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Summit of South America, 6962m

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This is the story of Ellis Stewart about his climb to the Falso de los Polaccos (Polish traverse) around February 2001






Once the tent was secured down, we tucked into salami, cheese and crackers from our stash of food that we left here after our first load carry up.  They went down a treat, at least my appetite hasn't diminished much, which is unusual, as normally at altitude you tend to lose all appetite, and eating becomes a chore that is not looked forward to.


We are now only a thousand vertical metres beneath this trips objective; the summit of Aconcagua.  We are now poised in a prime position to go for it.  We shall rest and consult the weather gods.  If all is well, then nothing will stop me in my pursuit for this summit.  I am balancing on the edge of a precipice of disaster or elation.  The next 36 hours will tell all.  No matter what happens from here on in, I have gave this my best shot and I will go home with my head held high.  I believe that I am now operating at my upper limits and I have enough left to get to the top and back to camp 2, then I will be all out.


So through gritted teeth, determination and that good old English desire to keep going I shall endeavour to reach the summit of this giant of the western skies.  It is extraordinary just being here, so high on the flanks of Aconcagua.  We humans are mere passing visitors to these exposed wind swept high places of our planet.  No life can be sustained for long up here. Although the views are spectacular, one still has a yearning for luxuries that aren't to be afforded up here.  A nice hot shower, a cold pint of beer and a warm log fire.


Looking at myself in my little travel mirror, I am looking exactly as I would expect to look.  Totally haggard beyond belief, my skin is the texture of leather, my nose is black and crusted with dead flesh and dry blood, and I have at least an inch of grime and dust from the trek in and the climb up to here.  Apart from that I am pretty clean really.


Sunday 11th February


Today is our final rest day before we go for the summit.  We will leave at 2.00 in the morning and head on up and if all is well, we should summit around midday.


The wind picked up again today which was very demoralising to say the least.  The thought of being pinned down here, depresses me.  I want to climb this mountain and then get the hell out of here.  If the winds stay as strong as this, then our summit attempt will be over for sure.  We have only a couple of days of food and fuel up here, so if we are stuck here for any longer waiting for the right weather then we will have no choice but to go down.  Beaten by the weather as so commonly happens on the world's high mountains.


I am beginning to get bored, just lying in the tent listening to my Walkman and praying that we are still very much on for the early hours of the morning.  A dull headache came on this afternoon, so I upped what I was drinking in an attempt to nip it in the bud.  The last thing I would want going for the summit is a pounding headache.  The extra fluids seem to do the trick though and the dull ache soon went away.  The wind outside is beginning to get extremely ferocious now, it is as if all the winds in South America are trying to pick us up, tent and all and toss us over the side of Aconcagua.


I think it is time to start praying now, please winds go away, leave us in peace, and let us have our day.  I don't know who exactly I am praying to, but I hope they hear my prayer, and soon.


We have all been inside this tent now for over 16 hours, I need some air, or what little air there is, that is.  The next time I write in this journal I will either of been to the top of this mountain, or I will be still in my sleeping bag in this tent.  Here's to the weather gods.





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Plaza Argentina

Just before Basecamp

Polish from camp2

Dull Hill


View from Camp 1

Resting between camp 1 & 2

Aconcagua Day 3

Day 2 Vacas valley

View up from Camp 1