Post 8 Summit day the Highest man in the world
3 a.m. wake up call. No wind!!! During the night, the gusts rattled the tent, but as we get ready there is no wind. I slowly crawl outside to test the temperature, it’s cold but not unbearable. The sky is electric blue, stars are brighter than I have ever seen them, I can see satellites orbiting looking like small planes, and I feel good. I am first to get ready, taking only my suit, boots, goggles, gloves, and food in the pack. We start and will have fours hours until light. We make our way slowly up zig zagging between large rock pinnacles, sheltered from any wind that may pick up as the sun rises.
Our day is going to be a long twelve hours up and six down give or take a few hours. After five hours, we make it to the huts where the most difficult part of the climb starts. First the traverse, which is crossing the snow covered face where the wind accelerates due to the slopes. This is where we were told if we fall we have three seconds to self-arrest, or we will be in trouble after we cross. We find a cave and drop our packs, take on food and water, and start up the steepest section, the Canoleta, which runs to the ridge that will lead to the summit. We will be on snow, and are instructed to put our crampons on. I have put them on and off may times, and practiced with them – not a lot harder than tying your shoes but at 21,500 ft. even tying your shoe is hard. I put my first one on the wrong foot, and have to stare at it to process what’s wrong. Max and the rest of the group start across and I meet them at the cave. The Canoleta is snowy, which is good instead of crawling up rocks and screet, you kick in steps and with crampons it’s easier. Not sure when I hit the ridge, but the angle changed and we start seeing the top. I, along with three other climbers are moving slow. I cross back 180 degrees, and I see the cross fifty yards away. I don’t know why, but every summit I reach is very emotional. I start tearing up and my mind is going everywhere. I get to the cross, scratch Maddie’s name in the rock, say few prayers, and stand to take a 360-degree view of the Andes below me. It is a beautiful day, and I am trying to take it in. The group is all on top and celebrates.
Max and his team had ten people on top, which is unheard of and one of his best days. I was glad to be part of it. I was told that when you stand by the cross you will be the tallest human in the world. Since Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only mountain taller is in the northern hemisphere in the Himalayan where no expeditions are currently going, I felt like the tallest man in the world. But all the celebration had to end, we had a long trip back to Camp 3. After six hours of walking down on rubbery legs I was finally in my tent and safe.
I had taken on some oxygen on the descent and had some breathing problems overnight. My issues were caused by a bad case of dehydration, as I only took three liters. After a restful night and hydration, my breathing was better, and I packed up camp and started down. I get to Base Camp Plaza of the mules to pizza and Malbec wine. I call home to let everyone know I will be home soon.