Aconcagua 2002!

Dispatch#2 December 19th, 2001.  Vacas Valley, Argentina.

This is a great big hello from the first Alpine Ascents Expedition going into Aconcagua.  We started our trek in Yesterday.  Things got a little busy so we weren't able to do a cybercast yesterday.  This season, they had a very very heavy snow winter here and with the warm trend, especially with several days worth of very hot weather that's hit, the rivers have been extremely high, as a matter of fact, the highest that I've ever seen in over a decade of being down here.   There was a new river bridge put over the Vacas River at Pampa de Lena, last December, and the water a few days ago was actually washing over the top of the foundation rock on that bridge, which at that point in the river is about between 6-8 feet what the normal level of the river is. So it's been quite interesting, many of the small streams even, that are a quick three foot hop over normally, if that, were fifteen foot roaring torrents of water that we had to deal with, which slowed us down a little bit on the way in consequently we were a bit busy last night.  But things went well, everybody enjoyed it, a high point of the day I think also due to the wet conditions from the heavy snow that has been running off, has been the riot of wild flowers that we've been enjoying on the trek in to lower desert valley here.  Very, very, very beautiful and practically every color of the rainbow, it's been a real sensation for the eyes going in here this time.

Generally we've had very pleasant weather, it's very good walking conditions, and hasn't been too warm here, it's been great here as opposed to Mendoza where it was so hot as in our last report. Partly cloudy, kind of gentle winds in general have been blowing, as I said very comfortable for walking.  Today we've covered the second stage of our trek in very well, people are beginning to feel the altitude just a bit, we are about 11,500 feet above sea level here.  We have been hiking in tandem with a Canadian pair from Calgary, four other French Canadians and another small American expedition.  Of course the high point of today is always the exciting first view of Aconcagua just before we get to camp here this evening.  It's always a very dramatic unveiling, there's no way that you can really see it until you get to this point, and suddenly it's totally revealed bracketed by the Relenchos Valley, rising 12,000 feet above where our camp is here.  Its a very inspiring, and sometimes a sight for a little trepidation when you realize that we have a lot of work here to do.  Despite feeling the altitude a little bit, everybody is doing well, we're having fun and life's too short not to have fun.  So this is goodbye for today from the first  Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua expedition of the 2002 season.

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