Entries By leah fisher

Mt. Rainier: RMI Guide Elias de Andres Recaps Winter Seminar & Successful Summit

Posted by: Elias de Andres Martos, Adam Knoff, Leah Fisher, Nick Hunt | March 18, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

Last week was RMI’s March Expedition Skills Seminar-Winter. Like every month from January to April, a team of intrepid climbers looking to learn the beauty of winter mountaineering, ventured up the slopes of Mt. Rainier on this, our classic six-day winter program. Guides Adam Knoff, Leah Fisher, Nick Hunt and myself, Elías de Andrés, enjoyed the company of a dozen folks, who initally were welcomed by a characteristic March day; rain in town, snow and wind up high. Our orientation day in Ashford would include a thorough evaluation of the forecast, a task that is, regardless, part of this program’s curriculum. But in this case, with a close look at a promising improving trend which would keep us excited for the remaining of the day.

The next morning, with packs ready and boots laced up, we headed into the park not without a delay due to the National Park’s snow plows hard work to keep the road to Paradise open to individuals like us. Upon arriving to Paradise we rigged our equipment for the hike to what would be our first camp. Atop Marmot Hill, we built a fortified settlement “Denali style” for the evening. A “posh house” tent was erected to socialize at dinner time, just like on any expedition, really. It was a new sight for many in the group, which by now were enjoying expedition life barely 500ft above the parking lot.

Our hike to Muir started as we waved good bye to a weatherfront that had wiped western Washington for a few days, but not without great team effort breaking trail for most of the remaining 4,000 vertical feet to Camp Muir. Enjoying the clearest skies possible, our climbers who’d arrived from all parts of the country could make out in the horizon the central Oregon volcanoes of Mt. Hood and Jefferson without even squinting. To the north, some avalanches, along with ice and rock fall from the Nisqually Ice Cliff, reminded us of the interactions between the new loaded glaciers the spring-like sun of this day. The next 36 hours would continue to add to the tool kit the climbers were building for future expeditions and also, in order to face, of course, a potential climb the following day as the high pressure system was supposed to last for at least three days. Muir Peak, the AAA Gully, the Cowlitz Glacier… all provided, in the vicinity of Camp Muir, a perfect training ground.

In the morning of Thursday, March 13th, we woke up to yet another incredible day; clear skies had been swiped of clouds by the same winds that windblasted some of the upper slopes… as well as loaded others. Careful evaluation by the guides on the go, determined a safe, wind-scoured route up the west side of the Ingraham Glacier, a seldom traveled route almost hugging Gibraltar Rock on its east side. Once at Camp Comfort, trail breaking efforts would begin again, and as the team team held it together, we were getting closer to the top in sometimes mid-calf deep snow on the now, more lower angled sections of the climb.

After 6 hours and 50 minutes of ascent, the team reached the crater rim to the now strengthening winds. But a new winter summit had been attained by another successful RMI Winter Skills Seminar team. Our careful preparation to detail, our philosophy in approaching the mountain, the guidance of the leaders and the great application of the skills learned by the climbers allowed the feat… the RMI way!

The next day, in a deja vu of what winter is truly like, we woke up to one-foot tall spindrifts and gusts of over 70mph at Camp Muir. Most of the guides, including myself, couldn’t remember such conditions on the snowfield. Far away from feeling accomplished by the previous day’s achievement, successfully navigating down to Paradise in such white-out conditions demanded now serious skill and perseverance. A team of now well-trained climbers, learned their last lesson of this winter seminar; the summit is only back at the car. Three hours later we’d bypass the remains of our camp on day 1, and as the winds decreased at 6,000ft and visibility came back to reasonable, we reached the Paradise parking lot. Celebratory drinks and a dinner over future climbing plans with the climbers was the perfect closure to a week on the frigid, yet amazing environment of winter on Mt. Rainier.

Come play, climb and learn with RMI! Satisfaction guaranteed.

Elías de Andrés
RMI Senior Guide

Winter seminar's first camp at Marmot Hill. Photo: Elias de Andres Martos RMI Winter Seminar ascending the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier. Photo: Elias de Andres Martos March 2014 Winter Seminar team walking into the Mt. Rainier crater. Photo: Elias de Andres Martos March 13, 2014 -Winter Seminar summit team pose under bluebird skies in Mt. Rainier's crater. Photo: Elias de Andres Martos

Elias, Adam, Nick, Leah;

Thanks again for all your hard work on this trip - you all handled things very professionally, and I for one learned quite a bit.  Both… read more

Posted by: Eric on 3/19/2014 at 8:57 am

Aconcagua: Justman and Team back at Base Camp

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 31, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Here we are! Base Camp! The team made it Down from high camp in 50 mph winds. It was a tough day packing up but the weather calmed down as we descended. It’s a slow gradual zombie descent. However, as soon as people see the tiny little tents of base, people’s spirits soar.

