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Did Anyone Bring a Measuring Tape?

December 15, 2003

  • Elliot White '05 on Bolivia's Ancohuma.
    Elliot White '05 on Bolivia's Ancohuma.

Is Argentina’s Aconcagua at 22,800 feet the highest peak in the Americas? Or does the honor belong to Bolivia’s magnificent Ancohuma, which many maps show to be 23,200 feet?

Ask Elliot White, a Lewis & Clark sophomore from Denver, who climbed Ancohuma on July 8 to determine its exact elevation for the first time.

White was one of only four climbers of a 23-member American and Bolivian expedition to reach the summit. Using Global Positioning System equipment, White and his fellow climbers collected data, establishing the elevation to be 6,425 meters (21,079 feet) and, therefore, not the highest in the Americas.

“It was incredible being part of a project that helped solve the controversy over Ancohuma’s height,” White said.

Despite unusually bad weather, including heavy snowfall and high winds, the team hauled the 30 pounds of equipment to the summit and succeeded where others had failed.

“This was the hardest and most draining trip I’ve led in 11 years of guiding,” said Quentin Keith, the team’s coleader. “Everyone worked well together to pull this off.”

David Appleton, owner of Outpost Wilderness Adventure, and Jerry Brown of Bear Creek Survey Service organized the expedition.

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