Entries By billy nugent

Ecuador: Nugent &Team Hike to Top of Rucu Pichincha

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,696'

Ecuador Adventure - Day 2:

Today the gang got their first taste of real altitude with an acclimatization hike and scramble on slopes just above the western edge of the city. After a quick breakfast we hopped a few taxis over to the Teleférico, Spanish for gondola, and rode it up high out of town. Blue skies and clear views were an uncommon treat for us and the top of the gondola revealed Cayambe in the north, Antisana to the east, and Cotopaxi and Chimborazo to the south. From there we started moving up the slopes of Pichincha, the volcano closest to Quito. We even had a chance to spy a couple of condors gliding below us and then riding thermals high, high above. These are rarely seen birds with wingspans as large as 3 m, quite the treat. Anyway, after a few hours of hiking and a little scrambling here and there we found ourselves on the summit enjoying 360-degree views of Quito and the caldera. The mountain we climbed was called Rucu Pichincha meaning the old part of the volcano, and we were catching views of the Guagua Pichincha, the baby volcano. We snapped some photos from the peak (4,697 m) and then made short work of the descent. Our acclimatization hikes will continue tomorrow but we are gonna hit the road and leave Quito headed north.


More tomorrow!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Views from the top of Rucu Pichincha, Ecuador. Photo: Billy Nugent

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Ecuador: Billy Nugent &Team Begin with a Tour of Quito’s Old Town and the Equator

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 9,000'

Hi everybody back home… We just finished our first official day on our Cotopaxi and Cayambe program. The team met up this morning for a quick breakfast at our hotel in the Mariscal district of Quito before setting out on a tour of the city. At over 9,000’, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world behind only La Paz in Bolivia. Makes for great acclimatizing while still hanging out in town! We visited a bunch colonial churches, homes, and cathedrals in the colonial district of Quito known as the Old Town. Actually a UNESCO world heritage site, Quito’s Old Town has many buildings dating back to the early 1500’s. In the afternoon we lunched at a typical fritada restaurant and then headed out towards the geographical equator. At the “Mitad del Mundo” there’s a small museum where a local guide showed us experiments with Coriolis forces on and near the actual equator in addition to some taxidermy of exotic species from the Amazon. Almost a tiny natural history museum meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not, there were preserved specimens of terrifying spiders, boa constrictors, anacondas, barbed fish that will swim up your urethra (crazy), and a legit human shrunken head! After our city tour and a brief team meeting we capped off the day with the first of many team dinners to come.

Now we’re back at the hotel watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on late night TV. Awesome.

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens and their Ecuador team standing at the equator. Photo: Billy Nugent

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Aconcagua: Nugent and Team back in Mendoza

Posted by: Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma, Billy Nugent | January 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Thanks to everyone that have followed along… The team is back in Mendoza and enjoying some of the finer things in life: food, wine, sunshine, hanging by the pool, etc. We had a great team dinner last night and are now hanging out and lazing around while we wait for our flights back to the states and Canada. Despite not getting the summit we had a ton of fun and a hell of an adventure. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the group for being fun, hard-working, and determined.

‘til next year,

RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes and Katrina Bolemsma

Aconcagua. RMI Photo Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team at Pampa de las Lenas for the Night

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 20, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

Hey everybody out there in RMI adventure blog land. Billy here, I’m checking in with our group from Pampa de las Lenas after our walk down from Base Camp today. Hot and sunny, lots of river crossings, sore feet but some of the mule drivers are cooking up a steak asado dinner for us tonight, and then we’ll hit the sack. Tomorrow we’ll continue our walk out of the Vacas Valley and hit the road, and then head back to Mendoza. So the next check in, we’ll be saying hello from the hotel in Mendoza. And that’s all for now.

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Trekking through the Vacas Valley. Photo: Tyler Reid


Billy Nugent calls in from Pampa de las Lenas.

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Return to Base Camp

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Katrina Bloemsma, Walter Hailes | January 20, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Hey everybody,
This is Billy.  I’m back at Base Camp with the whole crew.  We are all a little bit bummed out but happy to be back down at least with the thicker air here and looking forward to a home cooked meal tonight from the Grajales staff.  It was a tough day up there yesterday and we spent most of the day today with heavy, heavy walk down.  But everybody’s in good spirits for the most part and we’ll check in again later on as we walk out from Aconcagua.

RMI Guide Billy Nugent


RMI Guide Billy Nugent checks in from Aconcagua Base Camp on their descent.

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Forced to Turn Back on Summit Attempt

Posted by: Katrina Bloemsma, Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes | January 18, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 21,500'

It’s a cold, cold world.

