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  Aconcagua 2004 Dispatch Six


Dispatch Six:  sent, but oh those sat phones and a new dispatch too....

We are at the Confluencia camp, at about 10,000feet.

The rivers run chocolate brown all day, increasing in volume as the day warms up and there is increased snow melt. In the afternoon, we frequently hear rocks rolling in the fast current.

Mule teers run loads up and down all day. The animals look healthy, strong and appear to be treated well. They carry more weight than would be allowed as baggage on a US flight. We have hired two mules to haul up some mountain gear and food.

Confluncia camp is alongside the river ultimately draining the mountains' South Face. Our plan tomorrow is to hike up to the face. This will allow us some valuable acclimatization and a chance to stand below one of the world's great walls.

With as unique a position as Aconcagua has amongst the world's mountains, it is not surprising to see an international crowd. The United Nations sure appears to be adequately represented here. There appear to be 75 tents here. Many teams are self sufficient, and about half using the various services from many outfitters. We are probably pretty typical, our outfitter has contracted to supply us with sleeping tents, food and plenty of hot drinks. The quality of services is high.

There is a large team from Siberia here. One members of the team was on Everest beside us in 2001 Mallory and Irvine trip. One of his team died in a rescue we were involved in on the summit ridge there. It is nice to see him again. Their team is kind, strong, humble and fine, fine people to be climbing along side of. I have the highest admiration for the Russian and Eastern European climbers I have been fortunate enough to be around over the years.

Over a cup of hot tea they handed us on the North Col of Everest in 2001, we got to talking of the cold. their comment was," for us Everest is high yes, but not so cold. In Siberia, we trained last winter in 70 below temperatures. On Everest it is 20 to 30 below, so it is not so cold. It is a warm mountain for us."

11 January: We took a little walk today to a tad over 16,000feet. Aconcagua is a well traveled mountain, with plenty of people. If you think you are in for a wilderness experience, you are going to the wrong mountain. It is a beautiful mountain, the park service here manages the crowds well. You can show up with as little or as much gear as you choose and do fine. You still need to be fit and have a good understanding of altitude medicine. As we rolled into the massive Plaza de Mulas camp, we could not help but stop for a burger, fries and a big cold Sprite.

Andy Politz, the Refugio at Plaza de Mulas.  

 

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