Where to begin....
|Kat looking relieved to finally arrive in Mendoza; Patrick was nowhere to be found.
|Great to be with my family. We are in Plaza de Independencia, Mendoza.
|Picture taken of "Is no possible" man at the permit office. NB: I was extremely angry at this moment.
|Andrea and Kathy sort out the paperwork while Patrick played on his phone. Thanks to Lanko, we got our permits!
Lanko to the rescue
|Jose Casas from Lanko
|The McKnight family en route to climb
PenitentesOur 3-hour trip to Penitentes from Mendoza was easy thanks to Eduardo's excellent service and wonderful conversation. He pointed out all the interesting aspects of the area including the rail service that was no longer maintained by the government (since mid 1970's), the old roads (new, old, and older) connecting Mendoza to Santiago, and last but not least the Inca ruins and trail. Eduardo was an awesome tour guide and his good nature put us all at ease. The accommodations in Penitentes was fantastic. We stayed one night at that altitude because I wanted my family to slowly acclimatize. Mendoza is fairly low (3,000 feet or roughly 1 km above sea level) whereas Penitentes is almost 9,000 feet (3 km). That huge jump made me a little nervous so we spent our time relaxing in a nice refuge away from the hustle of Mendoza. Here we are "relaxing" with the Lanko folks in a friendly game of foosball.
|North vs. South in foosball. The McKnights dominated.
|Pat and Kat on the ski slopes outside Penitentes
|My family. You'll never get a smile out of Patrick. Never.
The climb begins
|Happy times en route to the Horcones trailhead. Still no smile from Patrick. One is coming, I promise.
Just as I predicted, the trek to Confluencia took a little longer than 2 hours; actually, it was a 3-hour trip with plenty of stops due to a bizarre blizzard that hit us about 30 minutes prior to our arrival to the camp. Glad I suggested to ditch warm clothes for the trek into basecamp! Yep, sarcasm. Last time I hiked into basecamp, the temperatures soared to 90 degrees F and I had a tough time in my shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops. It was way too hot for any clothes when I first came up; this time was totally different. We all froze a bit in Confluencia. Below are a few pictures of the family enjoying the cook tent (pic 1) and our acclimatization hike in the snow storm (pic 2):
|A google enhanced series of pictures of my family in the Confluencia cook tent.
|Brrrrrr. Yep, snow at Confluencia. We were ill-prepared for our acclimatization hike but did it!
Off to Plaza das Mulas (PdM)
|Patrick charging forward. Only 9 hours to go!
|The nicest part of the trek to PdM was along the creek. We finally got a respite from the dust.
|Just below the switchbacks to PdM. Not many smiles from Kat and Patrick. I felt fine (sorry family).
|Tired puppies. I think they both would have fallen asleep here had I let them.
|The McKnight household at PdM. Time to get them to sleep.
|Fast asleep at PdM. Day 1 was tough. Hopefully the AMS symptoms would abate soon.
I woke up late along with my slumbering and ailing family the following day. It was sunny and quite still - a far cry from our trek day yesterday. While sunning myself and sorting through some gear, I looked up to see Brendan stroll into camp. He looked as fresh as fresh could be! Damn was I impressed. Everyone I witnessed walk into camp looked horrible. He was smiling, relaxed, and ready to climb. The climb officially began!
|Brendan Madden - climbing buddy and great guy. Look how relaxed he looks after his 8-hour trek into PdM. Beast!
Quick Hike to Camp 1
|The "sheik" and the "redneck"
|Brendan: "hey, when does the scree end?" Me: "never"
|Still having fun, right Brendan?
|Cool google enhanced image of Brendan going through the penitentes
|Penitentes up close and person. Cool, eh?
|Me, Kat, Eric, Kevin, Brendan, and Patrick at PdM