|Photo: Courtesy of Argentina Government Tourist Information
Boston leaves trains, planes, and automobiles behind in Puenta de Vacas (7,628') where he'll begin the approach to the mountain on foot. After a five-mile hike up the west side of the Rio de las Vacas, the team will set up camp at about 8,900 feet.
The team hikes 11 more miles up the Rio de Las Vacas to the Casa de Piedra shelter at 10,500, where they get their first view of Aconcagua at the head of Relinchos Valley.
The Rio de Las Vacas gets crossed, and the hike continues nine miles up the steep, narrow Relinchos Valley to the moraine that marks the Plaza Argentina, base camp at 13,780 feet. This camp is located on the stable rock-covered glacier and has well protected campsites.
Rest, acclimatize, enjoy the view.
Boston and co. head northwest over the moraine of the Relinchos Glacier. After negotiating a wild traverse through a field of penitentes (ice and snow daggers formed by the sun), they'll cross a small stream and arrive at the site of Camp I (16,000 feet) beneath some large rocks, where they'll cache food and gear, have lunch, and then head back to
Rest day at basecamp.
The team goes back to Camp I and spends the night.
Rest day at Camp I.
From Camp I, they'll climb past the Ameghino Col (17,650 feet) to Camp II at the base of the Polish Glacier at 19,350 feet. Here they'll cache more food and gear and then return to Camp I.
Back to Camp II, where they'll spend the night.
Rest day at Camp II.
Today the team moves completely to Camp III. The Polish Traverse crosses north and west on slopes up to 35 degrees and joins the Normal Route at Camp Independecia (20,300 feet).
SUMMIT DAY (Which may be later than day 13, depending on weather) From Camp III, the route continues along the Northwest ridge, passing the highest refuge in the world, 21,476 foot Refugia Independencia. From these ruins Boston et al continue climbing up and right, crossing the Cresta del Viento and then heading up the upper part of the Gran Acarreo to
the Canaleta, the most famous and challenging part of the Normal Route. The Canaleta is a 33-degree scree chute that rises 1,300 feet.
After topping out of the Canaleta, they'll be on top of the Cresta del Guanaco, the ridge that joins the lower South Summit and the higher North Summit. We follow the ridge crest to the 22,841-foot true summit, where an aluminum cross marks the highest point in the Western Hemisphere. After taking in the views and enjoying the glory, they'll return to
The team descends to camp at the Plaza de Mulas (13,780 feet).
On the last day on foot, Boston and his climbing partners hike down the Horcones valley to Puente del Inca.