HomeTravelAconcagua Expeditions - What Really Happened on Aconcagua

Aconcagua Expeditions – What Really Happened on Aconcagua

The survivors of the Aconcagua ascents  began their return, and upon reaching Punta de Vacas, Alfonso was detained and held incommunicado but later regained his freedom. A chapter of this conjectural history was opened, and in which the image was going to give rise to the most varied stories.

The survivors of the expedition highlighted the strength of Alfonso to help them in difficult times. They all returned to Mendoza. They said that he had had visions in which trees and water mirrors appeared to them, as well as a road under construction, in which there were machinery and bulldozers.

Zeller and Mc Millen reported that John Cooper gave up first and turned. They had formed two chordates—one with Cooper and Zeller and the other with Mc Millen and Johnson. After the first desertion, the other three continued to the summit and reached about 60 meters. Exhausted, they turned. Zeller and Jeanette Johnson were back together and suffered several falls. In one of them, the woman told him that she would stay to die there, and Zeller helped her to continue. Jeanette had another fall and dragged Zeller, who counted as soon as he arrived, in the middle of his delirium: “We fell. The rope came loose, and I lost the pickaxe. I recovered as best I could and approached Jeanette. I asked her how she was. She told me that Well, keep going, he would catch up with me soon. I checked for fractures and moved on. On the way, I found Cooper (who had turned away the day before). He was sitting, almost squatting, with his head in his hands. Maybe he has sat down feeling exhausted. I don’t know more; I want to sleep, sleep”. The Aconcágua was over for them

On February 6, the Americans left Mendoza; William Eubank had returned to the United States before the expedition departed. Arnold Mc Millen, William Zeller, John Shelton, Jim Petroske, and Carmie Defoe, described by a publication of the time saying “they were not men, nor athletes … They appeared. Burned, stammering …”, they left the Plumerillo.

On the mountain were the bodies of John Cooper and Jeanette Johnson, witnesses to the drama and keys to the mystery of this Aconcagua hike.

During that year, Alfonso received a letter from Cooper’s parents, asking him to rescue his son’s body. The guide got ready and went up in November 1973 in search of the bodies. Also participating in the expedition came to note the case for the internationally known magazine geographic. They found only the body of Cooper in the middle of severe climatic difficulties. Even though he was supposed to be close, they couldn’t find Jeanette Johnson’s.

The most challenging task was to lower the body to 4,000 meters to make the rescue possible. The corpse was mummified and was conditioned by Alfonso so that it would not decompose. In addition to the body, the backpack with Cooper’s equipment and his diary could be recovered. His relationship with Jeanette Johnson was terrible, and that the woman was obsessed with reaching the summit. Jeanette had asked her, should she die that she wanted to be buried in the mountain.

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