A STEVENSTON personal trainer reached new heights to celebrate the beginning of 2019 as he scaled the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere.

And David Munn made it three out of the famous seven summits as he stepped foot at the top of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outwith the Himalayas on January 1.

David, who runs his own personal training business, added the Argentinian mountain to previous successful ascents of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus but it wasn’t all plain sailing as winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour meant staying put at over 5,000m for nearly a week before it was safe enough to attempt the summit.

He explained: “After climbing Kilimanjaro and Elbrus this was the next logical step.

“We stayed in Mendoza for a night before driving to the start of the hike and then we had a three-day walk to get to base camp.”

David travelled with eight other climbers of various nationalities and they carried all their own equipment which meant various trips to the higher camps on the mountain.

David added: “We had to carry up to camp one then head back down and do another carry up before staying there. We went up to camp two quickly because of the wind but ended up there for six days because of the wind which was very frustrating.

“We were at 5,500m and the winds were 120 kilometres an hour and this was just under the height of the summit of Elbrus. Luckily there was a window in which we could get to camp three where the winds were about 75 kilometres an hour. “

From camp 3 it was time to try and summit, which would take around 14 hours all in and David was successful although many on the mountain did not make the 6,962m and turned back because of the weather.

He added: “We started at 6am and it was about 10 hours up and four back down. Two out of the nine in our group turned back and around 40 people turned back when we were summiting but luckily our leader was a local hard nut and he told us to press on.

“We pushed through but the last 200m took about two hours.”

The altitude at that level makes it difficult to breath and David explained just how tricky it was, he said: “For the the last 300m we were taking a deep breath after every second step. It really was a snail’s pace but it was relief when we got to the top.

“It was actually about 200m from the top that I was more happy because I knew we were going to make it.

“The four hours getting down was really the hardest because that is when you are more likely to have an accident, the four hours seemed longer than the 10.”

David now has his sights on Denali in Alaska as summit number four of seven but it will be next year or the year after for that climb. As for Mount Everest,David admits that it is very difficult financially to be able to attempt it.

The personal trainer wished to thank all of those who had helped with the equipment needed for the mountain and to his fiancée for her support.

David added: “It was brilliant and a fun fact that because there is no winter climbing in the Himalayas we were the highest people in the world at that point.”