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Leaving Ushuaia was undesirably eventful – the post office wouldn’t accept parcels in the afternoon, only before midday, so we had to go back just before our flights on the morning of the 18th… to be told that our bike boxes were too big. Much discussion and demonstration of them more-or-less fitting in the sacks, maybe requiring more than one cable-tie to loop through the holes in the top of the sack, and arguing that it was still secure… resulted eventually in some larger sacks being found, but an insistance that the brown cardboard boxes were re-wrapped in brown paper, and were directed across the street to the shop for paper and tape. Much wrapping and form-filling later (and BIG THANKS to Chris and Graeme for their assistance!), we were separated from a large sum of pesos and fled back to the hotel to check out and taxi to the airport… another stress given the protests in Ushuaia and threats that the road to the airport was blocked. However, we made it to the airport expecting to pay excess baggage (Aerolineas Argentina’s bag limit was 15kg), and faced no extra charges, and instead found ourselves in comparable luxury in Row 2!
So a fun evening in Buenos Aires ensued where we caught up for the final time with Malcolm, Michelle, Jaap and Ricardo for dinner and (slightly too late) drinks – up there on the list of people i’ll hopefully catch up with again – then attempting on-line check-in over breakfast, I suddenly realised the last minute booking of flights I’d done from Rio Grande were booked for 19 January, not 19 December – oops! A dash to the local LAN office resulted in them being changed free of charge to the ones we thought they were, and after coffee, late checkout and lunch, we headed to the airport.
A slightly bumpy and hour-delayed flight later, we were met at the airport in Mendoza by a pickup who took us straight to the hotel! Phew…
A couple of days later, much planning, shopping, visit to the guide company to pay for the extra hotel nights, questions answered, hire company located and gear borrowed where not bought… finally today we met with a couple of our guides and 7 other people in our group (another 4 have gone for extra acclimatisation and will meet us up at Puente del Inca tomorrow night), had gear checked, paid for park permits and packed… we leave tomorrow morning at 9am and head up to Puente del Inca for lunch. The full itinerary can be found here: – today was ‘Day 1’. Power and internet access *might* exist at various points up to and including Basecamp (Plaza de Mulas) which we leave for the final time on the morning of Day 10 with summit day hopefully Day 13 (4 Jan 2013).
So off we go! Fingers crossed. It’s apparently been very unusually windy – it’s usually windy in November and drops by December but speeds of 150km/hr are still happening on the top at the mo (see here). This evening we saw some rather disappointed, tired kids roll into the hotel out of a van bearing the name of the guiding company we’re climbing with. Stuff is looking better on the forecast though… Here’s hoping! Watch this space…
Oh and feliz navidad to all!