Blog Update #8
February the 25th, 2020
I Can’t believe it, 10 days ago on the 15th of February at approx. 2:30pm I along with 4 other group members and 2 guides stood on top of South America’s highest mountain, Aconcagua. It was hard work getting there both physically and financially, I really had to dig deep to get the money required for the trip, but somehow I managed. Obviously a big thanks goes to my parents though, saving money is much easier when you’ve got amazing parents letting you stay at home rent free!
At 6,960 m or 22835 feet Aconcagua is not only the highest mountain in South America but also in the world, outside of Asia.
I’m currently writing an in-depth blog post about the expedition so I’ll keep this brief. Climbing the Seven Summits (CTSS) was my guide company of choice and boy was I happy I chose them. CTSS did an amazing job of putting the expedition together, from the hotel arrangements, the logistics, the communication, the amazing guides, the acclimatisation format and the summit strategy. They always had our best interests at heart. They were very professional and put together an expedition that has become the best experience of my life. Josh Tapp our lead guide was superb, he was easy to get along with and just a top bloke. As you’d expect from a guide he was very experienced and knowledgeable, not only of Aconcagua and mountaineering but just of the outdoors full stop, I felt safe in his hands. As well as being a guide Josh was a teacher and taught me an incredible amount on the mountain even though that wasn’t part of the itinery. The whole time Josh along with the 3 local guides, Seba, Colo and Capi (Nicknames) were always putting us the clients first. They always had our best interests at heart and constantly went out of their way to make life on the mountain as comfortable as possible. We always had good food and plenty of water. Pizzas, ravioli, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon, chocolate, hamburgers all on the side of the mountain! How!? They even went out of their way to make vegetarian options. They were also always happy to ask any stupid questions we had. Their work ethic was second to none, most days they carried 30+kg (66 pound) packs with extra group gear. Capi even carried down the groups s**t bags on the last day. I could go on and on about how impressed I was with the guides but we’d be here forever. It should also be noted how much I appreciated the work behind the scenes to make such an expedition possible, so thank you everyone at CTSS behind the scenes.
The mountain itself was very dry and windy. In fact the combination of the dry air, dust and altitude messed with my nose. During the night my nose would become blocked then once I woke up it would be running constantly, bloody and aggressively. I remember one morning I said to my tent mate Richard “you’ve got a bit of blood coming out your nose” he’s response “so do you”, gave us a good laugh.
The weather was quite erratic, during the day it would get hot quickly and suddenly, then at night it got cold quickly and suddenly, you could say it was actually freezing at times especially as we made our way between camps 1-3. To put things in perspective one morning I spilt porridge on my jacket and it instantly froze, granted this was largely due to the wind chill and high altitude.
Throughout the whole expedition we were constantly surrounded by beautiful views of either valleys, Aconcagua itself or of the Andes Mountain range. Having such a unique backdrop was always a great reminder of how lucky we were to be where we were. It made the whole trip pleasant and a welcome reminder that we were technically on holiday.
Lastly our group was fantastic, it comprised of 15 people, 11 clients and and 4 guides. Everyone was good to be around, kind and didn’t try and get away from the hard-work required. The expedition really was a good team effort and I couldn’t of been happier to share the experience with everyone in the group. I’ve definitely made some lifelong friends, thanks everyone!!
I’m still pinching myself, 4 countries and 3 summits in 10 months!! I’ve been so fortunate to be part of well put together expeditions and to get adequate weather conditions which has allowed me to summit Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and now Aconcagua in Argentina, all first go! I’ve also been to Papua New Guinea to trek the Kokoda Trail (a very difficult and significant trek for Australians with important WWII historical significance). Thats 4 countries in one year and I’m only 21, lucky is an understatement. Now my head turns to what’s next? Besides numerous ultramarathons I’m not sure what’s next. In terms of big mountains and the seven summits Denali is next however it’s very expensive and I could climb other mountains just as difficult, if not more difficult for less money. Decisions need to be made but in the meantime I plan on joining CTSS for their winter accent of Mount Kosciuszko here at home in Australia. This would make seven summit tally 4/7 and you bet I’ll be doing the rest with CTSS too!