Paul with Bill at summit of Aconcagua

On January 2, 2012, my brother-in-law, Bill, died of melanoma. Bill was a larger-than-life character who cherished doing things outside.

During his memorial service, we shared with others Bill’s love of nature. He was an avid and gifted skier. And, he loved camping and climbing mountains.

And, he made some significant climbs during his life. He climbed Mt. Marcy, highest peak in New York state; Mt. Washington, highest point in Eastern U.S.; Mt. Whitney, highest peak in the contiguous U.S.; Long’s Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park; Mt. Wilson, near Telluride, Colorado; and Cotopaxi, a high-elevation volcano in the Ecuadorean Andes.

Bill’s two best friends from childhood were Steve and Paul. Steve was here from Delaware for Bill’s passing and Paul, an anesthesiologist from South Carolina, made it the next day.

Paul could stay only a short while with us in Dallas because he was leaving on the 5th, the day of Bill’s memorial, to take Steve’s son, Jonathan, and some of Jonathan’s friends to Argentina to climb Aconcagua, the highest point in the Western and Southern hemispheres, or the tallest point in the Americas. The trip had been arranged for quite some time.

Here are just a few stats about Aconcagua:

Aconcagua, one helluva mountain

— The summit is 22,841 feet above sea level

— The northern route to the summit is considered a non-technical climb, since no ropes, axes or pins are required to reach the summit

— Other routes to the summit take the climber across the Polish Glacier, and are considered significantly more difficult than the common northern route.

— There is 40% less oxygen at the summit than at sea level

— Because of severe temps at this high level, injuries are common, due to lack of acclimatization and cold injuries.

Doesn’t sound like any sort of easy climb, does it?  Make no mistake, this is a dangerous climb. Anyone attempting this climb, and makes it to the top, can consider this quite an accomplishment.

English: Polish Glacier on Aconcagua from 6000m.

Crossing the Polish Glacier on Aconcagua

On January 19, 2012, at 2:15 p.m., Paul and his team made it to the summit. And, Paul carried a special package with him. He took out a picture of Bill that he carried with him for this trip. For a few moments at the summit of Aconcagua, Paul took out a picture of Bill and remembered his dearest friend. Bill would certainly have been proud of Paul’s accomplishment, and he certainly would have let him know it. More than likely, Bill would have been with Paul if he could.

At that altitude, Paul could not stay at the summit for very long. He found an appropriate stone and left Bill’s picture at the summit of Aconcagua. Paul was, indeed, a very special friend.