Jack Strickland called in to give us an update on the team. Today, they hiked for about eight miles, gaining a little over 1,200′, along the east bank of the Rio Vacas. I spoke with Laura and Joe earlier and they said that they saw two guanacos (relatives of the llama and alpaca) as they approached their camp tor this evening. Such sightings have become increasingly rare in recent years, so they are really fortunate. A small fox came by to visit as well, sniffing for any food that might have been left unguarded.
Not too far before reaching camp, they had their first view of the mountain, looking up the Relinchos Valley, which they will hike through tomorrow. The view is dramatic, with the iconic Polish Glacier cascading down from the summit.
This afternoon, the wind began to pick up and it was blowing quite hard when I spoke with Laura. You can hear it is still blowing in Jack’s dispatch. Camp is on a broad plain, next to a wide, glacially braided stretch of the river, and there is not much shelter from the wind. To provide some amount of buffer, they have stacked rocks up to make wind breaks on the leading edges of their Black Diamond Bombshelter tents.
Casa de Piedra means House of Stone, and it is so named for an old shelter that was constructed long ago to enclose an overhang on the side of a giant boulder. The Provincial Park has constructed a house of steel alongside the boulder, and maintains a presence to assist climbers.
Tomorrow they will hike up the Relinchos Valley (in the background in the above image) to the mini-metropolis of Plaza Argentina, the primary Base Camp for this side of the mountain. This is a much tougher day than the two previous days, so they will take a rest/acclimatization day after they arrive.