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South America, Central Argentina, Aconcagua, South Face, Messner Route

Aconcagua, South Face, Messner Route. Mike French, Englishman Hugh Grandfield and I set our Base Camp at the Plaza Francia on February 19. After ten days of acclimatizing, we started up the route, hoping to make the second ascent of it and the first alpine ascent. Unseasonably heavy snowfall and unusually bad weather caused major delays. On March 13 at 22,300 feet in a change of lead, Grandfield sustained a fatal fall when for some reason he completely unhooked his rope to effect the change-over. Unable to reach the summit that day, French and I bivouacked on the Guanaco Ridge. The cold and wind were fierce and French and I were both frostbitten in the ensuing storm. We reached the summit on March 14.

Brian A. Berg, USAF Pararescue Team