26th January 2016. I slept badly. When I did finally drift off I had a horrible dream about someone I knew dying, which was disconcerting. All night I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath or get comfortable. I woke up out of sorts and disorganised, not the best start to our move up to Camp 1. I rushed breakfast so I could finish packing and break camp without delaying everyone else. I was shattered. I just wanted to sleep.
We shared out and packed the rest of the group gear and despite carrying packs almost as heavy as our load carry two days prior, the hike took us 70 minutes less. Acclimatisation really does work! That said, it wasn’t an easy walk and I did feel challenged at times.
It’s strange the things you take for granted. After days of walking through the low level valleys having the trails to ourselves, it was an adjustment arriving at Base Camp where there were lots of people. Of course the three course meals, heated base camp tent, lovely loos and lots of chill-out time made up for that. Now I felt strangely disappointed that we were sharing the trail with another team on the higher mountain. Despite taking the lesser-trodden route to the summit Aconcagua is still a vastly popular peak, not least because it is one of the Seven Summits. Reality check time.
When we arrived into camp there was a bit of a fiasco as we discovered another team had stolen the pitches where we’d stashed our gear a couple of days prior. Our kit was still buried under the wind-break stones surrounding each pitch but the other team had gone ahead and pitched their tents anyway. Tincho made sure they knew they weren’t being very respectful. We found alternative pitches, moved all our cached gear across the campsite and started pitching the tents in our new spot. Bruce and I were going to share a tent going forward in order to keep the group gear weight to a minimum.
After helping each other pitch the three tents, making sure to stake them down well knowing the windy conditions at this camp, we moved in and set up our beds. Johnny had collected our empty water bottles and returned shortly after with them refilled. A little later he brought round a pot of hot water for our flasks. At Plaza Argentina base camp we were provided with the choice of herbal teabags, soup powder and cocoa to take with us for the upper mountain section. I’d gone for a mixture of various herbal teas plus a few packs of soup to keep things interesting.
I hadn’t drunk enough water during the day so figured soup would be the sensible choice that evening for the electrolytes, extra calories and also to work well as an appetizer for our meal later on (yes, I know how that sounds – I was already used to being spoilt at mealtimes!). Bruce and I relaxed in the tent and debriefed on the day as we waited until dinner time. You may be noticing a theme here… food, walk, camp, rest, food, sleep. What a wonderful way to spend a day.
So we hear a knock at the tent and Johnny is there ready to serve our dinner and top up our hot water flasks. What service! So, you know when I mentioned about the amazing meals at base camp, and how spoilt we were? Well dinner was… cheese burgers! THREE each, served in a toasted sesame seeded bun with mayo, mustard and barbecue sauce. Three, full-size cheese burgers. Yes! There are no words for the pure joy I felt at that moment. I nailed two and a half before I was absolutely stuffed.
After dinner it was time to get into sleeping bags and keep warm. It was just 7:20pm but outside a snow storm was coming in and it was getting extremely windy. I had a slight headache due to dehydration and tiredness (or cheeseburger overdose) but I knew drinking plenty of water and having a good night’s rest would sort it out. Fed, watered and cosy in our little tent, it was time for a little bit of light reading (‘Dead Mountain’, my e-book about a fatal Russian mountain disaster) and lights out.
From IMG’s blog:
“On Aconcagua, Jonathan Schrock and team have moved in to C1 (16,200’). Plan is to make a carry tomorrow to C2. Calming conditions forecasted for the weekend and team hopes to put themselves into position to take advantage of any good climbing conditions.” See here: http://www.mountainguides.com/wordpress/2016/01/26/aconcagua/updates-from-mexico-argentina/