failed rescue attempt on Aconcagua

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WBraun

climber
Feb 23, 2009 - 03:46pm PT
Survival of a victim in the case of the Aconcagua incident doesn't really depend on the rescuers or what ever.

If he was to really survive and live 1 guy in a jock strap could have shown up and that's all it would have taken.

If he was not to live a whole army of helicopters and 100 men completely outfitted with the best equipment would not have made any difference.
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Feb 23, 2009 - 04:41pm PT
Here's the "low angle terrain" that Rokjox is ranting about. This is the top 1100 meters of the Polish Glacier route and the stranded party would have been found about a third of the way down and brought back up.



Yep, sure looks flat.

Dingus Milktoast

climber
Feb 23, 2009 - 04:52pm PT
Its good you're taking on another charity case jennie.

DMT
graniteclimber

Trad climber
Nowhere
Feb 23, 2009 - 04:56pm PT
"If he was to really survive and live 1 guy in a jock strap could have shown up and that's all it would have taken.

If he was not to live a whole army of helicopters and 100 men completely outfitted with the best equipment would not have made any difference."

Does YOSAR have any plans to lay everyone off, except for 1 guy in a jock strap?
Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
Feb 23, 2009 - 05:04pm PT
yes,

part of the new "Stimulate" Package...
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Feb 23, 2009 - 06:41pm PT
Over night long term patient care is difficult to train (time) and not really taught anywhere. EMT's want you at the hospital in 20 minutes, First responders do teach it to some degree, but you don't train it you talk about it.

It's covered fairly well in WFR (wilderness first responder) - at least in some. IIRC, it was the NOLS / WMI course that covered it the most of the ones I've experienced.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Feb 23, 2009 - 07:31pm PT
Flatlander, this link was posted previously. The first two pictures show exactly were the party was located.

http://www.alborde.com.ar/montania1/montanismo136.html

The first picture you posted is the Polish glacier pretty much in its entirety not just the upper part. The last part of the route beyond the skyline on the right side (ie. the last 250-300 meters) kicks back somewhat as you follow the ridgeline. The rocks that make up the right side of the skyline is where they found the group are what they are saying is 250-300 meters from the top. Not the 400 meters as been reported.

Though the normal part of the top of the Polish Glacier kicks back compared to the rest of the route people have bad a habit of falling off. However, they do not fall down the route but down the south face. It happened this year to a French climber and to a Polish climber while I was there in 2003 (I was one of the last people to see him).

However, where this group was found is not on the Polish Glacier route. To get over to decent terrain (on the Polish Glacier Direct Route) to lower him would have been hard as the terrain is quite steep. They were in no way prepared to do that.

All that said, it would be hard to judge the terrain going up as my guess there were "easy" and "hard" spots.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 23, 2009 - 07:45pm PT
we did long term care in WFR, but compressed the time period which makes sense, other wise, we'd be sitting around for hours on end shooting the breeze in between vitals.

What we're getting at here is good planning, and a supply line. How do you carry O2 for two days? So far, we don't, we just run what we have until it runs out. We also haven't had to, but do run out all the time on overnighters.

What we have done, is get a new air compressor that can fill our bottles to 3000 psi, and a nasal canuala that has a little reservoir thingy that supposedly is more efficient.

This works with altitude sickness people (at our paltry 14,000) it also goes a long way toward helping a number of downed patients become ambulatory.

Head injuries require high flow 02, so what are you going to do? Run it until it runs out.

J-stan- we had those Marines come in with a big ol' chopper at night, thanks to the night vision. They flew right up to the base of the mountaineers route- saved the guy's life. I guess we're even now, we saved three marines from themselves early last summer.


tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 23, 2009 - 08:03pm PT
Back to Aconcagua, what does that article say?

The photo of the area helps a lot. Are those recent conditions?

How far is it from those tents in the ain't no flatlander shots to the top of the route?

darod

Big Wall climber
South Side Billburg
Feb 23, 2009 - 08:39pm PT
Tom, I've translated most of that article in my previous posts.
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Feb 23, 2009 - 09:23pm PT
Tom, what you are seeing in the photo are typical conditions. From this camp it is 1000-1100 meters to the summit. You are seeing the bottom 750-800 meters. The last 250-300 meters are beyond the skyline were the rocks are.

