Where to begin on this incredible journey of 3 weeks? For starters, it was a lot tougher than I thought and if I never have to climb on scree (lose rock and gravel) again. . . I will be a very happy girl! Yet, the climb allowed me to push myself physically and mentally to a new limit and continue to work towards a cause very dear to my heart. . . .the women and children of the Congo and nearby Uganda.
As you know I continue to raise funds and awareness for International Medical Corps that is working hard to make their lives a little better on a daily basis. I recognize there are many humanitarian needs in the world, yet in case you are unaware, the sexual violence in the Congo, an area plagued by civil conflict for over a decade, has been deemed the worst in the world by John Holmes, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. In some areas of the Congo, ¾ of the women population have been raped, with victims ranging from 11 months old to 75+ years old…unimaginable offenses against women and girls have been committed. These climbs are for them in hopes of having a positive impact in their lives, as no woman or child should have to undergo such atrocities. We really need your support and hope you will visit us at: http://www.climbtakeaction.com/DonateNow.html
A little about the mountain….
When I think of Aconcagua a few words come to mind. . . SCREE. . .WIND. . .ROCK. . . .TOUGH. . .but reaching the summit on January 10, 2010 was an uplifting moment and one I will never forget :)
This mountain definitely kicked my butt!
Aconcagua, which translates as "Stone Sentinel" is 22,840 ft, making it the highest mountain in the Americas and the highest mountain outside of Asia. This spectacular mountain is surrounded by numerous peaks over 20,000 ft. and the surrounding lowlands (up to 13,000 ft.) consist of beautiful desert landscapes with a large diversity of flora and fauna. We went up via the Polish Variation Route on the East side of the mountain because it sees one fifth the amount of climbers (1,000 vs. 5,000 yearly) and is a much more aesthetic approach. . .it goes through Vacas Valley.
CLIMB HIGHLIGHTS...in no particular order :)
- Conquering my hardest physical challenge to date
- Being able to stand atop South America and experiencing some incredible views
- Meeting other amazing adventurers and making new friends and getting to spend time with old ones.
- Not feeling alone on summit day. . .I really felt the presence of my loved ones with me that day (hard to explain, but an awesome feeling!)
- Being a little bit closer to reaching my goal of the 7 summits…just 3 more to go (Denali, Vinson, and Everest)!!
- Visiting beautiful Mendoza and Santiago and enjoying some delicious wines (I love S. America. .can’t wait to go back!)
- Tent living for 14 nights at various elevations…not to mention no shower… that’s tough on a girl. . .lol
- Trying to sleep at 20,000 feet for 2 nights. . not likely… lucky if we got 2 hours
- Carrying a 50lbs backpack whose frame is too big for you! The 50lbs is bad enough!
- Trying to climb up with severe winds (40+ mph- made me stumble a bit) and sleep when winds hit about 80 mph (thx God our tent held up!)
- Keeping up team morale. . . this is a tough climb and at some points people were just NOT having fun. . .we all had to work hard to keep spirits up at times
- Catching a cold at 13,800 feet with a fever. . .had to stay in the tent one day to recoup
- Climbing up SCREE!! I think the whole team agrees . . we hate scree!!
- Trying to pee in a Nalgene bottle every night-talk about precision! (had several negotiations with myself trying to convince myself I did not have to go!! Lol) That said making yourself drink a liter of water before bedtime...knowing you will just have to get up more frequently is also a challenge!!
- Forcing yourself to eat when you’re not hungry. . .I tend to lose my appetite at high altitude. . .thx goodness for those GU packs! Instant calories :)
WHAT GOT ME UP THE MOUNTAIN
- Prayers…lots of them! Along with my prayers, thank you to my friends and family for their prayers too.
- I am hard headed. . .lol. . .I told myself I would get up that mountain unless weather or my health got in the way. . .luckily both cooperated with me. I am a firm believer that climbing is 80% mental and 20% physical when it boils down to it.
- Moral support of my friends and family and my good friend Jason on the mountain. . .it was great having a friend to climb with and give me that boost when I needed it.
- My iPod- thx to my “Fun Dance Mix”!! . . . .that worked wonders on summit day (I was only able to use it 2 days cuz the battery went dead)!! It really made all the difference in the world-this was the first time I ever climbed with an iPod. (it was a wide range of upbeat dance music from hip-hop to electronica to top 40 to worldly lounge mixes to some classics like ABBA and Cher. . lol. . .and everything in between )
- My journal. . .a little red book titled “Keep Calm & Carry On” to vent to and share my inner most thoughts when I needed to
- Our trusty guides!! Thanks JP and Seth from Alpine Ascents
- GU!! Yes, I love Gu packs, although most I climb with tend to hate them. One Gu pack an hour on summit day does the trick!
- Your backpack needs to be your best friend, not your worst enemy. ..I will be trading in my Denali Pro pack, the frame is still much too big. . . although I already knew that from previous climbs. . . was trying to save on the climbing gear by not getting a new pack. . BAD move!!
- Test all of your equipment . . .all of it!!
- You cannot train enough! My training regimen will be much more disciplined for Denali. . which is coming up in MAY! Many have asked what I did to train for this climb: Cardio 1 hour at least 3-5 times a week (running outdoors as much as possible); hit the trails as much as I could, but honestly with my work/travel schedule it was nearly impossible; stairs with a weighted pack when possible or stairmill at the gym with a weighted pack; weights and core strength training (I hired a trainer 2 months before the climb).
o What I would do different: Train with my actual backpack as often as possible; do more core training; hit the trails more (was just tough with work this go around)
- Something that was reinforced: The climb is just as much mental if not more than physical…it’s a matter of willpower and determination
- Bring antibiotics…just in case! Thx goodness Jason had some when I got a fever!!
- Bring yummy snacks. . . your favorite candy , goodies, etc (Starbursts and Gobstoppers saved my life)
- One foot in front of the other. . .that’s what gets you to the summit. . .one step at a time.
Thanks to: Jason, Carina, Brendan, Adam, Davis, JP, and Seth for an amazing climb!!!!
LOOK FOR A FULL TRIP REPORT ON CLIMBING.COM. . .Coming soon and I will post a link for you all.
Please continue to support our efforts! Every dollar has a tremendous impact on a life….
How Your Donation Will Help Women & Children:
International Medical Corps (IMC) provides life-saving services for displaced women and children in the DRC and neighboring Uganda, including: emergency medical treatment and physician training, counseling to help heal deep psychological wounds, and economic opportunities to help promote self-sufficiency.
International Medical Corps also teaches new mothers feeding practices, provides immunizations, monitors growth, and prevents and treat the three big child-killers – acute respiratory infections, malaria and diarrhea.Please read how an International Medical Corps medical camp is helping Maria, a woman victimized in the DRC, and her child.
Your donation is tax-deductible, totally secure, and will go directly to this cause. Please forward this link to others so we can help save more women and children’s lives!
Thank you again for all of your support!!