Back in 1998, the Monkey went west from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He ended up in the Mendoza province scaling some of the highest peaks in the world!
Sitting by a windswept tuft of high-mountain florae, the Monkey breathes the clean (and thin) air of this serene landscape. Behind him is one of towering peaks of the Argentine Andes, the 6,570 meter Tupungato. The mountain is an active volcano.
The Monkey does some climbing on the highly friable rocks near Uspallata, in the Argentine Andes. The nearby valley is part of the Uspallata Pass, which cuts through the Andean peaks at an altitude of 3,810 meters. The pass, which leads overland to Santiago, Chile, was used by the rebel forces of General José de San Martín in 1817 in order to attack Spanish royalist positions in Chile. San Martín’s army was eventually successful in liberating the southern regions of South America, complementing the work of of his northern counterpart, Simon de Bolívar, whose forces liberated much of what is today Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru from Spanish colonial rule.
In the valley near Uspallata, the Monkey poses on a pipe overgrown with mineral deposits. The arch over his head is the Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge), a naturally formed bridge passing over the rushing waters of melting Andean snow. The Monkey partook of the bizarre, abandoned late 19th Century hot spring baths beneath the bridge, warming up his body for his barefoot assault on the Paso de los Libertadores, the 4,000-meter high, Hannibal-esque entry point to Chile San Martín used in 1817.
The Monkey with Argentina’s (and the Americas’) tallest mountain, Aconcagua. The Monkey is still some distance from the base of the mountain, in the highest of the High Andes. At 6,960 meters, Aconcagua (at left) is the tallest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas.
With the haze just about obscuring the Andean backdrop, you might not believe that the area around Uspallata played the role of Tibet in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet. The Uspallata locals watched as a massive set meant to be Lhasa was erected outside the town (the town is just visible in the valley). One result of the film’s mini-invasion was the otherwise rather absurd name for a pleasant little watering hole in the center of town: Bar Tibet.
Another view of the Monkey with the Western Hemisphere’s tallest peak, Aconcagua. The colossus was first ascended in 1897 by the Swiss alpinist Zurbriggen. Citing a lack of suitable equipment, the Monkey declined to attempt to repeat Zurbriggen’s feat.
In the pleasant city of Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes, the Monkey nestles in a monument to San Martín, the military commander of the southern cone’s revolutionary forces in the early 19th Century. This plaque is an homage from the city of Lima, Peru, which was liberated by San Martín’s troops. After Lima, San Martín and Bolívar met, and the two decided to leave the liberation of the remainder of Peru to Bolívar.
Not that you can tell it from this picture, but Mendoza and the provinces around it form the heart of the Argentine wine region. While Argentina’s wineries are sometimes accused of being a bit slow to modernize, this does not change the fact that the country produces some of the finest wines in the world. One particular variety, the strong, red Malbec, has been generating significant interest from abroad for years now.
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