- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Bridget Belliveau
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Nick Brown
- Adam Butterfield
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Lance Colley
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Mike Haugen
- Bryan Hendrick
- Andy Hildebrand
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Ben Liken
- Zach Lovell
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Robert Montague
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Tyler Reid
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Entries By linden mallory
Finally with all of our gear, we left Mendoza this morning and headed for the mountains. The tree-lined streets of Mendoza gave away to carefully tended vineyards that produce the famed Malbec wine for which Mendoza is known. The road led into the foothills of the Andes, weaving along the edge of the thick red Mendoza River. The small hills soon grew to tall mountains and the road began passing through tunnels carved through the rock in the mountain sides. By midday we reached the ski outpost of Penitentes, a handful of kilometers from the Chilean border. Penitentes, no more than a few buildings with long slanted tat break the incessant winds, is a ski resort in the winter and a staging ground for Aconcagua climbers in the summer.
We spent the afternoon in Penitentes preparing our gear for the mountain. We set up and checked our tents, fired up the stoves, and packed our food and fuel into tight, well protected containers to endure the jostling of the mules on the approach to Base Camp. Once our loads were prepared, we ventured up the valley to Punta del Inca, a famous natural bridge created from geothermal springs that spans the entire river. Decades ago visitors would drive their cars across it. We ventured a bit further up the road to the mouth of the Horocones Valley where we caught our first views of Aconcagua since reaching Mendoza. Capped in clouds and new snow, the mountain’s impressive south face loomed over the head of the Horocones Valley. It was an impressive, exciting, and humbling moment.
We are settled into our Hosteria now, enjoying the thin cold air, and happy to finally be in the mountains.
Reaching Mendoza, Argentina proved to be a tougher challenge than we anticipated for our team. Between cancelled flights, storm systems, and mechanical delays we all finally reached Mendoza, albeit a day late. Tom, Thomas and I happened to be on the same plane from Santiago to Mendoza and we had a stunning flight over the Andes with views north and south down the range. A fresh layer of snow blanketed the higher elevations of the mountains and Aconcagua stood tall above the surrounding peaks, it’s summit trailing a thin cloud on its leeward side.
When we stepped off the plane in Mendoza the temperatures were 70F and sunny, the austral summer in full swing with green trees lining the tarmac - a striking difference from the cold temperatures that we left at home! Unfortunately, the relief about reaching Mendoza was quickly muted when Tom and Thomas’ bags failed to appear. Undeterred, we filed our paperwork and were assured that the bags were on the next flight. So we headed into Mendoza, found our hotel, took a nice shower, and kicked back to share stories while we waited. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited…
The next morning found us back at the airport looking for a little more information on where the bags could have gone. The answer: Paris, France. It turns out that while we were hoping to head to Aconcagua’s Canaleta, the bags had something more like the Champs Élysées in mind. Even in the days of barcodes and instant tracking, it still takes awhile for lost baggage to find it’s way across three continents from Europe to the U.S. and finally Argentina. We made the most of the extra days in Mendoza to get the rest of our team gear organized, secure our climbing permits, catch up on rest from the flights, wander Mendoza’s tree-lined streets, and enjoy a glass or two of Malbec while hanging out in some of Mendoza’s outdoor cafes.
Finally by 5pm this evening the last of the missing bags reached Mendoza. We’ve enjoyed our time in town, but are eager to head to the mountains. Tomorrow morning we will make the drive into the Andes to the small outpost of Penitentes, wedged just south of Aconcagua National Park and a handful of miles from the Chilean border. We’ll sort our gear there and spend a night or two acclimatizing before we head into Plaza de Mulas, Base Camp on Aconcagua’s western Ruta Normal. We will check in tomorrow night from the mountains!
Coming off of a big climb or expedition often leads to the question, “What’s next?” The first priority is to take time to rest and recover. Any adventure in the mountains is a big physical and mental effort, and recovery time is valuable. Some light activity to stretch the legs can be a good idea but it’s not always beneficial to jump back into intense workouts right away. In order to come back stronger, you need to recover first. Recovery time not only helps you physically recuperate but also gives you a mental break. When you do return to your training, you can do so with renewed motivation and excitement.
After a few good nights of sleep, take a moment to reflect on your past training and the climb itself: what worked in your training? What didn’t? What were you surprised about in the climb and how can you prepare better in the future? Take the extra minute to dig into this a bit, identify some key takeaways, and note these down.
For example, a few weeks after coming home with my tail between my legs from my first expedition to a remote peak in the Andes, I realized that while I felt aerobically strong throughout the climb, it took only a slight increase in pace or pack weight to send my exertion level through the roof. Additionally, the loose rocks of the lower mountain, fields of penitentes, and hard ice of the route were challenging to move across in a fluid manner, constantly testing my balance and ultimately wearing me out after a long day. In my training following the expedition, I focused on incorporating more interval training to increase my anaerobic threshold and to give me a larger aerobic capacity. I also incorporated more balance exercises into my gym routines, aimed at improving my ability to climb comfortably and efficiently despite the uncertainties of the terrain. On my next expedition, I was amazed at how much I gained by focusing on my weaknesses in my training.
