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Aconcagua

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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me

I spend a few beautiful sunny days in relaxing Mendoza, before venturing out into the mountains once again. Parque Provincial Aconcagua contains the enormous mountain of the same name, which at 6,962 meters is the tallest mountain on the continent, drawing hordes of serious mountain climbers. Passes to enter the park are expensive, and even now in the low season a 20-day climbing pass is USD$300. A group of foreigners I meet have paid USD$2750 each for an all-inclusive summit attempt, of course with no guarantees.

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The stunning Inca Bridge, just near the park entrance

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Hitting the trail

The surrounding mountains are spectacular in their own right, though my attention constantly focuses on the glacier capped Aconcagua, constantly visible while hiking the approach trail. I’m lost in my thoughts of a solo summit attempt, and seriously toy with it in my mind. Arriving at the Confluencia base camp (3,300m) is a little surreal, with permanent dome tent-like structures, kitchens, solar panels and even a volleyball court, it looks like just I’ve always pictured a serious mountain base camp.
Well, I guess it is.

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The ever-visible Aconcagua

The sun is beating down and the wind howling through camp, making setting up my tent quite a chore and coating everything I own in a thick layer of sand – even the inside of my tent. After a cold, cloudy afternoon of hiking and mountain gazing I finish cooking dinner with numb hands and feet and crawl into my tent in the midst of driving snow and howling wind. For over an hour I curl up in my sleeping bag trying to warm up, my tent flapping furiously the entire time. I can’t imagine what the weather must be like higher up on the mountain, and don’t even want to think about it.

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Confluencia base camp

It’s freezing in the morning when I set out for the seven hour round-trip hike to Plaza Francia (4,200m), another camp higher up the mountain. It’s an extremely beautiful day and after hiking to the toe of Glacier Horcones Inferior in sunshine, I turn back and battle a seriously cold head wind all the way back to camp, and down to the parking area.

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Sunrise over Confluencia base camp

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One cold night

I’m completely tired out when I arrive, and at my wits end from the relentless howling wind. It’s pretty clear in my mind I have no intention of battling this and much, much worse for 20 days.
I’m content just looking at the summit, I don’t need to try and go there.

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Infront of mighty Aconcagua (6,962m)

-Dan


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9 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    Dan,

    I’ve effectively wasted an entire day at work reading your entire story. Absolutely epic.

    It’s funny how you start out with somewhat of a plan….and many more months longer than you anticipated being out you’re still out there.

    I’m now one of the many living viccariously through you.

    You, sir, have truly taken life by the horns, and I commend you for that. If only the rest of the world would take the time do this, I think that we’d all have a better understanding of each other.

    Travelling is about learning new things, and meeting new people, not just about seeing the “sights.” Too many people forget this when they go on vacation. I’m glad to see that you’ve embraced this.

    I look forward to your future installments!

    Regards,
    Jeff

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jeff, glad to have you aboard!
      I wouldn’t exactly call it a waste of a day reading my story. Haha, no, I know what you mean. A while ago I was looking for some photos and ended up spending over an hour clicking back through the Alaska portion with my mouth wide open. Even I struggle to believe it sometimes :)

      It’s funny to see how different people react.. sometimes people say things like “I wish I could do that” or “It’s not fair” and I try to hard to show them all you have to do is get out there and it will happen!
      All I did was buy a normal cheap Jeep, quit my job, sell all my stuff and get on the road. Not so hard, is it?
      -Dan

      • Jeff says:

        Okay, well, I didn’t “waste it” – but my productivity level was zero. :)

        Not the same by any means – but I was in the marines for 4 years, and went all over the world. While others went to find all of the local bars, a few of my friends and I would just wander – try the cuisine, meet the people and take in the history and the sights. Even while back home, I’ve always just hopped in my jeep and wandered, with no destination in mind.

        Life is an adventure. So many people get caught in the hustle and bustle, and worry about money, or bills, or the stresses of every day life. We’re all guilty of it. It’ refreshing to see that someone has decided that there’s more to life than things.

        to quote others “I wish I could do that” – haha! While my present situation doesn’t allow it, I’ll just live viccariously through you, as do many others, in the hopes that your journey will at least momentarily remove us from our monotonous lives.

        Good luck,

        Jeff

        • Dan says:

          There is something about wandering for sure. Today I arrived in BA, and the first thing I wanted to do was wander around the central bit of the city. Didn’t want to buy anything or go to a particular place, just look around and see what I see.

          I’m really curious Jeff, how did you stumble across my site?
          If you’d like to mention it to any friends, that would be cool :)

          Thanks Jeff,
          -Dan

          • Jeff says:

            I actually found a link on jeep forum, in TJ tech. I have a 4 cyl jeep, and someone had posted a thread about the capabilities of your jeep. So, I clicked, and it led me here. 42 pages later, well, here I am!

            I posted a link to your journey on my club’s website, and I hope a few of them will read and be inspired as well.

            Enjoy BA! I look forward to reading all about it. Enjoy the time with your family – one thing that always kept me going was the fact that seeing friends and family remind you of who you are and where you come from. Keep that in mind!

            -Jeff

  2. Juliette says:

    Dan
    Great photo’s as usual. It makes me miss living in Tucson, seeing those mountain scapes.
    How is your budget going? Where are you off to next?

    Hope you enjoy a merry holiday season, and that your family and friends are doing okay without you!

    Juliette

    • Dan says:

      Hey Juliette – thanks for the kind holiday wishes, same goes for you!
      In fact, my family won’t be without me… they’ll be here! I’m in BA right now killing my budget, they all fly in next week so we can have a big family Christmas :)

      All the best
      -Dan

  3. Ron Parker says:

    Great to see you have arrived in BA.in one peace,and has the travel has been rewarding,for the body,mind and spirit?

    I will miss the party at christmas,but we will have another arm wresle at some place in our lives.

    Do you plan on returning to OZ,and if so when?

    I think you might and i stress MIGHT,win the slab,next time round.

    Ron

    • Dan says:

      Great to hear from you Ron!
      I’m sure we’ll have another Christmas together again soon, and as for the arm wrestle, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on the day :)
      I really don’t know if I’m coming back to OZ anytime soon, again, I’m just taking it as it comes.
      All the best, I’m sure we’ll talk over Christmas!
      -Dan

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