Sunday, January 12, 2014

Settled in at Penitentes -- WITH luggage!

This is Judy blogging for Randy while he's unplugged for the next couple weeks.....   One technical note: when Randy calls on his satellite phone, we get disconnected every couple minutes and the reception is not great, so I might not always have everything exactly right!

So, nothing like starting the trip off with a little lost luggage drama.  Those of you who know Randy, know he is a total "gear" guy, and he had put meticulous planning into choosing and packing his equipment. His guide had raised the option of renting gear if his bags didn't show, but you might imagine the idea of hiking for 20 days in rented boots was not exactly appealing to Randy.

Thankfully his two bags actually did arrive at the airport this morning, and Randy and the whole crew made a pitstop on the way from Mendoza to Penitentes to get them.  The team then drove 3.5 hours to the rustic ski town of Los Penitentes, stopping on the way for lunch, and arriving to their hotel around 6pm.  He then had a few hours off to go through his stuff and change out of his 2 day old clothes, and then meet the team for a typically late Argentinian dinner.   When I talked to him it was 75 and beautiful out, but forecast for rain for the next few days which could make for some wet climbing.

Randy really likes his teammates and is enjoying getting to know them all.  For those of you interested in the people side of things:

He's in a group of 3 guides and 9 climbers.  It's a bit of an older group than when he and Anders went last year; in fact everyone is married with children.  There's three other guys who are on their own, so Randy will probably have one of these guys as a tent mate.
Drew: a retired biology teacher, a few years older than Randy
Bo: a software guy from Denmark, mid 30's
Faisal: early 50's, from Ft. Worth, works at Northrop Grumman

Besides that there's a woman named Denise who owns a consulting firm and has children and even a grandchild, climbing with her sister and brother who had yet to arrive.  They were also waiting for two guys from Miami.

Now for the RMI guides; Randy said they are great.  The head guide, JJ, sounds like a character.  He is in his 40's, shaved head, totally tattooed up -- according to Randy looks like Mr. Clean.  He's attempted 19 climbs of Aconcagua and summited 15, so quite accomplished.  The 2 other guides are in their 20's, Mike and Steve.  A nice coincidence is that Mike was actually Anders' guide when he climbed Denali this summer, so Randy had fun chatting with him about that.   Evidently the three guides like their adult beverages and enjoyed a few cervezas at lunch.  I guess they are all savoring the last few days of real food and drink before their long climb.

Here's a few pictures of Los Penitentes, a sleepy off-season ski resort.  They will hang out here tomorrow and wait for the other 3 team members to arrive, and start their climb on Tuesday.

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