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South America, Argentina, Central Argentine Andes, Aconcagua, Overview

Aconcagua, overview. The official season for climbing Aconcagua is from November 15 to March 15. The Parque Provincial Aconcagua had had 4,434 visitors as of March 7, 2002. Nearly 88 percent of the climbers were non-Argentines, and 410 Argentines tried for the summit. Unfortunately, there were three casualties and 120 rescues and extractions. The first death was German Herbert Springer, who had a heart attack. The same problem struck Englishman Paul Whitehouse on February 15,2002, when he attempted the Polish Glacier route. Argentine guide Gustavo Lo Ré was found dead on February 28. He was last seen on the 22nd when he tried to reach the Horcones zone by a nontraditional route, alone. He fell 200 meters. The mountain, by its normal route, isn’t difficult, but the weather (this is an El Niño year) and high altitude make it dangerous. Next year should see an increase in outsiders because of the Argentine peso devaluation. The park will be open this winter (Southern Hemisphere), but no rangers or rescue services will be available, so anyone challenging the mountain in winter will be on his own. A strange “record” was achieved in the first week of February. A New Zealand party had supper on the summit! They were dressed for the occasion, and the record was accepted by the Guinness Book of Records as the “Highest Supper on Earth.” It’s a strange world.

Marcelo Scanu, Argentina