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Lifelist 1: Aconcagua
So here we are, our first lifelist entry. We are taking you South, far South, to Argentina. To the towering peaks of the Andes where the air is thin and a team of soccer players once ate each other. The place we are going is a peak called Aconcagua. At 22,841 feet, it is the highest peak in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. Where did the name come from? Well, the most likely origin is from Quechua roots, and is derived from the phrase "Ackon Cahuak" which means "The Stone Sentinel".
So why not Everest? Well, that's easy. Do you know what the peak fees are on Everest? You've got to be sponsored or very wealthy to do it. Also, the fact is Aconcagua is actually not a very technical climb, so if you are in good shape, the chances are you can do it.
When to do it?
People climb Aconcagua from December to March, summertime in the Southern Hemisphere. Most will climb the "Normal Route" which is the easiest way up. But there are other routes available, most of them quite a bit more difficult. You just have to be sure you possess the skill to do them. The trip can take anywhere from three to six weeks. You will need the time to acclimatize…the last thing you want is to rush up the mountain and get a cerebral edema.
Info and Outfitters
First place you should check out is this Aconcagua site. The site has tons of info about the mountain, including a history and an excellent discussion of the various routes. There is also a cool honors list that shows the people who have summitted and by which route. Your name could be on that list.
Finding an outfitter to do the mountain is easy. But to get you started, here are a couple of places. Aconcagua Adventures does trips as does Adventuras Patagonicas. A list of other outfitters can be seen here.
So what do the people who have climbed Aconcagua think about it? One of the better accounts I've read was on MSNBC.com. Another effort is recounted here. And if you wonder whether you can do it, here is a story about a dog that did it. So there.
So there you go. Almost everything you need to accomplish this first item on your lifelist. Good luck and tune in again.