The approach, Day One
traveled for 34 hours by plane and automobile from my home in
Montreal to be standing at the foot of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina.
This was the beginning of the next two weeks of my life. The trek
from the entrance of the Relinchos valley up to Base Camp took
three days, with an elevation gain of 5000 feet. We had perfect
weather for the approach. I had used mules to carry part of my
gear (mainly food) up to base camp, situated at 14,000 feet. This
would save me precious energy for higher up on the mountain. We
were only a two-man climbing team and thus quite agile. We moved
quickly from one camp to the next. We packed as light as possible;
every piece of equipment was carefully thought out, right down
to our tent; which just barely fit 2 grown men sleeping head to
toe. All the gear would have to stay outside of the tent! We made
it a point however to eat very well during the climb; lots of
soups, pastas and proteins, and also puddings and Pringles…
had to cross the frigid waters of the Relinchos River in the
cold mornings during the approach, and then had to put lots
of sunscreen in the afternoons where the temperatures would
rise to nearly forty degree Celsius. We met several climbing
teams along the way, from many countries. We would swap information
about the mountain, the weather, and climbing stories in general.
It was a great interaction with people that we didn’t know
personally, but who all shared a common goal.