Kellogg traveled to Argentina with Rory Stark, aiming to acclimatize on the normal route on Aconcagua’s north side and then attempt a line on the south face. Kellogg also wanted to try a one-day round trip on the normal route.
As planned, Kellogg summited via the normal route on December 17, but Stark was stricken with pneumonia high on the mountain. With the help of some fellow Americans, they descended all the way to base camp that day, but Stark remained severely ill and had to be helicoptered to town for treatment; he eventually returned to his home in Alaska and recovered.
On December 21, after repacking their gear and laying plans for a solo attempt on the south face, Kellogg hiked in to the base. A snowy winter and recent poor weather had plastered the face with ice and filled in crevasses, leaving it primed for a solo attempt. Kellogg scoped an unclimbed, avalanche-threatened line between the 1982 Slovenian Route to the left and the 1954 French Route (the original line on the face) on the right.
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Photo: The line of Medicine Buddha (VI WI4 M4, 6,500’/1,980m of new ground) on the 3,000-meter south face of Aconcagua. Chad Kellogg joined the Messner Route and then the upper Argentinean Variation above the enormous serac band. Photo by Chad Kellogg.