Read the story of Oleksii, 25 years old mountaineer from Ukraine, who reached the summit of Aconcagua last month. His guide was Gastón, a living legend of mountaineering in Chile. Follow his story, and be amazed by their experience to the 6962 meters colossus!
That is what happened to Oleksii, a Ukrainian living in Dublin. The sporty type and into running, he is always looking for a challenge, call it a marathon or a peak to climb. Mountains were part of his life since his childhood, when he spent several holidays in the area of Mount Elbrus, and summited it at the age of 14. That’s why, since the idea of Aconcagua crossed his mind for the first time, he set all his efforts in making it to the top.
As a preparation, he climbed Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, three months before going to Argentina. He did ok with the physical challenge, and high altitude wasn’t a problem for him. So the next step was the final stretch to make the Aconcagua dream come true. And for that he needed to find the ideal mountain guide to take him to the top.
And here is where Gastón enters the picture. Checking the different options of guides in Explore-Share who offer trips in Aconcagua, Oleksii liked his profile, and wrote to him. It was the end of November 2015, and 2 months later they were already meeting in Mendoza airport to go to the ‘Centinela de Piedra’, the Rock Sentinel, as Aconcagua is often called.
But Gastón is not just another guide. He is one of the main historic figures in Chilean mountaineering. He was part of the first Chilean expedition to the Himalayas in 1979, and when he went with Oleksii, it was his 36th time in the ‘roof of America’. The kind of guy the kids who are getting into guiding look up to, and not only in Chile. This year, he plans to ascend Mount Cho Oyu, one of the 8000 meters peak in Nepal.
They did the normal route, through Horcones valley and Plaza de Mulas, and following Gastón’s method, who prefers to set the camps at lower altitude, in order to sleep well, and do longer ascents during the day. During the first days they started calmly, in order to get used to the mountain and its altitude. But there was also time to enjoy fantastic dinners, such as salmon and steaks, together with a good local wine.
As days passed it started getting more demanding. That’s how, in the 9th day of the expedition, they started the summit push from Nido de Cóndores. Oleksii, well trained and well acclimatized, was doing fine, until the ascent got tough in the final part of the ascent, in a ridge called ‘La Canaleta’. In his own words: “I was there walking alone, watching the ground, and I had to ignore the voices in my head that told me to stop, to turn back. So I moved on, doing step by step, without thinking in anything else than putting one foot in front of the order, and continue moving. And it was worthy: When I reached the summit, I felt the most powerful emotion in my life”.
We at Explore-Share are very happy that we were able to help Oleksii to find the ideal mountain guide for him, and reach the top of Aconcagua. It is a huge challenge and a life-changing experience, but as it is not a technical ascent, it’s a dream that can come true, if you face it in a serious way, with an excellent preparation, and the proper advice and guidance. So check the programs for Aconcagua offered by mountain guides in Explore-Share, and start dreaming of it!