Hedieh Bagheri, a student in the School of Tourism Management, recently became the first Iranian woman to summit Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas.
My expedition to Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas at 6,962 metres above sea level, was one of the great experiences of my life.
Our expedition began in Mendoza, Argentina, on Dec. 18, 2016. We were a group eight — three women and five men — with two guides. Only five us would eventually summit.
After getting our entrance permits, we traveled to Penitentes. Here, we gave our backpacks filled with camping equipment to the muleteers so that they could transfer them to the base camp. The next day, we embarked on a three-day long journey to the base camp through hills, rivers and valleys. On the way, we passed Inferior Plaza Argentina, where we saw the last native species of vegetation before climbing toward the glaciers.
At base camp, located 4,200 metres above sea level, we were welcomed by a four-day long storm with winds up to 120 km/h. This season had particularly bad weather, and we were worried we would not be able to reach the summit.
When the weather is this severe at this altitude, all you can do is wait for a window. Due to our limited time, we decided to move on to the high-altitude camps without porting equipment and without acclimatizing walks.
Our first ascent to Camp 1, at 5,000 metres above sea level, was the hardest day of all. Snowstorms with winds up to 70 km/h slowed our progress. Even so, we were still positive and eager to move onward.
After an extremely cold night at Camp 1, the days improved. By day three we reached the final camp, “Plaza Colera,” located 6,000 metres above sea level. This is where we spent the night before our push to the summit.
The early hours of Dec. 29 were extremely cold — minus 20 degrees Celsius. We woke up at 3 a.m. to prepare for our final push. The altitude and climate posed great challenges, but perhaps the greatest challenge of all was mental.
After 11 hours of climbing, we were on the roof of the Americas. It was amazing. I became the first Iranian woman to summit Aconcagua. But being at the top was not the final goal — our journey was only half-finished. We descended and spent the night at Camp Colera before moving on to Plaza de Mulas. We left Aconcagua via the valley of Horcones on Dec. 31, and we spent the last day of 2016 celebrating our achievement.
Meeting goals takes time, energy, money and relationships — achieving goals is never an easy task. But they are achievable. No matter what your goals are, it’s important to take action and be passionate about what you do.
Submitted by Hedieh Bagheri, Tourism Management Student