Former round-the-world record holder Mark Beaumont has taken time out from his latest epic bike ride to scale South America’s highest peak, the 22,841 Mount Aconcagua.
The 27-year-old Scotsman is currently riding the length of the continent with his exploits being filmed for a BBC documentary, The Man Who Cycled The Americas, to be screened later this year, and is now four fifths of the way through his 12,500-mile journey.
Speaking from the summit – at 22,841 feet, the mountain is more than five times higher than Ben Nevis and the highest outside Asia – Beaumont was reported by the Daily Record as saying: "I feel utterly exhausted and exhilarated. The last few hours to get to here were incredible.
"This was some of the hardest climbing I've ever done and the altitude has been very hard to deal with.”
The conditions were less than ideal too, with Beaumont explaining: "I'm also in the middle of a blizzard, so I can't really see anything other than where we are right now. I'm sure there's a great view but I can't see it!"
Beaumont was accompanied by a guide and two other climbers, and their task was made tougher by the fact they had to make several trips up the mountain then back down to acclimatise themselves to to the altitude before making their attempt on the summit.
"At each new altitude, I've suffered fairly sleepless nights and headaches, normal symptoms from lessening oxygen levels," he said.
"We started the climb on January 3, began the final stage at 7am today and took until 3pm to get here. It's not sunk in that we have made it yet, but I'm really delighted.”
Beaumont said that he wasn’t certain “how long the descent will be but it will be even trickier and we have to be very careful,” adding “the whole team is very tired and the ground is very loose - lots of ice with fresh snow on top.”
Once Beaumont returns to the foot of the mountain, he expects to spend another three to four weeks cycling to the southernmost point of the continent at Ushuaia, returning to the UK by the end of February.
His journey down the Cordillera –the chain of mountains running the length of the Americas from Alaska in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south – started last May, when he scaled North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley, and has taken him from the Arctic through the desert. You can follow his progress on his blog.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.