Lance called in from the first camp on the hike into Aconcagua. The team spent about 5.5 hours on the trail today, hiking eight miles from the mouth of the Vacas Valley to a camp on the west side of the Rio Vacas called Pampas de Lenas. This was the first sort of “shake down” hike on the route, and it was a relatively easy day of strolling in the high desert with light packs.
Camp is at the base of a tall rock wall, near the bank of the swift Rio Vacas. It has evolved into a well established campsite over the years, and now has a Park Service cabin, corrals for the horses and mules that carry the majority of the team’s loads up to Base Camp, and even toilet facilities.
We hire a local outfitter to provide mule services to carry loads, meaning we can eat incredibly well for the hike into Base Camp. Working in concert with the arrieros (mule drivers), the team feasted on asado (grilling meat) for their first meal on the trail. Asado is a cultural phenomena in Argentina, a country world renowned for the quality and quantity of its steak and meat. We bring plenty along and share our dinner with the arrieros, making for a fun, social evening.
Here’s Lance, with a report from 9,000′ on the trail to Aconcagua!