Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aconcagua Group Packed & Ready to go

Jared Bonea checked in with us this afternoon and reported that the group is all packed up and ready to head in tomorrow.  After Ted and Julia's luggage showed up one day late, the group delayed by one day and arrived in Penitentes today.  They spent the day packing loads for the mules and separating the gear that they will need for the hike in.  The plan from here is to start for the trailhead tomorrow morning and hike to the first camp at La Lena, located at around 8,850'.  Penitentes is at 8,200' and they will actually drive down hill to the trailhead.

The hike is is actually fairy moderate, but the weather can vary from hot and dusty to cold and snowing lightly.  The camp itself at La Lena is right next to the Vacas River and is a pit of a dustbowl.  During JR's first trip to the area back in 1993 they actually had to walk across the river without the bridge and in many ways it was one of the most dangerous parts of the trip.

Things have changed a bit, but you still feel like you are walking into the unknown as you head up the massive Vacas valley knowing that the game plan is to hike up and over Aconcagua over the course of the next two weeks.  Vacas means cows in Spanish and the place used to have plenty of cows, but protected park status eventually kept the cows and cowboys out.

Mules will carry the bulk of their gear for the next 3 days and they will carry everything they need for each days hike with enough held back to keep them comfortable should something happen with the mule loads.  The mules will generally start later than the hikers and they will usually only be together at night at camp.  The mules will go as high as the basecamp at Plaza Argentina and then make the long trip back down the valley for another group.

From here on out, most news will come via satellite phone and we will keep you posted as the group checks in.

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