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Rudy Parra takes care of everything!

Hike to base camp Plaza Argentina


After the 2 days of rest, we took the bus to Puente del Inca. It was a 3-hour drive to get there. In that area, there are many hotels and hostels to stay the night, but we decided to use our tents and had already made an arrangement with Rudy Parra including a place on his campsite in Los Puquios. In the afternoon, we sorted out our luggage; we put all the stuff we needed for the hike to base camp in our backpacks. The things we needed after we reached base camp we put in the duffels. Mules would carry these duffels and we would see these back at base camp.

Punta de Vacas1st day, campsite Las Leñas

Again, we started our climb on the hottest part of the day, because our drive to the beginning of the route (Punta de Vacas) was quite late. We still had not learned from the acclimatization; our backpacks were still far too heavy (20 – 25 kgms). We had not thought of the possibility to let the mules walk with us every day, so they could carry our tent and sleeping bags too. We walked along the river and it was going up and down and up and down. It was quite a strenuous walk and we were happy to reach the side valley, because according to the map the campsite would be very near. Unfortunately, the map was not right about that and it took two more hours from there. We arrived at campsite Las Leñas after 7 hours of walking. At this campsite we had to show our permits and all the three of us got a garbage bag, because you must carry all the litter you made out the park. At the campsite there was a tap with drinking water, we did not have to search for water. Antonio, who had left his tent with the mules, slept behind a wall of rocks, so he had no trouble with the wind.

2nd day, campsite Casa Piedra

To Casa PiedraThis time we started early with our climb to Casa Piedra. The path continued along the river and after half an hour we had to cross the river by bridge.  The rest of the day we remained at that side of the river and it was a long day-trip again, nearly flat this time, but a long distance and it was quite windy. Finally, we could see the tents of the campsite and the whole trip took us 8 hours. A few hundred meters before we reached the campsite we had the first look at the Aconcagua; it was quite impressive! It was again busy at the campsite and the ranger thought it would be raining that night, but fortunately he was wrong. Some people went to the river to find the best place for the river crossing next morning; it seemed to be a difficult choice.

3rd day; base camp

River Crossing AntonioWe were not the first group that left the campsite for the river crossing, so we could watch the others having troubles with the water. They went through the river on different places, so when we got at the riverbank we just chose a spot of which we thought it was good enough. Antonio went first, so Otto could make pictures and then Otto and Marja went together. The water was very cold (icy) and our feet (in our teva’s) hurt quite a lot, like many fine needles were stabbing in your feet and legs. Otto thought he had made it, began dancing (to warm his feet) and asked for a towel, but he had still one part of the river to go. There also was a Canadian group and they went on mules through the river, saying that we were real die-hards. We only thought: ‘sissies’. After the river crossing the sun came over the mountains and everyone got warm again. Antonio walked with a Canadian girl and Otto and Marja went together. There was a steep climb and a second river crossing, but the river was very narrow a this point and the sun was burning. After the river crossing it was still a long and windy way to the base camp, we kept walking along the river, climbing all the time, but not very fast. We arrived at base camp after 8 hours of walking and Antonio, who walked faster than Otto and Marja, had reserved two places for our tents. It was a big camp with some permanent refuges (big tents).

4th day; base camp

Plaza ArgentinaThis was a rest day, sorting out our gear and doing some washing. The river near base camp was far from clear and had a grey/brown color. Antonio found a small clear stream on a bank in the river and that stream we used for our water reserve. He marked the stream with a cairn, so it was not so difficult to find each time. Sometimes the stream had moved a little and once there was no clear water at all, but most of the times it was good water. Moreover, it was also fun to get the water, because you had to jump over some parts of the river and sometimes they were very wide. We talked a lot about the coming days, how we would manage to get all the things to the next camps. And we made another plan, because of the heaviness/weight of our backpacks. At first we wanted to go down from the mountain via the normal route, but now we decided to take the same route back as we came, so we could leave some stuff at the basecamp. Otherwise we should have carried all our stuff with us.

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