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Mt. Elbrus: North Side Teams Moves to Camp 1

Posted by: Seth Waterfall, Pete Van Deventer | August 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 12,500'

The progress continues on Mt. Elbrus!

We followed up yesterday’s successful carry with a move to Camp 1 on today at 12,500’. Last night’s rain cleared out, and this morning was beautiful when we woke. Having already seen most of the terrain seems to make things easier, and the group did great on our first move today. We are settled in to camp, and all the hatches are battened down just in case we see some more rain. I don’t think anybody is bummed to not have to share our camp area with any bovine friends. The plan tomorrow is to head a short way back to our cache site to retrieve everything, and then brush up on our cramponing and rope travel skills just outside camp. We’ll be in touch!

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Seth Waterfall and team

The view from Camp 1(12,500ft) on Mt. Elbrus, Russia.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives Base Camp

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Seth Waterfall | August 27, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside
Elevation: 8,300'

If success is defined by waking up, having a good breakfast, climbing to a new height on Mt. Elbrus, getting our cache gear on place, and most importantly, getting down before the rain started, then we had a spectacularly successful day. It was a beautiful climb up to our cache site 11,500’, with plenty of great photo opportunities, and everyone got a chance to stretch their lungs out after the last several days of traveling by planes and automobiles. The rain was kind enough to hold off until we got back, and with any luck, it will clear out tonight, setting us up for a move to camp1 tomorrow. We’ll let you know how it goes!

Best from Russia,

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Seth Waterfall, and team

An RMI Team en route to the North Side Base Camp on Mt. Elbrus.  Photo: RMI Collection Mt. Elbrus has two large summit domes and the Saddle separates the East Summit from the West Summit. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Elbrus: Waterfall & Team in Kislovodsk

Posted by: Seth Waterfall, Pete Van Deventer | August 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

We’re in Kislovodsk!  Today we made it one step closer to the mountain.  We had an early start in Moscow and then caught a 2 hour and 15 minute flight to Mineralnye Vody.  From there it was just an hour drive to the city of Kislovodsk where our hotel is.  Once we checked into the hotel, everyone sorted their gear while Pete and I went to a supermarket.  We picked up some fresh food for basecamp.  We’ll be getting an early start tomorrow for the 4x4 road to camp.

Here’s a shot from the awesome pizza place we went to for dinner.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

The Elbrus team enjoying some pizza in Kisklovodsk. Photo: Seth Waterfall

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Mt. Elbrus: Seth and Team Tour Moscow

Posted by: Seth Waterfall, Pete Van Deventer | August 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a fun, if slightly soggy, day in Moscow.  The day started with thunder and lightning at sunrise but as we all met up over breakfast the light show subsided.  After breakfast we took a nice walk around Red Square and met up with a local tour guide.  She took us into the Kremlin and showed us all around the old cathedrals inside.  While we were in the Kremlin the skies opened up and it started to rain.  We gave everyone the option to bail out and return to the hotel but this crew is tough and all of the stuck it out.

After touring the Kremlin some folks wanted to do their own thing for a bit so we split into 3 groups for lunch time.  After that we met back in the hotel and reviewed the gear necessary for the climb.  Pete and I split up after that and checked out everyone’s gears individually.  Everyone seems very well prepared with top-notch gear and plenty of mountain food.

Everything is lining up nicely for our departure for Mineralnye Vody and Kisklovodsk tomorrow.

RMI Guides Seth Waterfall, Pete Van Deventer and Team

The Team Touring Moscow  Photo: Seth Waterfall

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Mt. Elbrus: Northside Team Arrives in Moscow

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Seth Waterfall | August 23, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Elbrus Northside

Hello from Moscow. 

The RMI Mt. Elbrus Northside team has all arrived and the trip is officially under way.  We met up this evening for a meet-and-greet and then went out to dinner.  The team seems very well aligned as far as goals and expectations for the trip.  It was a short night for us as many folks have just arrived in Moscow and, it’s raining with thunder and lightning all around the downtown area.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled to take a tour of the Kremlin and the other sights around Red Square.  I’ll take some photos and send them on in the afternoon.

RMI Guides Seth Waterfall & Pete Van Deventer

Mt. Elbrus as seen on approach to Northside Base Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Rainier: August 19th Team Summits!

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Zeb Blais, Andy Hildebrand | August 19, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

The Four Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer braved the winds to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning.  After a short rest on the summit, the team began their descent shortly before 8 am.  They will return to Camp Muir to refuel before descending to Paradise later today.  We look forward to their arrival in Ashford this afternoon.

Congratulations climbers!

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons continue to spend their days training.  Today the team moves from their camp on the Inter Glacier to Camp Schurman in preparation for their summit attempt.

The Expedition Skills Seminar - Emmons at camp on the Inter Glacier  Photo: Eric Frank
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Mt. Rainier: August 12th Teams Reach Summit!

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Geoff Schellens | August 12, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer and Geoff Schellens led the Four Day Summit Climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning.  Pete reported blustery, clear, and cold conditions on the upper mountain.  The teams will spend some time on top before beginning their descent to Camp Muir.  We look forward to seeing the teams in Ashford this afternoon.

