Alpenglow on the north side of Aconcagua.
It’s funny that on Friday, his royal blogness announced his intentions of skiing Denali this spring, since on the same day I was making final arrangements to attempt another one of the Seven Summits. While booking my flights to and from Ushuaia on my way to Antarctica, I included a 24 day layover in Mendoza to attempt to climb and ski the tallest peak outside of Asia…Cerro Aconcagua, or “White Sentinel”.
At 6,962m (22,841ft), the summit of Aconcagua would be the highest altitude I will have been at, never mind skied from. Though I felt pretty good at 5,636m (18,490ft) on Pico de Orizaba, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will acclimatize well and be able to reach the summit. While there are relatively easy routes up the peak, it is still a very large peak at a high altitude, and typically requires multiple camps to summit.
The first recorded ascent of Aconcagua was in 1897 by Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen, in which the Zurbriggen Ridge on Mt Cook is named after. Though there is evidence of the ancient Incas climbing very high on the mountain, including and Inca mummy at 5400m on its west ridge, there is no proof that they every made it to the summit of Aconcagua. Its first ski descent still seems to remain a mystery.
The Polish Direct Route looking pretty steep from this angle.
Some of the specific route details still need to be ironed out, but the plan it to ski the Polish Glacier or Polish Direct Route on the way down. BUT, since we will be climbing the mountain from late November into early December, before the climbing season really starts up, some of the facilities at certain basecamps maybe not be “open” yet, making it easier to climb the Normal Route, ski the Polish, and then cut back over our camps after the descent. If anyone has any insight or things they’d like to add regarding some of these logistics…please feel free to share it the comments section. (Click here and follow links to video of Kit Deslauriers skiing the Polish Direct Route.)
Anyway, I’ll share a bit more about climbing partners (we will be self guided, though supported by Fernando Grajales Expeditions at basecamp) and other aspects of the trip as they become more concrete. Thanks to Aspen Travel here in Jackson Hole who helped me book the no-less-than 12 flights it will take to make this trip happen. As it is now, combining Antarctica and Aconcagua, I will be away from home for over 6 weeks…slightly intimidating to say the least…and hopefully winter will be in full swing by the time I return in mid-December.
AWESOME! You’re going to have one heck of a late fall / early winter. Have a great time, be safe, and keep bringing us the stoke!
Thanks Patrico! I’m hoping it all works out…but packing for both trips is gonna be tough. Rumor has it there is internet access at the Plaza de Mulas basecamp (though $$$$), so I might be able to do some updates from the mountain…but we’ll see.
Dude, thats shaping up to be a pretty fat itinerary. 12 flights is also a pretty heavy load…
have fun, good luck.
Sounds like an awesome trip Steve! Good luck getting everything ready to go!
Thanks. After some switches…I feel good about all my connections. Especially in Buenos Aires…where I here can be tricky.
Wow ! That sounds like quite the trip indeed. Good luck to you and make sure to take tons of pictures I am sure the mountain is stunning for sure. Hopefully we will be getting hit with winter full on when you come back to the Greater Yellowstone.
Cheers – Jim
Sounds awesome! I’m guessing you will keep us posted, but I bet there are a lot of readers(including myself) who will be very interested in your gear choices for this this kind of high altitude trip. Cheers!
SAH-WEET!! Looking forward to following the stoke down south! TetonAT–Southern Hemisphere Edition!
Good luck Steve. I was actually just researching this very thing (not to ski but to merely climb one day in the distant future). The Polish Traverse caught my eye, so something to look into for the ascent.
Sounds phenomanal steve. Would definetely be intrigued on a gear list also. Best of luck with everything and keep the stoke train rolling.
I will be doing a post or two about some of the gear I’ll be bringing for both trips…or at least that is the plan. Still trying to iron out some of the specifics…so I’ll know exactly what I’ll need.
Hopefully I can stay in touch with TetonAT while on Aconcagua…but it’s not for certain. I’ll need to some sort of solar recharging kit for the laptop if I do decide to try to get some posts out. Kinda poor right now…so we’ll see if I can pull some strings to make it happen. Gotta act fast though.
Very sweet. Looking forward to photos (either on the fly or) when you return.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to provide both…but we’ll see. Working out some laptop power source details as we speak. I mean…type. 🙂
All the best on your adventures man! Ski fast, take chances 😉
really? Only left yourself a 24 hour layover to climb the tallest mountain in South America? You gotta leave a few days just to drink a few bottles of Malbec!
Thanks Ptor. Kit DesLauriers just sent me an email saying that skiing Polish were some of the steepest turns of her life. Yikes!
@d…i think it says 24 days…not hours bud.
[…] aconcagua ski expedition 2009 […]
As it turns out I have been making the same plans as you, and for the same time period. I would love to share some info with you. A friend of mine attempted to ski the polish last year, but got turned around before reaching the summit. He does however have a lot of info on the logistics. Drop me a line.
Can’t wait to hear about it Anton. Line…dropped. 🙂
Steepest turns of Kit’s life..??!! Yer gonna die for sure dude. Nice knowing you. Can I have your bindings when you croak?
dude…you know i’ve got the skills. please!
and she said ‘some of the steepest’. sounded like conditions were firm windslab at the steepest section coming off the ridge…and with the most exposure. an area also know as the ‘bottleneck’. i’ve heard the season has been dry down there…which doesn’t sound good and would mean icy conditions, but i would imagine that things can change pretty quickly on a peak like aconcagua…and our attempt is still almost 2 months away.
can only hope for the best at this point.
Steve – I’m arriving in Mendoza 11/27 and am planning to hike the Polish Traverse and ski down. You have your days dialed in? If we might coincide, I’d love to connect. Solo trip right now. Chuck
my fault – just read your home page and see you’re there already! enjoy! I probably won’t see any major updates before my 11/27 departure, but I’ll be looking for one!!
hi charles! we are heading in to plaza de mulas on the 21st. i’m sure we will see you on the hill.