Greetings from a very windy and sandy Confluencia Camp (although to send this post I must have made it to Base Camp). I’m currently in my Mountain Hardwear tent, sitting out a small dust storm on my rest day before my first of two on-mountain medicals. But let’s rewind a bit…
The road to Aconcagua:
Traffic from North West England to London. Overnight.
Taxi to rendezvous with other team members.
Taxi to Gatwick Airport.
Flight to Madrid.
Flight to Buenos Aires.
Minibus across Buenos Aires to the domestic airport.
Flight to Mendoza.
Minivan to hotel. First steak and wine in Argentina. Overnight.
Three hour minivan to Penitentes. Overnight.
Minibus to Aconcagua Park entrance (start of Horcones route). First view of Aconcagua.
Three days of traveling just to get to the foot of the mountain!
From the Park entrance the expedition team walked three hours up through the valley to Confluencia, named as it is located near the confluence of two rivers, at 3400m above sea level. Here, a couple of team members experienced light signs of altitude sickness but nothing more than headaches. Part of three walk in featured in “Seven Years in Tibet”. I bathed in the river but arguably got out dirtier thanks to the swirling chocolate brown waters.
The following morning we did an acclimatisation walk up to just over 4000m, taking in the view of the southern approach to the mountain, which is seldom climbed. We then returned to camp for our second night at 3400m. I caught a glimpse of Killian Jornet running down the mountain. He is here to take the speed record for the ascent, but I gather that yesterday he turned back at 6500m due to unfavourable conditions up high (remember he’s running up in less clothing than most people would wear for an urban run in Autumn!)
Today is our rest day. For me the highlight was a walk to the old Confluencia camp (now disused as there are too many people to fit in it), then back down the valley. The Park Rangers have introduced mandatory medical tests at Confluencia and again at Base Camp, so I have that to look forward to this evening before we push up to Base Camp tomorrow before sunrise.
I would love to attach photos but I fear the internet connection at Base Camp would struggle!