Aconcagua Climbing – Step by Step to the Summit

Step by step, movement by movement, I slid against gravity and exhaustion up the hill. Suddenly, the summit approached. Another arduous journey, and there I was, at the top of the Americas, but happy, next to my friend Ruben. This time, after eight memorable hours, he had triumphed on the mountain. I levitated with pride; I breathed the cold wind of the victors, soul and body merged in a single sigh of whole emotion, watered with childish tears of happiness. Finally, Aconcagua was mine, or, who knows, just a little bit mine, at 2:30 pm on that unforgettable Saturday with blue skies. Photos, hugs, poses, signatures, contemplation, cold, cough, frozen fingers, and spanking streaks. Time to get down. More effort and a lot of attention. Suddenly a reckless fall partially injured his knee. Without much choice, I stubbornly continued to seek refuge. At Nido de Cóndores, I gathered my belongings, put my suitcase on, and went down the mountain. Around 10:30 pm, or after 17 hours of continuous movement, I arrived at the Plaza de Mulas Refuge emaciated, bruised, and ten pounds thinner than at Christmas, but in total tranquility and a state of grace.

The next day, Sunday, I used gravity, divine goodwill, and aching legs to cross the 40 km that separated me from civilization at Puente del Inca. From there, a providential trip to Mendoza, where I boarded a Varig flight on Monday the 14th, to the São Paulo capital. Since Tuesday, I have been recovering in Ribeirão Preto, where I have already returned to work, and I take the opportunity to reap some of the laurels of my modest private adventure. After all, making a dream always leaves a sweet taste in the mouth and the memory.

 Here I leave you a little history about Mount Aconcagua. The word Aconcagua means “Stone Sentinel” in the indigenous language. With an altitude of 6,960 meters, located in the Andes Mountains in Argentine territory, almost on the border with Chile, the mountain was climbed for the first time in 1897 by the Swiss guide Matias Zurbriggen. There are three main routes to reach the highest point in America and the Western Hemisphere:

Normal Route: the easiest from a technical point of view since it does not require ropes. Route of the Poles: Carried out for the first time in 1934, on the east side, based on the Plaza Argentina, it requires some knowledge of mountaineering;

Wall or FAce South: an excellent mountaineering challenge, 3 km high, first conquered in 1954 and won earlier this month by Brazilians Rodrigo and Vitor.

When I got to Aconcagua Argentina, I was surprised by the visibility and importance that the mountain had acquired in Brazil in those days. Two green and yellow climbers –

Rodrigo and Vitor, from Campinas, tried for the second time to climb the fearsome Parede Sul. The feat invaded the small screen of the homes of more than 100 million Brazilians daily through the Jornal Nacional de TV Globo. The station’s reporter, Cleiton Conservancy, based in the base camp on the south face of Plaza Francia, sent out daily newsletters on the progress of the climb.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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