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Deadly Season on South America’s Highest Mountain

Several climbers have died as 2,500 people have registered to attempt Aconcagua this season


While there have been several successful ascents of Aconcagua, South America’s highest mountain, this season has turned into a tragic one for many climbers. Two Americans and a Norwegian have died over the past few days.

On Saturday, 62-year-old Moi Oystein of Norway became the first fatality of the season, which began in December, after becoming ill at La Cueva at 6,000 metres. The following day, U.S. military veteran John Michael Magness, 58, also died having reached Camp Independencia at an elevation of 6,300 meters. Anthony Simmons, 4o, died on Wednesday after going against the advice of his guide and summiting the nearly 7,000 metre peak, said Deputy Commissioner Marcos Paez, the head of the rescue team.

Magness died while attempting the “Aconcagua Challenge” with two other Army veterans, Don Fallin and Keith Brown, to raise funds and awareness for the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund. The veteran “succumbed to medical complications” hours after reaching the summit. “John was a dedicated leader serving on our Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund board of directors,” the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund wrote on Facebook. “He was a fierce supporter of our organization’s mission to provide scholarships to military children of our nation’s fallen.”

Earlier this year, a 32-year–old British mountaineer had his right leg amputated after falling high on the mountain. Authorities said about 2,500 climbers have attempted to climb Aconcagua this season. The deaths of these three climbers comes after five climbers died in Patagonia over the past three months. Our condolences to the families.