How the hell did January 2020 get here this fast! 5 months have past since I was standing at the highest summit in Africa, 7 months have past since I was at the highest summit in Europe. It only seems like yesterday even though so much has happened since. Since then I’ve run 6 ultramarathons, 1x 100 miler, 1x 100 km, 1x 50 miler and 3x 50 km, I’ve also run 1 marathon and numerous other shorter distances. I’ve failed my first swimming marathon (10 km) by swimming 12 km (check out my Williamstown Open Water Challenge Race Report on how that makes sense) and I’ve also competed in numerous other 5 km and 2.5 km swims. I’ve also had a few trips to the Victorian Alps for some mountaineering skills practise, written quite a few blogs and have gone through some pretty rough bouts of depression and anxiety. Yet here I am a little over 2 weeks before undertaking something that only seemed to be a childish dream. I never really thought I’d be part of a team about to take on a 2-3 week expedition up South Americas highest peak, Aconcagua and to be honest I’m filled with excitement as well as doubt.
Why the doubt? My camping, mountaineering and climbing skills are very limited. Sure I’ve climbed Mount Elbrus, Mount Kilimanjaro and trekked Kokoda but these little expeditions never required me to be very self-sufficient. They played to my strengths; determination, grit, will and fitness. These strengths require no skill. Mount Elbrus we never had to set up tents, we slept in cabins on the mountain and Mount Kilimanjaro and Kokoda the tents were set up for us. When it comes to technical mountaineering skills, Mount Elbrus was the only mountain that required crampons, ice-axes, harnesses and rope and I was only on the mountain for 5 days, so I didn’t get a lot of time to practice the new skills I learnt. When I got home I spent a couple weekends around the Victorian Alps to practice but still I’m very inexperienced. This concerns me, I don’t want to compromise my group and become a burden. The other part of the doubt is money related, gathering enough money to make sure I can pay for everything has been hard. It’s the little things that add up; things such as extra climbing underwear, new insulated pants, crampons, new expedition pack items such as these really start to add up!
But here’s the thing, sure these things bring me anxiety and stress but you know what, everything will work out, it always does. When I look at it objectively, without my emotions clouding my thoughts theres no real reason to be stressed. I’m not stupid I chose Climbing the Seven Summits because of their expertise. They have requirements and wouldn’t let me sign up unless they didn’t think I was experienced enough. I’m going to learn from the guides and fellow team members. Something I’ve learnt is most of the stress and anxiety we feel is in our own head, it’s not real. We create our reality and after living with anxiety and depression for years I’m beginning to learn I can choose how I view the world and certain situations. I can change my perspective and therefore what I feel. So sure I have these doubts, I’m acknowledging them but I’m not giving them any power. Now onto the positives.
Climbing Aconcagua is going to be the biggest mountaineering challenge I’ve faced yet. It’s going to be hard and I’m going to be out of my comfort zone. I’m scared and that’s good! Why you ask because that means personal growth! If you’re not leaving your comfort zone you’re doing life wrong. Even if I don’t make it to the top I’m going to learn and be better off for it. Standing at 6,952 m high the mountain is 1000m higher than Mount Kilimanjaro (my altitude record), so it’ll be interesting to see how my body copes, this is important if I want to attempt to summit Mount Everest one day which is another 1000 m + higher than Aconcagua. Another thing to be excited about is I’ve never been to Argentina or South America for that matter. It’s always interesting visiting a new place and being immersed in a different culture, it opens my eyes to how unique each place on earth is. Lastly I’m really excited to be climbing with Climbing the Seven Summits. There’s a couple reasons for this. Reason number 1, it’s run by one of my heroes, a mountaineering legend Mike Hamill. I don’t think he’ll be climbing with us but just being part of one of his teams is a privilege. Reason number 2, their reputation. All I hear is good feedback with this company, success after success, happy client after happy client. They’re big on safety and make sure their clients have the experience required for each mountain unlike a lot of companies that’ll accept anyone on their teams. This results in a lot of people putting themselves and others at risk on the mountain. The last reason the communication thus far. So far the customer service has been fantastic, super organised, positive and answer every single little question I ask within a day.
OUR ROUTE TO THE TOP: UPPER VACAS VALLEY ROUTE & TRAVERSE
- Day 1: Hike to first camp from Penitentes
- Day 2: Hike to second camp
- Day 3: Hike to Base Camp at Plaza Argentina
- Day 4: Rest & acclimatisation at Base Camp
- Day 5: Load carry to Camp 1 & return to base camp
- Day 6: Move to Camp 1 with gear
- Day 7: Load carry to Camp 2 & return to Camp 1
- Day 8: Move to Camp 2 with gear
- Day 9: Load carry to Camp 3 & return to Camp 2
- Day 10: Optional Rest Day
- Day 11: Move to Camp 3
- Day 12: 1st potential summit day
- Day 13: 2nd potential summit day (contingency summit day)
- Day 14: 3rd potential summit day (contingency summit day)
- Day 15: Descend to base camp at Plaza de Mulus, making the traverse of the mountain
- Day 16: Trek out from base camp to Penitentes
Route and map from Climbing the Seven Summits (WWW.CLIMBINGTHESEVENSUMMITS.COM)