aconcagua climb 

Getting close is good enough for Pemberton's Chastellaine By Chris Woodall What: Aconcagua climb welcome home and Children’s Wish Foundation charity auction Where: Willy G's, Pemberton When: March 19 When bad weather forced the Canadian climbing team on Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua to retreat, getting to the 19,500 foot level was good enough. "There was so much work to get that far that getting to the peak would have been a bonus," says Pemberton RCMP Constable Cliff Chastellaine. He and fellow team members made the right decision to get while the getting was good. "We had a six-hour period where we had blue skies (at 19,500 feet)," Chastellaine says. Not enough time to go all the way, but enough to provide a spectacular top-of-the-world view he'll keep in his mind's eye, and his photos, for the rest of his life. Eight deaths by climbers on other teams proved how treacherous the mountain can be. "At 19,500, anything that was slightly strenuous — like carrying a 30-lb. pack — forced you to move at an extremely slow pace," Chastellaine says. The ability to think clearly was affected, too. "Things took a lot of thought. If my shoes came untied, I had to heavily concentrate to tie them up." On the other hand, the lack of oxygen "was almost like being in some sort of state of euphoria." From the 19,500 foot level, going to the summit at 22,841 should have been a day hike, leaving the packs behind. "From the summit we could have been able to see Santiago, Chile, and the Pacific Ocean," He says. But it wasn't to be. That hasn't made Chastellaine any less popular in Pemberton. "The community support we've had in Pemberton has been great," he says. "I'm stopped on a daily basis by people asking about the climb." He'll be touring Pemberton's schools and other groups to talk about the climb. He's eager to do the same for Whistler schools, too, if asked. "One of the biggest surprises was the globalness of the mountaineering community there," Chastellaine says. "I met so many people from so many countries who were after the same goal. Regardless of the language barriers we could talk about the difficulties and how everyone has the same problems."

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