Weekend Warm-Up: Aconcagua Speed Ascent

Stepping off the plane in Argentina after 16 hours of travel from their native Macedonia, Aleksandar Kirkovski and Dimitar Todorovski had come to speed walk up the highest mountain in the Americas.

Aconcagua’s name, in Quechua, means “sentinel of stone” or “white sentinel”, and rightly so: This Argentinian treasure soars to 6,961m and patches of snow may linger even in midsummer. Despite its size, Aconcagua is a relatively easy mountain to climb, with its northwest flank hosting three nicely spaced camps.

Along the way, bad weather delayed the pair for three days. Traveling on the cheap, they carried all their own gear in mountainous backpacks. The lost time ate deeply into their resources. Once the weather cleared, they had to move quickly to have a chance of success. 

Base Camp at Plaza de Mulas (4,300m) featured many scattered yellow tents, belonging to other speed climbers, mountaineers and runners from all over the world.

The normal route up Aconcagua. Photo: INKA Expediciones


While they were familiar with the moderate winter cold back home in northern Macedonia, the altitude of Aconcagua ramps its frigidity to a different level. The stinging winds afflicted Kirkovski’s feet, in particular. In camp, the time-honored mountaineer’s foot massage brought Kirkovski’s feet back to life.

The duo took nine hours and 52 minutes to hurry from Base Camp to the summit and back. It was not a world record — at the end of December, Czech runner Martin Zhor ran from BC to the summit in just 3 hours, 38 minutes and 17 seconds, and in 2018, Ecuadorian mountaineer Karl Egloff completed a 40km longer route from the Horcones trailhead and back in 11 hours 52 minutes. Nevertheless, this was an impressive feat for the pair and for the Balkan climbing community. As Kirkovski and Todorovski reached Base Camp, they let the tears flow freely as their adventure concluded.

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago. Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb. Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration. Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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