Plaza Argentina – Basecamp

A quick update we received from Laura and Logan:
Well, after three days of trekking we have arrived at Plaza Argentina (basecamp). Feels like we have already climbed a mountain and yet it still lumes over us.
After leaving Penitentes we were shuttled (by my new crush Juan,  sorry Logan) to Punta de Vacas (cow point)  just so you know,  I have not seen 1 cow. At Punta del Vacas, (2325m,  7628ft) is the entrance to Aconcagua Provincial Park.  We checked in at the rangers station and were  given 1 garbage bag each with a number (V337 and V338 or new lucky numbers) on it.  We have to show this bag when we leave the park.  Good way to keep the park clean.
Our first days hike stated at 10:00. 5 min after starting,  I was sweating! Not from being tired, but because it was 36 degrees and there was no shade.  Thankfully there was the slightest wind that helped to not over heat us.
Mistake number 1: unsure if we brought enough sunscreen therefore burnt legs day one.  🙁 Laura fail.  Thankfully they aren’t bad, but still rookie move.
The first and second days follow the Rio de Las Vacas (again no cows).  It took 5 hours to hike the 11.8kms to Pampa de Lenas (2700m, 8858ft)  the first day.  (Alan translation –  something about firewood).  Other then the heat it was a nice hike following the river.  At camp,  we had to wait for our bags to arrive on the mules but we started pumping water.  It is recommended that you drink 6-8 litres of water each day.  I think due to the sun and the sun burn on my legs that I developed a headaches that night.   thankfully after drinking 2 litres of water and being up all night peeing,  I woke feeling fine.  It did worry me a bit as that was just the start of the climb.
Day two took 5 hours to hike 14.8km to Casa de Piedra (house of rocks-and there actually was one for the muleteers to sleep in) (3200m, 10500ft).  We were feeling good and moving a bit faster.  At the end of the day is when we got our first glimpse of Aconcagua in the distance.  We sat and took in the view with three Americans that we had met,  James,  Jason and Scott.  Awesome guys.
The camp that night was crowded.  Much smaller place then Pampa de Lenas.  We rested, drank water,  made supper and went to bed early.  Happy New Years –  in bed by 8. One bloody nose in the night for Mr. Juffermans, but pretty certain it is due to the windy and dry weather as no other altitude symptoms and he was feeling great the next morning.  I slept like a log as per usual apart from the hourly pee breaks.
Rookie move #2 – small stone in my shoe the first day left me with a blister on the bottom of my foot the second day.  Not to painful but the back of the foot blister is a bit worse.  Nothing a little moleskin and duck tape can’t handle.
We woke early this morning, 5am. This is due to having to cross the icey cold,  rushing Rio de Las Vacas. In the morning it is lower and not flowing as quickly but as the sun melts the snow and ice above,  the river flows more quickly and is more difficult to cross.  We left camp at 6:45 with the three Americans, watching the guided groups cross on the mules,  don’t worry we gave them some deserved attitude.  The river was so cold there was a few choice words spoken and by the time we reached the far side,  our toes were numb and didn’t warm up until several minutes after walking.
Today’s hike was up the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina,  or current location 13.7km (4200m, 13780ft).  It was  a long hard days hike of just under 6hrs. The first part was in a narrow gorge with the river running ragged and still quite off-brown beside us, eventually coming into an area with multiple glacial moraines.  Here we had a constant view of Aconcagua looming before us as we approached it’s base.
We are both currently relaxing (more like passed out) in the tent after slugging rocks to build a wind barrier for the tent. The gusts can get pretty strong at times.
Logan has made several comments about how he gets out of breath drinking some water or lifting one rock before having to take a break.  He is sleeping beside me now, exhausted.  Now he knows what ‘mountain mode’ hiking is-  slow and steady.  But he is in good spirits and I’m so grateful to have him with me (even with his tired blubbering) .
Took our plus rate 2-3 hours after arriving at camp.  We  had eaten and had a little nap.  Logan was napping and his heart rate was 102. I was laying flat trying to relax and it was 108. 4-5 hours later after dinner,  I checked again.  My heart rate is now 88 and Logan’s 92. Looks like we are adjusting well to this altitude.  Tomorrow we have a check in with the medical tent before they let us climb any higher.
Well the internet costs 9.99USD/1hr to use.  So you might not hear from us for a week or so. Plan is to take a rest day tomorrow maybe a short hike to keep moving.  Then carry a load of gear to  camp 1 the next day.  Then to camp 1 and see how we feel after that.  🙂  3 camps to go before the summit.  1 camp at a time and 1 goal at a time about 3000m (9000ft) vertical awaits.
Check in soon.