Erik's 3rd Continental Summit
|Elevation||22,841 feet (6,962 meters)|
|Location||Argentina and Chile|
|First Ascent||1897 by Matthias Zurbriggen|
|My Ascent||Success in January 1999, after failed attempt in December 1997.|
My third of the Seven Summits, Aconcagua is the highest point in the southern hemisphere, the highest point in the Americas, and the highest point outside of Asia. Many mountaineers refer to the peak as the "Slag Heap," due to the fact that much of the mountain is covered by talus: bowling ball sized rocks all jumbled on top of each other. Even more difficult than the talus are the penitentes, formed when the sun melts deep holes in the snow and cold winds scour the surface into frozen icy pinnacles, from six inches to six feet tall. Although much of the mountain isn't too technically difficult, the talus and penitents are a "blind person's worst nightmare" since there is no consistency when I take a step.
Aconcagua is famous for its relentless winds because of its elevation and proximity to the jet stream. On my first attempt, just 1,800 feet from the top, the gale-force winds were knocking us off our feet, and we could no longer hear each other shouting. So Chris Morris, our team leader, made a painful decision to turn us back. A little more than a year later, we tried again.