New Fastest Known Time Up Aconcagua by Martin Zhor

He shaved two minutes off the previous record from 20 years ago

January 14th, 2020 by | Posted in Gripped Outdoors, News, Profiles | Tags: , , ,

Czech climber and runner Martin Zhor reached the summit of Aconcagua (6,962 m) in just three hours 38 minutes and 17 seconds for a new fastest known time.

Zhor ran up the highest mountain in South America after starting at 10:10 a.m. from Plaza de Mulas base camp (4,400 m). He followed the regular route and reached the summit at 1:48 p.m.

It was the 38-year-old’s third ascent of Aconcagua, but he had never climbed above 5,500 metres before. The Chamonix climber wore lightweight gear and running shoes for his record run, as there’s little precipitation or snow this time of year.

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Aconcagua 6962m New record. 3h 38min 17sec I still don’t understand how it happened. On Friday I went for another push from Plaza de Mulas basecamp (Ranger’s office). I was hoping for a sub 4 hours time. When I got to La Cueva (about 6600m) I was on 3h10mn. If I can make the last 400m in half an hour I can break the record! Those 30 minutes will forever be forged in my memory. Pushing the body at that altitude hurts! I was stumbling, falling over but just kept moving as fast as I could. Last 50 meters I crawled on all fours. Muscles were failing. But I made it! I was lying half-dead after that for 20 minutes breathing so hard.. Now I wait for whoever can declare this time to be official. #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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The new time is two minutes faster than the previous record set by Bruno Brunod, Fabio Meraldi and Jean Pellisier in February 2000.

In 2014, Kilian Jornet Burgada took 12 hours and 49 minutes to ascend and descend, but added 40 kilometre to his start location at the park entrance. In 2018, Karl Egloff completed the route as Burgada in 11 hours 52 minutes.

Read Zhor’s story about his record time below.

