Maximo Kausch beats the world record of 6000 summits in Andes


26 August 2013

Maximo Kausch beats the world record of 6000 summits in Andes

Máximo in the summit of 'Pular', extremely remote peak in Chile. 

55th summit.

One of the sharp 6000 m ridges in Bolivia.

Inca ruins at 6730 m, Llullaillaco (Argentina).

Ridge of Illampu (Bolivia).

Bike fell in an ice and sand crevasse.

About 1 year ago I started to climb all the 6000ers in the Andes. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; I thought "there are no more than 50 x 6000ers in the Andes". Unfortunately I realized there are 118 mountains above 6000m over here! It was already too late and couldn´t stop it. 

Just climbed my 59th 6000m peak yesterday. Supposedly this is already a world record. But surely one thing I´ve learned during this trip is that the more mountains I climb, the more I realize I´ve climbed nothing. The higher I get, the further I can see the horizon and many more mountains ranges show up. It makes me feel very insignificant. I still have 57 peaks left in my plan. If I manage to climb them, God know what then. 

The Plan
I think curiosity was my main incentive to climb all these peaks. After leading an expedition to Mt Cho Oyu in Tibet I had this great idea of climbing as many 6000ers as I could but I didn´t really know how to approach them. 

Google Earth
Knowing where all the 6000ers are took me 3 years. While in Europe people discuss if some of their mountains are 1 metre higher or lower, in South America we discuss their actual names or 300 metre altitude discrepancies. Most of the South American maps use really old methods and altitudes are mostly wrong. Names also proved to be a challenge. There are cases when 4 or 5 different names are linked to the same mountain. Because of the unreliable altitudes that were available I had to download gigabytes of NASA data and work on it for months. ASTER and SRTM data helped me a lot to make a list with more reliable altitudes. 3 months later, Google Earth and a lot of patience and all the foot approaches were mapped and ready in my GPS. All I had to do then was climb them! 

A motorbike sounded like a great idea but I have never even sat on one. Learning how to ride a bike on volcanic ash and virgin terrain proved to be one of the greatest challenges of my whole trip. Eventually after dozens of falls I´ve finally learned and managed to approach 6000m peaks up to an average of 4700m. Initially I started climbing 4 or 5 x 6000m peaks every week. I then moved to climb 2 of them in one day once or twice a week. Pretty dangerous game as I had no backup plans. 

Water was also a problem. I initially had a 20Lt water container attached to the bike but it ended up been too heavy. For about 1 month all my water came from snow from the top of the 6000ers I climbed. It worked well until I failed in one of the summits.

One of the most interesting bits of the project was surely the archaeological finds I had at 14 different sites. In one of them we found a 60 square metre Inca structure built at the top of a 6000m peak. Maybe there are mummies under there, I just don´t know. Also found a lot of pieces of wood left by Incas 500 years ago. At the southern 6000ers in Argentina and Chile I found some pretty big fossils of 1 foot long sponges, ammonites and other cretaceous sea creatures. All this at least 5000m!

In return of a great amount of amazing sceneries and landscapes I´ve seen, I try to pay back by publishing the GPS waypoints and routes so others can come back. All my routes are available at Wikiloc (  ). 

Info about me
Born in Argentina, lived about 9 years in the UK, but also lived 10 years in Brazil. Now I´m completely homeless and spend 8 to 9 months/year in high altitudes. I work as expedition leader at the Andes and Himalaya. Have now my own company in Brazil,

Maximo Kausch

Sunrise at 6100 m, Bolivia.

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