January 18, 2007 -  Aconcagua and Ojos, Two Very Different Mountains

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Lots of traffic on the trail to Plaza de Mulas

I’m struck every year we do this and I’m always surprised at how different Ojos del Salado and Aconcagua are.  That is one of the strong appeals to use Ojos as acclimatization for Aconcagua, but it’s still really surprising if you haven’t been here how different the mountains are.  I suppose the only thing they have in common is approximate latitude and of course elevation.  They are very close to the same height and are the two highest peaks in the western hemisphere as you know, but they are totally different climates

Steve prepares to leave Mendoza for the slopes of AconcaguaWe certainly saw that yesterday.  After we drove from Mendoza in the afternoon, checked in with the park service and began our hike, we started out in a hard rain which is unimaginable on Ojos almost.  Soon it turned into a wet snowstorm and we arrived at Confluencia camp very cold and happy to crawl in to the big tent there and get settled in.                                

Today we are walking up a valley, it’s beautiful the whole way.  Fortunately it stopped snowing this morning but we are seeing another thing that is really different about these mountains, Aconcagua is extremely popular.  If you go on this route that we are on here now you see many people.  It’s interesting and like an international climbing camp scene but it’s a very different feel than Ojos.

Early this morning we heard all the helicopters flying in overhead going up to Plaza de Mulas, to take up re-supplies and offer assistance to people who need it.  The doctor at Confluencia told us that they were moving a lot of people from Plaza de Mulas today due to hypothermia, people who do not have proper clothing at Plaza de Mulas.  Not a surprise, we see this a lot.

Aconcagua continues to be an extremely underestimated and misunderstood mountain.  People from all around the world want it to be something you can do in two weeks and something that is not that big of a deal in terms of altitude or weather, but they are obviously wrong.  Besides the helicopter we saw people coming down on horses and mules with exhausted and astounded looks on their faces.  You could tell they ended up some place they had no idea they were going in terms of weather, cold and altitude, even at the low elevations of Aconcagua.

Yesterday the team entered the Provincial Park of Aconcagua

Don’t worry, we’re doing fine though.  It’s a long walk today, our group does have proper gear and proper companionship and teamwork.  I think we are going to do fine on this mountain.  Don’t forget our ten days at high altitude back over in Chile, so we’re well acclimated too.  Less than 10 days to go as our adventure continues.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters