After handing over their gear bags to the muleteers and mules and loading up their own backpacks with water and essentials, the team set off around 10am on a very hot and sweltering day for their first approach trek. This was the first of their 3 day approach to base camp at 13,780. Today their goal was Pampa de Las Lenas, at 9,678 ft about a 2000 elevation gain for the day. Below you can see the terrain while hiking up the Vaca valley to Approach Camp 1.
Randy said it was a scorcher, about 88 degrees, with no shade on the route. He was definitely dehydrated at the end of the 5 hour climb today, having gone through all 3 liters in his pack and run out of water while hiking. When I spoke to him, he had already downed 2 more liters of water at Las Lenas and was planning to keep hydrating all evening. He was still feeling a bit weak but was sure he would feel better by the morning. Besides being dehydrated though, Randy said he had felt strong climbing, his oxygen was really good at 95%, and his back was holding up fine.
They were all getting ready to have a steak BBQ with the "cowboys" (muleteers). When I first talked to Randy the plan was to have dinner, then sleep under the stars. Well not exactly the stars since it was overcast, but under the clouds. Randy was looking forward to sleeping outside. There was thunder and lightening in the distance, but the guides didn't think it would rain on them.
Wrong! When I spoke to Randy a few hours later, around 11pm his time, he said it had suddenly started pouring, thundering, and lightening, and they had to scramble and get their tents up. The weather was getting colder and the wind was picking up, which was a good thing because everything had gotten wet and had to dry out. Also, tomorrow should be cooler for their next climb.
Randy is sharing a tent with Bissel (whom I guess I had previously called Faisal) and he thought it was cool they are camping in exactly the same protected spot that he and Anders had chosen last year.
More tomorrow as they head another thousand feet up to Approach Camp Two (10,663 ft).