Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cerro San Lorenzo part 3 - life at Puesto Muñoz

As noted in part 2 we had more than two weeks of unstable weather after our arrival. Luckily, we had a great base camp at Puesto Muñoz and great company from the cowboys Martin Sar and Jose Louis who were taking care of the place. Also, there was a steady stream of visitors from the neighbouring farms which made life in base camp very entertaining.

View of Puesto Muñoz (lower left corner), the river bed, the valley of Rio Oro (our approach) and Cerro San Lorenzo (in the background).

Nevertheless, waiting for a weather window was getting increasingly frustrating and I don't know how many times I looked at my Suunto watch to see if the barometric pressure was rising. Several times the pressure was moving up towards the high point we had noted upon our arrival in good weather and we thus walked up to our advanced base camp ready to continue up the next morning, but every time we were disappointed by bad weather and low pressure the next morning and thus returned to Puesto Muñoz.
So how do you spend +2 weeks in a base camp without going nuts? Well, we hiked a lot, ate a LOT of meat, slept a lot, read books and magazines, and just followed life of Argentinian cowboys which was quite interesting. Below is a selection of pictures illustrating our life at Puesto Muñoz:

Carlos on one of the many surrounding hills that we hiked. The Rio Oro towards Bajo Caracoles (our 4x4 approach) is seen in the back.

Carlos crossing the Rio Oro. There was not too much water in it, but it was still a challenge to cross it without getting our feet wet.

Carlos cleaving wood for the stove.

Carlos cutting a piece of meet for our dinner. We had an unlimited supply of premium quality meet from the cowboys!

Martin Sar with a leg of pork. When we arrived they had half a cow hanging in the shed which they eventually got tired of eating. Martin then rode his horse to his house at Lake Brown (3 hrs each way) to get us some pork

Later they also got sheep to the Puesto Muñoz, one of which was immediately slaughtered.....

Jose Louis with his horse and dog. He had been hired to make a 10 km animal fence, which he expected to complete in 2 years!!! They certainly had a different kind of time perception.....

The cowboys did not like foxes and rabbits as they ate lamb and grass, respectively. Here Jose Louis had caught a fox and tried to train his dogs to hunt them by giving them a scent of the meat.....

The fox fur drying inside out.

The skeleton of a previously caught fox hanging close to Puesto Muñoz to scare off other foxes....

Martin Sar was trapping rabbits to sell the meat for 3 US$ per rabbit. He caught 2-5 rabbits per day in ~1000 string traps. In his opinion they were an ecological disaster introduced by the European settlers as they were eating all the grass and breeding like crazy (and thus out-competing the endogenous species).

The first week the weather was not bad, but not great either. We had thus left our tent standing in advanced base camp which turned out to be a big mistake when we got 5 days of bad windy weather. When we returned to the advanced base camp after the storm we found the tent in a stream 15 meters from the camp site.....

The wind had torn one of the strings off and rocks had poked a few holes in it, but luckily we could repair the damages with our repair kit and gaffa tape!

A couple of days after the storm the barometric pressure increased and we finally got our weather window - 5 days of perfect weather where we finally got our chance to climb the mountain.....

Read that story in part 4 - attempt on Cerro San Lorenzo.

Previous parts:
Read part 1: Cerro San Lorenzo - getting there.
Read part 2: Cerro San Lorenzo - advanced base camp.

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