Monday, December 14, 2009
Aconcagua- this one is for the broken hearted
I am back finally in Mendoza. If you just want to know where my head is, failure to summit only means I will comeback to Aconcagua and attempt again. Sort of like packing all your stuff to move to a new house just to find out that the moving van keys are missing and probably are somewhere in the boxes, you still move, just been delay temporarily, and now you are in a bad mood.
Now after a 9 hour mule ride back to civilization over treacherous terrain, i had a lot to think about.
The last day at base camp was like nursing a broken heart, i spent most of my day tucked in my sleeping bag before people around camp staged an intervention. Alpine Accents team was just heading out to camp one and they asked me to have dinner with them, little by little my mood lifted, had so much fun hanging out with the people that live at Camp Argentina, for three months of the year, Veronica, Pelao', Mauricio and other Argentineans leave their families for the summer holidays to work at base camp, they are a lot like a family, nothing like great company and great food to mend a broken heart.
Yesterday, Juan Horacio, an Argentinian Arriero pick me up with a pair of mules to ride back to Penitentes, there are 3 ways to get out of base camp Aconcagua, a three day trek but you need camping gear to spend the night at designated camping areas, by helicopter, a last resort and only used in emergencies, or by mule.
Fear depends on your options, we watched the mules balance our gear when we hiked to base camp over narrow terrain and even saw a couple of mules take a tumble, now here I was for the next 9 hours riding back to Penitentes with Juan.
Everything was OK, except for the moment when I looked back one more time and saw it, Aconcagua behind me, a perfect day to summit, it looks so beautiful, i cried as hard as Jen Aniston must have cried when she saw her then husband Brad Pitt and his new girlfriend Angelina Jolie on the cover of W Magazine.
for the next 9 hours, juan and I got to know each other well, i also got to see my trek backwards, great memories keep coming, the last 10 days had been hard but also been incredibly fun.
Juan was one of the Arrieros that carried our gear when we hiked in, he incidentally found my video camera on the road and returned it. On the way other Arrieros called him suegro or Father- in- Law, Juan then told me he is the proud father of seven daughters and has one more the way, all by different women,he told me with a smile, a few things became apparent to me, Arrieros love women and fathering kids and Argentina must have a fairly loose child support system, he looked well feed and he chain smoked so he obviously could afford his vices.
It was a perfect way to end my trip, the adventure and the memories will stay with me. The practical jokes we played on each other, Patrick of South Africa got things rolling when he tastefully placed a sticker on lead guide Matias Prieto's backpack, we spend all day behind him laughing our head off
I became victim number two when after watching Carlos follow me around in campo lenas, Tony my tent mate faked a love note from Carlos, fooling me was easy, ego is a terrible thing, the worse part was when Jacqui convince me that thanking him was the right thing to do, imagine my surprise when Carlos had no idea what I was talking about, Tony became victim number 3 when we convinced him Carlos was mad, his ego hurt for making fun of him. Carlos played the part rather beautifully when Tony approached him to apologize and Carlos made him believed they needed to take it " outside".
As usual, the people i met become the most important part of my journey, is like finding out you are adopted and your real family has invited you to a family reunion, you all of a sudden surrounded by people you have never met in your life but share a lot of things in common.
A lot of my new friends have summit or are scheduled to summit soon, Megan and Rich, a very handsome couple from Calgary where looking strong when I last saw them on their way to high camp two days ago, Marianne, a 66 year old woman from Canmore was looking fantastic too, nothing like getting your butt kicked by a grandma to get your ego to the regular size.
Aidan and Tim, two best friends from Washington, where also scheduled to summit soon and of course the rest of my AC team, i wish them a safe summit.
Of course i am coming back to Aconcagua, I can't hardly wait to start planning my return, next time though i would love to return with a friend not as part of a team. Matias and leo did a wonderful job of guiding us but it was hard for me to try and keep somebody else's pace specially when I didn't have a porter.
Until now to be my friend all i needed was for you to either have the ability to make me laugh or let me cry, now however there is a new requirement and I am taking applications.
Its an amazing world of madness that I have entered, mountaineering will not definitely be your first love but it will be your first grown up love, it will be your Harley Davidson riding boyfriend. I am not sure that I am coming back a better person or changed at all, I will be home happier and more determined that I am after all in the right path, I have seen the summit, and however hard it has been to even get as close i got, it's definitely worth it. I have some more pictures on my facebook if you want to see them all