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Humar's new route on Aconcagua's South Face


by Dougald MacDonald

January 08, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

Tomaz Humar and Ales Kozelj successfully completed a new route on the seldom-attempted south face of Aconcagua (22,834') in Argentina on in late December, prime climbing season in the Andes. The new approximately 2,500m route is the most difficult climbed route on the 8,000 foot face to date. The ascent took five days, another day was spent crossing the peak and descending to the valley. They returned to Base camp on December 23.

“Of all my ascents, this was one of the most difficult,” says Tomaz. “It has been six years since I last climbed roped up. The person on the other end of my rope was Johan (Janez Jeglic, Humar’s co-climber during the Nuptse expedition, comm.) All I can say about Ales is this – a new kitten with well sharpened claws is born.”

This is the first major new route for Humar since a freak home-building accident in Slovenia in 1999 nearly crippled his legs. The two Slovenians reached the summit of 22,841-foot Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, after five days of hard and dangerous climbing.

The route traces a line up the left side of the 8,000-foot face, to the left of the 1982 Slovenian route to Aconcagua’s south summit. The men found hard, shattered rock and vertical to overhanging ice, and the difficulties were compounded by much falling rock, ice and water, along with severe cold and snowstorms that caused frostbite to Kozelj’s feet and hands. They reached the summit on December 21.

For Humar, this was the first time he had roped up with a partner in the mountains since the death of Janez Jeglic in 1997 on the summit of Nuptse, after the two made the first ascent of the west face. One of the late 20th century’s greatest mountaineers, Humar’s last big new route was a solo climb of the 13,000-foot south face of Dhaulagiri in 1999. After that climb, he fell into a hole at the home he was building in Slovenia and badly broke both legs. Complications led doctors to conclude he might never walk again. But after more than 10 surgeries he was back to climbing, and in 2002 he climbed Shishapangma in Tibet. Last summer, he attempted to solo the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat, but was driven down by illness and poor conditions.

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