With these area of focus noted, consider what you want to do next. If you’re eager to get back in the mountains, where do you want to go and what are the appropriate steps to get you there? Maybe it’s to climb Mt. Rainier by way of another route? Are your sights set on 18,000’ or 19,000’ peaks like those in Mexico or Ecuador? Perhaps it’s the goal of climbing one of the Seven Summits like Aconcagua or McKinley?
After identifying your goal, do a little digging into what that climb looks like and what physical efforts are needed. What are the defining characteristics of the climb in terms of altitude, length, weight of pack, and technical skills? What kind of training do you need to focus on in order to tackle those challenges? Multi-week expeditions like Aconcagua or Denali require different preparation than a climb of several days like the North Cascades, Mexico, or Ecuador.
Take a look at your takeaways from your last climb and compare them with the challenges of your next climb. If it’s a long expedition with heavy packs, maybe you need to build your aerobic strength and endurance to handle the extended exertion of the climb. If it’s a shorter trip, perhaps it’s improving your overall aerobic capacity while also increasing your strength and flexibility to meet the needs of the climb.
Completing these mental exercises helps bring your training path into focus. Continue to be strategic in your training, and it’s not a bad idea to build benchmarks along the way to keep track of your progress.
Most of all, keep having fun. As climbers, it’s not just the summit day that generates the passion and excitement for us (although that’s often the most recognizable aspect to others), it’s the entire process of dreaming of a climb, working hard to plan and prepare for it, realizing it as you set foot on the mountain, and relishing in the memories afterwards.
Linden Mallory is a senior guide at RMI Expeditions.
Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!
The Four Day Summit Climb led by Walter Hailes and the Five Day Summit Climb led by Linden Mallory reached Ingraham Flats (11,200’) this morning before making the decision to turn the teams around due to unstable snow conditions.
The teams will descend from Camp Muir and return to Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford this afternoon.
We enjoyed a leisurely day in St. Petersburg on our last day in Russia. From our hotel we walked the several hundred yards to St. Isaac’s Cathedral, climbing the 211 steps to the Colonnade that offers sweeping views of the city below. Built in the early 1700s, Peter the Great designed St. Petersburg after European cities and the city is often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. Dozens of canals wind through the city, connecting to the Neva River running through the heart of St. Petersburg. From the Colonnade we could see over the rooftops of the city’s early fortress, it’s palaces and government buildings, and its beautifully restored churches.
Descending from the Colonnade we made our way to the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood, an ornately decorated Church built over the stones where Tsar Alexander II was stabbed. Although built on a gloomy premise, the church’s interior is incredible, with intricate, colorful mosaics covering the multistory interior. Lastly, we visited the Hermitage Museum, Russia’s largest museum and home to over 4 million pieces of art. While the artwork matches any museum in the world, the building alone, built by Catherine the Great, is worth the visit in itself. Stretching out along the banks of the Neva, each room and hall is decorated in it’s unique style.
After dinner (an excellent seafood restaurant) we climbed on board a boat and toured St. Petersburg’s canals, winding through the buildings, under the roads and bridges, and along the Neva. Many of us leave early in the morning for flights home. It’s been a great trip through Russia to Europe’s highest peak, and we are looking forward to sharing the stories and photos with all of you at home.
We left the mountains this morning, piling all of our gear into the back of our van and following the small, twisting road out of the Baskan Valley and into the farmlands surrounding Mineralnye Vody. The fields of sunflowers were in full bloom and the day was clear enough that we could see Elbrus off in the distance.
Thanks to the upcoming winter Olympics in nearby Sochi they have recently finished renovating the Mineralnye Vody Airport and it was an easy process to get checked in, even with all of the excess baggage and climbing gear. Before long we were airborne, flying north across the country. We arrived in St. Petersburg in the early evening under grey skies, where the temps are far cooler than the planes to the south. We navigated the crowded streets of the city to find our hotel before heading out into the city for a nice dinner at a nearby cafe.
It’s been a long day of traveling and we are happy to be here. St.Petersburg has a very different feel than Moscow and the Caucasus Mountains and we are looking forward to seeing the city. We are spending tomorrow, the last day of our trip, exploring St. Petersburg.
After a long summit day, we slept soundly last night. When we poked our heads out of the hut this morning we found a clear day on the mountain above, but plumes of snow were being whipped across the summit - another windy day. Instead of looking uphill, we turned our attention to packing up and returning to the village of Cheget.
