P. Edronkin

Survival tales: lost at 6.000 metres (I).

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In 1981, a British Pastor, The Rev. Piers Grant Ferris, climbed the peak of Mount Aconcagua alone, in order to pray there.

After his successful journey up and while he was already descending, at about 6.700 metres he lost his way in a glacier.

Realising his situation, he began walking during the night to avoid freezing, taking advantage of the moonlight and the reflective properties of the snow. He slept during the day in order to avoid dehydration, a common occurrence in the high Andes.

Clear skies and a significant proportion of light reflected by the moon make nocturnal walks possible in the region, albeit a dangerous proposition. The advantages of nocturnal walks are that the snow is generally hardened due to the lower temperatures, and that with clear skies orientation is fairly easy.

Being lost in your way down a mountain, however, has a problem: even if you know that you are lost and that you should try to get back to your original course, it is not always easy to do so because that implies either going back on your tracks, uphill, or attempting to make a diagonal crossing to where you expect your real course to be, but there is guarantee of success. Mountains such as this one are massive, and such detours can become very long.

After a while, he consumed all his food and began subsisting only on some candies. He saw a valley downhill, but lost his way again and could not find it anymore. It is not clear whether he saw a real valley or just thought he saw one.

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