Mt. Aconcagua Climb, Jan 17-Feb 7, 2004
Mt. Aconcagua, at 22,800' is one of the seven summits and the tallest mountain outside of Asia. I have always wanted to attempt an expedition style climb. After many months of training by riding my bike almost 20 miles per day in Crystal River, Florida and then completing my training in Colorado, mostly by hiking in mountain parks 4 to 7 miles daily, my climbing partner, Bob Ader and I flew to Argentina. Our first stop, Mendoza, Argentina, was a very comfortable city to stay in while we completed the expedition logistics. Then, by local bus, we traveled to Puente del Inca, the gateway to Aconcagua at 9,000'. We hired a mule to carry much of our gear for the 17 miles, two-day trek to Plaza de Mulas at 14,500'. This stop served as our base camp to acclimatize before going higher. From Plaza de Mulas we took several day trips higher to acclimatize and shuttle our gear to our next stop, Nido de Condores at 18,250'. We spent 2 nights here while we made a shuttle to our next higher camp with gear. Finally we moved to Camp Berlin, our high camp at 19,500'. From here most summit attempts are made. Bob continued to the top with several of our Greek friends, who we met climbing. I made it to 20,000' before returning to base camp.
We spent 11 days on the mountain. After a short rest at Puente del Inca we spent several more days in Mendoza. A highlight in Mendoza was attending a regional soccer playoff game. For days, this game was the talk of the town. The stadium was packed with tight security everywhere but that did not dampen the highly charged electric atmosphere present throughout the match. The entire three-week experience in Argentina is something I will always remember!