Sunday, 20 March 2011

Reverence and Homage for a Mountain: Aconcagua.

It’s sat on my left shoulder, sat at ten to the hour, for the better part of a cycling morning, only starting to recede back to a ‘quarter to’ as the day’s heat reaches it’s zenith. We’re running up the Valle del Uco, heading for the stretched out conglomeration of towns that makes up Mendoza and it’s environs. Still in an infatuation with Ruta Cuarenta. Aconcagua is so massive a mountain that it takes it three whole days to pass us by. It’s prominence is immense, yet scale is hard to apportion. A weather front spreads, rolls out from the east, out from the Pampa and approaches the Andean cordilleras. It only reaches part way up the slopes. It’s only then that you start to realise the height and size of the barrier. Those low ridges that you took to be mere hills , are in fact high mountains in their own right, and would grace any north European bagger’s tick list or postcard collection. Only today these poor hills are down graded to ’Class II’, and accorded the graceless title: ’pre-Cordilleras’

Each day, as we slowly pass by, we have a repeat of near identical weather patterns. The rising sun hits the high glacial slopes, casting in soft peach and pale pink, whilst we, down in the valley, are pottering around in head torches. It’s a clear, warm morning as we set off, the prospects look good for another hot day. A thin blanket of cloud forms up, and slowly approaches our mountain, offering a respite from the sun, stealing our shadows but not our heat. It’s a slow, tentative convergence, a supplicant’s advance to the altar of the high gods. A penitent’s plea for absolution and exoneration from the paramounts. The request for advancement or preferment is rejected, onward passage is refused. Rebutted, the clouds melt back, dissolving, reduced to wisps and tatters, and our purloined shadows are reinstated.
The day advances, the sun climbs, a haze builds, dislocating Aconcagua from it’s earthly tethers, smothering out the brock of low grade tops. Now elevating the glacial and snow covered ridges to an ascendancy, to a dominium and a superiority far above a mortal’s world of nodding donkeys and grape vines, rushing trucks and fanciful cyclists. Hovering over, floating up, drifting off, wandering away.