So today is New Years Day 2015. I woke up wondering whether my headache from last night had abated, and was glad to find out that it had. The phrase “I woke up” should have been followed by “for the twentieth time” as the winds which buffeted our tent last night were as loud as they were relentless and unforgiving. In the only lulls that you ever get, you hear a rushing from the top of the valley, as the next set of blasts come at you like a freight train.
The tents (Eureka) are not very good in the wind it has to be said. They are very ‘flappy’ and therefore noisy, and also let a lot of spindrift into and around the inner tent, just what you don’t need on a day like the one we’ve just had.
The day had actually started promisingly. The sun shone (albeit briefly), and although there were some grey patches towards the summit, it didn’t look too foreboding. Peter told us that we’d be ready to move out of Camp by about 9, gave me the all clear from yesterday’s AMS, and all looked good. So after breakfast my tentmate Gary starts rolling up his sleeping bag, only for Peter to come back round and say “hold on guys, we are going to take a look at the weather, so hold fast for two hours”.
This was of course frustrating, as we’d been at Camp 1 for three days already and were itching to move up, but there was nothing we could do. Camp 2 is a different kettle of fish from Camp 1, being perched at 17,800 feet on an open slope of the high mountain. Whatever we thought, we didn’t want to be there if there was bad stuff coming in. It didn’t take two hours to find out. Peter came back about an hour later and said “stand down for today, we are taking a rest day”. There was snow coming in, and so we should neither move in it, nor be stuck at Camp 2 in it, if it could be avoided.
So that was that. We literally stayed in our tent the whole day. It was too cold to go outside for more than about a minute, the wind fierce and bitter, and so your pee bottle was your best friend on days like this. The snow came mid afternoon, the whole mountain blackening, and the storm whipped up a frenzy.
The guides brought us hot drinks and food from time to time, which was so gratefully received, and we didn’t see another soul, including the rest of our team members the whole day, as they were holed up too.
Having lain in my sleeping bag and dozed (but trying not to doze too much) the entire day, by 7.20pm that was it, the day was over and I zipped up my bag and tried to sleep for the night. Such are days on mountains like Aconcagua. Frustrating in the extreme, and even a bit boring really, but never dull. Too much conjecture, excitement and trepidation about what awaits over the remaining 10 days exists for that to be ever true.
Roll on the next day…..