I arrived in Mendoza on the 30th with two other people and our guide from our Ojos Del Salado trip. After days of cold weather, the warm weather in Mendoza was almost too much. Luckily we stayed at a very nice hotel with good air conditioning so we managed.
Reunited with my bag I excitedly unpacked in the hotel room and found that I really could have used all of the equipment at Ojos Del Salado. Especially my sleeping bag and inflatable mattress were sorely missed. I quickly sorted out the things I wanted for Aconcagua and packed my small bag to be left at the hotel.
We went out that night in Mendoza hunting for steak. It was painfully obvious that we were not Argentinians as we tried to eat dinner at 6 PM. Most places were closed because that’s too early for Argentinians to eat. We did manage to find a place that was open to get a steak and ate a lot as we were following the principle of fattening up for the lean times!
Next day, the last day of the year, we only had to do few things. Get a permit, buy food and drive to a ski place called Penitentes. In the morning we met with another Adventure Peaks group who were starting at the same date as us so we decided, after squaring then up, that we would walk together. We wouldn’t go with them all the way because we came acclimatized from climbing Ojos Del Salado already so we didn’t need to go up and down, carrying equipment and food for a normal length expedition. Our little group from Ojos Del Salado were going to go almost alpine-like, straight up with minimal food supplies as we didn’t need acclimatization days.
First task of the day, getting permits. Our two groups showed up at the local guiding company who would support us and started filling them out. The difference between us and the new group coming straight from the UK and other countries were clear. They seemed stressed about the South American pace whereas we had over two weeks in Chile already and knew that it was going to be slow but probably alright. The permits got done and we paid the extortionate fee of 950 USD for a climbing permit.
Next order of business was to buy food. We went to a nearby Carrefour and loaded up with Dulce de Leche snacks (think Nutella but just caramel) and some fresh food for the first few days. The food was to last until base camp and for breakfast and lunch after base camp. The dinners after base camp were freeze-dried food which was already stashed at Penitentes, our destination for the evening.
With permits and food sorted we all got into the minibus which would take us to Penitentes. Penitentes is a skiing destination in the winter (Northen hemisphere summer) and we got a ski chalet to sleep in after sorting out the freeze dried food and steak made by the staff there. When we were eating steak both Danish and UK New Year happened so we said Happy New Year and went to bed, ready to start 2018 with climbing Aconcagua.
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