MENDOZA, ARGENTINA – We arrived in Mendoza today and if we feel up to it tomorrow we are going on our first trek: up from 2,080 meters to 2,700 meters on Mount Mihlo, just outside of Mendoza. This will begin the acclimatization process for us.
I was anxious to see if I felt any effects from the altitude at 2,000 meters and at first it felt no different than life at sea level. But just walking around on the undulating terrain around Francisco and Jeannine's home made me aware that I was breathing harder than normal. My legs feel strangely heavy. It could be that it's just been an extremely long day.
There was a lot of snow in the mountains around Mendoza this past winter (thank you, El Niño), but summer is finally here and the weather is normalizing.
What we are doing: Blog Introduction
Expedition leader Francisco Seufferheld in the mountains near Mendoza.
Photo by Jeannine Koninckx
High altitude expeditions require a LOT of gear. One needs “approach boots” (high quality hiking boots) and “summit boots” (which are enormous and look like they might be good for a walk on the moon), as well as many layers of clothing. We must be prepared to ascend from the Argentinian summer heat to bitter cold at the highest elevations.
We spent four months collecting the gear and making decisions about what would work best for each situation or predicament.
Protecting my hands, for example, required a lot of planning. I want to take photographs and shoot some video as we ascend, and my camera, a Canon SL1, is about 30 percent smaller than the standard Canon DSLR. This is great for portability but makes it even harder to operate in the extreme cold. I need to keep my hands warm, but also maintain dexterity.
The solution? High altitude mittens over cold weather mittens over gloves. When I want to take a photograph, I'll have to take off the outer mittens (and not lose them). The inner mittens, which were designed for cold-weather photographers, will zip open to allow some of my gloved fingers to emerge for camera fiddling.
I'm not sure I have all the gear I need, or the right gear. But that is the point of these early treks in the mountains around Mendoza. We need to see how we, and our gear, hold up under a variety of conditions.
Failure is always an option: On the Road