This is a particularly hard post for me to write. I hate failing to reach a goal, particularly when I don’t even get the opportunity to give it my all. If I had reached 6,000m and the mountain had beaten me, I could accept that. This is a much harder pill to swallow.
As I was getting ready to climb Mt Aconcagua (a trip I’d been looking forward to for the past 6 months), I made a short journey up to Bolivia, spending a few days on the Salt Flats above 4,000m and climbing Volcan Lazcar (5,500m) to help get acclimatised for the big dog. It was an incredible experience, well worth the journey in it’s own right. I was there for a purpose however, the fact that I got to experience the closest thing I’ve seen to an otherworldly landscape was just a bonus. I did manage to get well acclimatised and also managed to pick up a bonus Bolivian stomach virus to add to the bodily festivities.
I’ve always had an iron-stomach, having eaten Vietnamese street-chicken, New-Delhi fried gutter specialties, Nepalese shanty-cuisine and Tanzanian beef that had been out in the 30 degree sun god-knows how long. I’d never been sick until now.. and what a time for it to happen.
I first noticed the real effects on New Years Day, after a few too many drinks and not quite enough sleep (thanks to a certain Macedonian acquaintance). Frankly, I felt like shit, struggling to walk 15 minutes to book a bus back to Mendoza. From there I just deteriorated, spending the next 10 days hardly able to move; racked with fever, hallucinating (I was seeing these strange little things that kept trying to build structures around the edge of my bed), headaches and not able to hold any food down. I realised Mt Aconcagua 2016 wasn’t going to happen..
As I type this a few days later I still feel incredibly disappointed.. That’s the way life goes though I guess, it just means I’ll have to get back down here next year to make another attempt.
Everyone has been incredibly supportive which I really appreciate. It’s just a minor setback on this long journey I’ve committed myself to. Time to get back to training and preparing for the next one!
I’ve had to repeat this name more times than I care to remember over the last few months. Nobody knows what the hell is going on.. From on, there are no excuses.
In English it’s pronounced A:con:ca:gwa
Not only is it the highest point in South America (hence it’s inclusion in the 7 Summits), it’s the highest mountain in the Southern and Western hemispheres. It’s also the highest point outside of Asia.
There has been a few interesting discoveries high on Aconcagua and surrounding peaks that suggest the Inca people were inclined to climb very high on these mountains. Whether they reached the top is unknown but the below passage demonstrates that they did indeed enjoy time at high altitude.
“There is no definitive proof that the ancient Incas actually climbed to the summit of the White Sentinel [Aconcagua], but there is considerable evidence that they did climb very high on the mountain. Signs of Inca ascents have been found on summits throughout the Andes, thus far the highest atop Llullaillaco, a 6,721-metre (22,051 ft) mountain astride the Chilean-Argentine border in the Atacamaregion. On Aconcagua, the skeleton of a guanaco was found in 1947 along the ridge connecting the North Summit with the South Summit. It seems doubtful that a guanaco would climb that high on the mountain on his own. Furthermore, an Inca mummy has been found at 5400 m on the south west ridge of Aconcagua, near Cerro Piramidal” R. J. Secor, Aconcagua: A Climbing Guide, The Mountaineers, 1994
Aconcagua lies in the hear of the Andes, the worlds longest mountain range. the world’s longest mountain range. The Andes, beginning in northern South America and ending at the continent’s tip, stretch over 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) in a narrow band along the west edge of South America. The Andes pass through seven countries–Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
In the 1985/86 season, Fernando Garrido arrived from Spain in order to break the record of altitude stay. Facing problems due to the lack of oxygen, strong winds of up to 200 km/h, and temperatures of up to 60 degrees below zero, the Spanish climber managed to stay 66 days in the summit, thus breaking a world survival record.
Mendoza, at the base of Aconcagua, is South Americas largest wine producing region. It produces a range of world-famous Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon. Probably not conductive to a good climbing environment.. I dare say a fair few to those who fail to make the summit of Aconcagua can blame the local vino for their shortcoming. The growing areas of Mendoza receive less than 10 inches of rain per year, but irrigation water is plentiful from year-round snow melt in the Andes so that water yields are in complete control of the viticulturist.
Do you have a goal of reaching the highest peak in the Southern and Western Hemispheres? Hopefully the Mt Aconcagua Guide can help you out with some useful information and resources to help you achieve it!
Check out a great video I found showing what an Aconcagua expedition entails..
A comprehensive guide on climbing Mt Denali is now up: Mt Denali Guide
The mountain, previously referred to as Mt Mckinley, recently had it’s name changed back to it’s original title during a visit to Alaska by President Obama. If you have any interest in climbing “The Great One”, hopefully the above guide can help you out somewhat.
Here is a pretty awesome video I found covering the whole climb..
The complete guide to climbing Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak is now up.
You can check it out here: http://7summitsproject.com/climbing-kosciuszko/
I’ll be updating these guides constantly, so check back in from time to time to catch any new info.
The other guides are on their way, so stay tuned!
For the last 6 months or so I’ve been working on putting together an e-book with detailed information on everything you need to know on climbing the 7 Summits. I was planning on releasing it a month ago and selling it for $4 or $5 bucks. Something kept holding me back though.. I couldn’t work out what it was. Today I finally realised why, I would feel like a hypocrite.
I’ve always been adamant about never taking advice from someone who hasn’t done what it is they are advising about.. I’ve always learned most from biographies, where the author has truly lived what they are writing. That I find, is where the best lessons lie. Now here I was, going to do exactly what I have been against my whole life. I was writing a guide on how to climb the 7 Summits, when I haven’t accomplished the goal myself.. Therefore, I’ve decided against the idea of publishing the ebook.
Instead, I will upload all the information that I’ve spent countless hours researching to my site, 100% free. All the info is from experts and only the most credible sources, with links where appropriate. Instead of charging, I simply ask that if you find the content worthwhile, consider donating a few dollars to the 7 Summits Project. All proceeds will go towards funding education projects in Nepal (and all donations are tax deductible 😉
I’ll put all the stuff up over the next few weeks so hopefully you’ll find some use for it and all that time I spent doesn’t go to waste!