After making a push up the mountain to Camp 1 this morning, David Haffner called in a nice update on behalf of our January 6th Aconcagua team.
The day began relatively early and the climbers shouldered packs with extra clothes, food and fuel. They hiked out of the Plaza Argentina Base Camp and into a narrow valley above. Negotiating some loose bits of trail and skirting along some narrow traverses, the trail eventually broke out into the wider upper section of the valley. They hiked along part of an old, “dead” glacier that is largely covered in an insulating layer of rocks as they made their way higher.
It sounds like they had to negotiate a field of “penitentes,” bizarre fins of snow that are sort of like sun cups on steroids. Winter’s snow firms up as the seasons progress into spring in the Andes and the incessant winds, dry air and blowing bits of rock and dust all work together to form these fins, some of which can reach heights of 8-12 feet or taller. The term penitentes is an homage to the fins resemblance of hands clasped in prayer, or in penitence. David aptly felt they resembled rows of terracotta warriors, like the ones unearthed in China.
The team did great today and they are all nestled back in Base Camp for the night. Tomorrow, they will spend another day resting and allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude before they back up and move camp to 16,400′, the site of their Camp 1.