I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be that hard. Still, with guide Marco I was able to summit Yanapaccha, a 17,900-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes.
Climbing a mountain takes more than just climbing the mountain. Pursuing any goal is an exercise in ruthless consistency. To maximize the probability of success, everything that can influence success needs to be aligned with success.
You need infrastructure. In our case we had a porter and cook who carried supplies, set up base camp, and kept us fed and supported.
You need the right gear. Technical equipment such as helmets, ropes, ice axes, ice screws, belay devices and crampons. Clothing to protect against cold, wind and snow, while allowing for agile movement.
You need intel. Marco had summitted the mountain several times previous and knew it well. So when we came upon a section at 17,000 feet where the crevasse danger was simply too great, he was able to quickly identify an alternate route (that required 600 feet of face climbing up to 65-degrees!).
Acclimatization is critical. I spent four nights at over 10,000 feet, had two acclimatization hikes to 15,000 feet, and slept two nights at 16,400 feet before the climb. And you need a base of physical training. On hikes, and using various machines, I had climbed over 140,000 feet in the six months leading up to the climb.
Finally, you need to prepare mentally. For fatigue, uncertainty and danger.
Climbing a mountain takes more than just showing up and climbing the mountain. It takes a ruthlessly consistent approach to planning, preparation and performance.