Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hello from Argentina!

RC here saying Hi from the land of Leo Messi!

Wow!  What a ride!  We are all safe and sound and getting used to people and heat again in Mendoza.  Last night we had our final team dinner and award ceremony.  A special treat was the HUGE party going on in the Independencia Plaza last night as Boca Juniors are playing River Platte in football today....this is one of Argentina's biggest rivalries and the players from Bocca were staying in town...pretty cool.

As is the custom here we didn't start dinner until 10:30 pm.  We went to an Italian place and didn't get back to the hotel until 1:45.  After starting the day sleeping under the stars and then trekking the final 8 miles starting at 7 am it made for a long day!  I'm lying in my bed right now composing this onmy feels wonderful to be clean and sleep in a real bed again!

A couple of random thoughts about this expedition:

- first and foremost, thanks to everyone who has helped and supported me in this most excellent adventure...especially Judy (awesome job on the blog!). It was a challenging physical and mental trial  and I frequently drew on your strength to help persevere!

- this was an important event in my life.  Frankly I tried to emulate Anders' approach to climbing (especially maintaining a PMA at all times) and I was blessed with a number of important life lessons which I hope to carry through to my regular life.

- our weather was almost comical in its relentlessness.  Our lead guide has summitted Aconcagua 17 times ( plus Everest and a host of other 8000 meter peaks) and he said hands down, it was the worst he has ever seen here.  The snow and especially the wind where very trying!

- physically I'm in pretty descent shape.  I'm tired but feel like I still had a little something left in the tank.  My lower lip is quite burnt (despite all my lip baum and constantly using a buff).  I have a pretty bad blister/ bruise on my right foot which makes me hobble a bit.  I have a modest area of wind burn on my face that should be gone in the next day or two.  All in all, not so bad given the 22 days, 70 miles and 14,000+ feet of elevation delta we endured.

- my team and guides where great and that makes an enormous difference.  They were consistently supportive and kind to me and that made a critical difference.  While some are deeply disappointed to not summit I sense a genuine good will towards my good fortune.

- I'll write more about this in the days ahead but I take immense satisfaction from this experience.  After the attempt last year and the extreme challenges of this climb this year to finally raise my fist skyward at almost 23,000 feet was an experience I'll never forget!

OK.  I need to go downstairs to say goodbye to the team....5 or 6 are heading out for a wine tour this morning.  I'm hungry again ( I lost 16 pounds) so I'll get something to eat and then get ready to fly back this afternoon....can't wait to see my bride and puppy!

More later....thanks for reading along!

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