Laura Duncan called in from Plaza Argentina at about 13,800′ on the east flank of Aconcagua today. She reiterated what lead guide Joe Butler told me a bit earlier- it got WINDY! They hiked up into a 30 mph headwind, and it began to snow as they approached camp.
Today’s hike began on the flat plain of the Rio Vacas. The team arranged with our arrieros to ride mules across the frigid river. They began hiking up the narrow mouth of the Relinchos Valley, which runs perpendicular into the Vacas Valley from the west. The climb began slowly, but quickly steepened, with some steep side hilling. Before too long, they topped out of the steep, narrow entrance to the valley, and it widened into a classic, glacially sculpted, “U” shaped valley.
They had to make one river crossing, which required getting their feet wet, but we brought some river shoes along to protect everyone’s toes. After a couple more hours of hiking, they climbed around some bumbled moraines (rocks deposited by the glacier) and strolled into camp.
Tomorrow will be a rest/acclimatization day, to help mitigate the 3,600′ of elevation they gained today. We feel that taking a couple of these days at this Base Camp is really important to the acclimatization of our climbers. On Sunday, if the weather permits, they will carry a load of supplies up to the site of Camp 1 at about 16,400′