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Title image - BAI takes you to: Aconcagua
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Jussi Westergren’s Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch

January 31, 2011 – On to Base Camp—Plaza de Mulas

It is 7:30 in the morning on Monday, January 31. We are getting ready to begin our ascent, a long walk up the Horcones River Valley to Plaza de Mulas which will be our base camp at 14,108ft/4,300m. Now this gives us two full nights here at 11,155ft/3,400m at Confluencia Camp and now we feel ready to ascend. Jussi told me that he slept much better last night than he did the first night here at this camp.

Plaza de Mulas Base Camp from above

Plaza de Mulas Base Camp

from above

Yesterday, we began our day by going to the doctor who is stationed here at Confluencia camp. It is mandatory that we see her, be examined and get our permit to advance before we ascend higher on the mountain. I was pleased to see her give us an enthusiastic approval to continue. Both Jussi and I had oxygen saturations above 90% which is good for our first day at this elevation. After we visited with the doctor, we did an acclimatization hike up to a point called Plaza Francia at 13,124ft/4,000m which is beneath the spectacular south face of Aconcagua. You may remember a few days back, we were at 13,124ft/4,000m when we drove to the pass between Chile and Argentina and hiked a short distance to the high point. This time when we reached 4,000m, we had been walking from a camp we established, so it was an altitude that we were getting to the hard way. At this point in our expedition, the hard way is the right way, as we acclimatize to climb higher on the mountain.

One of the great things about this trip, and one of the really fun things, is that we have met two Finnish climbers Heikki and Juha. Back at the hotel in Penitentes, Armando, the hotel manager who has been our friend for many years, told us that two other Finnish men had checked in. When Armando told them about Jussi, they walked over to us and began speaking Finnish which was quite a surprise. These guys are great, they have become good friends of ours, and they are basically on the same climbing schedule. We look forward to spending more time with them as we ascend Aconcagua.


Never a rest for this hardworking mother mule

Never a rest for this hardworking mother mule

We have now reached Plaza de Mulas after 6.5 hours of steady hiking. The mules picked up our duffel bags at 7am today which significantly lightened our load. Instead of carrying all of our gear and food supplies, the mules did that for us and we only needed to carry our day packs. The weather has been very stable, with clear skies and no major fronts. It is a bit windy here at Plaza de Mulas, but the winds are predicted to subside over the next few days.

Finally, we want to say hello to Jussi’s daughters Ella and Sophia, and their Grade 1 and Grade 4 classes who are following us from the Yorkhouse School. We hope you are enjoying our updates and are learning all about the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere, Aconcagua. Stay tuned for another update tomorrow when we will be doing another acclimatization hike before moving up the mountain!