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Vallecitos December 13, 2006

Posted by Jason in Argentina, Vallecitos.
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Where Did It All Go Wrong!!

With our rations finally completed and excitement in the air, we headed for Vallecitos. A ski resort in the Andes set at 2,900m.

This was to be our 5 day acclimatisation trek as a prelude to climbing Aconcagua. We were on a tight schedule with a one day gap between getting back from Vallecitos and heading out to Puente Del Inca.

Preperations in our 3 days in Mendoza had gone amazingly well. None of the usual South American “spanner in the works” to delay our plans, we were on a high. So our expectations were high when, on the 5th December 2006 at 9.15am we were picked up at our hostel by the mini bus.

The journey took us little more than 3 hours when we arrived at 2,600m at the refugio. With the sun shining we headed off up the valley passed the ski resort of Vallecitos and gained height to 3,200m for our first camp. A beautiful spot nestled within the snow capped peaks of the valley. Surrounded by peaks of over 5,000m and 6,000m. The views were amazing and we cooked as we watched the sun go down.

Sunrise at first camp

The following day we packed up camp to move up to 3,500m. The day started with clear blue skies and tremendous views up the valley towards the snow capped mountains. Drinking Hot Chocolate looking at the views with no one around to disturb the tranquil setting on the hillside.

3 hours later we had ascended to our new camp. Cheryl had a slight headache and I felt oddly achy. But nothing too untoward and surely a day at this altitude would sort things out.

Cerro Vallecitos Stand off! Mountain Men

The following day we decided to stay a further night at this altitude to allow our bodies time to acclimatise. Cheryl´s headache had subsided but I was feeling slightly unwell.

As the day progressed however I began to feel worse and the process of collecting water, a 10 to 15 minute walk across the moraine to glacial waters became a major undertaking.

Jason looking worse for wear

By the evening I was feeling awful. I lost my appetite completely, I had a fever and the glands on my neck swelled up. Nurse Cheryl, was clocking my pulse at well over a 100bpm at rest! By the morning I had managed little sleep and felt very weak.

Reluctantly we decided we must descend. It took us all morning to pack up our camp and the afternoon to return to the refugio who were suprised to see us so soon!

We managed to get transport back to Mendoza, where we did not manage to get accomodation until 11.30pm which ended up being at the hostel from hell and our room was placed in the middle of their “party night”! Needless to say, we had little sleep that night either!

Following a visit to the Doctor we have been forced to put back our preperations by 8 days. We intend a short 3 day trip to altitude before heading to Aconcagua. I just hope the infection will have cleared by then.

Hong Kong Phooey suffering the effects of altitude too!

Here is to better luck ahead, at the moment, Aconcagua is experiencing temperatures of -56C and heavy snow falls. Perhaps our delay is timely!