Looking strong on Aconcagua

This is Leila Caudwell calling on the 30th of December and I’m calling from Aconcagua Provincial Park which is 182 km out of Mendoza. Our intent is to climb Aconcagua via the Horcones Route, which is the normal route.

Mules are used to carry loads to Aconcagua base campEverything went fine on the drive. We stopped by Punta de Vacas to pick up our mules. The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw them was that they look like horses. They are a mix between mules and horses. They are a hybrid, not natural, they cannot reproduce. It’s interesting - they really look like horses except for their long ears which kind of show that they have some mule blood in them.

After dropping off our packs in Punta de Vacas we passed Puente del Inca and right after that we came to our final stop which was by the Rio de las Cuevas at the Horcones Ranger Station. We stopped there and David prepared a great lunch for us which included fantastically fresh French bread which he bought. We had cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, onions, some soft drinks like Coke. It was delicious.

Right after that we stopped by the park rangers to take in the lecture about the permits, the way we should behave, the history of Aconcagua Provincial Park and Reserve (since 1983). There were some very specific instructions on how to behave here.

Today our hike will take us to Confluencia at 3300m (10,850 ft). We are starting off at 2722m (8900 ft). We had a really nice hike and we passed the Horcones Lake which was very pretty and then over a suspension bridge and along the Horcones River.

John, the "Berkely Missile"We’re doing very, very well. We expected to be done in four hours and we actually arrived in three and a half. Everyone is very acclimatized, not breathing hard, going at a very nice pace, hardly stopping at all.

John, who in Ojos had the nickname the Berkeley Bullet is now being called the Berkeley Missile because he’s not only leading the team all the time, but he’s also looking healthier every day. He’s going very fast - I even told him to slow down a bit.

Karl is also doing very well, although he continues to cough. I don’t know if it’s because of his smoking habit or because he summitted a big peak so recently. But he’s doing pretty well and he’s not snoring because I’m sharing a tent with him, he’s my roomie.

I’ll be checking in from Plaza de Mulas but at this point, as Wally says, every big mountain makes you humble. John is saying we should take it one day at a time, relax and be thankful that we’re feeling strong and we’re acclimatized. We’re here now at Confluencia Camp.

When we arrived we put up the tents and had a nap and we’re feeling really good and tomorrow morning when we leave we’ll be going to Plaza de Mulas.

So far the weather has been absolutely fantastic. We heard some comments from the Park Rangers that the last three days were really bad. But we have totally blue sky, no wind and a warm temperature. We’re very thankful for that.

Anyway, that’s it. I will call soon to check in from Plaza de Mulas on New Year’s Day.

22,841 feet
6962 meters

22,637 feet
6900 meters