The Department of Natural Resources in Argentina confirmed yesterday that the bodies of two American climbers who had gone missing New Year’s eve have been found.
Jarod VonRueden (22) and Francis Keenan (28) began their climb of Aconcagua (6,962m) on December 20. Their original party included Josep Foncen (19), who separated from the group before they started up the Polish Glacier (6400m), a frequented route of ascent. The bodies of Von Rueden and Keenan were found in the area of the glacier.
“The bodies are at 6,400 meters [20,997 feet] high in a channel 20 meters [65.5 feet] down, so it is assumed that they suffered a fall that caused their death," said Natural Resources Director Daniel Gomez.
Park rangers reported that the two climbers tried to ascend the peak in the afternoon, at an “inappropriate” time.
Today a rescue squad will make an attempt to reach the bodies and develop a plan to lower them in the following days.
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas and is in the Andes in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. Although the two most popular routes are technically uncomplicated, the mountain sees multiple causalities every year and is said to have the highest death rate of any mountain in South America. This is due to the mountain’s high accessibility—many of the climbers who attempt it are unqualified to do so.
Since the climbing season began in November, Aconcagua has seen 1,600 climbers, 80 percent attempting the summit. There are currently some 700 climbers on the mountain.