Ski Portillo in The Andes of Chile.


Irish ice swimmer and event organizer Ger Kennedy training in an ice bath.

Altitude Ice Mile Will Complete Ice Sevens For Ger Kennedy

Courtesy of Ger Kennedy, Portillo, Chile.

Ger Kennedy often demonstrates the very essence of grit.

His next challenge will require all the grit that he possesses. “This is going to be very difficult indeed,” admits the Irish adventurer who lives at sea level in Dublin.

Fergil Hesterman has swum a high-altitude Ice Mile in Lesotho, Africa at 3,048 meters (see here).

I have some experience at altitude when I summited Mont Blanc in 2016 at 5000 meters,” explained Kennedy who will swim at 2,880 meters in the lake in Portillo, a ski resort located high in Chile’s Andes mountains in the Valparaíso Region. “I seemed to deal with high altitude well. For me, this is the next level in Ice Swimming – at altitude.

Bárbara Hernández Huerta is our host. She will also do an Altitude Ice Mile. Portillo is Barbara’s training ground and Ski Portillo is one of her sponsors for her swims around the world.

Flight time from Dublin is 20 hours so our plan is to acclimatize for 4 days with regular trips to Christ the Redeemer of the Andes at 3,800 meters for short hikes. We will drink no alcohol and focus on hydration with 2 swims per day in water temperature of 3°C in preparation for the Altitude Ice Mile on October 4th
.”

Kennedy’s Altitude Ice Mile will complete his Ice Sevens journey. When successful, he will become the first man and second person after Jaimie Monahan who first completed the famed Ice Sevens challenge in July 2017.

Ger Kennedy Ice Sevens:
1st Ice Mile in Europe in Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland on 24 February 2013, 1 mile in 3.3°C water in 40 minutes in a freshwater glacier lake
2nd Ice Mile in Mikkelvik Brygge, Karlsøy, Norway (Polar Ice Mile) on 6 March 2017, 1 mile in 2.5°C in 34 minutes 5 seconds in a sea water Norwegian fjord
3rd Ice Mile Zero in Asia in Tyumen, Siberia, Russia on 9 December 2017, 2 km in 0.5°C in 43 minutes 10 seconds in a 25m 3-lane ice pool called the lake of champions
4th Ice Mile in Africa in Lake Ouiouane, Mid-Atlas mountains of Morocco on 6 January 2018, 1 mile in 3.7°C in 37 minutes 10 seconds in a high altitude lake at 1630 meters
5th Ice Mile in North America at M Street Beach, Boston, USA on 22 February 2018, 1 mile in 4.7°C in 32 minutes 15 seconds in the open sea
6th Ice Mile in Oceania in the Thredbo Reservoir, NSW Australia on 1 June 2019, 1 mile in 2.8°C in 38 minutes 2 seconds in a high altitude fresh water lake at 1440 meters
7th Ice Mile in South America will be held in Portillo, Chile on 4 October 2019, 1 mile in a high-altitude freshwater glacier lake at 2,880 meters

High-altitude swims are defined as open water swims held at least 1,000 meters above sea level.


Video by Madswimmer on the border of Chile and Argentina in The Andes.

Some high-altitude swims include:

1,132 meters (3,715 feet): wild swimming in Khar Nuur in the Khovd aimag in western Mongolia’s Great Lakes Depression

1,400 meters (4,593 feet): 1.6 km Speedo Ice Swim Africa in Nuwedam, Fraserburg, Northern Cape in South Africa

1,511 meters (4,957 feet): 1.93 km and 3.86 km Mountain Swim Series Solstice Sunset Swim in Union Reservoir (Calkins Lake) in Longmont, Colorado, USA

1,624 meters (5,328 feet): 1.6 km, 3.2 km and 4.8 km BAM Bare Bones Open Water Swim Series at the Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado, USA

1,624 meters (5,328 feet): 300m, 700m, 950m and 1 km BAM Bi-Weekly Open Water Swims near Dream Cove at the Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado, USA

1,645 meters (5,397 feet): wild swimming in Khovsgol Nuur in the Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia

1,654 meters (5,427 feet): 1.6 km and 3.2 km Mountain Swim Series Chatfield Classic in Hatfield Lake in Littleton, Colorado, USA

1,676 meters (5,500 feet): 6.43 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest of Fresno County, California, USA

1,676 meters (5,500 feet): 6.43 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest of Fresno County, California, USA

1,756 meters (5,760 feet): 4.82 km Mountain Swim Series Carter Lake Crossing in Carter Lake Reservoir in Loveland, Colorado, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 250m Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 16.1 km Olympic Club Trans Tahoe Relay in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 16.9 km Vikingsholm Swim between Cave Rock in Nevada and Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, California, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 19.3 km true widthwise swim across Lake Tahoe between California and Nevada, USA

1,897 meters (6,224 feet): 34.3 km Lake Tahoe lengthwise swim across Lake Tahoe, California, USA

2,060 meters (6,759 feet): wild swimming in Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur in the Khangai Mountains in central Mongolia

2,200 meters (7,218 feet): 500m International Extreme Race of Winter Swimming (International Limit Challenging Race of Crossing Yellow River Qinghai China) in northwest China’s Qinghai Province in Tibetan Plateau

2,323 meters (7,621 feet): 2.25 km Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS by Richard Gardner across June Lake in Inyo National Forest, Mono County, California, USA

2,425 meters (7,957 feet): 1.5 km loops (repeated until failure) Mountain Swim Series Cliff Backyard Ultra Swim in Wellington Lake in Bailey, Colorado, USA

2,425 meters (7,957 feet): 5 km and 10 km Mountain Swim Series Castle 5K/10K in Wellington Lake in Bailey, Colorado, USA

2,880 meters (9,448 feet): Ski Portillo sponsors High-Altitude Ice Miles in the lake adjacent to the ski resort in the Valparaíso region of Chile

2,880 meters (9,448 feet): 1 km Winter Swimming Ski Portillo Chile (Festival Internacional de Natación de Invierno en Argentina) in The Andes

3,048 meters (10,000 feet): 1 km South African Ice Swimming Championships in Afriski, Lesotho

3,812 meters (12,507 feet): 7 km Torneo Internacional de Natación en Aguas Abiertas (Nadando Cerca del Cielo) in Lago Titicaca from the Isla de la Luna to the Isla del Sol in Bolivia

3,812 meters (12,507 feet): 16 km by Lynne Cox in Lago Titicaca from Copacabana, Bolivia to Chimbo, Peru

5,200 meters (17,060 feet): 1 km in Lake Pumori on Mount Everest in the Nepal – Tibet border

5,909 meters (19,386 feet): Ojos Swim by Madswimmers Jean Craven, Juandre Human, Milton Brest, Evan Feldman, Chris Marthinusen, Herman van der Westhuizen and Robert Graaff across Ojos del Salado in Mount Tres Cruces on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Andes Mountains

There most probably will be an increasingly number of high-altitude swims around the world.

National Geographic reported, “Lakes across the globe that once froze solid all winter are melting faster than ever before and, in some cases, are not freezing at all” after visiting 513 lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere to assess how their patterns of freezing and thawing had changed since 1970.

Researchers estimated that 15,000 lakes around the world already freeze less than they used to and lake ice could become scarce within the next generation, permanently canceling winter activities such as ice skating and ice fishing – and increasing the number of ice swimming and high-altitude swimming events, wild swims and challenges.

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