Aconcagua; almost there!

Time has come to climb again, and it’s about to happen! Yesterday I had a long day of traveling and switching planes. But, in the end, this all resulted in being here, in Mendoza, Argentine. And as you probably know, Mendoza is the place to be if you want to climb Aconcagua.

How I will ascent

Aconcagua offers multiple routes where, of course, the normal route is most used. This is a non-technical route that offers little challenges other than the altitude. And that should definitely not be underestimated. Aconcagua is almost 7000 meters high which still makes this a serious climb.

As said before, I will attempt to climb Aconcagua via the Polish Direct Route. This route is much steeper and offers a lot more challenges than the normal route or the standard traverse.

Preparations

Until now, all my preparations were always going as planned. For Denali, I discussed them quite extensively on my blog. Since this was working really well for me, I planned to continue like this. Roughly 5 runs a week and one or two strength training to keep my core strong. However, this autumn I had some serious injuries on my feet and lower legs. So I had to take more recovery time than I planned for, and missed some of the exercises I wanted to do. So, am I as well trained as I was for Denali? I don’t think so. Am I fit enough to summit Aconcagua? Yes! I do feel ready and are committed to summit. Maybe I will suffer a little more, but that will persevere!

Sponsorships

More good news! As you may know, I am a Mountainreporter, and that got me a nice sponsorship for Denali. While Nigor is no longer with us, we were able to get a far better one. If you take a close look at the clothes I am wearing om my climbs, you’ll notice that it’s most of the time from the same brand; Haglofs. After my Denali video report, they must have noticed that as well and decided to support me on my Aconcagua expedition. How cool is it when your favorite outdoor brand is sponsoring you!!

But there is more. If you think of excellent down jackets, chances are you are thinking of Rab. Well, apparently they also thought of me, since I will be testing and reviewing one of their jackets as well!

Now it’s really time to climb

That’s all for now! I will be on Aconcagua for the upcoming days and will not have access to my laptop, or have an internet connection. I will be back with a trip report, both in text and video. Hold on!

Aconcagua season kicking in!

Let’s get ready for some climbing again. The Aconcagua seasons starts officialy in December, but I need to way for February 2019 for my start. Do I feel ready? Yes! Nervous? A little maybe. Feeling like wanting to start tomorrow? Yes, let’s rock and roll!

Transition from Denali

The first thing I needed after Denali was time to recover and rest. Step away from the everyday trainingroutine and take time time to sit back and relaxed. Unfortunately, I am not to good at that, and it only took two weeks before I started picking up some training again. First just some relaxing bike rides of running, but they started to get more serious and serious.

Good times at Denali

So it did not take long before I decided to get back to a structured way of training. I started a running program that would lead up to a full marathon. Ambitious, but that is what I like. Training was well and I registered for a half marathon on 30 September (Halve van Haarlem). 

Let’s do that half marathon!

The days before the half marathon I felt awesome, but a little insecure. It would be my first half marathon, and I was wondering how much time I would need. Racing day itself was just another great day; sunny, not to much wind and just about 20 degrees celcius. Awesome! I started just about in the middle of the field and I felt great. The first part of the race I spend a lot of energy on overtaking other runners, and sometimes needed to jump on anf off sidewalks. The second part of the half marathon was much better and I was at full speed. It took me just a little over 1:35 to finish the race. Very satisfied and knowing that a sub 1:30 is definitely possible with some more racing experience.

Finishing the Halve van Haarlem

Focus on Aconcagua

However, now it is time to fully focus on the upcoming climb; Aconcagua! Almost everything is in place. Expedition and plane tickets are arranged, and I just need to take care of some final details.

The first early trip reports are already on Facebook, but so far the weather has been realy bad. Summiting has barely been possible so far. But, let the weather be bad now, so it will be good when I start climbing!

Next up: Aconcagua

My 7-years schedule requires me to keep the pace with climbing. Certainly after my initial failure on Denali, which caused a delay of one year. But, I am very happy to tell you my next expedition is planned!

On 1 February 2019, I will start climbing Aconcagua! Let’s try and get to the top of the Americas!

Aconcagua, the highest of the Americas

But not the normal route

Most climbers wanting to climb the mountain will use the normal route to get to the summit. This is an easy, non-technical climb that does not require rope, crampons or any other climbing hardware. However, Aconcagua is still almost 7000 meters high and should not be underestimated. These two factors, relatively easy climb but high altitude, cause a low summit percentage and the high number of accidents. Estimates are that only 30 to 40% of all climbers reach the summit successfully.

Since I am looking to a climb that is a little more challenging, I will not take this route.

Not the Polish Traverse either

The second most climbed route on Aconcagua is the so-called Polish Traverse. With this route, you approach Aconcagua from the east through the Vacas Valley. Once you reach the mountain, the route joins the normal route just below summit. During this traverse to the normal route, you climb just below the Polish Glacier, hence the name. The advantage of this route is that it is a little longer than the normal route, allowing you the acclimatize more. And this route is a little less crowded than the normal route, but still non-technical.

I will follow the Polish Traverse route for a while, but not all the way…

Where is all starts…

So how will I climb exactly?

I will head to the bottom of Aconcagua via the Vacas Valley and will start my climb using the Polish Traverse Route. However, at the bottom of the Polish Glacier, I will head for the summit directly, and not follow the traverse to the normal route.

This route is called the Polish Direct Route and offers a nice ice climb up to 55 degrees steep. Besides the steepness we will encounter section with huge crevasses where we will have to find a way to pass. The crux of this route is at 6700m, where we need to climb a steep, but short, rock band. Given the altitude, this might just be pretty challenging!

After the rock band there is not much left that can stop us from summiting!

In red: The Polish Direct route. In blue: The Polish Traverse

But, my choice for the Polish Polish Direct route also allows flexibility. I will join a group that will climb the Polish Traverse, and can always decide to stay with them, instead of going for the steep Polish Glacier. Weather on Aconcagua or bad route conditions may force me to do so!

Let’s start preparing

While planning this expedition, I have already started to intensify my training sessions. I have fully recovered from my Denali climb and enjoy working on my fitness again. I know good preparation is key when trying to increase chances of reaching the summit. And I will do everything I can to get to that summit!