After Elbrus and Kilimanjaro, I knew I can’t take Aconcagua lightly. At almost 7000m it’s the highest mountain outside of Asia and thus the second highest of the Seven Summits. Working full time, the time I had available for training was very limited. This was before covid hit either, so I actually had to commute to the office too, which is about an hour one way. So what can the man do if he only has so many hours in the day and he needs some sleep too, but training has to be done for Aconcagua?
After reaching the summit of Aconcagua at 6961m, we took two days to get back down. Naturally when we got back to camp 3 after the summit day, we were completely exhausted. However the next day wasn’t going to be any easier either: we had to descend all the way to the “normal” route base camp at Plaza de Mulas.
On Elbrus we’d enter the world of snow as soon as we “went up the mountain.” Aconcagua is very different. There is snow and ice: there are the penitentes and the route goes over glaciers on multiple occasions. But the snow and ice is mostly covered by rock and dust, so it’s much harder to be conscious of it. This year there was so little snow that we didn’t even need to take our crampons for the summit attack.
After Plaza Argentina base camp, we kept doing the same load carrying routine: carry up some team gear, go back down, maybe rest and then move to the higher camp. We had a total of three high camps: camp 1 at 4950m, camp 2 at 5570m and camp Colera at 5870m. While we were climbing Aconcagua the “Polish traverse” route, Colera is also the highest camp of the “normal” route.
The route up to almost 7000m altitude on Aconcagua is a long one. I’ll write about the “world below” (Mendoza and the area) later. Our route, the “Polish traverse” goes up the Vacas valley to the base camp at Plaza Argentina. On the way we had lunch at some roadside restaurant where we met another team (of two + guide) who were going up the “normal route.”
Living in a city for most of the time it’s always surprising just how clear the sky can be and how bright the stars can be once you’re in nature. That struck me at Mti Mkubwa too, the first camp on Kilimanjaro. “Oh, so that’s why it’s called the Milky Way!”
We started the day with a dancing-singing introduction from the porters and guides. It felt like we were at leisure of time, in no rush whatsoever. We woke up “early” of course (compared to when I’d normally wake up) but only left well past eight.
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