The picture flat lander poached of the climbers traversing under the rocks is probably 600 meters up the Polish Direct Route under the first rock band that juts out to the left. (Educated guess here).
pip the dog

Mountain climber
planet dogboy
Feb 23, 2009 - 11:30pm PT
Majid_S.
re:
> Anatoli Boukreev partially abandon one his climb to go
> and rescue a climber from another team who was dying
> during a high alt expedition. when asked why he did that,
> he said; Mountain can always wait for me

I assume you are referring to the ’96 everest fiasco. Though perhaps not as he had already topped out easily on that one.

I met Boukreev twice, both times through typically random circumstances. It’s not like I was ever on his rolodex. And his command of english was never especially good -- though relative to my command of russian it was HUGE.

The first time was in namche just after his ’91 successful summit of everest. I bought him his, like, 15th or so beer at a local tea house. I found him in that hour or two to be an excellent soul, humble and yet profoundly driven. Others who knew him better had told me he was an absolute VO2-max machine. What little I witnessed never led me to doubt that. He certainly proved to all therein that he was surely a Beer-max machine. Yeow!

I met him again in kathmandu in ’97 in what turned out to be our shared favorite local place for actual apple pie (with actual apples). He was just about to head off to Annapurna for what ended up being his last climb. He again impressed me, in the 30 or so minutes we shared, as being a truly good guy – and one both humble and driven. In this instance I could just feel the 'driven' part -- felt like being close to (though just far enough away from as not to get tagged) a lightning hit. I could just 'feel' that enormous energy and smell that odd metalic smell).

I had at least enough good form not to ask him about the ’96 fiasco. But having met him, I strongly suspected then, as do now, that he caught all manner of armchair quarterback sh!t for what I still see as a rather magnificent rescue on everest in ’96.

What armchair heroes still grill him for to this day for is heading back to the highest camp soon after he topped out. And hence not being there earlier to save absolutely everyone in the first minutes of when it all went wrong.

But I am convinced that Scott Fisher had told him what he wanted him to do -- and that was drop to the highest camp and wait in reserve in case the poop might actually hit the prop. And as Boukreev was working for Fisher, and was the kind of guy to know his role in any given food chain, he followed Fisher’s specific instructions. For Fisher was (just then, just there) his boss. Someone has got to be in charge, and Boukreev was certainly with-it enough to know when that was not him.

