After 18 months of special preparation we were mentally and physically “prepared” to embark on a memorable extreme expedition/adventure that would change the playing field of barbeque, or “braai” forever…the unofficial world record for the highest braai ever at 6000m.
It is more than appropriate(understandably) that South Africans were involved in an experience that brought nations together…at an altitude where there are no guarantees!
On the 2nd of January 2015 a group of six South Africans arrived in Mendoza and met up with two Americans that gave the team a true international flavour. One of the goals was to braai at various altitudes and set the standard for braai at altitude!
All eight climbers circumnavigated Aconcagua over 6000m’s, two reaching the summit, one 6000m whilst five got up to 6670m’s before altitude sickness affected one that needed assistance to go down to 6000m’s.
The criteria was set as follows for anyone who ever think of trying to break this newly set record:
– At least 75% of the climbers must have flown over at least one ocean…
– No helicopters might have been involved…
– There must have been international guests… and there must have been:
– 4 braai’s above 4000m within eight days…
– Robertson’s Braai Spice from South Africa and Lion matches…
– flames and smoke…
– fat dripping…
– good meat/steak…
As it happened:
– On the 8th of January (Day 7) we arrived at Plaza Argentina and stayed there for two nights to acclimatize. This camp was characterized by strong winds, warmer days and very cold nights. We enjoyed and celebrated our first braai in January at an altitude of 4227m.
– On the 13th of January (Day 12), the second day at Camp 2 the braai-team pushed the bar slightly higher when we enjoyed a braai at 5387m above sea level in snowy conditions, with a Swedish group cheering us on; commenting that it can only be South Africans… On this day we have also practiced with crampons on a glacier in order to prepare us for the next step…by way of speech.
– On the 14th of January (Day 13) we ascended to Camp 3, also known as camp Colera, at 6000m above sea level . This was the last camp before the summit attempt very early the next day – a story for another day, taking into account that even the smallest of glitches are amplified to life-threatening magnitude when in these harsh conditions.
Early in the morning of 16 January, during breakfast and just before our descend, a new unofficial world record were set for the highest braai at 6000m; a height where helicopters would struggle to land…!
One of the laws of nature is that anything that goes up, must come down.
It is very important to “cool down” after a strenuous braai at 6000m and therefor the team had their last braai at 4300m above sea level late on the 16th of January after they have descended to Plaza de Mulas – the base camp on the other side of Aconcagua.
Barbeque (“braai”) brings nations together.
Toe die reuk van braaivleis opwalm in hulle neusgate het daar o.a. Swede, Noorweërs, Braziliane en Argentyne uit hulle tente in Kamp Colera gekruip en nadergestaan om in die feesvieringe te deel…
When the barbeque flavours reached their nostrils the Swedes, Norwegians, Brazilians and Argentines at Camp Colera crawled out of their tents to join in the celebrations…
Congratulations and thanks to a very special BRAAI-team.
P.S. To the best of our knowledge the previous highest braai was at an altitude of 3450m in September 2013 on Mafadi peak in the Drakensberg between South Africa and Lesotho.