Entries By ben liken

Aconcagua: Stevens and Team Trek to Pampa de Leñas

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | December 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

Today dawned with crystal blue skies and high energy for the team at the hotel in Penitentes. We made our way to a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs, cheese and ham, washed it all down with coffee and orange juice, and headed over to the staging area for last-minute preparations.

Within a half hour, we had the duffels fully locked and loaded, trekking packs ready, and were on our way. Everybody was ready for the exercise after a couple of days of bife de chorizo and Malbec, and within the first half hour we had hit our stride. Steady hiking took us further and further up the Vacas valley, along the west side of the turbid and roaring Vacas river.

The scenery and stories kept our minds off the strong sun, and within a few hours we arrived here at our first camp, Pampa de Leñas. A few other folks have moved in next to us. They are friendly and excited as we are to be here in this beautiful place. We are currently watching the sun slide behind the mountains, with dinner the next immediate goal. Everyone is healthy, strong, and stoked to continue up the valley tomorrow.

Thanks for watching our progress; stay tuned!

RMI Guides Nick, Ben, and Garrett

The Vacas Valley toward Pampa de Lenas. RMI Photo Collection

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Aconcagua: Stevens & Team Secure Permits, Depart Mendoza

Posted by: Ben Liken, Garrett Stevens, Nick Brown | December 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Today’s mission: obtain permits, get the last few items on the shopping list, and head out to Penitentes. We started early, taking advantage of the cooler temps to head over to the payment and permit offices. Like many things here in Argentina, opening times for businesses are relative and quite fluid, so we ended up at the offices just a bit before they were open. Good thing we did, too, as there were about 50 other folks on the same itinerary as our team! We got the payments taken care of, headed over to the Permit office, and settled in for the long haul of stamping, reviewing, signing, and getting back the completed permits.

Permits in hand, we headed back to the hotel to pack our bags onto the waiting transport. For those who don’t know, it takes a mountain of luggage to climb a mountain like Aconcagua.  The team is now packed and ready to go. We are heading out for Penitentes to pack bags, get to bed, and start the trek in to Base Camp tomorrow.

The crew looks good as you can see here, so keep sending the good vibes as we start this incredible journey!

RMI Guides Garrett, Ben, and Nick

RMI December 27th Aconcagua Team Ready in Mendoza.  Photo: Garrett Stevens

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Aconcagua: Garrett Stevens & Team - Greetings from Mendoza!

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | December 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Hello from our RMI Aconcagua expedition, here in sunny Mendoza! The team all arrived today, with the last members landing just before 2:00 local time. All the crew, and all the bags, were on time and in place, which is the perfect way to start an expedition. After getting settled here at the beautiful and accommodating Nutibara Hotel, the team sat down for a round of introductions and discussion about our upcoming expedition. We enjoyed the cool air conditioning in the hotel for an hour or so, and then it was off for the final food shop at the local grocery store.

The temperatures in town, at 90 degrees or so, certainly have more than one of us eyeing the pool, or thinking about the cooler environment of the high camps on Aconcagua. Soon enough we will be up there, but for now we busied ourselves with gear review, final packing and preparations, and a delicious dinner of beef and Malbec at one of the local restaurants. Turn in was early (by Argentinian standards, anyway) to ready ourselves for tomorrow.

We will be up and out early to get the permits we need, do some last minute gear acquisition, and then take the ride out to Penitentes. The crew is in high spirits, and the team is coming together well! We are all excited to get the trip underway, and we will be sure to keep you updated on the progress as we head in to our objective. Keep your fingers crossed for continued good weather, and stay tuned for more!

RMI Guides Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken and Nick Brown

Flying into Mendoza, Aconcagua in sight. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Summit!

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 20,320'

Saturday, May 25, 2013:

Hi All!

Our team is safely back at high camp after a successful summit bid today! Our entire team made it to the top and we enjoyed near perfect weather and route conditions! We left camp at 9:30 this morning and were standing on the roof of North America at 4:45 pm. After taking photos, exchanging high fives and hugs, and enjoying amazing views we descended towards camp in the evening glow of Alaska sunshine and with the anticipation of hot tea and a warm dinner.

We are all excited to begin our decent tomorrow and look forward to talking to all our friends and family in a few days!

Cheers!

