27th January 2016. I’d fallen asleep around 8pm the night before and although it was a disturbed night I got plenty of hours in. Breakfast was delivered to our tent and it was an amazing way to start the day; shredded potato with bacon and scrambled eggs!
After breakfast we got ready and we departed at 10am for our load carry up to Camp II. It was very windy and cold and we started at a slow pace on a gentle incline. The first part of the day was pretty boring actually, and the cold weather combined with numb toes and intermittent cold hands made it an unenjoyable experience. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows on the hill you know. As we continued things started to irritate me. I struggled with my sunglasses fogging up, I had a hair in my mouth and was generally irked. I then got a headache.
After reaching the top of the boring uphill slog you arrive on a stunning plateau with views across the Andes as far as the eye can see. It made the hike worthwhile and was definitely rejuvenating. It was there we had our long rest break for the day and had a chance to soak it all in. The next section took us on a flat traverse around the slope of the hill until the last little uphill section into camp. There were knee-deep patches of snow which slowed me up further and added fatigue to my aching legs. It was a really tough day.
From there on I found myself slightly on the higher end of 2 on Johnny’s 4-point scale (1 being top of the world, 4 being done in) and for the final push up and around the corner towards the camp and I was firmly at a 3, with trouble getting my breathing rhythm right and falling behind the rest of the team. I arrived into camp just a few minutes after everyone else where we claimed the pitches and stashed our gear.
The way back down took around 45 minutes and was far easier. Offloading the extra gear and having flat and then gentle downhill terrain was just the rest I needed. We went back to our tents and Tincho delivered us some hot water. Drinking our herbal tea we tried to keep warm and Bruce and I chatted about the day. A few moments later there was a knock on the tent and food was served. This evening we were treated to two enormous burritos filled with rice, chicken, cheese and red peppers. Absolutely delicious. With full bellies and well hydrated we got into our sleeping bags and tried to drift off amidst the snow storm outside that was really picking up.