Mendoza, Argentina
32° 53' S 68° 48' W
Jan 04, 2007 14:46
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Acongagua.....try saying that five times...

We decided over a glass of wine one evening we were going to hike up to the second camp of Acongagua - Plaza Francais.  Little did we realize how exhausting this little trip was going to be.

  We left Mendoza in the midst of a cold spell..haha....40 degrees on the last day there, and left for the village of Punta Del Inca.  Punta Del Inca is simply a one horse town, except there was about 4 horses and 50 mules.  We felt it was a good idea to stay the first night and acclimatise to the new altitude of roughly 2700 meters...and it may have been a wise decision at first, but the place we camped felt it was a good idea to leave on the flourescent lights in the yard, and was nice enough to allow us to pitch a tent near his horses.  So instead of Altitude sickness, we opted for horse poop sickness.  There is nothing more exhilerating than waking to fresh horse poo smell.

  The second day was the first climb to the park, and because it was a small climb we walked instead of hitching a ride.  We followed the highway and old rail tracks for about 7 km's before we entered the park.  The ranger warned us to drink plenty of water and gave us a bag for our garbage and sent us on our way.  While we sat there, resting prior to the climb, I spoke and shared a cookie with a guy who was choppered down for AMS, who looked a little upset, and pukey still, but said he got it at the same height we were going in one days time.  So that was comforting news...haha.

  What's funnier was that we trekked at higher ground in Ethiopia this spring, and I don't remember helicopters, park guards and warnings about AMS there, mind you we had a man about 5 feet tall with a old rifle as our guide who spoke no english, and had little concern for headaches with Guerrillas in the area.

  So after talking to the choppered descender, I pushed him over, drank all his water and stole his cookies, and we began the walk.  I had an idea that it would be mostly uphill, but it was really uphill...in fact we only hiked another three hours, but climbed 1500 feet.  Add the 30 degree weather, two full backpacks, and you have two sad looking humans.  I still remember having a couple pass us on their way down and looking all chipper as they go ¨Hola!¨nearly giggling, and we respond with ¨Ohhhh....Ohhhhh...llla¨ and looking defeated and deflated.

  When we arrived to camp Confluencia, 1.5 hours ahead of the suggested time, we looked as though we found an oasis, and immediatly smiles formed on our faces as we stepped in the check in tent.....we laughed a little, and asked where the McDonalds tent was located...he didn't laugh, and I shut up.

  The first camp was certainly a novelty to us....we were really excited to see the camp, watch climbers gear up, and get that mountaineer feel.  That novelty wore off when after an spending all day in hot sun we sought shelter from the heat.....I truly hate the sun and all its life giving rays.  We tried laying in the tent, but after half an hour nearly naked and sweating and wheezing and panting like dogs we had to try something new.  We hid behind the one small permanent stucture in 3 feet of shade all afternoon.  Fun times.

  With that being said, we made a game plan: go to sleep at 8, wake up before sunrise and start walking ahead of the heat.

  The following morning we left at about 6:30 and packed only one bag and made straight for the south face of Acongogua.  This climb was pretty intense but in the cool morning very bearable.  The ascent was nearly 1000 m, or 3000 feet but very well worth it.  We made it to the face by about 9:30 and watched the evil sun creep ever closer to us, but not before we were able to start down.

  And when we made it to the camp Confluenica, Colleen made an executive desicion to just screw sweating in the tent all day and just walk it out.  It was a great desicion, sort of.  After 5 hours in the morning, we made the attempt to walk back the next 4 hours to Punta Del Inca.  What was fun though, was basically sauntering down the main trail and saying ¨Hola!¨ gleefully to others as they looked like th walking dead.....meanwhile I¨ve got a fiance that's wearing a dish rag on her head for shade.

  A great hike, a hard hike, but nothing like the climbers were preparing for.

 

 

Photos / videos of "Acongagua.....try saying that five times...":

The two of us with the highest mountain in the western world behind us. In the stretch that felt like a chunck of Mars Shot 2 of Cerro Aconcagua. From Camp Confluenica, notice the mules and the horse below...no doubt on their way to smell up someones camp site. Colleen enjoying the shade at camp. A section of Camp Confluencia....looks like a hoot, eh! I couldn´t forget Ole Burnsy! A shot near Punta Del Inca. Glorious to look at isn´t it....and the mountian ain´t so bad either..ha ha! Enjoying some Sudoku....stupid stupid math.... I told you, she´s a sherpa! Nice head wrap....the sultan needs shade..haha The Cemetary for lost climbers. Cemetary #2