7 days before they stood atop Aconcagua, this exact #RapidAscent climbing team was standing on the tallest peak on the Antarctic continent – 16,077’ Mt. Vinson. The very next week, December 19 to be exact, they were again standing on a summit – this one further north and also it’s own highest point on an entirely different continent. Aconcagua in the beautiful South American country of Argentina stands at 22,841’ and was going to be a challenge with high winds taking up residence.
Reaching the summit of Vinson was no small task, but looking down the line they knew the forecast for Aconcagua was slated to be windy so they hustled from the summit of the tallest peak in Antarctica and were soon resting in Mendoza, Argentina after a few flights off the glacier.
With wind forecast to be increasing over the coming days our team jumped at the chance to board their helicopter to base camp at 13,800’. Helicopters to base camp on Aconcagua are part of every Rapid Ascent expedition and allow us to reach the start of the climb without losing any of our pre acclimation.
The team didn’t spend much time in base camp and after one day were already moving the 2,200’ up to camp 1 at 16,000’. Our incredible chef Grisselda prepared another delicious and filling meal in base camp that evening and our porters delivered it to our dining tent up in camp 1. Now this was climbing in style!!
The cushy conditions at camp 1 were short lived.
Overnight winds hammered our team with gusts up to 70mph and stronger. With their backs acting as support beams our guys remained at camp 1 knowing the winds didn’t pose any major threats as long as they stayed put and remained mentally sharp. They doubled down efforts to reinforce camp and anchored all tents using heavy rocks and guy lines. While no one was in their group tent, it was completely destroyed by the winds while tied to hundreds of pounds of seemingly immovable talus rocks. Alas, the tent was just a piece of gear and not a survival item. Mountain weather will always try and test your mental resolve and this particular test was a rough one but it couldn’t dampen our team’s enthusiasm.
Checking into the forecast from our operations team they could see there was a one day window coming up where the winds would die down just enough to be able to climb. The plan was to push straight from camp 1 right through camp 2 all the way to camp 3 at 19,700’ in a single continuous effort to chase this low wind day.
Nearly 4,000 feet of climbing the next morning brought them to camp 3 according to plan. The team was feeling physically tired but morale was high as winds dropped just as predicted and conditions were shaping up. Mountain weather is funny that way. The pattern was starting to remind us of the previous week on Vinson – high winds and low visibility hampered efforts until weather improved, and when it did, the team climbed fast to take advantage of good conditions.
The next morning after a tough night in camp 3 (it’s just plain hard to sleep at that altitude), the team worked hard, climbing fast as they had proved before and made the final push to the summit of Aconcagua – 22,841’ in the clear blue sky! In Adrian’s words the day was “perfect, perfect, perfect”. The team celebrated with more photos and was in complete elation as they had accomplished what was their dream mission of tagging two of the 7 summits in the world within 2 weeks.
In true #RapidAscent style they descended to camp 3, packed up their entire camp leaving no trace and blazed all the way down to base camp the very same day they tagged the summit.
Watching this expedition from afar it might seem like these guys are extreme athletes and possibly professional climbers. Just based on their performance alone, it’s hard to believe it but these guys are weekend warriors with families and day jobs. They trained for an objective, followed our Rapid Ascent program and achieved what almost seems like an impossible task.
Rapid Ascent is for every climber, and if you join us on one of our expeditions you’ll see and feel the difference. There’s no feeling like climbing fast in the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.