Our January Aconcagua team is assembled in Argentina and poised to head up the trail tomorrow morning. Three climbers will be accompanied by our long time Aconcagua guide, Fermin Avila, who just summitted Aconcagua for the 30th time just over a week ago.
Aconcagua is the tallest peak in South America and also holds the distinction of being the tallest peak outside the Himalaya. At 22,841 feet, it is just a few meters shy of being a 7000m peak. Located just east of the border between Chile and Argentina, the glaciated mountain rises above a very arid environment. Approaching the mountain feels very similar to hiking in the Grand Canyon, replete with whip-tail lizards and chukawallas.
The climbers traveled from the USA and met in the small city of Mendoza, the center of Argentina’s world-renown wine country. The team assembled yesterday, Fermin looked over everyone’s climbing gear and they then went out for a welcome dinner to enjoy some of Mendoza’s famous steaks.
The team includes:
Martin Keogh from Colorado
Mark and Will DeVries from Kansas
Fermin Avila (guide) from El Bolsón, Argentina
Today, the team finalized the process to obtain climbing permits from the Provincial Park Office in Mendoza, before loading into a private van for the 2+ hour drive into the mountains. Tonight, they will spend the night at a small ski resort known as Penitentes. They finished packing for the trip and are excited for tomorrow, when they will hit the trail.
The first three days of the climb are the approach up the arid Vacas Valley, which trends north toward the mountain, to meet it on the east side of the peak. The approach is a good shake down for climbers, with none of the days being too tough, but a good opportunity to stretch their legs and build some acclimatization to the thinner air of the higher elevations.
As the team progresses, we have invited the climbers to call in dispatches from the field, so they can share their experience in their own words. These dispatches will initially post as “New Audio File,” until our team in Colorado can edit the post and append it to the Team’s dispatch feed. We encourage friends and family to subscribe to the team’s dispatches using the drop down tool to the right of this page.
On occasion, the team will be too busy or the weather could conspire to prevent a dispatch from being called in via satellite phone. In such circumstances, we urge you to hold onto the old adage of, “No News Is Good News!” However, if you should have any questions about how they are doing, please don’t hesitate to call the Mountain Trip office or drop us an email.