Now in base camp we are sucking down juice and wearing flip flops. The team has a little bit of packing to do and then we are off down the trail to finish the mountain part of the adventure. Tomorrow we will head to Lenas, which was our first camp on the trek in. I usually tease our climbers by telling them we are going to have chicken ramen for dinner. However, I think another giant steak asado is in order. After all, when in Argentina! Especially after a safe and successful summit of South America’s highest peak!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Leah Fisher and Team

Aconcagua Basecamp - RMI Photo Collection

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Congrats Cindee.. sounds like an amazing adventure. Glad you are safe. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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Posted by: Bruce on 1/3/2014 at 8:43 am

Congrats and Happy New Year Kim! Are you eating STEAK?

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Posted by: Alison on 1/2/2014 at 9:27 am

Aconcagua: Justman and Team arrive back at High Camp

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

Hey everyone this is JJ Justman with Team Two on Aconcagua. I believe you all heard through my last dispatch that we were on the summit of Aconcagua. I just want to report that everyone is safe and sound. We are here at high camp.  Our work is not yet, at least not for the guides.  We are busy getting water and snow melting to get everyone rehydrated and refueled.  We had a long day, probably had to say that it was one of my toughest climbs in regards to the weather. It was cold and windy and just took a lot out of us. The team did an absolutely fantastic job!  I’m really proud of everyone they did a great job climbing and we are really happy to be back at camp.

We are going to be heading back to Base Camp tomorrow.  That’s a big day of carrying heavy loads. We do have some porters coming up to help out, which is good. We will touch base tomorrow when we get back into Base Camp.  We will get into some of those nice luxuries that we have been missing for the past week or so.  Thanks for following along everyone, we will touch base tomorrow.

Bye Bye!

JJ Justman calling in from High Camp

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Congrats Kim and team!!! So excited for you. What an amazing way to close out 2013!

In awe,
fran, dan and sophie

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Posted by: fran on 12/31/2013 at 9:01 am

Congrats JJ on another summit - I had a great time down there last year!!!!!!

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Posted by: Jeff Hall on 12/31/2013 at 8:18 am

Aconcagua: Justman & Team on Summit!

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 22,841'

Hello everyone, This is JJ Justman and RMI Team # 2 standing on the highest mountain in South America in the western hemisphere of the world. We had a great day climbing it was a very tough day climbing, it was very cold.  It’s still a little breezy up here on top, but not bad.  Everyone is doing well and we’re looking forward to walking down hill and back into camp and recovering. So that’s it for now from the summit.  Everyone is doing great. We will touch base again when we make it back to camp safe and sound. But like I said everyone just did a phenomenal job today.  Take care and we’ll touch base again soon. This is Team 2 from the summit of Aconcagua out.

En route to the summit of Aconcagua, looking down on Base Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection The views from the Caneleta on Aconcagua as seen on summit day.  Photo: RMI Collection

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls from the summit of Aconcagua.

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Kim, what an incredible feat! We are all very proud to know you. Take care of yourself. Happy New Year from Francesco, Katerina, Marina, Luca and Nadia.
P.S. Did… read more

Posted by: Francesco on 12/31/2013 at 8:24 pm

Hi Kim,  We are so proud of you!!!!....This was your goal for 2 years & you kept your focus & tenacity….YOU DID IT!....Words cannot describe our feelings of joy for… read more

Posted by: SHEL on 12/30/2013 at 5:38 pm

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Ready for Summit Bid

Posted by: Leah Fisher, J.J. Justman | December 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

Hey, this is JJ and Leah up here at High Camp 19,600’ finishing up the hot drinks and breakfast for our team.  It’s about 4:30 in the morning,  a little bit of wind today but it’s looking like it’s going to be a nice day to climb Aconcagua.  So the team is up and at ‘em, getting ready for our summit attempt.  Wish us luck!  And hopefully we will have some great news for you a little later on today.  We’ll touch base hopefully from the top of South American’s highest mountain.
Take care,

JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman checks in prior to summit bid on Aconcagua.

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Woohoo Team!!!  Best of luck on your final ascend.  Can’t wait to hear the wonderful news!!

Josh - we are behind you all the way.  And so extremely proud of… read more

Posted by: Jessica on 12/30/2013 at 10:49 am

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Wait Out the Winds

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

Update:  5:56 am PT
It’s a little bit of the high camp blues up here at 19,600 feet on a Sunday afternoon. Will someone please magically tell us what’s going on in the nfl?!

The winds are still strong but we are having more lulls which is a good sign. Now it’s a waiting game. We need the winds to be reasonable to make a safe summit attempt. And if there is one thing Aconcagua is known for…it’s wind.

We are hoping for the best!

