A FATHER and son team from Strabane have pulled on their hiking boots (and are hoping for the best) as they tackle the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere.
Stephen and Jack McGarrigle have been training for the past few months for their ascent on Aconcagnua, the highest peak in the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes.
Situated in Argentina, close to the border with Chile, Aconcagnua is also the highest mountain outside Asia – and the tallest peak in the Southern Hemisphere.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Stephen laughed this week.
“This wasn’t my idea at all. I’m sort of sitting around praying for a happy death and then this kind of thing is suggested.
“It was my son Jack’s idea. He does this sort of thing all the time.
“We both did Kilimanjaro back in 2013, which was very difficult – and Aconcagnua is 2,000 feet higher than that again.”
This time round, he and Jack are embarking on their adventure as a fund-raiser for the Koram Centre in Strabane.
Describing Aconcagnua as a “bit of a brute”, Stephen revealed he recently climbed the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis in preparation.
“Training?” he laughs. “My excuse is, you can’t really train for altitude. We’ve done Ben Nevis and Mount Snowdon but Aconcagnua is 20 times bigger than those.”
The duo recently departed from London and won’t return until January 8, which means they get to spend Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and even Stephen’s birthday on the mountain.
“I’ll tell you one thing, I won’t be doing a dry January this year,” Stephen concluded.
• To contribute to Stephen and Jack’s fundraising mission for the Koram Centre, log onto justgiving.com and search for ‘Stephen and Jack McGarrigle Mountain Climb’.