Dispatch #4 2/24/2006 Mendoza, Argentina
Well folks, we are now in Argentina to begin the next leg of our trip. We rolled into Mendoza, Argentina’s central bus terminal around 11p.m the night of 2/22. We were instantly bombarded by locals thinking, judging by our bags, that we were headed to Aconcagua. More importantly than being here to climb Aconcagua, we represented MONEY, and the locals could smell it in the air, the moment we stepped off the bus. Although “dirt bag” climbers in the states, here we represented the status quoe here to “conquer” the tallest peak in the Americas.
After a few stops at various hotels/hostels where they were all full we found ourself back by the bus terminal where there was a hole in the wall hotel. This accommodation was one of the filthiest places we have ever stayed in. The fan circling over the bed made a thumping sound, like a helicopter about to land. It reminded me of “Apocolipse Now”. We arose the next morning and went in search of better accomadations, a more comfortable, friendly place, in a safer part of town where we could rearrange our gear and prepare for the hills.
Jess found a nice place called Hotel Petit. A quaint room we could call home for a few days. As we walked the tree lined streets of Mendoza, known for not only being the starting point for Aconcagua, but also for its fabulous wines, and home of an important national holiday coming up next week, I began to feel ill. Over the next day as we researched conditions on Aconcagua, the mountain, along with myself were worsening by the minute.
By the end of our second day in Mendoza I was feeling really under the weather, and as we looked for information on the current climbing conditions, we also looked for alternative climbing locations. Many people had reported a deteriorating weather pattern in the mountains. So, we decided for the time being, to explore climbing in another region, with towering granite walls reaching 500 meters high, only 200km southwest of Mendoza. The area is called Cajon Arenales, it houses what is reported to be some of the finest granite in all of Argentina. Many of the routes are multipitch traditionl routes, with a concentration of sport climbing up to 8b or 5.14.
Today I am feeling much better, Jess has been pumping me full of “Ibuprofeno Pseudoefedrina” and liquids, both of us feeling anxious to return to the mountains. Tomorrow we are taking a bus to Tunuyan and then another to El Manzano Historico, were we must talk to a man named Yugua, who has a truck and can take us to the base of Arenales and back for 80 pesos or $25 US. We are going to be climbing in this region for a week, upon our return we will make a final decision on Aconcagua. If we choose not to climb it due to weather we will most likely move north in search of a more stable climate. The fall in the Southern Andes has come quicker than most, including ourselves, had anticipated. Wish us luck, we are off to Arenales for some rock climbing on quality granite. Be in touch soon.