Outside Online Archives

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

From the Top
Elliott Boston made it to the summit of Aconcagua, stop two on his quest to be the first African-American up the Seven Summits.
Photo: Courtesy of Argentina Government Tourist Information

Because of last-minute glitches that left him climbing alone instead of with a group as originally planned, Elliott had to leave the satellite phone and computer behind to cut weight-- even without the transmission equipment, he still carried more than fifty pounds of gear up Aconcagua.

Back safely at home, he's filed the following account of his successful summit bid:

After arriving in Mendoza, Argentina, I headed to Los Penitentes from where I got a ride to the trailhead and started walking. The first leg of the hike-- about nine miles and 1200 meters of elevation along the Vacas River to Las Lenas -- was beautiful, green, and hot. Mules carried my gear; I tried to outhike them, but my bags were in Las Lenas waiting for me when I got there. Park Rangers checked my permit, issued me a trash bag, and in the morning I was on my way.

I hiked to Casa de Piedra that day, a long, steep trail with no shade. I drank a ton of water to fight altitude sickness, and was quite successful-- feeling strong and healthy.

The next step was to get to base camp, an incredibly beautiful spot that overlooked the entire valley. I set up my camp on the highest part of the area to insure acclimatization to the thin air.

From base camp I carried a load to camp 1, trudging over loose scree but making pretty good time. I rested here for a day, then hiked up to Camp 2 at 19,350 feet where I cached a load of equipment and then came back to Camp 1. It was cold up there-- a guide told me that it was -17 degrees on the Polish Glacier.

Slowly I moved all of my gear from Camp 1 and settled into Camp 2. It was so cold that I always walked around with my fleece and my down parka on. The water from the Polish Glacier is always frozen in the morning but by the afternoon it is flowing strong. The view was awesome-- I could see for miles.

After a rest day, I started my summit bid the following morning at 6am in the cold and dark. I took me about two and a half-hours to cross the Polish Traverse, and another two hours to reach Independencia Hut. After a short rest, I kept climbing, climbing, climbing, and finally reached the summit ridge, where all I could see for miles were mountains and (yikes!) some storm clouds coming in from the west! I made the final push for the summit and I just had a great big smile on my face when I saw the cross marking the top! I decided to get down quickly because it looked like a storm was moving in and it did. I was glad to have on all of my cold weather gear. I tried to move quickly down the mountain, but the loose scree slowed my progress, and I think it took more energy to come back to Camp 2 then it did to climb to the summit. I am glad that everything went well with this climb and I am looking forward to Denali!



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