Aconcagua: Mallory & Team Carry to Camp 1

Posted by: Linden Mallory | December 16, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,600'

The clouds moved in after dinner last night and left a thin dusting of snow over camp. When I poked my head out of the tent early this morning things were looking ominous: a thick cloud cover hung just over camp and everything was white. But a few miles down the valley the cloud bank broke and I could see morning light hitting the peaks behind. Gradually as I watched the clouds overhead dissipated and the peaks immediately around Base Camp lit up in the pink morning light. With the hulk of Aconcagua immediately to our east, Base Camp sat in shadow while we crawled out of the tents for breakfast. Even by 8:30 with the clear skies and snow there was a nip to the air as we packed our bags but just as we shouldered our packs, the sun peaked over the ridge line high above and immediately warmed us up.

Bound for Camp 1 with loads of gear and supplies for the upper camps, we set out from Base Camp and crossed a small field of penitentes - the sharp snow spires - to begin ascending. The trail zigs and zags across the rocky scree slopes of Aconcagua, occasionally wrapping around rock outcroppings that jut out of the seemingly featureless slope. We made great time towards Camp 1, settling into a consistent pace and watching the brightly colored tents of Base Camp fade to small dots far below us. By midday we reached Camp 1, called “Camp Canada” which sits on the backside of massive stone tower at 16,600’. With the sun still shining and the winds holding at bay, we unloaded our gear and cached it among the snowdrifts and rocks at Camp 1. To our west large clouds were forming and soon after starting our descent the skies began to spit torrents of snow and hail that would come as quickly as they went. Between the snow flurries the sun would come out and it would be down right hot until the next wave of snow. Despite the swings in weather, and our constant clothing adjustments as a result, we made it back to Base Camp by mid-afternoon where we retreated to our tents to hang out and watch the clouds bounce over the mountaintops.

Tom and Thomas climbed remarkably well today, tackling the new terrain and altitudes with little fanfare and all the while keeping me entertained with unending stories. We are all feeling good after the day and looking forward to our planned rest day here in Base Camp tomorrow before we move higher on the mountain.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

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