We stayed in collective tents for ten people during our Aconcagua expedition, but others opt for privacy and rent tents with capacity for two, and some even carry their own. Climbing Aconcagua has always been a dream for me, and I didn’t want to miss any detail. Tracks of loaded mules arrive, a trade at the service of supplying or transporting equipment, for those willing to reach the summit. They are the mules with which you can reach up to 4,300 meters above sea level and with a load of 60 kilograms. At first, the shadow of the neighboring hills darkens the camp, then comes the cold and the night with an unimaginable sky. The effort of the walk and the silence of the place invites you to rest. The participants of the Aconcagua treks feel more relaxed than those who choose to do the expedition.
Light is a transforming factor of the landscape. The dusk illuminates specific faces of the mountain and the dawn others. To get a new view of the place, we leave the tent at first light and see that the rock formations called “gendarmes” guard the valley with their heads illuminated by the sun; the rest, deep shadows. All is silent, although the wind does not give the flag rest, and the harness begins to arrive. The camp awakens. Some groups prepare to go up, and voices are heard in other languages. A changing scenery that deserves to be a spectator. A good breakfast prepares us for the long journey to Plaza Francia. Heading north, we advance to another watercourse that in the morning is crystalline, and in the afternoon, the thaws paint it reddish.
After 10 hours of walking, a fork in the road indicates Plaza de Mulas to the left and Plaza Francia to the right.
We began to climb with a racing heart, and we walked along the edges of the Horcones Inferior glacier. A plain lets a stream of the purest water flow.
As time goes by, the earth reveals its entrails of ice, which move as they melt with the sun. The movement of the glacier takes us by surprise; it carries dirt and rocks. It is an immeasurable mass that seems alive and extends to the southern wall of Mount Aconcagua.
We exceed 4,000 meters above sea level with great effort, during which each hiker dives inside, animated by the mountain that provokes introspection.
After 2 pm, we arrived at the “viewpoint”, where an Argentine flag defends itself from the wind. In front of Aconcagua, we are called the “Stone Sentinel,” and the position allows us to measure its true size. The wall we face is equivalent to about 30 blocks high.
We rest protected from the wind in a shelter formed by huge stones, and there we share lunch. Renewed the air for the pause, the conversations generally reduced to qualifying Aconcagua are encouraged.