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A SCOTS climber has died on an expedition to conquer the highest mountain in the Andes.

Roger Cookson, 58, fell ill as he tried to scale 22,837ft Aconcagua in Argentina with a friend and a local guide.

The group were 1640ft from the summit when Roger suffered respiratory failure.

His guide alerted rescuers, who reached them at the refuge on Saturday.

The rescue party carried Roger's body to a nearby base camp after frantic attempts to revive him failed.

It was understood to be Roger's first attempt to climb the mountain, the highest outside Asia.

Local reports said his friend had abandoned a previous attempt to scale Aconcagua two years ago because of bad weather.

A spokesman for Lanko, the trekking firm who organised the mens' trip, said: "He was an experienced mountaineer and in good health. He didn't have any illnesses."

Roger's family could not be contacted at his home in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, last night.

Shocked neighbours said they knew nothing about the tragedy.

Roger was a member of Cairngorm Climbing Club. Membership secretary Derek Pinches said: "Roger Cookson was a member of the club for just over a year.

"I didn't know he was going there. The last meet we had was our annual trip to Lochnagar and Roger was on that one at the beginning of January."

Roger's death was the first of the season on Aconcagua, which started in November.

The mountain is considered to be an easy climb from a technical point of view if approached from the normal northern route, where ropes and axes are not required. But climbers are advised to acclimatise to minimise the effects of altitude sickness.

About 60 per cent of those that attempt the climb succeed. Threequarters are foreigners, with Americans , Germans and Brits leading the way.

Although the climb is technically easy, several people die every year.

A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Argentina and stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family."

High winds have so far prevented a helicopter reaching the Plaza de Mulas base camp at 14,400ft, where Roger's body has been taken.

A police spokesman said: "When the weather improves, the helicopter will bring his body down from the mountain to Horcones at the entrance to the national park, so a police vehicle can take it to Mendoza for a post-mortem.

"That's been impossible so far because the weather conditions are very adverse, with strong winds that could down the helicopter."

He was an experienced mountaineer and in good health. He didn't have any illnesses TREKKING FIRM


SCENE Roger's expedition was 1640ft from the top of Aconcagua when he took ill

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:3ARGE
Date:Feb 2, 2015
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