In 2016 ultra-runner, Fernanda Maciel became the first woman to run up and down the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua, which stands at 6,962m. It was not the first time she'd tried to set the record. But her dogged determinism paid off in the end. Here she tells us about that journey.
We weren't born to fail. That's why I went back to Aconcagua in 2016.
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas (6,962m/23,000ft). In January and February, I'd spent a few days in Aconcagua Park with the dream of setting the fastest female ascent and descent of the mountain. I'd tried three times before, but this time I was determined to make it happen.
Even though the weather was not on my side, a weather-window finally emerged and I was able to achieve my goal: I set the female record for running up and down Aconcagua and I did it in less than 24 hours. No woman had ever done this before!
The hardest moment during this attempt was when I began loosing all my energy because of the cold, altitude sickness and stress from 5,000m (base camp two) to 6,000m (base camp four). I couldn't open my eyes. I was walking and running in zig zags, as if I was drunk. For three or four hours I felt terrible but then the sun came up and thankfully my body started to work well again. I managed to reach the summit at around 2pm. Doing that was the best experience of my life.
When I was coming down alone from base camp to the park entrance, a rock avalanche and landslide came tumbling down on my left side. It was a horrifying moment where I had to run pretty fast to leave that dangerous place on the valley Playa Ancha. After a bit of a panic, I made it to the park entrance and then I knew I'd finished my project. I'd run up and down Aconcagua in 22 hours and 52 minutes.
Aconcagua has all my respect. Usually people need three weeks to do the climb and just 30% succeed. I had a wonderful experience there. The views were amazing and the people were so positive. It was a big dream of mine to succeed in such a powerful and high mountain environment. I'm happy today that I believed in that dream and never gave up.