Voicemail: 2:59 am PT:
Hey Everyone -
This is Team 2 up at High Camp on Aconcagua at 19,600’, I am trying not to yell right now, but if you hear that noise, that is the wind.  As I speak the tent walls are slapping me in the face. We did not go the summit today, it definitely was way too windy.  But the word on the street, is the winds are supposed to die down later this evening and through tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed.  Everyone here is doing really well.  We are making the best out of a windy day .  Keeping some hot drinks going for the gang and making some breakfast.  We will be hanging out and making sure these tents don’t go any where.  Thanks for following along.  Everyone is safe and sound, we will check in later, hopefully with some good news tomorrow.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman checks in from 19,600 ft on Aconcagua.

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Dec 30 - Results from the NFL games on Sunday (home team in CAPS)

INDIANAPOLIS 30 Jacksonville 10

NY Jets 20 MIAMI 7

MINNESOTA 14 Detroit 13… read more

Posted by: Stacy on 12/30/2013 at 7:54 am

HI KIM!!! Hope you’re not having tent fever! Do you all tell each other ghost stories to pass the time?? Good luck and hope those winds blow themselves out! AT

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Posted by: Alison on 12/30/2013 at 7:30 am

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Prepare for Summit Bid

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

Hello RMI followers! Team 2 is at high camp on a gorgeous day. We are doing great and preparing for our summit bid tomorrow. Leah and I will be operating the stoves full time melting snow and boiling water.

Our plan is to rest, rehydrate and eat some calories in preparation for a big day tomorrow. The wind prediction is staying true. We will have a breeze to keep us cool. Tomorrow will be a busy day for the guides but we will try to communicate as soon as we can.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI's High Camp on Aconcagua. Photo: RMI Collection

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So awesome! Can’t wait to hear that you guys have made it to the top! I look forward to the updates every day! Josh- I went to Oxford with my… read more

Posted by: Lily on 12/28/2013 at 8:58 pm

Way to go team!!!!  You are so close!!!!  It’s truly been a pleasure following you along your journey and priceless adventure.  I hope that tomorrow’s summit is a hallmark moment,… read more

Posted by: Jessica on 12/28/2013 at 7:36 pm

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Another Rest Day at Camp 2

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 27, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 18,000'

Here we are…again! Another rest day, this time at Camp 2 at 18000 feet. If all goes well and keep your fingers crossed, this will be our last rest day. On the agenda for today is the usual, eating and drinking, reading books and magazines, and maybe just maybe watching a movie.

The team is strong, very strong. Now it’s just a mind game dealing with a little boredom. Leah and I will be making pizzas this afternoon as a treat. That usually lifts ones spirits! Stay tuned! The summit is just around the corner!!

RMI Guide JJ Justman and Team

Camp 2 on Aconcagua. RMI Photo Collection

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Great job everyone!!!  Your ultimate goal is only feet away!!!  Wishing you all the best of luck these next few days.  Praying that weather holds off for you and that… read more

Posted by: Jessica on 12/27/2013 at 8:40 pm

JJ and Barbara…..I am following you step by step.  Can’t wait to hear all about the adventure. I am so proud of your accomplishments!!!  ROCK ON!  Deb

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Posted by: Debbi LaPrevotte on 12/27/2013 at 3:30 pm

Aconcagua:  Justman & Team Rest at Camp 2

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 18,000'

Safety is priority number one. Rumors of high winds coming in early next week has our team paying close attention to the forecast. The higher the winds, the colder it gets. Lucky for us we have all the necessary gear. Sure our packs are big but we are warm.

For now, the team is lounging around Camp 2 at 18,000 feet on Aconcagua. We went up to 19000 + feet to acclimatize and everyone is doing really, really well. We need to rest and recuperate here tomorrow. We will be watching the winds and then we will make a game plan.

Keep the fingers crossed and the positive vibes coming!!! Everyone here says hello to friends and family.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

The view from Camp 2, Aconcagua, Argentina.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Congrats Team 2 on trekking to camp 2!!! I’ve try enjoyed following along your journey and hearing of your progress each day.

Josh - you make me so proud.  Not… read more

Posted by: Jessica on 12/26/2013 at 11:15 pm

Wow!! Kim - this is incredible, you are such a rockstar!!

Thinking of you….xoxo Steph, Adam and Lyle

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Posted by: Stephanie on 12/26/2013 at 9:01 pm

Aconcagua:  Justman and Team Rest at Base Camp

Posted by: J.J. Justman, Leah Fisher | December 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Today is another rest day for the team at Plaza Argentina. After our carry to Camp 1 yesterday it serves us well to take advantage and fully acclimatize. The team is doing really well. The agenda for today is resting, eating and taking showers.

Everyone on the team says hello to family and friends…

RMI Guide JJ Justman

Evening light at Base Camp on Aconcagua.  Photo : RMI Collection

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JJ and Team:
So very good to hear all is well as you journey along!
Praying for your spiritual journey as well as your physical safety. Take a… read more

Posted by: Ruth Sorensen on 12/24/2013 at 2:39 pm

“One does not climb to attain enlightenment, rather one climbs because he is enlightened.” - Zen Master Futomaki

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Posted by: Bill Gately on 12/23/2013 at 3:47 am

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