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.