February 9, 2018

Thursday 8th February

Spiderman is a tall bald chap from Brazil. He sports a spider tattoo’ed on the back of his skull. I’ll double check his name tomorrow (It sounded like Guido) but until then he is Spiderman. His team supporters are Jorge and Danilo. Jorge is an interesting chap introduced as a ‘wild man’ from Patagonia. I believe Danilo is from Brazil. We meet other members of the team today. Richard is from Germany, with excellent English. Enrique is from Brazil but has excellent English as well. Anna is from the USA. The remaining six are from Brazil and I don’t have their names sorted out yet. I mention the language since it seems we might have a group split in twain by language. That will be a bit unfortunate, but I will not jump to conclusions. It might be a perfect United Nations despite the different languages.

Our permits have been paid during the course of the day and the paperwork signed by everyone as the close of the day. Passports have been collected and Max will present all this to the park authority tomorrow. In short, all the paperwork is now done.

We all met at 8pm tonight and had dinner in a very nice Italian restaurant which Jorge solemnly informs us is the best in town. Its Argentina so we indulge some beef of course. And while doing so we sat through a very comprehensive brief by Max, who it transpires is not actually on the mountain with us, which is slightly disappointing. He has instilled a lot of confidence already. However we are assured by the brief and it’s been good to meet the Jorge whose quiet demeanour belies his deep experience.  He tells Kavitha that when he is not on a mountain somewhere he is on his grandmother’s farm where he mends fences and repairs rooves. That country DNA helps inspire some confidence too. He has some solid things to say about the mental game involved and we are encouraged by that as well. Max is not convinced about Diamox in this very dry environment (9% humidity) given acetazolamide has a diuretic effect. We will see how we go but will heed his advice in the first place. That drug has helped on previous mountains.

Unfortunately the briefing has left everyone a bit confused about the logistics of moving our gear up the mountain. Some of it will be leapfrogged to base camp then to higher and ever higher camps. High altitude gear such as crampons and double boots are not required lower down so that makes sense. We think some of the remaining gear is carried ahead of us to each camp while the balance is carried on our backs – day packs only. At least that is what we think the plan is. We drive to Penetentes tomorrow so will refine our thinking there.

The day’s entry would be incomplete without mention of our impression of Mendoza, a pleasing place with a big country town feel to it, all tucked under a forest of plane and acacia trees. The locals are a chubby lot but, while health authorities no doubt fret the blatent obesity, their portly frames project an air of complacent well to do. We are amused by their observance of siesta with grills rattling down about 1pm and reluctantly dragged up again about 5pm. It’s not that hot but it does mean the Plaza de Indepencia is alive well into the night. We like this town.

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