Daunesh Alcott joined the team this morning, arriving via helicopter into the Plaza Argentina Base Camp. He has been acclimatizing in Ecuador and will climb the mountain with Alex, Jenny, Fermin and Aaron. It was a beautiful, clear morning for a flight!
Today was a planned rest and acclimatization day, as the climbers who trekked into Base Camp just gained close to 3000′ of elevation gain when they ascended up the Relinchos Valley from their previous camp. Acclimatizing is crucial when climbing a big mountain like Aconcagua.
As climbers move higher on the mountain, the barometric pressure decreases, resulting in a decrease of the amount of oxygen in each lungful of air. Most people can adapt or “acclimatize” by moving higher at a measured and deliberate pace, allowing their bodies to compensate for the lower quantity of oxygen in each breath. Moving too high, too quickly can result in one of several forms of “altitude sickness,” which can range from a pounding headache to fluid leaking into the lungs or the cranium, as one of two forms of edema.
As guides, we develop an itinerary for each expedition that includes a rate of ascent that is designed to help most people acclimatize sufficiently to not experience any effects of altitude sickness. In the case of our Aconcagua program, that means we take an additional day at Base Camp, so that our climbers can develop a foundation of acclimatization. Most teams don’t take as many acclimatization days, as Base Camp facilities are expensive, but we’ve found it is worth it to set our teams up for success.
Tomorrow, they will shoulder their backpacks and carry a load of equipment and supplies up to Camp 1, at about 16,400′. They will descend to spend the night at Base Camp again, followed by another full rest and acclimatization day.
Here is Alex!