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Basecampfood 1024 stories beyond the summit

Aconcagua — Stories Beyond the Summit

Joshua Jar­rin sent us this report from Aconcagua from this past sea­son, where he writes about aspects of the climb­ing expe­ri­ence beyond the physical.

The view from Aconcagua base­camp. All pho­tos Joshua Jarrin

As lead guide in Aconcagua I am asked to write about the process of our expe­di­tions. The expe­ri­ences lived dur­ing my last two trips, how­ev­er, lead me to write about deep­er thoughts rather than describ­ing the phys­i­cal steps that bring a climber to stand on the roof of the Americas. 

Excel­lent base­camp food.

The team mov­ing from base­camp to camp one.

To start with, I want to men­tion Jim C. He has been a Moun­tain Mad­ness client for more than 20 years, which means he has spent more years in the moun­tains than I have. I hap­pen to be his guide due to my tech­ni­cal train­ing, but I am in no posi­tion to ques­tion his expe­ri­ence. We both were men­tored by the same peo­ple — friends who were his guides at some point, friends who were my instruc­tors dur­ing my train­ing. It was very touch­ing when, com­ing down from the sum­mit, we remem­bered one of our men­tors (who sad­ly is not with us any­more) and I said, Jim, Gabi would be proud of you!”

He would be proud of you as well!” he replied. 

Jim C. on the sum­mit of Aconcagua.

Jim came this year for his third attempt on Aconcagua. He accept­ed the chal­lenge with no guar­an­tees of suc­cess; instead, he had in his mind the mem­o­ries of bad weath­er, and when his body just said no more, a cou­ple of hours before reach­ing the sum­mit. So, What brings a 64 year old man, with a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­al career, with hun­dreds of sum­mits in his pock­et, with noth­ing to prove, back to the moun­tain that had pre­vi­ous­ly kicked his butt”?… tenacity!

Nido camp.

High winds in the forecast.

I also want to men­tion Peter R. and Chris R. (father and son) who took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attempt the sum­mit in order to have a good time togeth­er. On their trip, I was forced to lim­it the acclima­ti­za­tion and move up the date of the sum­mit push, due to impend­ing bad weath­er. We did­n’t have anoth­er option. Very close to the sum­mit, both showed the team a big demon­stra­tion of love when one of them was push­ing their lim­its so they wouldn’t make the oth­er turn around, and the oth­er told him that there is no dis­ap­point­ment in turn­ing back… the impor­tant thing is to make it together!

Overview of Nido camp.

The team head­ed toward the summit.

So, as Ajeet B. (one of the sum­mi­teers of this year) said: those are the moments that real­ly pay off the trip, more than the actu­al sum­mit! Those moments teach us life lessons. As a guide I should accept that I leaned a lot from this year’s clients. As guides we might have the youth or the expe­ri­ence or the train­ing to deal bet­ter with the technical/​physical aspects of the climbs, but that should­n’t make us for­get the courage that every client brings at the moment of accept­ing the challenge. 

Ajeet and Bri­an at Nido Camp.

~MM Lead Guide Joshua Jarrin