Preparing for Aconcagua
Anticipation for the big mountain
by: Olivia Eads
I can hardly believe on Friday I will be departing Cincinnati. Argentina is the destination, to climb the tallest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres, Aconcagua (click here to see me on a map!). The summit towers high above the rest of the Andes Mountain Range at 22,841 feet. This trip still does not feel real, and probably won’t until the end of our 23-hour journey to Mendoza. I have my friend Kara to thank for sparking the fire that led to planning and preparing for this trip, she will be my companion as we attempt this great feat.
Our flight, in theory, will arrive in Mendoza at 9:00 AM January 13th. Considering the weather affecting the East Coast right now and having to transition from LaGuardia Airport to JFK, this time frame seems optimistic. Thursday and Friday have warm outlooks though, so my fingers are crossed for good, safe travel.
On day one in Mendoza we will be scooped from the airport by Alpine Ascents (the group we registered our guiding service through) and link up with the other 8 members of our expedition team. Then we head off for some group dynamics and prepare for the climb to follow just a few days later. Next, we must purchase our 20-day permit for the mountain before we head off to the town of Penitentes. In this town we get our mules, and will load them up. On the way to basecamp, we will have a mule to carry most of our heavy equipment so that we aren’t fatigued for the rest of the exhausting trail ahead. The next day our great challenge begins, it will take 3 days (30 miles) to get into Base Camp or Plaza Argentina for the Polish Variation of the climb following the Vacas Valley (the trail that starts on the left of the below image). This is where we say farewell to our mule friends.
Once we arrive at Base Camp, doctors will be available to assess any injuries that we could have obtained during the trek up, as well as our general wellbeing. We then will spend the next few days stomping around, acclimating to the higher altitudes, and moving goods to the next higher camp. After each cache day we will start to move up camps, climbing high and camping low with rest days in-between to properly acclimate. There are also a few days worked into the schedule for poor weather. If all goes according to plan, on summit day we will have a grueling 4:00AM wake up and push to the top. That is the moment Kara and I have been preparing for, the last 9 months.
My emotions are stoic yet excited. I’m lamenting the money I dropped on this experience, but I know it will be worth it. I hope my physical capabilities will be enough to push me to the top. Mentally I am prepared, physically I have done everything in my power to be ready for this. Anticipation is killing me, and I am ready to test my limits.
Let’s see how it goes…