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Aconcagua story 1 I got a lot of responses from people about my speed ascent of Aconcagua. And I am grateful for all of them. I will write some thoughts about this life-changing trip. I came to Aconcagua not really knowing what to expect. After finishing my 3 Summits project in the Alps I felt that I am fit more than ever and I was still motivated to push myself before the end of the year. My goal was to test the body in altitude higher than I have experienced before (5500m in Nepal was my highest so far) and see how fast I can move up there. And also to see whether I am motivated to do more of speed climbing. I approached the mountain with the same protocol as I use in the Alps. Live low, train high. I did not use high camps (except one night at C2). Staying in the basecamps gave me a better recovery. It meant always going the whole way up and down. But the distance was not that crazy (Plaza de Mulas-summit 9,5km). Longest day was the summit day via 360 route from Plaza Argentina basecamp and back (28km). Since the first day in the Andes I was training the body to go uphill as fast as possible. This worked well till 6000m. Above that I had to slow down massively because of the effects of altitude. I was breathing hard, barely making 10-20 steps at a time. I thought ‘this is ridiculous’! ‘What am I doing here?!’ The record seemed very far! Everything is trainable though! #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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Aconcagua story 2 When you enter the Aconcagua park entrance your permit (costs about 700$) lasts 20 days. It seems like enough time but it is quite short in fact! My goal was to acclimatize quickly and not lose fitness. I wanted to try to summit as soon as possible after we arrived at the basecamp. What it feels like above 5500m was still a mystery for me. My big ‘premiere’ at that altitude. The weather on Aconcagua was mostly sunny but the strong wind on summit parts accentuating the cold is the problem. Jetstreams up to 120kmh were forecasted but luckily there were some calmer days! A week after entering the park I summited the first time. Stocking my boots up in C3 I walked through the snow in my trainers completely freezing my feet. Luckily I revived them and continued to the summit. The last 800m I felt like I left my lungs at home, breathing hard and moving very slowly! I had doubts about the project. But i believed that body would respond quickly. I still had two weeks to rest, train and try to get faster. Mind is the strongest muscle, especially on Aconcagua! I had a day or two of serious doubts and demotivation. Now that I have been to the summit I had to find the motivation again and to set the mind to the actual goal of speed ascent! In the end I managed to summit 3 times: on the 17th from Plaza Argentina basecamp, and on the 23rd and 27th of December from Plaza de Mulas. The time I could do the last 400m to the summit (called Canaleta) went from 1h 20 minutes in the first to 28 minutes in the record one! This shows how much the body can adapt. Thinking back I feel like Aconcagua challenged me mentally way more than physically! #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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Aconcagua story 3 On the record day (27th December) I took 1,5l of water, down jacket, extra headband, fat socks which I never used and some snacks. My friend Emma was supposed to wait for me with more water in camp 3 but she had to turn around because of the cold. I decided to give it a shot anyway and go as light as possible. I planned to put more layers on at C3 (6000m) but decided not to lose precious time and stop only if my feet started to freeze! Many eyebrows were raised about my equipment. I went light. Summer alpine clothes: softshell pants, merino t-shirt and a light gore-tex/primaloft jacket above 5500m. For the first two summit days I used running shoes till 6000m and Scarpa Ribelle ODs for the summit. On my record day I risked it and used running shoes the whole way to the summit! I never planned this! They were primarily meant for the approach and to have comfy shoes for the flights! Usually people take high-altitude gear for Aconcagua (Himalayan boots and big down suits). This might be considered as risky and reckless. But I plan my mountain trips carefully, assessing the weather with the deep knowledge and experience of what I can do and how fast I can move up and down. #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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Aconcagua story 4 About the record. There are several records on this mountain. Those from the park entrance mean you trail run for about 25km and then you start climbing up the mountain. Now there also people trying to run around the whole mountain range..very hardcore! I was more interested in the climbing up part – ‘Holy grail’..ascent from Plaza de Mulas to the summit! Held by Brunod/Meraldi/Pellissier (3h40m20s) it dates back to year 2000. Some locals said it seemed impossible. I said to myself it is worth trying. Conditions are always different on the mountain from day to day, year to year. So, in fact, term ‘fastest known time (FKT) is used instead of ‘record’. This season seems to be very dry. Was I lucky? Is moving scree and rocks easier than snowy slopes? I am not sure and I don’t care. Mountain decides! Why speed climb a mountain? I think there are more than one ways to climb the mountains. If it drives you and inspires you then I think you have the answer. I heard comments that when going fast I can’t contemplate the mountain! I beg to disagree!! I never felt more in connection with the mountain than during my speed ascents. I am on the edge, physically and mentally. I ‘feel’ the mountain and its power because I try myself against it! I feel the weather, my instincts are ON. That’s why I love it! I go solo. I accept the risk. And I do everything to survive! You sort of become an animal. Isn’t that why great things happen when men and mountain meet? #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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Aconcagua story 5 5 weeks ago I Ieft for South America. I had a lot of questions in my head about life and motivation. I had no idea what to expect from Aconcagua. Now I am back in Europe. I had one of the strongest life experiences ever. My main goal was to try higher altitude and to see how I manage the ‘expedition life’. It was a great opportunity to measure myself against the best endurance athletes who tried to speed climb this beast before. Aconcagua is one of the ‘Seven Summits’, highest mountain of the American continent, as well as the Southern and Western hemisphere! My ambition was to simply try my best. The record time sounded so crazy that I honestly did not expect to get anywhere near! Sometimes life gives you a surprise. A moment when you can ‘reach the stars’. How did it happen? That day 27th December I was not ‘going for it’. My best try was supposed to come 3 days later (just before my permit expired)! However, I made a good pace. Last couloir before the summit was scaring me. The first two times up there were so desperate and painful, and I was moving so slow! What happened there at 6600m that day is still beyond me. I knew that if I made it under 30 minutes I could break the record. But it meant going fast! Making a pace of more than 800 altitude meters per hour is quite good even for sea level but making it at almost 7000m? At this altitude your VO2max (maximum oxygen uptake) is reduced by about 60%!! I remember thinking: how often do I get a chance to break a world record? Second thought: I don’t want to do this again in 3 days!! The rest is history. A blurry memory of pain, focus, feeling that my lungs would burst, my leg muscles giving up, but also excitement and pure joy; and when I arrived to the summit i knew I could not push any harder! Aconcagua thank you #aconcaguafastandlight #challengeyourself 📸 @emmasvenssonphoto

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