The team Operation Aconcagua is camped at 10,000 feet at a spot called Casa de Piedra. They finished up Day 2 of their three-day trek to the Plaza Argentina Base Camp on the east side of the mountain. Neil called in an update, and I spoke with Drew about an hour ago as well. Drew said that they are having a blast, and that the weather has been really good, with some wind during the day to keep the heat down, but chilly night temperatures.
The hiking is reminscent of parts of the Grand Canyon, with peaks rising thousands of feet on either side of the deep Vacas Valley. The Rio Vacas, which formed the valley, is a powerful river in the lower parts of the valley, but mellows out as the climbers ascend. Tomorrow, they will cross a classically glacial, braided section of the river and begin their final leg of hiking to Base Camp, following the narrow defile of the tributary, Relinchos River valley. The chilly water is best negotiated on horseback, so our crew will get shuttled across by their “arrieros” (Argentine cowboy/mule drivers). These guys are really good at their jobs and work super hard to help us get all our gear and supplies to and from the mountain.