Ascent of Bonete on 2012-02-20

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Date:Monday, February 20, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:5003 m / 16417 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Mount Bonete is located in a valley south of Plaza de Mulas. The trailhead is just west of the large motel that can be easily seen from Plaza de Mulas. This was an acclimatization climb in preparation for an attempt on Aconcagua a few days later. I have to admit I really slowed down before I reached the summit, and since this peak is over 6000 feet lower than Aconcagua, I became very worried about my future success on the much taller mountain. The climb had no technical difficulties, but it was steep in places near the top and involved some short sections of Class 3 climbing. The most surprising thing I learned on this climb was that it appears there are two difference trails for steeper climbs in Argentina; one for going up and a different one for going down. The ascent trail is the usual path with many switchbacks for the steeper sections, but the descent trail is a path that goes straight down the side of the mountain. Descending Mount Bonete rekindled memories of climbing in Russia where I never saw a single switchback coming down or going up! At least, here there were switchbacks for the ascent, but I really hated the knee torture required for going down. Since I was on a guided group I had no choice about which trail to use. Our group was told to use the trail that went straight down the mountain and we were asked to practice descending quickly in case we needed to go down rapidly during our attempt on Aconcagua. It was as if it was a test to see if we were capable of emergency descents, but it sure made an unpleasant return to Plaza de Mulas. Fortunately, a rest day was scheduled for the next day to let my knees recover from the ordeal! We were fortunately blessed with good weather, so we enjoyed an hour on the summit of Mount Bonete for photography and a long lunch.
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