Mendoza Gear Shops, Doite Gas canisters and Aconcagua Park Permits

First task of the day in Mendoza – to check out the local outdoor gear shops, and find the cheapest Doite gas canisters (they look to be the South American equivalent of EPI gas!). Prices ranged a fair bit – between 26 pesos and 30 pesos for the smaller 250g canister to between 42 pesos and 50 pesos for the larger 500g gas canister. The cheapest place was Outdoor Lifestyle on Las Heras, but Orviz is open all day. (9am-9pm – no siesta – although the shop is usually locked and you have to ring the bell for entry!)

Mendoza gear shops are disappointing for those used to the Cotswolds or REIs of this world, usually offering only a basic selection of outdoors gear – fleeces, boots, rucksacs and sleeping bags. Several of them appear to be far more geared up for rental to adventure companies rather than being well stocked for western mountaineers, although the military surplus shop on (Coronel?) and Mitre appears to be the best stocked of any.

Then it’s off to get the Aconcagua permit. I still don’t know if I’m going to camp in the National Park or not, so it could be a complete waste of money, but it’s still low season, so only 180 pesos for a 3 day permit. And as you cannot camp in Aconcagua National Park without a permit, and Mendoza is the only place you can acquire one, then its best for me to get one now, so that I don’t end up having to detour via Mendoza, probably on a Sunday pm when the office shuts early (midday). Strange system – you have to get a chit from the park office on the 1st floor of the tourist offices on Av San Martin (2 doors down from MucBurgers), go and pay this at the Pago Facil 21 blocks away on Espana, then return to fill in 3 forms to say you’ve got insurance, and lots of “totally over-the-top for a basic low-level trek” health info (which they keep forever!) then they give you the permit.

(Sorry there’s still no pictures – technical problems are preventing me from getting them online with a very slow net connection)