Entries By gabriel barral

Aconcagua Expedition: Team Returns to Mendoza

Posted by: Anne Gilbert Chase, Pete Van Deventer | January 25, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Hello again from team Aconcagua. Sorry it has been awhile but the last few days have been very busy on our end. Now that we are back in Mendoza sipping red wine and eating great beef we can fill you in on the mountain adventures.

Last Thursday, the 19th, we moved from our Camp 2 at 18,000’ to Camp Colera (meaning: anger) at 19,600’. It was a short move under beautifully clear skies, but we were tired nonetheless from the thin air. We set camp, ate dinner early, and prepared for the early start of our summit push.

The stoves were kicked on early at 3 am to start the long process of boiling water for breakfast at altitude (I believe we are picking up a theme: the length of time it takes to do anything at high altitude is very, very long). We had a beautiful, warm, calm morning for the culmination of our goal. The moon was a sliver, but showing at the bottom, like a saucer, rather than the side as we usually see it in the northern hemisphere. At 5 am, bags were packed with food, water, and extra clothes and storm gear for our day. Crampons were on our feet, and we began the ascent from camp under the light of headlamps, wearing our parkas.

There were many groups headed for the summit with us since the weather was supposed to get worse the following day and for several days after. Many groups, like us, had moved their schedule up in order to take advantage of the end of our weather window. The climb travels many switchbacks up a series of benches to our second break at the Independencia Hut, elevation: 21,000 ft. As we reached it, streams of headlamps from fellow climbers stretched below us. Taking a break here, we refueled our bodies with hot cocoa and alfajors, an Argentine treat. As the horizon began to show signs of light, we started the long traverse to the base of the Canaleta, which is a large snow couloir that takes you to the summit.  Despite the thin air and tired legs, the team was feeling strong as we climbed the last couple of hours and last 1,000 ft to the summit.  It was 1:40pm as the last of our boots stepped onto the top of the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere. We celebrated together with hugs and cheers and relished in the moment for what we had just accomplished.  Although we could have stayed on top for hours, the clouds and snow were rolling in and forcing us to start the long descent back to our camp and our sleeping bags.

We arrived back at camp at 4:30pm, just as the wind was starting to pick up and our bodies were starting to fully tire. Everyone quickly jumped into their sleeping bags and enjoyed an evening of ramen noodles and an early bedtime. The next morning we woke with sore legs and headaches from dehydration, but everyone was ready for another long descent back to base camp. We broke down camp and at 11am we headed back to Camp 2 and eventually Camp 1 to pick up both personal and group gear that we had cached days before. This is the worst part of any expedition, since our packs get heavier with each previous camp we visit. As we left camp 1 to make the last push down to base camp, our packs were weighing upwards of 25 kilos. We walked into base camp at 4:45pm with huge smiles on our faces and were greeted with tang and fresh fruit from the Grajales crew. As we chatted and laughed about where we had just been the previous day, we realized that the hardest and most dangerous part of our trip was over and we had all made it down safely.  We feasted on steak and papas fritas that night and toasted to our 14 days on the mountain. We slept well that night with full bellies and happy hearts, resting up for the 21 mile walk out of the valley and back to the entrance of the provincial park.

Fourteen days doesn’t seem like that long a time, but Sunday we realized how deprived of color we had been, as we walked past brilliant green and yellow clumps of flowers descending the Relinchos valley towards home. Our packs were light and birds were singing nearby, making our steps light and quick. As the day wore on however, our steps slowed as the 15 miles we had to walk that day ticked past. An exciting river crossing of the Vacas river found many of the group in their skiveys, wading through thigh deep glacial waters. The late afternoon temps made the cool water dip welcome however. The last few miles were a long affair, but we arrived in camp to the smell of the arrearos cooking us a feast of an asada. One pound of slow cooked steak per person, tomato salad, fresh baked bread, and local malbec wine sent everyone to bed with full stomachs and a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the stars. Most chose to sleep outside of the tents, for views of the southern cross, and beyond!

