Alright, here it is folks, the first installment of the long awaited, much debated, highly anticipated Patagonia Reports. But to be honest, the Cordon del Plata is in Mendoza, which is more central Argentina. The Cordon del PLata is a sub range of peaks within the Andes, the highest of which is Cerro Plata (around 20,000ft). My goal was Cerro Vallecitos (17,000), a really beautiful looking climb up a long summit ridge. So I get dropped off by my buddy Joe at the trailhead leading into the valley after staying with him at his house in Tupungato. The town is at 3,000ft and the trailhead is at 9,100ft. This alone is enough to give most people quite a little headache.
Mistake Number 1: I had only given myself 4 days to get up to basecamp and climb the peak, since I had to be down to Mendoza to meet a friend to go start getting on the real rock this trip is all about.
Mistake Number 2: In order to get this done, I chose to go all the way to Campo Salto (13,800 or so) on day one, passing a couple other lower camps. This would put me in much better position to climb the higher peaks at the end of the valley, but force my body to either put up or shut up. It chose the latter. At 13,100, well short of the steep scree ascent to Campo Salto, I was getting pounded by AMS, and decided to put up my tent a couple hundred feet lower along side a snowfilled moraine. Feeling quite shitty still and unable to sleep, I made the ultimate decision to leave most of my gear in my tent and hike out back down to the refugio (mountain hut) at 9,000ft to sleep. I got a decent sleep in side the refugio, but had to head back up the valley in the morning to either get my stuff and come down or push my camp up higher to Salto. Sadly, the weather forecasted was not looking good, and I was hammered after hiking 15 miles and ascending/decending over 16,000ft in 2 days. So I packed it in and am now down in the stifling heat of Mendoza getting ready to take a bus back to Tupungato after I get some topos of climbs in the los Arenales Canyon, which is where I am heading next as soon as I meet up with Amir.
Campo las Veguitas
Until the next one...