South America 3 Peaks Expedition – Phase 2: Monte Pissis, Part 1

The South America 3 Peaks Expedition took place in Dec 2013/Jan 2014. Carolina Morales, David Kenealy and I spent 35 days in the Puna de Atacama and High Andes of northern Argentina and attempted to climb Monte Pissis (6,795m), Ojos del Salado (6,893m) & Aconcagua (6,959m). The expedition was also the third leg of my long-term project to climb the Triple 7 Summits; the 3 highest peaks on each continent.

The second phase of the expedition was a 5-day attempt to climb Monte Pissis (6,795m), the third highest mountain in South America.

Fiambala > Base Camp > Load carry Camp 1

Monte Pissis panorama

On the rest day in Fiambala – the day after I climbed San Francisco – I stepped awkwardly off the kerb and severely damaged ligaments in my left foot. In the local emergency room I had an X-ray to rule out fracture and was given strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and advised to take ten days rest. This would have drastically affected the expedition, so I decided to continue, and joined the team the following day for a five-hour 4×4 drive to Pissis base camp at 4,500m – during which time I had my leg elevated.

It was a spectacular journey, with sensational views towards Monte Pissis across a number of salt lakes, where flamingos waded and vicunas grazed. When we arrived at base camp at 4,500m, there was one other team who had already set up camp. After dropping us off, our local agent Jonson left us for the return journey to Fiambala, leaving us alone and somewhat isolated for the first time on this expedition. The nearest help was now a satphone call and a 5-hour drive away…

While the team completed a load carry to Camp 1 at 5,300m the following day, I rested at base camp. I hoped that my La Sportiva Spantik boots would provide enough support to stabilise my injured foot, which was very swollen and acutely painful. During my rest day, I received further bad news on my satphone that my cousin had been knocked down while walking his dog during a hit-and-run incident, and was badly injured. A black cloud hung over me as I lay in my tent alone at base camp, waiting for the team to return from the load carry.

You can read the story of the whole expedition in the official Expedition Report below, which is also available for download: