Well then!  The team is complete: we've all made it to Mendoza.  It is sweltering and humid here, with the occasional monsoon-ish squall in the night and burning hot sun during the day.  Bobby, Kristin, Walker, Libby and I had a productive 36 hours during which we consumed what seemed like about three and a half cows (gotta get those proteins to power us up the mountain!), four pumpkins, and at least one bottle of wine. Though what's much more important is that we successfully acquired climbing permits - or, as Kristin dubbed it, the most expensive piece of paper you'll ever possess outside of your university diploma - and packed roughly 400lbs of payload that will accompany us to basecamp; some on our backs, some on mules.  

Stoke is high! L-R: Kristin, Sunny, Bobby, Walker.  Thanks Libby for the photo.

Our last night in civilization for the next couple of weeks.  L-R: Libby, Bobby, Walker, Kristin

We leave for the mountains early tomorrow: an 8:30am departure in Mendoza should have us ready to go at the trailhead in Penitentes before 2pm, which leaves plenty of time for us to cover the ~3 uphill miles to Confluencia, the first camp at 11,000ft, where we're spending two nights for acclimatization. 

Team medic Libby at Confluencia last season. No worries, we'll have tents this time around. 

But those stars... 

Confluencia has neither cell phone signal nor wifi so we'll be offline until New Year's Eve - but if you count any of us among your loved ones or friends (or if you just want to randomly say hi, ha!) you can still do so by sending a message to our GPS communicator; It's free of charge and everyone loves getting messages - particularly a tired and dirty mountaineering team - so don't be shy :) I'll switch on the GPS as soon as we hit the trail. More details and messaging interface right here: http://www.sunnystroeer.com/gps

And with that... we're off! If there's connectivity we'll try to say 'hi' and share photos from basecamp on New Years Eve.  See you there!

What New Years at basecamp typically looks like - the summit looks close from there, huh? 

Much love, Sunny 

See that big spine I'm pinching? Libby pulled that one out of my scalp. 

PS - in case you're wondering what the most interesting things are that have happened to us so far: we've met lots of old and new friends and friends of friends all over Mendoza - on the street, in restaurants, at the Aconcagua permit office; it's a small place.  And I had an awkward encounter with a low-hanging palm leaf which resulted in a massive splinter being lodged in my scalped for a few hours.  Good thing we have Libby along as a team medic, ha!