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!
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