It was cold enough that my ridiculously fluffy 8,000-meter-rated goose down parka was a must-wear. Wind gusts knocked me off my feet once, and kept the tent flapping all night long. Mountain air was so bone-dry, my boogers turned into gravelly nuggets. Tolerance for grime was a must, given that we were wearing the same sweat-encrusted socks and underwear every day.
Sleeping above 16,000 feet was about tossing and turning every hour, and occasionally gasping for breath. You breathe so hard at altitude that they say you need five liters of water each day, given how much water vapor you exhale. Mild headaches were a morning routine. One of my best friends had a health scare and had to be airlifted off the mountain. Thankfully, he recovered.
Aconcagua was extreme. Tough. Beautiful. Unforgettable. I can’t wait to do something like it again.
My Aconcagua expedition ran from Jan. 28-Feb. 17, 2017. I was part of a team of 11 climbers and 3 guides outfitted by Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International. Aconcagua, in Argentina, is the highest peak in South America at 22,841 feet/6,962 meters. This isn’t a technical climb. We didn’t travel on a glacier, watching out for crevasses, like on Denali or Rainier. We didn’t have to rope to each other, or do any fancy belaying or rappelling. Aconcagua is mostly a mental and physical endurance test. You have to push yourself to reach the highest point on Earth outside the Himalayas.
I’m fortunate to be healthy and in position to pull off this kind of adventure. I hope you enjoy the photos of this expedition, taken by me and my climbing friend Bryant Mangless. Whatever you do, keep exploring!