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Aconcagua

Stats

Peak Name
Elevation
Cerro Aconcagua
22,841'
Cerro Colorado
15,282'
 Cerro de la Gloria   3,150'

Itinerary

Date
Day
Location
Sleeping Elevation
Elevation Gain
Distance
1/30/2009
1
Travel to Argentina
-
-
-
1/31/2009
2
Los Puquios
8,777'
-
-
2/01/2009
3
Pampa de Leñas
9,200'
1,310'
8.7 miles
2/02/2009
4
Casa de Piedra
10,500'
1,300'
9.3 miles
2/03/2009
5
Plaza Argentina
13,800'
3,300'
7.5 miles
2/04/2009
6
Carry to Camp I
13,800'
2,900'
3.2 miles
2/05/2009
7
Cerro Colorado
13,800'
1,482'
4 miles
2/06/2009
8
Camp I
16,700'
2,900'
1.6 miles
2/07/2009
9
Rest
16,700'
-
-
2/08/2009
10
Carry to Camp II
16,700'
2,500'
3.8 miles
2/09/2009
11
Rest
16,700'
-
-
2/10/2009
12
Camp II
19,200'
2,500'
1.9 miles
2/11/2009
13
Walk to 20,000'
19,200'
800'
2 miles
2/12/2009
14
Rest
19,200'
-
-
2/13/2009
15
Cerro Aconcagua
19,200'
3,641'
4.6 miles
2/14/2009
16
Plaza Argentina
13,800'
-5,400'
3.5 miles
2/15/2009
17
Punta de Vacas
7,900'
-5,900'
25.5 miles

Total Distance:
 ~76 miles
Total Elevation Gain: ~23,000’

Days 1-2

I traveled from Grand Junction, CO to Mendoza via four flights. The highlight of the trip to Mendoza was visiting a friend during a layover in Miami. I was picked up and given a ride to get my permit, then drove up to Los Puquios where they offer free camping. I happened to meet Willy, a German mountain guide who was also attempting Aconcagua solo. We were both planning on starting the trek up to basecamp the following morning.
Los Penitentes Ski Area

Day 3
Willy and I hiked up & left our gear to be carried up by the mules and were driven to Punta de Vacas to begin the hike up to Pampa de Leñas. The hike was rather easy and the weather was great. I was surprised to see no one else at the first camp along the approach to basecamp. Soon after, people started trickling in.
Vacas Valley
   
Lizard in the Vacas Valley

Mules in the Vacas Valley

Vacas Valley
   
Vacas Valley

Mule with my pack at Pampa de Leñas. Mules were blindfolded to prevent them from wandering off.

Mule with my rolling duffel at Pampa de Leñas

Vacas Valley

Day 4
We started out the next morning in good weather, but near the end of the hike to the second camp along the approach to basecamp, the winds picked up and a large amount of dust was being blown down the valley.
Me on the bridge over the Vacas River

Waterfall above the Vacas Valley

Looking down the Vacas Valley

Willy hiking up the Vacas Valley

Willy taking a break in the Vacas Valley
 
Looking down the Vacas Valley

High winds and a lot of dust just below Casa de Piedra

More dust

Looking down the valley at the dust

The Vacas Valley

Looking down the Vacas Valley

Casa de Piedra

Cerro Aconcagua

Casa de Piedra

Looking up the Vacas Valley from Casa de Piedra

Looking northeast from Casa de Piedra

Day 5
The next morning we started out early and crossed the Vacas River barefoot since I forgot to bring sandals. My feet were in terrible pain from the cold by the time I got across. The hike up the Relinchos Valley was very pretty and soon we were at basecamp.
Willy hiking up the Relinchos Valley

Looking up the Relinchos Valley

Willy hiking up the Relinchos Valley

Cerro Ameghino

Cerro Aconcagua and Cerro Ameghino, from left to right

Mules heading up the Relinchos Valley

Cerro Aconcagua and Cerro Ameghino above the Relichos River

The Relinchos Valley

Cerro Aconcagua and Cerro Ameghino, from left to right

Cerro Ibañez

Cerro Rico

Cerro Colorado

Helicopter above basecamp and Cerro Ameghino in the distance. The helicopter was picking up a climber stricken with altitude illness.

Day 6
I carried up to Camp I. It was interesting to see the Relinchos Glacier that was covered almost completely in dirt and rock.
Penintentes en route to Camp I
   
More Penitentes

The dirt and rock covered Relinchos Glacier

The dirt and rock covered Relinchos Glacier
   
Plaza Argentina

Day 7
After speaking with some guides from Aymara earlier, I decided to climb Cerro Colorado. I saw some people heading up in the distance and tried to catch them. I managed to reach the summit just minutes after they arrived. The climb was primarily up a faint trail, then a class 3+ summit block. The views were great.
Cerro Aconcagua
   
Cerro Aconcagua

Plaza Argentina from Cerro Colorado

 
Climbing the summit block of Cerro Colorado

Cerro Rico from Cerro Colorado

Plaza Argentina and Cerro Ameghino

El Castillo

Day 8

I moved up to Camp I. I spent a long time making my tent windproof. I was able to filter water here despite all the stories I heard about silt clogging filters.
My tent at Camp I before extensive fortification

The water source at Camp I

Camp I

Day 9

Rest
Camp I

Day 10

I carried up to Camp I. This was the first time I really felt the altitude; I was breathing heavily and had a headache.
Camp I

Looking northeast en route to Camp II

Looking northeast en route to Camp II (zoom)

Day 11

Rest
Cerro Ameghino

Day 12

I moved up to Camp II. Setting up my tent was a great effort.
Cerro Aconcagua from Camp II

Day 13

I walked up to about 20,000' to help acclimatize. The views were fantastic.
Camp II from the Polish Traverse

Day 14

Rest
Looking northeast from the Polish Traverse

Day 15

I began hiking towards the summit and made it to Independencia Hut very quickly, but then began moving very slowly. I did not know if I was going to make the summit until I was about 30 feet from it. The views of the south summit were the highlight.
Independencia Hut, the highest refuge in the world

Looking northeast from Windy Crest
   
The southern summit from Guanaco Ridge
   
The southern summit from the northern summit

Day 16

I hiked down to Plaza Argentina. Carrying all of my gear from Camp I to basecamp was the worst part.

Day 17

I hiked all the way out to Punta de Vacas, then stayed at the Hosteria Puenta del Inca. It was nice to shower and sleep on a mattress.
Hosteria Puenta del Inca

 
Puenta del Inca

Puente del Inca
   
Cemetary for mountaineers

Los Puquios

Puenta del Inca
   
Puente del Inca

Plaza in Mendoza

Plaza in Mendoza
   
Hotel Petit

Cerro de la Gloria Monument
   
View west from Cerro de la Gloria
   
View north from Cerro de la Gloria
   
View east from Cerro de la Gloria

Parrot at the zoo
   
Strange animal at the zoo

Cerro de la Gloria from the Road
   
Plaza Independencia
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