I’ve mentioned Diane Van Deren‘s speed run attempt on Aconcagua a couple of times already, and there was an update on their progress over the weekend. According to the Never Stop Exploring Blog, the team retreated back to base camp following four consecutive nights stuck at 18,000 feet amidst high winds and -20º temperatures. Reportedly, the winds were holding steady at 50-60 miles per hour. Fortunately, not all has been lost however, as the weather forecasts for the next few days indicate that the winds will drop off, and although temperatures are set to remain cool, they’ll be moving back up the mountain today to make another summit bid.
Diane, along with mountain guide Willie Benegas, both climbed up to 20,000 feet as part of their training and acclimatization process. And they both seem strong and ready to go for the 22,841 foot summit. Once they’ve completed that, they’ll descend back to BC once again, then hike an additional 20 miles down the trail, where they’ll begin their endurance run to the top of the mountain once again. Van Deren, who is an accomplished endurance athlete, is being monitored for a study by the Mayo Clinic that is examining the effects of altitude on climbers, with updates being posted to their blog as well.
Last week when I posted on this a couple of readers left comments, rightly pointing out that they weren’t sure what the Mayo Clinic was hoping to accomplish from this study, considering the sample size is just one person. In those discussions we decided that this wasn’t so much a study of the effects of altitude on climbers, but instead the effects on Diane Van Deren. What they hope to learn from following just her is a bit vague, and since she’s already a freak of nature when it comes to endurance events, their findings are likely to not have much of a reflection on the rest of us. I guess we’ll wait and see.
If the current weather window holds, as planned, we should hear more about the summit bid within the next few days.
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