In what has become a refrain, today was supposed to be a rest day at high camp, but around 10:15 AM when we noticed the wind has slowed down from the crazy 65-75 mph. Despite the lack of rest and two previous tough days carrying and moving to Camp 4, we made a quick decision to take advantage of the situation and go for it! This is it: SUMMIT DAY!!!
By 11 AM we had our summit packs ready and excitedly hit the trail up the mountain. We still encountered some wind but more in the range of 40 mph. We started climbing the surprisingly steep slope up to Refigio Independencia at approximately 21,400’. We were feeling great but the steepness and the rough scree slippery terrain made our climb very difficult, it seemed for every step forward we took, we took two steps back.
We continued climbing in 1.5 hours increments and taking 5-10 minutes breaks to eat and drink. We later encountered a big ice patch leading up the base on the Canaleta, we stopped and put our crampons on to cross safely. We can now feel it, we are so close to our objective.
We kept climbing the very steep and rocky traverse on the West Face leading to the big rock refuge at the Canaleta. At this point we knew that if we get past it, we should be home free to the summit. The Canaleta is much more difficult than I expected but we kept plowing through and suddenly here we are, on the top of Cerro Aconcagua and the highest point of the Americas.
We stepped on the summit at 5:35 PM. We had the summit all to ourselves. The 360 degree view from the top of the Americas and highest mountain outside of Asia was absolutely spectacular. You could see the Andes Mountains and several 20,000 ft peaks. To the west you could peak into Chile and the Pacific Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. Not to be missed was the dramatic view down the 9,000’ South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world.
We celebrated, enjoyed the moment, took some pictures and videos before starting the long way back. It was almost as hard descending the scree and Canaleta but we plowed through it using the remaining energy we had left and rolled into high camp at 8:20 PM, very exhausted but with a euphoric feeling of great accomplishment. After all, we were only the 7th, 8th and 9th climbers to successfully summit this season.Next Post: Aconcagua Day 13: Descending to Plaza de Mulas & back to Mendoza Previous Post: Aconcagua Day 11: Move to High Camp