina with unusual violence, not causing many fatalities, but proved to be extremely contagious. And yet again, everyone gave their best to continue working under those conditions.
But, after this chaotic scenario we just described, one thing is certain: We did our best, all of us: guides, porters, basecamp staff, office staff, arrieros, climbers and every single person that set foot on Aconcagua or Mendoza. It wasn’t easy, but we made it. Furthermore, in such tough conditions, AMG had a very successful rate of summits, which speaks by itself about the commitment of all our team.
Climbing Season 2021-2022 in Aconcagua
Covid isn’t over. Maybe is not referred to so often on the front pages or on the TV, but is still here, among us. We don’t know if next season we’ll have the same scenario as in 2021-2022–nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen in the world in the next month–, but what we know for sure is that we’ll be ready to operate, after thoroughly learning the lessons this season have taught us.
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