A few weeks back I posted a story about North Face athlete Diane Van Deren as she was preparing to head off to South America to take on Argentina’s Aconcagua, the highest mountain on the continent. But unlike most climbers making a bid on the mountain, Diane’s goal was to complete the initial climb as a warm-up, then make a speed attempt on the mountain, running to the summit for a second time.
The latest update on the expedition, posted to the Never Stop Exploring Blog, indicates that as of two days ago, the team was finished with their acclimatization process and would begin their actual assault on the summit yesterday, with an eye on reaching the top on Friday, provided the weather holds. They don’t expect to make any more dispatches until after they’ve returned to BC, which could be late on Friday night or Saturday morning.
After that, the second phase of the expedition will get underway, in which Diane, along with guide Willie Benegas, will move 20 miles down the road from base camp, and begin a long run back to BC, and all the way back up the mountain. They expect the journey to take roughly 95 hours to complete, and they’re doing it as part of a medical study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, on how altitude effects performance. The Clinic is also posting updates on the expedition on their blog as well.
Most people would come off of Aconcagua, which stands 22,841 feet in height, and be exhausted. These ultra-fit athletes are using it as a warm-up for a bigger test. Crazy.