We have a mule!
Today was a flurry of activity as Mike, Beth and I shopped for a mule. Yes, a mule. You see when we head up Aconcagua in a week, we will be carrying over two weeks worth of food. Plus all our gear (two tents, two stoves, two pots, -20 degree bag, puffy jackets, long underwear, etc.). So, those packs will be heavy. So, we got ourselves a mule.
The mules bring in your gear (up to 60kg per mule) to the base camp. We are hoping to do what is called the 360 route — which takes us up one side and down the other – and that means our walk in is two days longer than the normal route. So, our mule price is much higher. We are hoping to keep our weight under 60kg and then we can hire just one mule (who comes with a muleteer – who obviously speaks mule). The mule (and muleteer) will walk in with us for the then first three days and then we will be on our own. And how much does one mule cost, you wonder? Well, it is certainly not cheap — it is about $290 for the one way. Then we will arrange for our other mule on our way out (giving us the freedom if we don’t make it up and over the mountain or if we come back earlier/later).
Since this is an expensive trip, we decided to wait until the high season ends for a cheaper permit, which means we decided to wait until Feb. 1 to start our climb. So, what to do in the mean time? Well, we read about another climb –Cerro Plata— that will help prepare us for Aconcagua. It will help because:
1. It is almost 6000m – which helps us acclimate to high altitudes
2. it could be cold – which will help us test our gear
3. we get to test our systems and our team
4. it is short, but not technical – allowing us to get in shape and again, acclimate
So — our plan is this:
head out tomorrow to Cerro Plata, climb and hike for 5 days. Then we will be back here on the evening of the 28th to eat a big meal (we are all about the protein right now!). Then we will have the 29th, 30th and 31st to pull together 16+ days of food, our permit, any gear we need, etc. And then, on to Aconcagua – which is 6962m tall — so it will be a good challenge!
Take care friends — hope to share with you a great summit shot when we get back!