13 X 6500 Andes X 43 days
Report of Franco Nicolini on Los Picos 6500
A lifelong dream…a dream that has come true. Connecting the 13 tallest mountain peaks in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia in an uninterrupted stretch was an idea we had been developing for years. About a year ago, the planning for the upcoming mountain climbing trip to South America with Tommy and Silvestro immediately turned into a large-scale project: connecting all 16 of the tallest mountain peaks in the Andes – over 6500 metres – in an interrupted stretch.
A few months prior to the scheduled departure, we ran into a problem related to obtaining a winter permit for Aconcagua that forced us to leave at the end of summer. So our departure was pushed up to late February which meant that in order to keep up with the plans we had worked so hard on and to manage to get to all the other mountains on our agenda, we would be on Nevado Sajama in Bolivia too early - thus making it too soon in the season to take on the two Huascaram peaks and Yerupaja in Peru (due to the fact that they would be pretty much under winter conditions which meant a greater risk of avalanches).
Then just before we left there was another change of plan and we decided to split up the original project and insert it into a larger climbing project: the 13 colossal peaks of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia first and then we would take on the remaining three in Peru in the fall when weather conditions are milder.
Then another piece of news came to us: several weeks prior to the departure, the young climber Michele Leonardi joined us. He turned out to be an excellent high altitude climber and he climbed all of the mountains with us. I’m happy…or better yet, we’re all happy because we were the first to put together and achieve a mega-connection by climbing South America’s 13 tallest mountains in just 43 days (plus the thousands of kilometres travelled to get from one place to the next).
A huge thank you to the logistics team formed by our friends Rolando Linzing, Guilermo Almarez and Marco Calamarro....we could have never done it without you!
Last by not least, the most important members of this mountain climbing adventure: the two Franchini brothers. I have defined them as two authentic “mountain animals”. They were GREAT!
A gigantic Bravo! to Michele, who shared all of our feats with us. This adventure among the immense and magnificent Andes Mountains was genuine and wild. These mountains should never be underestimated and, above all, the world must know that their climbing history was created by the Indios centuries before the one in the Alps.
I would like to close my remarks in celebration of our outstanding results by saying Arrivederci until this fall when we take on the climbing expeditions in Peru. That, of course, will be another story to be told. In the meantime, let’s just enjoy this terrific outcome – a triumph for Italian mountain climbing in the world.