by Kraig Becker
Stretching for more than 4300 miles in length, the Andes Mountain Range is the longest in the world. In fact, the hundreds of mountains that make up the Andes actually cross through seven countries as the run north to south across South America. With thousands of snow capped peaks making up the range, mountaineers from across the globe visit the continent each year looking for a significant challenge. One of those climbers has set a goal for himself to summit all of the Andes peaks that rise above a height of 6000 meters (19,685 ft) – a challenge that is far bigger and more demanding than he ever imagined.
A few years ago, Argentine climber Maximo Kausch led an expedition to climb Cho Oyu, an 8201 meter (26,906 ft) peak located in the Himalaya. While there he came up with the idea of attempting to summit all of the 6000 meter peaks in the Andes, a mountain range which he is very familiar. At the time he estimated that there were possibly as many as 50 mountains that rose above that height, which would make this project a very challenging one indeed.
When he returned home, Maximo began researching the locations of each of the mountains and formulating a plan for launching his ambitious idea. What hd discovered however was that he had greatly underestimated the number of mountains he would need to climb in order to achieve his goal. He found that there are actually 118 peaks that are higher than 6000 meters spread out across South America. It took him three years to find all of those mountains and to figure out the best way to get to each of them.
With his research complete, Kausch set out to climb all of those peaks but to do so, he needed to find an efficient way to get around to each of the individual base camps. Eventually he decided the best mode of transportation would be by motorcycle, which presented yet another problem – he had never even sat on a motorcycle before. But after a few lessons and getting accustomed to his bike, Maximo finally embarked on his attempt to bag all of those peaks and he’s been pursuing that goal ever since.
In a recent interview with Explorers Web, Maximo says that for the past several years he has been essentially homeless as he wanders around South America climbing in the Andes. For eight or nine months a year he is focused on bagging 6000 meter peaks and as of August he has now managed to summit 59 of those mountains. That puts him exactly halfway to his goal.
At this point, Max is attempting a couple of these peaks each week but he still has a long way to go. It could still take him another year to wrap up the project but it to have come this far is amazing in and of itself.