Crossing the Vacas river early in the morning
John called in at 3:30PM Pacific time (8:30 Aconcagua time). He said they had a beautiful day for the move to base camp today, sunny and windless. This morning started with an early crossing of the Vacas river to gain access to the Relinchos Valley.
The Relinchos is a much smaller valley than the Vacas and is particularly narrow for about the first half of the day's hike.
2nd Stream Crossing of the day
After hiking up a steep slope you gain the more open upper half of the valley and encounter the second stream crossing of the day. Today's two stream crossings are the reason everyone has to pack sandals along for the trip.
Half way up the Relinchos the valley opens up with Aconcagua ahead
Once they reach base camp the mules have taken the gear as far as they are going to and now the team is going to have to haul all of their gear up the mountain. Tomorrow's rest day will give the team the opportunity to resort all of the gear and prepare the 1st of the loads they will take up the mountain. Above base camp it will take 2 carries to get the gear to each successive camp. After the team carries their 1st load to the next camp they will return to the previous night's camp to sleep. They will then move to the new camp, either the next day or after a rest day, with the other half of the gear. These "double carries" both reduce the weight the team has to carry at any given time and aid in acclimatization following the adage "climb high, sleep low."
Basecamp is a big place.
Base camp is a mini village on the mountain. You can find showers, sodas, pizza and much more if you are so inclined.
The team has a dining tent that is provided by our local outfitter - Grajales Expeditions. This is where they will eat their meals, and hang out while at base camp. The team will likely have 2 full rest days and and 4 nights at base camp before moving to camp 1 so there are likely to be lots of card games played in the dining tent.
Getting settled in for a few days
When John called he mentioned that the music was just getting going as the locals celebrated the new year. Our crew was going to stay up for a little bit before heading to bed - but it did not sound like anyone was planning to stick it out until mid-night.