Archive for January, 2012


Thank you

January 27, 2012   

Thank you everyone for your supportive notes and also a massive thank you to those who supported the charities. We raised enough to send one kid on a week long sailing trip (562 pounds) with the Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust. Also $500 for the Paws for Patriots program. I am so sorry I didn’t have the energy to do a photo thank you before turning around 🙂


A few pictures

January 26, 2012   

The oddest steak dinner I have had! Three course at base camp on Horcones valley side after coming down. Wearing full down and the door had a large crack around it so I kept on having snow blow in as it was blizzarding outside all over my dinner!

The view just after I turned around. The Andes spread out below. Jonathon assistant guide ahead of me heading down.

Mule ride across the river early in the morning in Vacas Valley on the way to the mountain.

Looking down at basecamp along the route from basecamp to Camp 1.

Snow at basecamp on the Vacas Valley side.

Relaxing on the way to Camp 1 with a cache of food and equipment.

Hoare frost covered my sleeping bag quite a few mornings in a row. So glad I took the BAS bombproof bag to the mountain I was the only person who was warm the whole time.

Sunset over the summit from high camp. We stayed at high camp for two days the night before summit day and the night after.

This is the tent I repaired at 20,000 feet while the others summited. I was turned around at 6400m and after getting down the assistant guide was melting snow for water and unfortunately the tent caught alight and the front vestibule was burnt as was his clothing, beard and he ended up with melted nylon on his hands creating blisters. A very close call which I am so happy was not worse as I would have been evacuating him off the mountain! I spent the afternoon sewing sections of tent together so that the tent could be used that night when everyone came back to high camp luckily it held in the very high winds we had that night and temperatures below -15 C.

No summit for Ashley…

January 25, 2012   

Does it look like I am enjoying life! – 20000 feet, sick and dissappointed in myself

Climbing Aconcaqua is apparently 70% mental/physical preparation and 30% luck (weather, injuries etc). My physical preparation according to the guides far exceeded anyone they had ever heard of or guided up the mountain and being stubborn the mental side was covered. The 30% is what I didn’t have and therefore I was turned around at 6400m on summit day a mere 562m from the summit (which at altitude is a lot more than just climbing Mount Hodges). The decision was the guides and it was the right one that was based on concerns for my safety. I had warned them of my stubborn nature and their job was not to push me but to make a professional decision to turn me around if necessary.

I had carried a cold from base camp which turned into a chest infection which despite antibiotics I could not get rid of. At 6400m I started to exhibit shortness of breath which even at rest I could not recover from, it felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I could feel bubbling on my left side lung when I breathed. With the respiratory problems I could not keep up the pace required to make the summit with enough energy to safely descend and did not want to be carried down by my guides or worse still be put in a body bag which according to statistics 10 people out of 1500 attempting the summit come down in. We retreated to high camp at 20,000 feet and were considering going down to base camp when the assistant guide had an incident with the stoves and burnt down the vestibule of their tent. I spent the afternoon sewing the tent back together so the summit team would have a useable tent.

Aconcaqua is a serious mountain it is the second highest of the seven summits and although our route was not technical due to the severe weather, height and as porters are not generally used it is a demanding mountain. The guides  said without the respiratory issue I would have easily summitted and indeed should have a go this season to climb Denali as I am physically in great condition to do it.

As my first foray into high altitude mountaineering I must say I need to think seriously about doing it again. With illness it was unfortunatey not possible to enjoy the experience. Physically high alititude climbing is very similar to offshore sailing in the requirement (endurance is needed and your body is worn down by just keeping itself warm etc) and it was actually no more difficult then crossing an ocean – I lost 7kg in the 15 day trip but that is due to what high altitude does to your body and not physical exertion. I guess due to my training I did not feel like I was working my muscles hard at all in fact it was leisurely in comparison to my training regime!

Congratulations goes to Laura, Derrick and Jordan the 3 of our team that made it to the summit. I will post more about the trip but right now am very disappointed and will be trying to recover from the chest infection in Mendoza before meeting my parents in Peru this coming weekend. Thank you so much to Scott for keeping my blog updated you are a star. Also thank you to British Antarctic Survey for what I learnt about cold weather mountaineering from the field assistants (you all know who you are!) there was nothing new to be learnt except about how I personally deal with high altitude. Next time (if there is one) I won’t be joining a commercial expedition as I find them restrictive – I like to have more control of my situation than what they offer. Also thank you to Sam Doc for putting together the most impressive medical kit the guides had seen and for teaching me how to use it all.

Wow. Almost Out?

January 24, 2012   

Lots of SPOT update activity today. Four updates, in fact, which is unusual. And if you follow their progress through the day, you’ll see they are almost to a road or highway that is on the map. Maybe we’ll be hearing from Ash soon.

Check out their positions as they progress through the day:
Update 1 (~ 7 hours ago):

Update 2 (~ 6 hours ago):

Update 3 (~ 2 hours ago):

Update 4 (~ 1 hour ago):


January 23, 2012   

It appears from the latest SPOT updates that they are making their way down the mountain now.

From five hours ago:

From four hours ago:
(farther down the mountain)

From the guide company: “We just received word that our Jan 8th group summited today!”

It’s possible they did summit today, but judging by the SPOT updates, I’m guessing it was yesterday (?). We’ll find out for sure when Ash gets back online and can clarify.

Congrats Ash! Now have a safe and enjoyable journey back down!

I will continue to check the SPOT updates and see if they continue to come in as the group journeys back. I will re-post anything I find.


January 22, 2012   

The latest SPOT update shows them awefully close to the summit; within the radius of accuracy of the GPS unit, perhaps?! This may very well be their summit check-in! I will keep an eye on the updates and if there are more, or if the guide company confirms it, I will get it posted on here right quick. Go Ash!

An Update from the Guide Company


“Everyone is doing great! They’re at Guanacos Camp and should be heading for the summit on Sunday/Monday.” – Alaska Mountain Guides

Summiting Today?!?


Look how close they are!

Only 300m of altitude left to the summit as of the last SPOT update (about 1 hour ago).

Jan 19 Position Report #2 – Update later in the day

January 19, 2012   


And they continue to be healthy and safe.

Position Report from Thursday, Jan 19


Hi all,

Not sure why there was a break in the reports (battery issues?), but the first one since Sunday was just sent about an hour ago:

Looks like they’re making their way to the top.

Oh yes, and “healthy and safe” as well.