The roof of America, Aconcagua. A new challenge and a new memory in this #summitsathome series where I tell you about each one of the peaks we discovered with Summits of My Life project.
You can find the A Fine Line movie online where I explain how it all started.
Today I wanted to remember the challenge of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes mountain range, with 6,960 meters. For this, I bring you the chronicle that I did then and also some photographs.
"When we arrive at Puente de Inca, we take the mules that will help us carry our luggage to Plaza de Mulas, at 4,400 meters high: it is the usual base camp for ascending Aconcagua. It is a summit that, although technically is not very hard, it has a high altitude, bordering the 7,000 meters, and this is the main difficulty it presents. At this first moment, then, the objective is to make a good acclimatization, in order to be in optimal conditions when attacking the summit, but without letting many days pass in height, so as not to subject the body to so much fatigue. Once acclimatized, and when there is a window of good weather, we will try the record with Emelie, not from Plaza de Mulas, but from below, from Horcones, from where Jorge Egocheaga set the record for ascent and descent in 13 hours and 46 minutes, in total, sixty kilometers and more than four thousand meters of positive elevation gain.
We have the minimum necessary equipment, following one of the basic principles of the Summits of My Life project: go as light as possible. These first days, we are adapting the body to the height, climbing now five thousand meters, now six thousand. On December 11th, we celebrated Emelie's anniversary with candles on can of tuna. It is everything we have at hand!
A week after we settled down at base camp, we decided to make the record attempt, and that's why we went down to Horcones, at 2,900 meters, the starting point. At six in the morning, we started and gained altitude at a good pace, we passed Plaza de Mulas, first, and Nido de Cóndores, at 5,500 meters, later. Here the force of the wind is already beginning to be difficult to ignore. We remain standing, although we continue with difficulty. It won't be long before we reach the top, but conditions worsen at every turn. At 6,500 meters, we gave up. The mountain is not allowed to climb today. Back at Plaza de Mulas, I wait for Emelie and we go down together to Horcones, where we will rest a few days and hope that the conditions are better to try the record again. I do not experience this withdrawal today as a defeat. After all, it has served me as a good training at height.
And so it is that December 23 comes. And I go out again next to the guardhouse of the park in Horcones, the last inhabited place on the way to Aconcagua. Before leaving, breakfast toast with dulce de leche. Aconcagua will not escape us. At the start, Emelie accompanies me, who this time will not make the attempt to get to the top. 23 kilometers and 1,400 meters of unevenness await me until Plaza de Mulas. I arrive in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I rest a quarter of an hour, I take the opportunity to hydrate myself and eat something. I still have more than half the slope to do, and the most demanding part of the climb. My idea is to make a smooth climb, trying to conserve the maximum energy for the descent, which is where I find it more feasible to save time.
I go up to Nido de Cóndores, where Seb and Vivian are waiting for me to record images. Five hours have passed since I left Horcones. I have to overcome a gap of practically fifteen hundred meters to the top. I am progressing well, but as I am higher I notice that the body stops responding to me. I feel drunk, stuffed. At 6,500 meters, I find it difficult to keep my balance and I constantly slip on the frozen snow. A hundred meters away, the Collado del Guanaco awaits me, where the vast expanse of the Andes that extends to my feet is revealed as an impressive spectacle ... that I did not quite enjoy. My head is saturated and I realize that I am suffering. Surely, we should have done the acclimatization with several more days ... But now it doesn't matter, I tell myself. We are already here, seven hours and forty minutes have passed since departure. I have it very close.
An hour later, I reach the top, at 6,962 meters. Eight hours and forty-five minutes later, having traveled thirty kilometers and saved four thousand meters of unevenness, these last four hundred meters have seemed hellish to me. I am a bit above everything, I take the opportunity to regain strength. Now I do entertain myself to contemplate the incredible views from here. The vision of the mythical southern wall of Aconcagua, one of the largest in the world, about three thousand meters, will be difficult to forget.
I was wrong, thinking that on the descent the discomfort would disappear. The height continues to affect me and I continue to lose my balance, the orders given by my head are lost before reaching the muscles ... When I get to Plaza de Mulas, I stop for twenty minutes. Like, I hydrate well. This, and the progressive loss of height, make me feel better. I have started the challenge more than ten hours ago. I see that I have the record within reach and, with renewed energy, I squeeze myself in the descent from base camp to Horcones. These 23 kilometers, I do in just over two and a half hours. I come accompanied by Emelie, who, knowing that I have the record very close, encourages me throughout this last stretch.
It's been 12 hours and 49 minutes We have made the record! And we have done it together; It was really a team effort, two weeks of preparation, perseverance, effort, and also having a great time with Seb, Vivian and Emelie. I want to thank you, and I also want to thank the interest of so many people who have been following this challenge from different corners of the world. We already have it! The highest peak in America! Everest is in sight. "