What Boukreev did that ugly night is well documented, so I won’t repeat it. To my eye it was clearly massive and clearly saved a whole lot of souls who were otherwise doomed. He was a stud of a climbing machine and risked his own asz to extremes I myself couldn’t hope to survive. May his name be remembered.
~~~

All of this said, is a comparison of Boukreev and this ad hoc team of “guides and porters” recently on Anconcagua really valid? Should we presume that this ad hoc team of people who were righteous enough to volunteer their best, in the dark and cold for many hours, should have all had the horsepower of a Boukreev?

Very few I’ve met even come close. I most certainly don’t.

If I read your post as intended (perhaps I didn’t – if not my apologies) -- it seems rather unfair to hold any group of pretty solid climbers to so mighty a bar as Boukreev and what he pulled off in ’96.

fwiw,


^,,^

(why do I keep coming back to this thread knowing full well that it will yet again make the veins in my temples pop out. still more proof that i am a moron)
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Feb 23, 2009 - 11:44pm PT
Many of the same criticisms Rox has placed on the volunteer rescuers could just as easily be placed on the guide as well. We could turn it all around and question how he brought clients of questionable experience to the high place in uncertain weather and put all at risk.

I choose not to go further into it because this blame game is fruitless. Nobody has any control over the heroic qualities, super-human abilities, or willingness of others to die to save you when you get in trouble in the mountains. You have to take what is served.

Better rescue infrastructure, training and investment are solutions for the future we should be looking at. Blaming the guys in a bad situation is way, way presumptuous. There are few bad actors out there and what are the chances of the only volunteer rescuers stepping up to the plate from different teams all being bad guys?

I have a friend who guides and lots a bunch of toes staying with a troubled client way, way high in a bad situation, and I hear the client blamed him later anyway.

For me, when I get in trouble, I'm grateful if anyone tries to help me, but I hope I'll accept that I get what I get.

Peace

Karl

Peace

Karl
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Feb 23, 2009 - 11:50pm PT
Pip: Because you're passionate about it, and not yet cynical enough to think that the group on Aconcagua would just fart around up there until they needed to run home and warm their toesies rather than sincerely doing the best they were mentally, physically, and emotionally capable of in the moment.

Perhaps, as I, you feel defensive for the guys who bothered to show up at all.
pip the dog

Mountain climber
planet dogboy
Feb 24, 2009 - 12:03am PT
stzzo,

> Perhaps, as I, you feel defensive for the guys who
> bothered to show up at all.

Precisely my point. And precisely why I sit back in my comfy armchair and root for all of you who duke it out with the likes of rockjox.

But I, for one, am new to this gig and don't feel it it appropriate to take on anyone (perhaps later when I have a sense of who is who). That and if I want frustration, I can find plenty of it among the suits at my day job. I come here for something else.


^,,^
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Feb 24, 2009 - 12:51am PT
Although I've never been on the Polish glacier, my guidebook lists it as 30-35 degrees. That's a black or double black, in bounds, in CO. It's not that steep. Guide also says a few steps at 45 degrees or so. Okay. Whatever. A couple steep sections. I've descended several 2-4k+ faces at 50-70 degrees with little more than a couple pickets and a few feet of 6mm cord for v-threads and no string of trade route anchors. If you know WTF, it can go very fast. I would even call it a mandatory skill to have in the mountains, to not have to rely on the tourist trail for your descent. That's the white elephant in this story to me. It would have been the obvious thing to strongly consider to me and anyone I climb with. I wonder how many climbers of Normal Route caliber are comfortable descending something other than the tourist trail. How many ft/hour was Simon able to lower Simpson's disabled body on Suila Grande? A whole lot faster than the potential ascent rate, I'm pretty sure.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 24, 2009 - 12:59am PT
Reading the rough translations- there was a substantial effort

So 17 people were up there, some pros with the police, others rounded up.

There was a chopper, I'm not sure if it can't get up to the victims because of capability or the weather.

Rescuers have hot drinks, don't know if they brought them, or had stove and made them. No mention of tents or sleeping bags.

The can make anchors in that terrain, I believe that a fixed line is mentioned.

These guys also made stretcher out of rope, for the guide.

Blaming these guys seems mean. Every rescue I've ever been on could have been done better. This one probably could have been done better too, but shoot, a lot went into it and I hope those argentinians use this to have a better plan next time.

If I could stress one thing from this, I'd say be careful about running out the door naked. Don't bring too much that you never get to the victim, but bring enough to get the job done. Think ahead for something besides the best case scenario.

With the gear, could they hunker down? With O2 a tent, bags, and a stove could these guys have survived until better weather? Recuperated overnight?

Perhaps not, as Werner says, his number was up. Another way of saying what I was saying, most times the victim is dead or stable by the time you get there. These guys got caught in the gray area between and lived the rescuers worst nightmare, watching the victim slowly die, while fighting for your own survival.



tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Feb 24, 2009 - 01:04am PT
JLP- I'm with you.

I wasn't there, and I don't know the Andes, but this rescue does appear possible (as long as the victim was able to hold out) If he indeed froze to death, then that is really sad.

I too wonder about a lower. It really doesn't take that long to do, or set up, like on that Broad Peak video, it can be done. Whether they could do it here? These guys had some knowledge, the Police guy had summitted many times on rescues before, so they likely had their reasons.

Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Feb 24, 2009 - 09:39am PT
JLP - the normal Polish Glacier Route is in the 30-35 degree range. That route takes one up the far left side of the glacier to the rock on the left side then curves around to right along the skyline. The Polish Glacier Direct which is how they would have descended has some (shorter) sections that are twice as steep. Getting to it would have been problematic as they would have to traverse some continuously steep terrain. I doubt that any had the needed gear (screws, pickets, etc.) plus the experience to do such a technical traverse.




JLP

Social climber
The internet
Feb 24, 2009 - 10:49am PT
I got from the story that they were cliffed out, on the left side of that photo, on the regular Polish Glacier route.
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