After conquering Mount Elbrus in southern Russia, Jelena Simovic from the town Foca is marching towards Aconcagua in Argentina – the highest mountaintop in South America, and the second highest mountain in the world, measuring 6,962 meters.
“As soon as we came down to the foothills of Mount Elbrus, we said we’re going to Aconcagua, and so we took a 20-day break and began with preparations for Argentina from August last year,” Simovic said.
She is embarking on the trip alongside two others, Senad Becikovic from Sarajevo and Vuk Sokovic from Pale, a town near the capital. They are part of the larger Extreme Summit Team expedition from Belgrade, consisting of 17 mountain climbers and alpinists from across the former Yugoslavia.
Considering its harsh weather conditions and low air density, the Aconcagua resembles the Himalayas which require oxygen tanks when climbing on top of its 8,000-meter summit.
“Aconcagua only has 40 percent oxygen than what we normally have at sea-level, but it is climbed without oxygen tanks, which makes it very demanding. Air temperatures there range from minus 20 to minus 40 degrees Centigrade and winds can blow with speeds greater than 200 km/h,” Simovic told SRNA news agency.
As a member of the Foca search and rescue team Vuk (Wolf), and Mountain Rescue Team of Republika Srpska (RS), Simunovic has great experience in rescue missions and mountain climbing, but she admits to being somewhat afraid of climbing Aconcagua.
“The fear keeps us alert from making mistakes, and forces us to plan our every step carefully,” she added.
The three-person team will join the expedition in Belgrade on Wednesday, from where they will fly to Buenos Aires and then travel to the town of Mendoza, in the foothill of Aconcagua. If everything goes according to plan, they should reach the summit by February 16.