(Back to South America, Argentina/Chile, Central Andes)

Aconcagua, Medicine Buddha to summit ridge.

By Chad Kellogg, AAC

After acclimatizing on the Normal Route, on the summer solstice I scoped the 3,000m south face with intent to attempt a new route on the left side of the face, between the original French Route and the Romanian variation to the Slovenian Route. The bergschrund looked crossable, but the initial vertical ice pitch gushed with water. I walked away, and minutes later a huge avalanche swept the route and cone where I had stood. I tried to steel my nerves against the possibility that I could be swept into the debris at the base from any point on the route. I told myself that this was my route, and in eight hours I would be on it.

Back at Plaza Francia I was confident that I could climb the south face via a new route in a day, so I did not take a sleeping bag or tent, just 30m of 8.1mm rope, some climbing hardwear, a stove, food, and extra clothes. I rested for a few hours before rising at 1:30 a.m. I centered myself with a meditation session before preparing for my departure.

I left camp at 4 a.m. I crossed two large crevasses before reaching the bergshrund, and headed up until I hit a dead-end. Finally, after 3½ hours I was in the couloir proper. Suddenly a massive avalanche rushed past, putting me on constant alert. I kept climbing and at mid-route reached a large ice step near an island of rock…. (read more)