It is Always a Good Time to Write About the Aconcagua

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On Christmas Day, we explored the city (before starting our Aconcagua hike  I went for a jog through the town’s central park, where a lot of families were listening to music, dancing, and having picnics. We went out to dinner without breaking the habit of being the first to arrive at restaurants that opened around 9:00 pm. The next day, the 26th, we got up and finished the process of obtaining our permits. The next step was to pay for the permits and then take the receipt showing the permitting office’s payment to get the permit itself. As soon as we complete this, we pack our things and take our ferry for the 3 hour trip to Penitentes (the previous step to enter Mount Aconcagua park). Mendoza is a beautiful city, but for us, a few days in any city is enough. As soon as we got to Penitentes, we went for a walk to stretch our legs. The town of Penitentes is about 7,500 ′, and in the company of a stray dog, we go up to the point of about 10,000 ′ to have a great view of the area. Our hotel was reminiscent of “The Shining” hotel. It’s a great 70’s ski lodge that feels relatively isolated in the mountains. However, it is run by a married couple, who were incredibly kind and have done a great job with the place. The food was excellent, and they have many renovations insight. We sleep the following day and depart with our packs of the day from the Punta de Vacas trailhead around 1:00 pm. We had about 80 kilos of equipment on the mules a few hours ahead. It was a beautiful day, but after a while, on the dusty and windy trail, it started to look a bit difficult. Sun protection was essential, and despite the heat, she felt better in long sleeves and light pants. Crawling in my sleeping bag that night in Pampa de Leñas, I felt pretty content. I have always loved the first night of an expedition with the logistics behind us and the stresses of everyday life far away. Even with an earlier start, the hike to the second campground was hot and windy. I’m not sure I’ve ever walked anywhere that dry, and coming from Colorado, that says a lot. The camp at Casa de Piedra is exposed, and it is not even a camp, but the redemption is that just before reaching the camp, we had a beautiful view of Aconcagua. We woke up earlier on the third morning when the gauchos were ready to pack the mules and head to base camp. This meant that we needed to fill our tent and all of our equipment. Reluctantly (more on my part than anyone else), we rush to pack in the morning chill, debating keeping our down capes on and wearing them ourselves or ditching them to ship with the mules. Once the equipment was finished, there wasn’t much left to do but take a sip of milk and wait for the sun to rise to warm us up. We set off to cross an icy stream and continued through the valley of Neighs. It was the best day of hiking as it seemed like we were finally gaining altitude and making our way up the mountain. In the following, I will tell you the secrets about how to climb Aconcagua.

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