Six miles of walking the next morning brought us to Punta de Vacas and the end of our walking! Everyone piled into the van for a tired drive to Mendoza. Showers, and shaves brought everyone back to life, and Monday night the group enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the “patio,” a local parilla (Brazilian style steak house but Argentinian!). The group dreamed up a wonderful way to commemorate the climb: a locally published coffee table book of Aconcagua that each signed to everyone else, so that we’ll remember the faces, friendships, experiences, and stories that we have grown over the last three weeks.

The guides
would like to thank an incredible team of climbers for their dedication, strength, perseverance, and laughter. Gabi’s 25th was a special one. And further, the team would like to thank everyone for their notes, thoughts, and positive vibes while we were headed to the highest point in the western hemisphere!

Goodnight and good luck,
The RMI Aconcagua Crew

Enjoying the views from Camp 3 at 19,600'.  Photo: Gilbert Chase The Aconcagua Team ascending to Camp 3. Photo: Pete Van Deventer

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5

Aconcagua Expedition: Summit!

Posted by: | January 20, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 22,841'

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral called with great news that our team reached the summit of Aconcagua

They stood on top at 2 pm (Argentinian time) and are back at high camp happy, healthy, and contently tired.  After dinner and a good night’s sleep, the team will descend to base camp tomorrow.

Congratulations to RMI Guides Gabriel Barral, Pete Van Deventer, Gilbert Chase and Team!

The Aconcagua Team on the summit, January 20, 2012!  Photo: Gilbert Chase Traversing across to the Canaleta.  Photo: Pete Van Deventer An RMI Team's view from the Aconcagua summit.

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21

Hooray and congrats to Larry and the entire team.  So happy everyone is safe and be careful descending.  lol Mom, Mark, and Debbie.

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Posted by: Gerri Seaton on 1/20/2012 at 5:25 pm

Way to *GO* TEAM!!  Great job every one of YOU!!!! 
Glad to be back online with your updates and so very proud of you all!  You RMI Guides… read more

Posted by: Paula & Bill VanDeventer on 1/20/2012 at 5:18 pm


Aconcagua Expedition: Team At High Camp

Posted by: | January 19, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

We are at High Camp (Piedras Blancas) and getting ready for our summit bid. We will leave early in the morning for an alpine start and climb out of camp to join the Ruta Normal.  A gradual traverse along the mountain’s northwest flank takes us to the base of the Canaleta, a 1,000’ long couloir leading to the summit ridge. Upon reaching the top of the Canaleta, a straightforward traverse leads to the Aconcagua summit.

Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral

The route from High Camp to the summit

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8

Aconcagua Expedition: Weather Day At Camp 1

Posted by: | January 17, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

Hi there,
We woke up this morning at Camp 1 with high winds, and big plumes of spin drift on the saddle above us, so we decided to stay here for one more day. Our current plan, based on the short good weather window that the forecast has given us, is to move to camp 2 tomorrow, the next day move to Camp 3 and the next day go for the summit!

The group is very excited about the new plan after having been inside the tents for the last 48 hours.  The winds at this moment have started to slow down, so it looks like the forecast is right.

We will check in tomorrow from Camp 2.

Gabi, Pete, Gilbert and the Aconcagua team

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Aconcagua Expedition: The Team Back from a Successful Carry to Camp 2

Posted by: | January 15, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

Hello again from Camp 1 on Aconcagua. We had a successful carry to Camp 2 today. It was very busy leaving camp this morning, about 60 climbers heading up. The weather was great, sunny and warm with a fresh breeze. We got 4 inches of snow last night, so the mountain is beautiful right now. The whole crew did great on the carry today. Camp 2 at 18,000’ was a new high point for a lot of folks. We are now back at Camp 1 resting and diverting a fast flowing river that is trying to submerge our tents. We are resting tomorrow before we move higher on the mountain. Hope this dispatch finds everyone doing well and enjoying the new year.

You’ll will be hearing from us soon,
The Aconcagua team

Carry to Camp 2 Gabriel Barral, Aconcagua Expedition Lead Guide

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Aconcagua Expedition: Team Arrives at Camp 1

Posted by: | January 14, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

Hi there,
Team Aconcagua checking in from Camp 1 (16,200’). We arrived at camp around 3 pm today. It took almost 5 hours for us to complete the move to our new home (we are planing to spend 3 nights here).
It started to snow right after we set the tents and it hasn’t stop since (3 hours), the accumulation is just 2 inches so far.
We are ready to have dinner and relax for the evening and recover from our move.  Tomorrow, if the weather is good and everyone is feeling well, we plan to make our carry up toward Camp 2.

