This is Aconcagua base camp, named after the mules that carry gear and equipment from the national park’s gate to this point, after that you are on your own in terms of hauling stuff up the mountain.
Plaza de Mulas (at 14,108 feet or 4.3 kilometers) is during the climbing season, which runs from November to March, a real and lively international village. There is internet, a bar, an art gallery, showers, daily choppers back to the civilized world (at US$1300 one way) and yes, a 24-hour medical post where all climbers have to undergo mandatory testing before they carry on to try and summit. During the days when the sun is out it is hot, at nights incredibly cold.
Staying at the plaza is a memorable experience, whether you are there to get ready to scale Aconcagua’s summit or to hang out after a failed or successful peak attempt.
This the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas at 22,837 ft or 6.9 kilometers above sea level. Propelled by my success in summiting Kilimanjaro in 2013, I got so excited about this mountain that I got together with nine others to take it on. We did not summit, a combination of heavy winds, heavy packs, altitude sickness, diarrhea and fever did us in, but we came close. Twelve days on the mountain, an experience of a lifetime and for that reason alone our attempt was a success in more ways than one.
Here is the view from Plaza Francia at 13,124 feet or 4.0 kilometers where we trekked to as part of our acclimatization.
THE PHOTO COLLECTION
Just a random selection of some of my favourite photos.