Aconcagua Expedition: Mallory & Team Ready for the Mountains

Posted by: Linden Mallory | December 13, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Reaching Mendoza, Argentina proved to be a tougher challenge than we anticipated for our team. Between cancelled flights, storm systems, and mechanical delays we all finally reached Mendoza, albeit a day late. Tom, Thomas and I happened to be on the same plane from Santiago to Mendoza and we had a stunning flight over the Andes with views north and south down the range. A fresh layer of snow blanketed the higher elevations of the mountains and Aconcagua stood tall above the surrounding peaks, it’s summit trailing a thin cloud on its leeward side.

When we stepped off the plane in Mendoza the temperatures were 70F and sunny, the austral summer in full swing with green trees lining the tarmac - a striking difference from the cold temperatures that we left at home!  Unfortunately, the relief about reaching Mendoza was quickly muted when Tom and Thomas’ bags failed to appear. Undeterred, we filed our paperwork and were assured that the bags were on the next flight. So we headed into Mendoza, found our hotel, took a nice shower, and kicked back to share stories while we waited. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited…

The next morning found us back at the airport looking for a little more information on where the bags could have gone. The answer: Paris, France. It turns out that while we were hoping to head to Aconcagua’s Canaleta, the bags had something more like the Champs Élysées in mind. Even in the days of barcodes and instant tracking, it still takes awhile for lost baggage to find it’s way across three continents from Europe to the U.S. and finally Argentina. We made the most of the extra days in Mendoza to get the rest of our team gear organized, secure our climbing permits, catch up on rest from the flights, wander Mendoza’s tree-lined streets, and enjoy a glass or two of Malbec while hanging out in some of Mendoza’s outdoor cafes.

Finally by 5pm this evening the last of the missing bags reached Mendoza. We’ve enjoyed our time in town, but are eager to head to the mountains. Tomorrow morning we will make the drive into the Andes to the small outpost of Penitentes, wedged just south of Aconcagua National Park and a handful of miles from the Chilean border. We’ll sort our gear there and spend a night or two acclimatizing before we head into Plaza de Mulas, Base Camp on Aconcagua’s western Ruta Normal. We will check in tomorrow night from the mountains!

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Flying over the Andes to Mendoza. Aconcagua is visible just off of the left wing of the airplane.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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