Congratulations on a great climb!

An RMI team descending the upper mountain on Mt. Rainier. Photo: RMI Collection
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Mountaineering Training | 5 Packing Tips From RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer | August 12, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Between training and the climb itself, climbers spend a lot of time with their pack on their back.  Somewhat of a necessary evil, the goal is to make the pack carry comfortably and efficiently so that it doesn’t work against you.  A few tips that will result in a more enjoyable pack to carry:

1. Minimize dead space in the pack
2. Try to fit everything (except the ice ax) inside the pack
3. Keep the mass of the pack close to your body
4. Frequently adjust the straps to carry the load more comfortably
5. Have a system

Minimizing dead space in the pack will help the pack ride in a more balanced way, and allow you to fit everything inside.  A big factor that creates dead space is too many stuff sacks packed together.  Round or barrel shaped stuff sacks don’t nest together well, instead leaving large gaps between them (like a cup full of marbles).  To minimize this effect, try to limit the number of stuff sacks you use.  A compression stuff sack for your sleeping bag is important, as it dramatically reduces the volume of the sleeping bag, but most of the other items can be packed loose, without stuff sacks.  The down parka and spare insulating layers do a great job of packing around the sleeping bag to fill any spaces.  Some guides go so far as to pack their pack partway, and then (taking care not to crush anything breakable) insert their foot into the pack and squish everything down to squeeze out all of the air.  In addition, if climbers have packs with dedicated sleeping bag compartments, I often recommend that they detach the shelf that separates the compartment from the main pack, and treat the pack as one large tube.  Sleeping bag compartments tend to create dead space where we want it least, right near the center of mass of our bodies. 

Minimize the number of items that are attached to the outside of the pack.  The ice ax generally has a dedicated attachment point (the ice ax loops), and is really the only exception to this rule.  The rest of our equipment should fit inside the pack.  With a little bit of thought, items that seem to take up a lot of space can be packed more efficiently.  For example, by stuffing the helmet with extra socks and food before packing it, the volume of the helmet itself becomes very little.  Crampons can be put together so that the tines cover each other, and they too can be placed in the pack.  Items clipped to the outside of the pack tend to swing, get damaged, and make a ruckus.  By minimizing the number of items clipped to the outside of the pack, your pack will carry more comfortably and with less noise!

In general when you are packing, place items that you won’t need or use that stretch to the bottom of the pack, while items that you would like to keep handy (food, sunscreen, etc) stay near the top.  Additionally, place heavier items closer to the back panel of the pack, keeping them nearer your center of mass.

There is no perfect fit for a pack, and comfort and fit of your pack will change throughout the course of a climb or training session.  In general, try to carry the majority of the weight on your hips.  When putting on a pack, hitch the pack up higher on your back than it will ride, and cinch down the waist strap.  Then tighten the shoulder straps until they just make contact with your shoulders.  Next, lightly tighten the load lifter straps on the shoulder straps and waist belt.  This helps to pull the weight of the pack in closer to your back and helps with balance.  Lastly, constantly adjust throughout the day as discomforts arise!

Have a system to your pack so that you have a good idea where each item is.  This will save you time and frustration throughout the climb, if you can reach straight to a warmer pair of gloves for example, rather than unpack most of your pack each time you need an item.  With a well-organized system, you will spend more time at each break resting and recovering, and less time digging for items in your pack. 

With a little bit of time and practice your pack won’t be such a burden and your training sessions, and ultimately the climb, will be more enjoyable!

________
Pete Van Deventer is a senior guide at RMI Expeditions. A former collegiate nordic skier, Pete climbs and guides around the world, from the Andes to Alaska. Read about Pete’s recent sailing and ski mountaineering trip to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on the RMI Blog.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

RMI Guide Robby Young leads a rope team around Mt. McKinley's Windy Corner. Photo: Pete Van Deventer.
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Mt. Rainier: August 7th Teams Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Pete Van Deventer, Garrett Stevens | August 07, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

We had teams summit via three different routes on Mt. Rainier this morning: Dave Hahn and Jason Thompson led teams via the Disappointment Cleaver Route, Pete Van Deventer via the Kautz Glacier Route, and Garrett Stevens on the Emmons Glacier Route.  They reported chilly conditions, winds about 15 mph and sunny skies.  All teams had left the crater rim by 7:50 a.m.

Congratulations to today’s teams!

August 7, 2013 - Mt. Rainier from Paradise. Photo: Mt. Rainier Webcam August 7, 2013 - Views from Camp Muir. Photo: Mt. Rainier Webcam
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Mt. Rainier: July 29th Update

Posted by: Brent Okita, Pete Van Deventer | July 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

Summit! The Five Day Summit Climb led by Pete Van Deventer and the Four Day Summit Climb led by Brent Okita reached the top of Mt. Rainier early this morning.  At 6:40 a.m. Brent radioed Camp Muir to say they were descending out of the summit crater.  He reported great weather for the climb.  We look forward to congratulating them in Ashford this afternoon!

Sunrise on Mt. Rainier. Photo: Win Whittaker
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