Reinette and Veronica called from 13,800′ (4200m) this afternoon, following a hot day of hiking up the Relinchos Valley. The team awoke early, so as to get a head of the hottest part of the day. Immediately out of their camp at Casa de Piedra, they had to cross the flowing and bitterly cold Vacas River, which flows from the remote Gussfeldt Glacier to the north of Aconcagua. Typically, we encourage our climbers to take advantage of our mule driver’s offer to throw a leg over a mule for this crossing, but it sounds like two of the team elected to start the day by numbing their feet and legs in the frigid torrent. Sean, Brian and Andrew might well be able to weigh in on whether a cold bath is better than strong coffee to start the day!
Following the morning antics, the team began hiking up the steep and narrow mouth of the Relinchos Valley. The Rio Relinchos pours off the east face of Aconcagua and follows a broad, glacially sculpted valley for much of its length, but drops off a headwall of sorts and into a deep, “V” shaped valley before meeting the Rio Vacas. The first hour of hiking involves some steep side hills and loose switchbacks, before the team topped out on the headwall and entered into the “U” shaped, upper valley.
Another stream crossing was negotiated before the team began the long, hot hike up to the Plaza Argentina Base Camp. It sounds like it was really hot today, with clear skies and light wind. The flip side of clear and hot is that the team had stunning views of the mountain as they made their way up the valley. Here is a shot of the team, happy to start settling in at the Plaza Argentina Base Camp!