New heights for Aconcagua
With the Aconcagua season well and truly underway, this climbing season has reached new heights with a world record set by 9 year old Tyler Armstrong becoming the youngest person to summit the 22,841ft mountain since records began.
During the school holidays, Tyler and his father Kevin came to Mendoza for a three week expedition that has now made him famous. Reaching the summit on Christmas Eve, he and his father completed their goal that they had been training for the past year. Tyler had apparently had it set in his mind that he wanted to scale the world's sixth tallest mountain (and tallest outside the Himalayas) and his father came along for the ride, training with his adventurous son throughout the process.
The family have now returned home to Yorba Linda in California where Tyler's parents are now saving up as their mountaineering son is keen to look into Everest in the next few years. Although Everest is a completely different ballpark requiring a far higher skill level, oxygen tanks and a much longer climb.
As easy as this nine year old made it look, climbing Aconcagua is no walk in the park. Only around a third of climbers do get to the top and there are around a hundred perilous adventures and gruesome stories that guides can share. Only a week after Tyler summited, three Americans aged between 19 and 28 took a fatal trip up the mountain - only one survived as the group got lost and took an unsafe path, the other two fell into a ravine. A terrible reminder that this is a mountain to be taken seriously and that expert guides are essential.
While the effect of the altitude shouldn't be underestimated, it is however a technically easy climb with no physical climbing or ropes required. If your New Year's resolution is to summit Aconcagua, you had better start to practise altitude climbs now and there's no better spot that the many mountains or the beautiful Andes.
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza and is searching for a good mule to carry some nice wine up Aconcagua for a summit attempt next year.