We woke up and fired the stoves at about 3:30 this morning and things were looking good: clear skies, bright moon, and calm winds. We scarfed a quick breakfast, had a quick cup of coffee, packed up, and hit the not so dusty trail. The consistent snowfall of the past week has blanketed the mountain so what is normally a gravelly trail out of Cólera was a very snowy sendero. Our team moved well, per the norm, despite the large number of other climbers clogging the route and before too long we had climbed past the Indepencia Hut (ruins) and hit the traverse into the Canaleta. At some point along the way we found ourselves no longer enjoying the clear skies but instead traveling under consistent snowfall. In fact it was snowing heavily and visibility was poor. Despite the worsening weather the snowpack seemed ok until we reached the center of the traverse. Walt and myself headed out further without the group and found the normally gravelly trail under several feet of snow. In fact the whole Canaleta was smoothed over with the storm snow. Every other team on the mountain had already turned around due to avalanche hazard but we hadn’t seen anything worth turning around until the deep storm layer that we encountered in the lower Canaleta. While the snow didn’t seem super reactive the steeper part of the Canaleta was surely more dangerous and there was no way to see without exposing ourselves to the hazard. With worsening weather and continued snowfall we decided that the dire consequences of an incident were too much for us to shoulder. We weren’t willing to bet our lives on it so we did the smart thing and turned around at 21,500’. Now we are back at high camp and the weather is still crappy. So much for the forecasted sunny day…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

The traverse to the Caneleta en route to the summit of Aconcagua.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team at High Camp Ready for Summit Bid Tonight

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

We’re at high camp, poised and ready! Last night we had quite the snowfall, almost 8”, which is quite a lot for Aconcagua. We spent the morning digging out and packing up for our move up. The large majority of the climbers who were queued up at Camp 2 made the move up to Camp Cólera with us today so trail breaking wasn’t so bad. Our team stayed together and moved smoothly through the terrain despite very hot temperatures. Blue skies and direct sun at almost 20,000’ coupled with the reflective blanket of new snow made for some serious UV exposure not to mention the high temperatures. It felt like being in the Mega-Tan 9000 industrial strength, Baywatch endorsed tanning bed all day. Then as we arrived at Camp Cólera the clouds rolled in and it started to snow again.  If the last seven days are any indication, the snow should stop and the clouds should lift sometime overnight. We have our fingers crossed for a clear and comfortable summit attempt tomorrow.

We’ll check in tomorrow after the hurly burly’s done!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Views of the Andes while approaching High Camp on Aconcagua. Photo: RMI Collection An RMI Team at High Camp on Aconcagua. Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent and Team Wait out Weather at Camp 2

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Katrina Bloemsma, Walter Hailes | January 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 18,000'

Today marked the passing of yet another rest day. We hung out at Camp 2 along with many others; Katrina counted more than 67 tents in camp today. We sat the day out watching all sorts of crazy weather over the course of the day: Intense sun/heat, chilly breezes, pelting graupel and hail, puking snow, and continual thunder and lightning all afternoon… Pretty exciting. It seems the horde of other climbers have a very similar strategy to us. Our team is well-rested and ready to move up to Plaza Cólera (our high Camp 3) in what looks to be marginal weather tomorrow putting us in position to take a crack at the summit in better weather on Saturday. A strong wind event is forecasted to begin ramping up with moderate winds on Sunday and over 60 mph winds forecasted for Monday. Hopefully we can nail it but it certainly has been a bit of a chess match with the mountain and the weather.

Wish us luck as we roll out on our summit push over the next two days,

RMI Guides Billy, Walt, Katrina, and the Whole Gang!

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Move Up to Camp 2

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 18,000'

Greetings friends, relatives, loves ones, roommates, neighbors, acquaintances, enemies, stalkers, etc. We’ve made it safely up to a crowded Camp 2 (Guanacos Campo, Chopper Camp) and settled into our tents. The move from Camp 1 was largely uneventful except for partly cloudy skies which made for rapid, drastic temperature changes… Freeze or fry, as they say, never comfortable.  We moved extremely well despite the slightly funky weather and big loads and were greeted by the many Camp 2 inhabitants. We actually had to use our snow shovel and a borrowed McCloud to grade out new tent platforms in the dirt. Moving earth turned out to be quite a bit more taxing than the actual climbing!  Anyway, we are all here feeling the altitude a bit but doing well nonetheless. Tomorrow’s plan is largely dependent on the weather forecast we get tonight, wish us luck and good favor with Mother Nature!

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

An RMI Team on the move to Aconcagua's Camp 2. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Rest Day at Camp 1

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 14, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

The rumor mill was definitely flying around the mountain yesterday about some big, bad weather system coming in next weekend… Luckily it has been pushed back out of the extended forecast and our intrepid team has been able to stick to our prescribed acclimatization schedule.  Which means we’re resting today!  Laying around in the tent at over 16,000’ isn’t as exciting as it sounds but the rest will serve us well as we climb higher tomorrow.  We are in good spirits and hopeful that the weather will cooperate as we move in to striking distance over the next couple days.

Laying around, eating jamon y queso, drinking coffee…
It’s a grand life,

RMI Guides Billy, Walt, Katrina, and the gang

Enjoying the views from Camp 1. Photo: RMI Collection

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