Aconcagua 2002!

Dispatch#26 January 15th, 2002.  Mendoza, Argentina. Team IV This is Willi Prittie reporting from Argentina, hello to everybody out there checking on the internet for Team IV of the season.  Looks like we have a very, very strong and also experienced team, definitely a full team for this particular trip.  We have Jackie Lundgren,  Tom Meyers, Mark Minter, Don Bender, Adrien Jean, Stuart Harelick, Colin Raymond, Bill Bowyer, Will Mestag, and also Nick Winter.  And Eric and I are definitely pleased to have them on board and looks like we're going to have a fun trip.  Everybody arrived yesterday just fine in Mendoza, with all luggage, which is always a good way to start things. We enjoyed a wonderful meal out for our first evening's dinner and today on the way up to Penitentes, which is our jump off point where we actually begin our trek in. We had a  bit of excitement as well, first thing was there is actually a new lake that is being filled behind a dam on the Mendoza River at a place called Puerto Arrios, which is about half way up to Penitentes on the International Highway.

This will actually be the largest artificial lake in South America when it is filled.  The Mendoza River is very silty, but the silt settles out quite rapidly.  There is however also a lot of rock flour in the water which is very very fine rock particles ground up of glacial origin.  This does not settle out quite so quickly..  What this actually does is turn the water a very beautiful shade of aquamarine and it's pretty much synonymous with glacial lakes that kind of a color.  So the growing lake behind this new dam actually contains that very pretty color and it was a very good sight today.

The actual International Highway over the next two years it's going to take to fill this lake is going to have to be relocated and a couple of towns are being relocated as well. So it's actually a fair amount of work in compensation for that, they should have a more stable irrigation system and water supply and they will just about double their ability to produce hydroelectric power on the Rover.

Also on another note, a little bit of excitement today is we had a bit of a delay getting up to Penitentes due to a burning semi on the International Highway.  The tractor was actually fully involved, but luckily for everybody the fire was limited to the actual tractor and the tank, semi trailer itself which was filled with liquid petroleum gas was not involved in the flame.  Kind of after our hurried calculations it suggested that the 300 yards separating us from this potential 40,000 pound bomb wasn't enough so we hastily retreated a bit and watched fro a safer distance but all's well that ends well. and the fire was put out eventually after about an hour and a half delay and we safely made our way to Penitentes.

So we had a great dinner here at Penitentes tonight and are enjoying final showers and the final amenities of civilization before we actually start on our trek tomorrow morning.  So that's our first and current report from Team IV for the 2002 Alpine Ascents Aconcagua season and we'll be pleased to actually be doing reports on a daily basis once we get up to Base Camp, it will actually be three days of no reports, while we're doing the trek in until we actually get to Base Camp where our satellite phone is located.  So we'll talk to you briefly  tomorrow morning and then the next time will be updates on about Saturday.  That's all for now from Argentina. 

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