We loaded all of our duffels back onto the series of chairlifts, tram cars, and vans to reach Cheget and by early afternoon we were showered, dressed in clean clothes, and sitting down for lunch at a small cafe in Cheget. We enjoyed a great lunch and have been spending the afternoon relaxing in Cheget, wandering through the stalls of local goods, sitting at the cafes and sharing stories of the climb, and taking the opportunity to send emails back home. Tomorrow we head back to the airport in Mineralnye Vody to fly to the north of Russia to the city of St. Petersburg, sitting along the edges of the Gulf of Finland. We will spend two nights in St. Petersburg, visiting one of Russia’s most beautiful cities, before heading home. We will check in tomorrow from St. Petersburg.
On The Map
After a few hours of fitful sleep, interrupted by the anticipation of the climb, the alarm went off at 1:05 a.m. this morning. We pulled on all of our gear, forced down a quick breakfast, and then loaded onto the snowcat for a lift up to 15,000’. The night was perfect, an awesome amount of stars covered the sky and a faint crescent moon was rising in the east. Well, almost perfect: the
temps were cold and a steady wind was blowing out of the west. It was cold. We began climbing in our big down parkas and didn’t end up taking them off until we were back down off of the summit many hours later.
Besides the biting wind the climbing was perfect, wind compacted snow that was great for climbing but still soft enough to keep the slopes from being too slick. The sun began to rise as we approached 17,000’, casting long shadows of mountains across the landscape below us. But, unfortunately the wind didnt let up with the sun and it stayed cold. The team did a fantastic job of keeping themselves warm, avoiding even the smallest bits of frost nip. By 8 am we reached the saddle between Elbrus’ twin summits and we started up the steep slope above to reach the summit plateau. We were briefly sheltered from the wind until we reached the summit plateau and traversed across to the highest point, a small rise on the far side perched over massive slopes descending the west and north side of the mountain.
Despite the wind, it was wonderful to reach the summit and we spent 20 minutes or so admiring the views, exchanging high fives, and snapping photos, before we beat a hasty retreat back down from the top.
By midday the afternoon clouds were already building and they blew in and out around us as we made the long descent back to our hut. We are now settled back into our bunks, tired from a long day of climbing but happy with the climb. Tomorrow we will descend back to Cheget for hot showers and clean clothes.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory
Linden Mallory Callling from the Summit of Mount Elbrus
On The Map
The weather has been steadily improving each day on the mountain and today was no exception: we’ve had beautiful clear skies all day here on Mt. Elbrus. We enjoyed a relaxed breakfast this morning of French toast and fresh fruit before heading out on the surrounding glacier to cover some additional mountaineering training in preparation for tomorrow’s climb. By lunch the team was well versed in a variety of climbing techniques, including ice axe arrest, climbing as a rope team, and crampon techniques for a variety of conditions.
In the afternoon we took a walk down to the top of the tram station where a little museum sits. In translated Russian, the museum keeper walked us through the small rooms, explaining the significance and events of Mt. Elbrus during World War II. So close to Russia’s oil supply at the time, the Caucasus were a major focus of Hitler’s advances into Russia and there was a great deal of fighting between 1941-1943, including on Mt. Elbrus itself as the mountain held symbolic importance in the fighting. It was a very interesting tour and a very different change of pace from the climbing focus we’ve had.
We returned to huts in the afternoon and prepared our gear for tomorrow’s climb. The weather forecast looks promising and the team is feeling strong so we are going for the top tomorrow morning. We will make an early start, getting up around 2:00am, and hope to reach Europe’s highest point by mid morning. We will check in tomorrow to let you know how the climb goes; keep your fingers crossed for good weather and smooth climbing conditions for us!
On The Map
We caught our first real views of the mountain this morning when we emerged from the Barrels. The clouds were low in the valley below us, and above Mt. Elbrus rose clearly in the morning light. We could see the entire first portion of the route and high above, several teams were visible traversing into the saddle between the two summits of Mt. Elbrus.
We set out on our acclimatization hike shortly after breakfast. The cold night temperatures left the snow still frozen firmly, giving our crampons good purchase. We retraced our route from yesterday, quickly passing our high point and gaining elevation. By late morning the clouds returned and we climbed in a fog bank, occasional rock outcroppings appearing out of the mist ahead and gradually disappearing below us. By the time we reached around 14,400’ - the same height as Mt. Rainier - a cold breeze picked up and we climbed the remaining portion in our jackets with the hoods pulled closely to protect us from the wind.
We reached Pastuhkova Rocks, at 15,100’, and dropped our packs, resting in the thin air of today’s high point before returning to the hut for a late lunch. The team climbed well today, negotiating the altitude and varying weather conditions well. It was a long day on our feet and we are looking forward to a mellow day tomorrow to brush up on some of the final training we still need to cover and get in a restful afternoon before our planned summit bid on Saturday.
On The Map
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