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Plaza Francia – 3 Day Trek December 20, 2006

Posted by Jason in Aconcagua, Argentina.
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Acclimatisation Trek………Part II!

After the debacle of Vallecitos, and a week of rest, we headed to Aconcagua National Park for a shorter 3 day trek of acclimatisation to see if my illness re-occurred.

pic1-001.jpg pic1-002.jpg Puente Del Inca

We arrived at Puente Del Inca at 2,700m on the afternoon of Saturday 16th December 2006. We spent the night at the Hostel, a rather dingy affair, with dark rooms and the constant smell of meths to keep you company!

Hostel at Puente Del Inca Looking back on Puente Del Inca Aconcagua!

The following day we set off, with a full pack up the Horcones valley, firstly signing in at the rangers station and immediately presented with a wonderful view of the massive hulk of Aconcagua ahead. The twin peaks towering into the sky and the top half of the massive South face visible. It looked fantastic!

Our first sight of Aconcagua!

The sun was shining but the wind was constant and strong, often picking up the dry earth and sandblasting our skin! We gradually gained height following the river up the valley and finally reached our camp at Confluencia (3,300m) at 4pm, almost 6 hours from our starting point.

Confluencia is a well organised camp with many providers of meals and accommodation similar to base camp services. It is set amongst stunning cliffs of many colours, reds, browns and greens.

Travelling up the Horcones Valley Campo Confluencia Chezza at Campo Confluencia

We cooked our meal and had an early night ready for our trek the next day.

Day 2 – Confluencia to Plaza Francia

We set off the following morning at 10.10am ready for our trek to the foot of the South Face of Aconcagua. Cheryl had not felt too well the previous evening having suffered from nausea and a headache, but she felt better this morning after a good nights sleep.

We followed the valley which began on scree slopes for a while and quite steep. Then we reached the upper reaches of the Glacier, at first with soil and rock covered morraine which gradually gave way to pinnacles of ice.

The start of our walk to Plaza Francia On the way to Plaza Francia The Glacier leading to the South Face

The weather was again very windy, you could see the speeed of the wind above the peak of Aconcagua with the few clouds visible moving at a high rate of knots.

As we made progress up the valley the massive South Wall began to reveal its secrets and we reached the Mirrador with its complete view of the South Face of Aconcagua. It reaches into the sky upto 3,000m above us. A formidable sight of rock, ice and snow. One of the most dangerous altitude climbs in the world.

Jason pointing to the route to the top! Walking up the Glacier to Plaza Francia Happy to be at 4,200m! Plaza Francia and the South Face

We continued up the valley for some time until we reached the base camp for the South Face at Plaza Francia. The place was deserted. It appears that it is too early in the season for an attempt and no one was at base camp.
The view from Plaza Francia (4,200m) is even better than at the Mirrador due to its closer proximity. You cannot imagine a route up the formidable wall.

The South Face of Aconcagua

We set off back to Confluencia soon after, but Cheryl was suffering with a muscle strain to her leg. She was in alot of pain and it took us some 3 more hours to return. It was a hard day at altitude and a 9 hour day in all.

Chezza walking up the moraine to Plaza Francia Dramatic coloured rocks at Confluencia Looking down on Confluencia in the evening sun

Day 3 – Return to Puente Del Inca

We woke the next day quite tired and the wind was howling again. Everything we ate at camp would be covered in dirt picked up by the wind.

We had ourselves checked out by the resident Doctor at Confluencia who said our Oxygen saturation level was good at around 90%. So we headed down the valley and back to Puente Del Inca within 3 hours and waited for the bus back to Mendoza.

We were both very relieved that my illness did not re-ocurr, and now we had one free day to pick up our hire equipment and finalise our rations and packing before the big expedition to Aconcagua.

We were now well aware of the task infront of us. Trekking at altitude takes alot out of you, but now we had finally seen Aconcagua in all its glory we were full of nervous energy! . . . . . Now for Aconcagua!

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