We will check in tomorrow when we are return to Camp.  Thanks for all the comments on the RMI blog, keep sending them.
Cheers,
Team Aconcagua

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10

Aconcagua Expedition: Resting at Base Camp

Posted by: Anne Gilbert Chase, Pete Van Deventer | January 13, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Hey all,

This is the Aconcagua crew checking in from Base Camp. It’s been a beautiful rest day here with crystal blue skies most of the morning. It was a great day to sit outside, enjoy the sun, and visit with other teams here. Several folks were even warm enough to take showers via nalgene bottles.

It hasn’t been all play though, as each team member had to sort through gear and decide what is going to make the move with us and what will stay here at base camp. It’s an important task, since from here on out, every extra thing we bring adds weight to our packs. We will enjoy a last gourmet dinner from our outfitter, Grajales, before our big move to Camp 1 tomorrow. As I write, clouds are building, and it looks like we may get a touch of snow to brighten the landscape tonight.

All the best, and we’ll check in from 16,000’ tomorrow!

Ciao,

RMI Guides Pete, Gabi, Gilbert, and team

Sunset over the Andes as seen from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Photo: Garrett Stevens

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Aconcagua Expedition: Resting at Base Camp

Posted by: | January 11, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 14,000'

Hello,
Our team arrived yesterday to Aconcagua Base Camp at 14,000’ after three nice days on the trail.
 
We spent today resting and acclimating for the upper mountain. After a delicious breakfast we checked in with the Basecamp Medical Staff and received a clean bill of health all the way around (everybody looks like rock stars).

During the afternoon we worked on sorting the gear that we are going to carry to Camp 1 tomorrow.  The weather was marvelous until 4 pm and since then it has been cloudy with a little bit of snow.

The team wants to wish a very Happy Birthday to Chad Johnson!

Cheers,
RMI Aconcagua Team

The view from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Aconcagua Expedition: Team arrives at Pampa de Lenas

Posted by: | January 11, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

Hi everybody,
This is the Aconcagua team checking in from Pampa de LeƱas camp.
After a few days in Mendoza and Penitentes doing the hardest part of climbing a big mountain (getting the climbing permits, trying to get all the duffel bags that didn’t make it to the airport with us, packing a ton of food and gear for the mules, etc), today we started the trek to Base Camp. The mountain welcomed us with a perfect blue sky day. We hiked for five and half hours today and got to our first camp on the Vacas Valley.
Everybody did a great job and we are all feeling good. We are getting ready to sit down to dinner. Pete and Gilbert have cooked a gorgeous veggie pasta, almost as good as the amazing Argentinian steaks that we were eating since we arrived in Mendoza.
That is all for today, cheers!

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral and Team Aconcagua.

Trekking through the Vacas Valley en route to Aconcagua Base Camp.  Photo: Garrett Stevens Following the river towards Pampa de Lenas (Approach Camp 1).  Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua Expedition: Team Arrives in Mendoza

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Anne Gilbert Chase | January 09, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

The entire team arrived safely in Mendoza with all our gear (almost).  One delayed bag should be arriving tomorrow in Mendoza. 
It is after midnight here and we just returned to the hotel after our first team dinner. We had a great meal enjoying the local flavors of Malbec and of course some Argentinian beef.  We were busy all day with everyone’s arrival and our first team meeting.  We are now just finishing the day.

Everyone is excited to start the trip and is looking forward to get closer to the big mountain.
Cheers
Gabi, Pete and Gilbert

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30

Larry-best wishes to you and the team.  Think safety first, enjoy time on the mountain, and my prayers go with you daily.  lol Mom (& Charlie, too)

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Posted by: Gerri Seaton on 1/10/2012 at 5:05 pm

Jeff,
We’ll be thinking of you and wishing you a safe and awesome trip.
Wish I could be there with you, these adventures is what living life to… read more

Posted by: Chad Johnson on 1/10/2012 at 4:37 pm


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