Former Maryborough man David Cole has become the seventh Australian in history to climb the world’s seven summits.
Mr Cole, 43, says reaching the 6962 metre high summit of South America’s Aconcagua on December 19 was a “sweet moment”.
With a potentially lethal snow storm closing in, achieving the top of Aconcagua represented the final summit in his quest to reach the top of the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents.
For the company executive, now based in China, setting his boot on the crest of Aconcagua was also the culmination of more than a decade in preparation and a triumph over an old failure.
“It was an especially sweet moment given that this last summit was one which I attempted but was unsuccessful on 11 years prior,” David said.
On that first attempt at Aconcagua the dangerous white wind (Viento Blanco) for which the mountain holds a reputation among climbers, forced him back within just metres of his goal.
And while, this time round David got to taste sky-scraping victory, his climbing companion, Californian park ranger, Jimmy Herbaugh was not so lucky.
The only other person with him during this, David’s final seventh summit climb, Jimmy was two hours behind him as they attempted the summit on December 19.
But Jimmy was forced to abandon his attempt just 200 metres below the summit due to the snow storm that then closed in.
“Just as I was leaving the summit a snow storm quickly closed in and conditions on the mountain rapidly deteriorated to near white out for the entire duration of our return to high camp,” David said.
“The storm continued all night and our tent was getting pounded by the wind.
“Jimmy and I would take turns bracing the tent from being flattened.”
As the wind grew stronger the park issued a warning to all climbers to descend immediately.
“It was challenging packing up camp in such cold and windy conditions, but ultimately it was the right decision,” David reflected on his return after a total 15 days on the mountain.
“The following day as we walked out of the park we looked up at the summit and saw the upper mountain getting absolutely blasted by gale force winds.”
Back in Maryborough, the moutaineer’s parents, Dawn and Graham Cole, received the news of their son’s achievement with delight and relief.
Dawn said they are now turning their thoughts to her son’s approaching May marriage to his Chinese fiance, Robbie.
And while thoughts of future adventures, including an 8000 metre high Pakistani peak and Everest’s northern flank, are already in mind, David ruled out a mountainous honeymoon destination.
“That’s the last place I’d choose,” he said.
“A relaxing beach holiday is always a good complement to a mountain trip but Robbie tells me she’s interested to go to Egypt and the desert.
“Also we have discussed an overland tour in far western China and Tibet.”