Preparing for Aconcagua - December 27th 2012
27th December 2012
Given the focus on the Pole, I think I have perhaps been belittling one of my training trips - my effort to climb Aconcagua - the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas. At 6,962m (22,840ft), Aconcagua is the second highest of the 'seven summits' (the seven highest mountains on each of the seven continents) with only Everest coming in higher. Given this will undoubtedly be my hardest ever physical challenge, I should probably give this hill a little more attention... I go in just 3 weeks.
To kick off... some stats on the challenge:
- Height: 6,962m (22,840ft) - the second highest of the seven summits
- Duration: 18 days
- Success rate: 20% - 40% (depending on what you read!)
- Oxygen level at summit: ~40%
- Temperature at summit: -30 to -40c
- Weight carried: 20-30kgs (45-70lb)
Whilst not 'technical' (even less so than Elbrus), the altitude and extreme effort required make this an incredibly difficult mountain. One description I read on a climbing website described it something along the lines of 'imagine the Kilimanjaro summit day, then do 3 of those, with hard days in between, with a 20kg backpack on, in colder weather and with less oxygen... It's incredibly tough going'.
Why am I climbing yet another big mountain?
I am aiming to climb Aconcagua as a final chance to improve my self management skills (learning not to faff!), to test my kit for the pole and to get used once again to extreme cold. All that aside, it is of course an amazing challenge in its own right that I am keen to have a go at. I know quite a few solid climbers who have had a go and not made it...
So, after spending another £500 on kit I didn't already have or need to replace (e.g. climbing helmet, new 45L day pack, a new 75L rucksack, more dry sacks (lesson learned from Elbrus), snow baskets and some handwarmers (something I want to test), I am starting to mentally prepare for this one. To be successful, I think I will have to stop thinking of it as a training trip, but instead, the toughest physical and mental challenge I have undertaken to date.
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