Sunday, June 18, 2017
Climbing Up Into the Andes
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the both the Western and Southern hemispheres and for those die-hard mountain climbers, it's on their must-climb list.
My climb into the Andes was much simpler. Along with my traveling companions, I made my way up to this view point by a comfortable van driven by a mountain guide. Not being one of those mountain-climbing obsessed people, I preferred to view the mountain's majesty from a safe distance. We were already at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet, I didn't need to check the air at 22,838 feet.
Just past the stop to view Aconcagua, we entered the village of Las Cuevas, the last Argentinian city along Route 7 before entering the country of Chile. We would have ventured the last few miles into Chile if the border had not been closed at the time. Apparently there was a labor dispute with the border guards.
Whatever the reason for the closure, it was causing quite a back up of trucks waiting to cross the border with their goods.
Between 1910 and 1984, the Transandio Railroad operated from here all the way to Las Andes in Chile. In 1927, the railroad was electrified using Swiss built electronic locomotives. Today the tracks are starting to crumble and the station is looking a little lost in time.
We stopped in Las Cuevas long enough to get a few snacks and enjoy some hot chocolate. Our hosts seemed pleased to have the company for the short time we were there.
At 11,748 feet above sea level, you can imagine the extreme weather conditions this remote city experiences. There are many occasions when the pass through the mountain is blocked by snow. We were there in November toward the end of spring for the southern hemisphere.
Las Cuevas was a picturesque place with its steep roof lines framed by those grandiose mountains frosted with patches of snow.