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4 March, 2012
New Zealander Pearl Going put down another record in her quest to be
the first New Zealand woman and along the way the fastest woman in the world to
achieve the one of the world’s greatest sporting feats, to climb the seven summits.
After a setting world records with her successful summits of Russia’s Mt Elbrus (5642mtrs) in August, (which saw her become the first kiwi woman to tackle the less attempted and more dangerous north face route of what is the tallest peak in Europe) and Mt Kilimanjaro (5895mtrs) in November (first New Zealand full traverse and fastest female traverse record).
The gutsy 26yr old took on a full 360 traverse of Mt Aconcagua in the andes mountains of Argentina. The second highest of the seven summits and the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya. The mountain which has an average expedition time of 19 days on the normal route was summited via full traverse by Going in less than 5 days traveling base camp Plaza Argentina to base camp Plaza De Mulas to become the first Australasian woman and one of the fastest in the world to achieve the feat successfully.
Taking the summit in high winds and deteriorating weather at 5:09am NZ time on the 25th of February saw Going stand the highest woman in the world at the time of her ascent. Aconcagua nicknamed Mt Death and the Stone Sentinel by many is regarded as a challenging climb due to the altitude and the fact that climbers carry their gear alpine style up the mountain. Despite the ease Going achieved the summit with, the climb was not without it's challenges.
“The more I climb the more I see so much of what happens up there is in God's hands alone. My right leg was seriously injured our first day moving on to the mountain by a rock fall and had it hit me 30 sec sooner would have taken me out, I was beyond blessed to survive. There were times during the climb when I thought the pain from the injury would become unbearable. I had my moments as any athlete does when your body is threatening to give out on you and it becomes a purely mental battle. I was fortunate enough to have been trained to have such a light kit as if I had lacked that training and carried what others do on to that mountain, I suspect my leg may not have held up to reach the summit.
Going's coach Guy Cotter is the pioneer of fast and light alpine expeditions.
“The main objective of the expedition was to get ready for Everest, it was fantastic to be able to climb it a more interesting way. Aconcagua stands just below 7000 mtrs and is a rather large hike to traverse. On my descent I got a taste of a real high altitude weather storm with winds around 70km that ripped our tents apart causing us to descend around 2500 mtrs in very testing and tiring conditions. Others were not so blessed, I came across many that nearly lost their lives on the mountain the very same day. It made me immensely thankful that I have had access to the training I have and people like Guy (Cotter) who not only physically but psychologically have prepared me to deal with the reality of getting off a mountain alive.
On descent Going's leg began to show the seriousness of her injuries and the pressure it suffered taking the summit injured. Climbing partner 19yr old New Yorker Cason Crane, who like Going is trained by Guy Cotter's leading firm Adventure Consultants and is also climbing the seven summits was on the expedition.
“I've never seen anything like it, when the rock fall hit Pearl, I didn't see someone coming back from that, I feared her expedition would be over. She came back from it and managed it superbly. Despite her size and injury she was an immensely strong climber on summit day who showed the quality of her training. She definitely toughed it out when others would have given up. It was a privilege to take the summit with her.
With Going's Everest leave date is fast approaching late March and the focus now shifts to the rush against the clock to rehab her injury in time for her Everest expedition.
“I haven't even celebrated Aconcagua as yet. From the moment I stepped up to the summit everything shifted towards Everest. My focus was getting off the mountain and back to NZ to get myself sorted. Everest is my dream and over the coming month I will be throwing everything I can at my body to get it back into perfect condition for that mountain. I've been waiting for Everest since I was 5yrs old, I've sacrificed everything one could possibly sacrifice to be standing where I am today.
Going is due to enter back into one on one training in Wanaka with Adventure Consultants top Everest guide Mike Roberts who guided her to the summit of her first high altitude peak Mt Elbrus in August and has been following her progress from Antarctica. Roberts has returned during a break in his schedule between the Antarctica and Everest seasons to spend a week putting Going through her final paces under the watchful eyes of coach Guy Cotter in the Southern Alps of NZ.
“I just can't wait. I've really been working on some things since Mt Elbrus to show Mike, it's a bit like climbers christmas getting to spend a week training with such a climber he is by far the best Everest guide on the mountain these days and was the first person of Maori descent to climb Everest ever. As a trained physio I'm sure he will have some ideas about how to best rehab my leg.
“I'm blessed, that is what I learnt on Aconcagua, with access to people like Guy, Mike and the entire Adventure Consultants team who have been right beside me every step of this journey. They are the best in the world and people all over the world will tell you as much, New Zealanders should feel immensely proud of our climbing athletes and guides. With a last name like Going I hear about rugby a fair bit and as a nation we are seriously good and dominate the field but were also equally good at climbing really big mountains. For a little country who's highest peak sits below 4000 mtrs we definitely box above our weight on the world stage.
For more info visit www.pearlgoing.com