Aconcagua Base Camp to Camp 3

2/19: Today we enjoyed a relaxing rest day in Base Camp. Here’s what I did: Slept in, ate breakfast, stretched in the lounge dome (there’s an exercise ball!), wrote in my journal, read, ate lunch, organized food, played cards, won the first game of assassins, in which you “kill” people by handing them an object: Killing Paul with a shoe, Tim with sunglasses, Spencer with a hat and finally Justin with a ground pad, took pictures, went for a walk with Henry, had medical checks with the base camp doctor, crammed into our food tent for dinner, took more pictures, talked about mountains and retired to our tents. All in all, a great day.

Cards in the lounge dome

2/20: Today we put on our mountaineer boots and carried a load of gear from Base Camp to Camp 1. The terrain was rocky and temperature warm. It didn’t take long for me to pull off my wind jacket and pants and hike in my regrettably black long underwear. Crossed a crevasse. I enjoyed the carry and I’m excited to move up the mountain. We’re getting closer to the snow!

2/21: Moved the rest of our gear from Base Camp to Camp 1. I love it up here. Tonight I ate a big 1,000 calorie meal of mac and cheese and I’m full. The wind is strong and earlier today a small avalanche tore down the mountainside. It was so powerful. Each day is hard in its own way. Sometimes it’s physical other times mental. We’ve been on trail for seven days and have seven more to go. Currently, the weather report is a bit concerning with very high winds of 70 miles per hour predicted for the next few days. For a successful summit bid, we have to be in the right place at the right time and are looking at the 28th for summit day. Hopefully, the winds calm down.

Patch of light on the rocks

2/22: Rest day at Camp 1. The tents have many smells, some worse than others. Though it’s mostly farts and feet. It’s important to keep the zippers cracked while playing cards. I spent some time alone this afternoon listening to music and watching the clouds pass over. It was really awesome. I’m thankful it’s colder up here and that I’m able to fully zip my sleeping bag at night. It feels great not to wake up hot and sweaty. The wind is intense and certainly sounds worse than it is when it pummels your tent. I’m glad I packed ear plugs or I wouldn’t be sleeping much at night. An international team is camped next to us and it has been fun chatting with them. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life and next steps. There is something about watching the clouds drift by that has that affect on you. I think most things we do in life are like a summit push. We’re always inching towards something even if we’re not completely aware of it at the time. Like that graduate program you scout and then pursue. I now know more resoundingly than ever, mountains are my next degree. This is where I want to be. This is what I want to do.

2/23: It’s Saturday. It’s my younger sister’s (Mallory) 26th birthday. I sent her a birthday package the day before I flew out of Albany. Today we completed a carry from Camp 1 to Camp 3. In the morning the sky was dark and menacing higher up on the mountain. A prevalent wind knocked us around as we ascended and I had to put on my heavy jacket and gloves. Towards the end, I doubted my ability to go on. My legs felt really heavy and fatigued and I had to rest. I was low on water and my teammates helped me out. Spencer’s Gatorade mix got me going again. Crossing the Penitentes and having my boots on snow and ice perked my spirits. Though I still felt pretty drained at Camp 3 and was happy when it was time to descend to Camp 1. I’m lying in the tent hydrating and refueling. This is hard, very hard. Going fast in the Adirondack Mountains does not translate here. If I push myself too hard, I feel it soon after. I’ve got to be more aware as we get closer to the top. My nails are peeling and cracking. Thinking of you Mal helped me get through the tough moments of today.

2/24: Today I felt really strong. I love Camp 3. We have a clear view of Aconcagua’s summit. We are surrounded by the mountains and I just saw the most beautiful sunset. I want to stay here and climb. There are so many peaks, glaciers and routes. We are camped around 18,000 feet. Moon on the mountains, a sky full of stars, tents, stoves, wind, rock, alpine glow, books, journals… these are a few of my favorite things.

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