Aconcagua, 2003-2004 season overview. This season Aconcagua beat its record for visitation. The estimated number of people in Aconcagua Provincial Park was 7,000 (87% foreign, 13% Argentineans) for the season (November 15, 2003 to March 15, 2004), 12% more than the previous season. The number of park rangers was increased to 36, and the Mendoza government may begin selling permits by internet. A lot of human waste was helicoptered out of the area, so it’s much cleaner now. There is now internet access in Plaza de Mulas. The weather was not as good as in many parts of the Argentinean-Chilean Andes, with high winds and much snow in January. Some mountaineers were trapped in Confluencia by high temperatures and melting snow. Two Germans died on the Polish Glacier. Two Spanish balloonists were rescued in nearby mountains. On the other hand, a Spanish group summited with a two-year old female golden retriever named Rubia who wore a jacket, shoes, and sunglasses! [Canine gossip: There is controversy as to whether Rubia was the first canine to summit Aconcagua. A Chilean newspaper reported, some 10 year ago, an alleged ascent by a stray dog that tagged along with Germans and Austrians. We were unable to confirm with either the climbers or the pooch—Ed.] A winter ascent was made by Juan Benegas and Horacio Cunietti, who summited on August 27 by the Normal Route. They had strong winds and low temperatures (-40°C). A very important new route, with 2,500m vertical, was established by Slovenes Tomaz Humar and Ales Kozelj on the left part of the south face (left of the Slovene 1982 route).
Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina