Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A much better day than yesterday

After what Randy looks back on as a rough day yesterday with the dehydration and unexpected rain, today was "like night and day".  He slept well and felt much better after super-hydrating with 4 litres between end of yesterday's trek and this morning.  The 12 team members rose at 7am and were off by 9 to beat some of the intense sun.   The weather was cooler and at the halfway point it was only up to 71.  By the time they arrived at their destination, Casa de Piedra at 10,600, it had climbed to a pretty steamy 82 but never got as hot as yesterday.  They had covered about 9.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1000 ft.  Randy focused on staying hydrated and keeping cool as possible.  He drank 4 liters on the way today instead of 3 yesterday.  And to help get his body temperature down after arriving the climb, he decided to take a dip in the Vacca River.   He walked about a 1/4 mile from  camp, stripped off his clothes and dunked in.  The Vacca, a glacial runoff, is their source of drinking water, which they purify.  Randy isn't exactly sure what might be in the water, so he kept his head out and just dipped in, but was enough to quickly cool his temperature and he felt great.  After walking back to camp and telling a few of his teammates about his "bath", a few were planning to head off and follow suit (birthday suit that is).

They are surrounded by the natural beauty of the Valle de Vacas, and head guide JJ reported in the RMI blog that they were lucky to have a condor sighting which is rare in the towering mountains.

Here are some pictures of the climb to Approach Camp 2.

Below are some pictures of Camp 2, Case de Peidra (House of Stone).  This Camp is named for the small house, constructed with rocks, that is used by the muleteers as a refuge on the way up to base camp and/or down to the trailhead.  As you can see there is not much at this camp besides that little house of stone and flat terrain to tie up mules and pitch their tents.

In the background is the old Stone Casa.

Looking back on yesterday, Randy thought the pace was quite fast, an hour faster than the 6 hours it had taken last year to climb the same route in much cooler weather.  Today the pace was a bit more measured, only 25 minutes faster than he and Anders did the same route last year.   Leave it to Randy to actually remember this stuff!

Another stat?  Guess whose oxygen saturation was the highest on his team after the hike today?  Yup, you got it, Randy with a O2 of 95%.  For those of you that read the blog last year, you know that by the higher altitudes his O2 sat had dropped precariously low, so this is really good news.  His back is feeling strong.  Today he carried about 12 kilos on his back (about 26.5 lbs); his other 26 kilos were carried by mule.  So far, so good.

Tomorrow is the last approach push up to Plaza Argentina (13,780 ft), where they will get set up for the High Camps and have a welcome rest day.

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