27/12/2018 – ACONCAGUA
We made it! On December 23rd at 3.50 PM we arrived the summit of Aconcagua at 6962 m above sea level. It’s not only the highest mountain in South America, but also the highest in the southern hemisphere and the highest outside the Himalayas.
This was one epic adventure, self-guided expedition and experience that has -again – an deep impact on my life.
We started the three friends of us but unfortunately Daniel got high altitude sickness and therefore got a helicopter ride down to lower elevations, but Kelcey and I continued and together with our new friend Guido from Holland we summitted after 11 hours of hard, hard work that day.
Have to rest a lot now but soon will tell more about the almost 2,5 weeks we spent on the mountain.
For now I am happy to be back in lower elevation and back in the argentinian summer.
Aconcagua! With 6962 m above sea level the highest mountain in South America, in the southern hemisphere and outside the Himalayas. Trekkable, so they say, by the normal route. After standing on top of Australias and Africas highest, a great new challenge to obtain. As going on a full package with a company is super expensive, we decided our own expedition that would also give us way more flexibility time wise. From the entrance of the national park to the top it’s only about 35 km, but we planned on spending 18 days in the park. You need to buy a permit and we also booked a mule to transport 60 kg of our 110 kg of gear and food for all the days to the basecamp ‘Plaza di Mulas’. From there we made our way up to the summit via 3 high camps by carrying stuff up, go back to sleep lower and then move up for best acclimatization. Acclimatization – the most important issue on Aconcagua as climbing up to almost 7000 m needs some proper preparation. So we hiked ridiculously slow, did an acclimatization hike to higher elevation and took a lot of time to rest and get used to less oxygen in the air. But still, the mountain chased Daniel down the mountain: he got lung oedema and severe high altitude sickness. Fortunately there is a doctor’s station at basecamp and a helicopter pad. We were miserable that we won’t summit as the three friends of us, however, Kelcey and I continued to attempt the summit. After basecamp things slowed down even more – going up 1 mile took us up to 4 hours. In the 2nd high camp we even got trapped in a snow storm for two full days, which was mentally quite challenging. Well, the whole climb was more of a mental than a physical challenge for me. Climbing up in high altitude, in a hostile environment of rocks and ice, of freezing temperatures, with unstable weather and always doubting my own abilities … But eventually we made it! On summit day we left camp at 5 am in the morning. 3 miles and 11 very exhausting hours ( … and therefore a couple of tears on my side) later we stood on top of South America. We were totally exhausted, not sore, but tired and short of oxygen. The mountain is trekkable, but not as easy as we were assuming. Climbing up Aconcagua needs patience, endurance, a lot of will power, perfect acclimatization and good fitness as well. I, again, pushed my boundaries quite a bit, I took on the challenge and learned a lot about myself and about the mountains that force you to respect them to the fullest as we human beings don’t matter out and up there.