19th – 20th January 2016
The following morning we loaded up our gear and food into the van and started our 185km journey from Mendoza to Los Penitentes. For such a small team (5 of us including guides) it was astonishing how much we were taking and the thought of us having to carry it all up the mountain was daunting.
We stopped for lunch en-route at a local restaurant for another steak (when in Argentina…!) before arriving in the very dry, very windy town of Los Penitentes. During the winter it is a popular ski resort and in the summer it is used for climbers and hikers visiting the area. I found it a bizarre, uninspiring and pretty desolate place. We got checked into Ayelen Hotel de Montana then Bruce and I went out to explore.
We walked down to the street to the ‘Mini Market’ which was simply a corrugated metal container containing a freezer. A lad was trying to communicate with the elderly lady in charge but she didn’t speak English and he didn’t speak Spanish. I tried my best to translate and it turned out that the Mini Market didn’t have any food or drink available. It didn’t look hopeful that Bruce would be able to find a memory card for his camera (which he had just discovered he didn’t have in his camera).
Bruce and I headed across the street to Refugio Cruz de Cana where we grabbed a Coke and caught up after quite a hectic few days travelling. It was a really cool place covered in flags, photos and mountain memorabilia. Johnny and Tincho were at the Grajales HQ sorting out the supplies we’d brought from Mendoza and separating them and our gear into loads for the mules the next day. It was an incredible thing to watch.
The following morning we had an amazing breakfast, chilled out and got our kit loaded up in the van ready to hit the trail.
From the IMG blog:
“Another expedition has started on Aconcagua. Jonathan Schrock, Martin Lucero and team are heading to Penitentes today. Final packing occurs there and the approach starts tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping for favorable weather. The mountain has not made things easy so far this season.” http://www.mountainguides.com/wordpress/2016/01/19/aconcagua/news-from-the-south/
“On Aconcagua, Jonathan Schrock sent this photo before Martin, the team and he began their approach march. Three days of enjoyable walking to get to base camp, Plaza Argentina. They’re ready to rock and roll.” http://www.mountainguides.com/wordpress/2016/01/20/aconcagua/and-theyre-off-9/