Newsreader and Dancing With The Stars winner Samantha Hayes is currently attempting to climb to the summit of Mt Aconcagua in Argentina. At 6,962 metres it is the highest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. But the dangerous mission was marred overnight when two of her climbing companions had to be medically evacuated by helicopter as they fell victim to altitude sickness.
In lengthy post to Instagram, Sam documented the incident from the shelter of her tent as a snowstorm raged outside.
"On the summit of Mt Bonete in Argentina," she wrote. "At 5,000m it was a struggle and there were a few tears at the top, in part because two of our group had to be medically evacuated by helicopter from the mountain the day before due to altitude sickness.
"I hiked up my first mountain two and a half months ago and it was half Bonete's size. On this trip I set a goal of getting to the top of this peak. Making it 2,000m higher to the summit of Aconcagua will be a bonus. For now I'm very happy.
"There are times when I wonder why I'm doing this but the view from the top across into Chile and of the wider Aconcagua National Park was phenomenal. The weather was perfect for the summit too.. not so much today.. I'm in my tent, it's snowing and I can hear either thunder or avalanches. I'm going with thunder."
The entire journey is expected to take 18 days. The Three News presenter took on the challenge to "get out of my comfort zone so I appreciate all the little things in life a whole lot more when I get home."
It is not without significant risk, however, as Aconcagua is widely considered to be the most dangerous mountain in South America. In January 2009 alone, five climbers died while attempting to scale the summit. It has an average of three deaths per year and has earned itself the nickname 'Mountain of Death.'
Altitude sickness is particularly dangerous because symptoms can take between 6 and 24 hours to develop. In its most severe form it can lead to fluid on the lungs and brain which can cause death.
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