Nick Shepherd called in a post, which was unfortunately a bit garbled, due to the challenges of satellite phones in the mountains. The team took a rest day yesterday, allowing their bodies to acclimatize a bit from the big, 1000m climb up from the camp at Casa de Piedra. Today they awoke refresh and rested, ate a nice breakfast in the comfort of their Base Camp dining tent and then shouldered their packs to carry loads up to 16,400′.
The route up from the Plaza Argentina Base Camp starts by climbing up a rather steep bit of moraine, the rocky debris pushed ahead by the last glacier that carved the valley above Base Camp. As they climbed up, they snaked their way between the remnants of the old glacier, now barely discernible under meters of rock, and the steep side of the valley wall to their south.
After about an hour of hiking, they arrived in the base of the hanging valley above BC. They weaved their way along the valley floor, most of the time hiking on the old glacier, with a few spots where they could actually see the old, glacial ice. After another hour and a half or so, they commenced another steep climb up to the site of their Camp 1, located at roughly 5000m. The deposited the loads of food, fuel and equipment and returned to Base Camp for the night.
This process of “climbing high and sleeping low” is a proven strategy for climbing big, cold mountains. It enables the team to move all their equipment up the mountain and also eases their bodies into each successive altitude, by giving them a taste of the next elevation, while letting them sleep at their previous camp.
Tomorrow is planned to be another rest and acclimatization day, giving the team time to better acclimatize before launching up the mountain.