What a long strange trip it's been....

11.29.2005

What a long strange trip it's been....

I am just returning a week late from this extremely adventurous trip. Here's a quick update using an article from our local newspaper. I will be putting pictures and a story up very soon.


Monday, November 28, 2005 Iowa City Press Citizen
SAFE AT HOME
Climbers reunited with family, friends
By Adam Pracht
Six climbers who were trapped on a mountain in the Andes returned home Sunday after a Thanksgiving Day rescue, and they had plenty to be thankful for.
The team, which included three Iowa City residents, was climbing the 22,834-foot Mount Mercedario in Argentina but heard about significant mudslides below and decided to abort the climb.
They returned to the trailhead to find that a natural dam had given way and generated a 70-foot wave of water and mudslides that wiped out the trailhead and buildings.
Iowa City resident John Richard, who took pictures that will appear in an upcoming Iowa City Press-Citizen feature, said the area looked completely different from what they left at the beginning of the climb.
"It looked like a bomb had gone off," Richard said.
Team leader Chuck Huss, an emergency room physician at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City who has climbed the tallest mountains in 14 countries and has made four failed attempts to reach the top of Mount Everest, said the river had changed course and there were no good maps of the area.
"The way we had went in was not the way we were going to be going back out," Huss said.
On Nov. 17, the team called for help by satellite phone.
Chad Swope, who coaches cross country and track at Regina High School, said they could see the trail they needed to get to rising out of the next valley, but they were not sure if there was a safe way to get there.
Not knowing how long they would be stranded, Swope said they began to ration food, eating about one meal a day. In the meantime, the group made short hikes to find possible ways down.
At last, on Thursday, members of the Argentine National Gendarmerie came within sight of the climbing team, which also included Steve Ovel of Cedar Rapids, Steve Shriver of Marion and Dan Smith of Salt Lake City.
But between the two groups was about a half mile of treacherous terrain with loose soil and falling rocks coming from above --ranging in size from a golf ball to a car. Swope said the raging river made it hard to hear when a rock was coming.
Huss said rescue teams were unwilling to come any farther, so they abandoned most of their gear and went on with light packs.
Richard said they had been watching the rocks falling like they were watching a fireworks show for days before the rescue.
"It was definitely not what I wanted to be running under," he said.
But they made it through without harm, and Swope said they met up with rescuers for a Thanksgiving meal of sandwiches made from fresh homemade bread, canned meat and raw onion.
"It was pretty good," Swope said, adding, "It doesn't sound good now."
The team was greeted at the Eastern Iowa Airport outside Cedar Rapid by family and friends Sunday morning. Swope said it was good to see family but that he enjoyed the trip and the camaraderie.
"It was a true kind of epic adventure," Swope said. "The kind of thing movies are made out of."

here is another article in the Salt Lake City Tribune Members of the climbing team cross an active rock fall before being escorted down the mountain. The rescue team would not cross the rock fall because of the high level of danger. The team was trapped for a week on Mount Mercedario in Argentina.   Photo courtesy of Steve Shriver
Members of the climbing team cross an active rock fall before being escorted down the mountain. The rescue team would not cross the rock fall because of the high level of danger. The team was trapped for a week on Mount Mercedario in Argentina. Photo courtesy of Steve Shriver
Members of the climbing team, from left, Steve Shriver, Chuck Huss, John Richard, Dan Smith, Chad Swope and Steve Ovel, enjoy their first meal Friday after being rescued at the Santana military base. They were fed vegetable beef stew and bread.   Photo courtesy of Steve Shriver
Members of the climbing team, from left, Steve Shriver, Chuck Huss, John Richard, Dan Smith, Chad Swope and Steve Ovel, enjoy their first meal Friday after being rescued at the Santana military base. They were fed vegetable beef stew and bread. Photo courtesy of Steve Shriver