16th – 18th January 2016
After flying for the best part of a day across continents it’s an absolute pleasure disembarking the aircraft and finding your baggage in one piece on the carousel. I’d met Rick, one of my team mates, in Santiago airport as we were on the same flight across to Mendoza so upon arrival we grabbed a cab at the airport and took the short drive across to the hotel.
Jonathan Shrock, our guide, was there at the hotel sorting gear when we arrived. It was wonderful to see him again after a year and a half since my Rainier climb. Rick and I checked into our rooms and unpacked our gear ready for a gear check. Bruce arrived a few hours later.
We met in the lobby that evening ahead of going out for dinner and learnt that one of our team members had dropped out the day before because of a flight mix up. He arrived into the wrong Argentine city and instead of taking the journey across to Mendoza he just flew home back to the USA again! We also discovered that another member, who was there at the hotel that day but none of us had yet met, was unfortunately in the middle of an unexpected family emergency and he’d have to fly home urgently. So there we were, just three clients and two guides.
That evening we had an incredible meal at a local restaurant and started to get to know one another. Rick was a very intelligent, softly spoken, and experienced mountaineer. Tincho, our Argentine guide, had been climbing Aconcagua and surrounding Andean peaks since he was a teenager. Then there was Johnny the IMG guide (who had guided Bruce and I on Mt Rainier in August 2014), Bruce and myself.
The following day we bought extra snacks for the mountain, explored Mendoza, bought and hired any last minute gear (yes, there were a few impulse purchases), and generally relaxed ahead of our long transfer across to Penitentes the following day. It was lovely to sit outside at the hotel pool, relaxing in the 35C sunshine listening to music. I don’t think I could have felt more chilled if I tried. What a wonderful way to begin an trip I had been dreaming about, and preparing for, for over 5 years.