RMI Guides Solveig, Mike, Ben, and the McKinley Team

An RMI Team climbs the summit ridge of Mt. McKinley a few years ago. Photo: Seth Waterfall

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team in Position for Summit Bid

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

We woke early this morning, hours before the sun came up and warmed up our camp. After packing up camp in the shade, we made our way up to the head wall towards high camp. The sun finally warmed us up as we started ascending the fixed ropes up to the the top of the West Buttress. Then we ascended the beautiful and exposed snow covered granite ridge into high camp. The weather was amazing, as were the views: 3000’ feet down to our last camp in Genet Basin to our south and the same relief down to the Peters Glacier to our north.

We arrived at high camp (17,200’) shortly after 3pm. We’re all well rested and we’re hoping for good weather tomorrow for a shot at the summit. We’ll let you know how it shakes out.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Looking down to 14,000' Camp on Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Rest at 14,200’ Camp

Posted by: Ben Liken, Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall | May 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Our team slept in this morning and got some much needed rest for our upcoming summit bid. Tomorrow we plan to wake early, pack up camp, and move to our high camp at 17,200’. The weather is perfect, and so is the forecast. We hope the meteorologists in Fairbanks are correct, as they are predicting good weather for the next few days. But, as always, we’re focusing on one day at a time. And if the weather is good tomorrow, that focus will be climbing efficiently from our current camp at 14,200’ up to high camp at 17,200’, and establishing ourselves up high for a summit bid. Stay tuned and wish us luck…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

The view from camp at 14,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Mike Walter & Team Carry to 16,200’

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 23, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Hi Everyone!

We are back at 14 Camp after a great day carrying a load of food and fuel to the top of the fixed lines at 16,200’. Our team climbed strong and we were all excited to get a feel for the upper mountain and steeper snow and ice.
We arrived back in camp with enough sunshine left in the day to sit outside the tents and relax and rehydrate while our boots dried (and more importantly AIRED!) out.

The weather is looking good and we hope to move up to high camp soon and make our summit bid!

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall & Team

Fixed Lines on Mt. McKinley - RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Mike Walter and Team Retrieve their Cache

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

The weather was beautiful today, sunny and warm, and barely a breath of wind. We took a quick trip back to Windy Corner (13,600’) to retrieve the cache we left there well over a week ago. The hike back to the cache took us 15 minutes, and about an hour to ascend back to the 14,200’ camp that we established yesterday. The rest of the day was spent buffing out camp and practicing fixed rope travel techniques in preparation for tomorrow. Tomorrow we plan on carry supplies up above 16,000’ to get ready for our summit bid. The weather looks good for the next few days; hopefully the forecast pans out. Tomorrow will be two weeks into our expedition, and we’re all excited to get up high soon.

We’ll let you know how our carry goes. Stay tuned…

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

Windy Corner - RMI Photo Collection Cache at Windy Corner - RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Move to 14K Camp!

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 20, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Hello All!

We awoke this morning to calm winds and relatively warm temperatures; a welcome change from the last week of stormy living at 11,000’.  We had a quick breakfast and broke down tents just as the sun began to thaw out camp.  Eager to make our move, we started our ascent at 10 am and arrived at our camp in the Genet Basin at 14,200’ at 3:30pm.  Everyone did great and we enjoyed the warm sunshine and lack of chilly breeze getting around Windy Corner.

We spent the rest of the day working hard building walls and getting our camp in order.

Looking forward to getting a good nights rest and getting our cache tomorrow!

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Climbing towards Windy Corner. Photo: RMI Collection Looking through Camp Walls at 14,200' Camp. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team - The Winds Win Out

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 20, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

We woke early this morning, had breakfast, and packed up camp, ready to move to 14,200’ before the sun had hit our tents. But the winds up high were too strong for my liking. We repitched our tents to seek shelter from the wind and waited for a few hours for the winds to abate. Unfortunately, the winds up high continued and a mean looking lenticular cloud had formed over Windy Corner, where we were headed. By noon we made the decision to stay in camp another day and avoid the risks of getting caught in a windstorm high in the mountains of Alaska.

So we wait another day. Such is expedition climbing. The weather forecast looks good for the next few days, and we’re confident that tomorrow will be the day to move camp. We’ll let you know how it goes.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Looking up from 11K Camp, Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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