Entries By walter hailes

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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Aconcagua: Nugent and Team Carry to Camp 2

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

We are continuing to plod our way slowly but steadily up this mountain. Our team woke to beautiful blue skies this morning and took advantage of the good weather by putting in another cache up at our Camp 2, which also goes by the names “Guanacos Camp 3,” and “Chopper Camp.” No matter what you call it, it sits at over 18k’ and is one of the last spots with running water as you ascend. We made short work of the carry, climbing the 2,000’ or so in 3 stretches and made even shorter work of the descent back to Camp 1. The skies clouded up this afternoon so we got to enjoy some comfortable napping temps in the tents. We spent the rest of the day eating napples, reading, and listening to tunes. Rumors of deteriorating weather have us pondering our next move but our plans call for another rest and acclimatization day.

We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for us,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

An RMI Team carrying to Camp 2. RMI Photo Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Move to Camp 1

Posted by: Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma, Billy Nugent | January 12, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 16,200'

We said our bittersweet goodbyes to the good life at Plaza Argentina this morning as we headed up on the mountain to begin our climb. No more steak or lasagna dinners but it sure feels good to be finally doing this! The team climbed extremely well and made even better time up to Camp 1 than we did on our carry a couple of days ago. Everybody is a bit tired but in good spirits… Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and another work day tomorrow as we try and push a load of supplies further up the mountain.

Also wanted to make a shout out to Garrett’s team, who made the summit today! Nice work guys…

Buenas noches de campo 1,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Camp One on Aconcagua, 16,000 ft.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Enjoy One More Rest Day at Basecamp

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 11, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Another rest day here at Basecamp… Not much to report other than that the team is enjoying a beautiful day resting up after a longer day yesterday. The R & R down here at base is definitely going to pay dividends as we climb higher and higher. Tomorrow, if the good weather continues, will see our departure from base onto the upper mountain for good…

Talk tomorrow after our move to Camp 1!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Looking out over Aconcagua Base Camp. Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Carry to 16,200’ Camp

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 11, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Today saw our first dose of real work above Basecamp as the gang carried up a load of food, fuel, and cold weather gear. It was a long day with big loads up to elevations over 16,000 feet, so we were certainly working hard but the team was generally unfazed. The carry definitely helps supply us on the upper mountain but also serves as a good stimulus for our bodies as they try and acclimatize to the higher altitude. The physiological changes are happening and the headaches most folks reported on our first night at Basecamp are now long gone. Higher oxygen saturations and lower resting heart rates are also the norm. Another rest day tomorrow and a fat steak dinner tonight here at Basecamp should give us an opportunity to get stronger and stronger and set us up well for the hard work that lies ahead as we move up.

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On the trail to Aconcagua Camp 1. Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Rest Day at BaseCamp

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 09, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Not much to report from our first full day at Basecamp. The team is enjoying a rest day filled with such exciting activities as sleeping in, eating a big breakfast of bacon and eggs, lounging around our weather port drinking coffee, getting checked out by the Argentine medical staff, and packing up for tomorrow’s carry up to Camp 1.

We’ll check in again tomorrow after our carry,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Tents at Plaza Argentina. Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Arrive in BaseCamp

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Hello everyone out there following along in RMI Expeditions blogland… Our team made short work of today’s hike and arrived at Plaza Argentina (our basecamp) early this afternoon. We started off early early, firing the stoves before sunrise because we needed to hitch a ride on muleback over the river. The herrieros were planning on running the rest of our gear up to basecamp and then running the mules all the way back out to the road so they requested the early start. Normally we’d cross the river on foot but it’s running pretty deep this year and the mule option seemed like a safer one especially considering my lifeguard certification expired about 15 years ago.. . Anyway, the team is settling in to life at just under 14k feet and hoping for a good night of sleep after three consecutive hot and dusty days on the trail.

Hasta mañana,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Trek to Casa de Piedra

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 10,550'

Checking in from Casa de Piedra, aka trekking camp 2 here in the Vacas Valley. Our crew had another great day moving well and enjoying near perfect weather. While the terrain was very similar to yesterday’s hike the temperatures were considerably lower and there was a pleasant breeze all day that lessened the onslaught of the sun. Right before the Refugio we caught our first glimpses of the mountain without a cloud in the sky. The mountain looks a bit more dusty and dry than normal. The Polish Glacier also appears more broken up than normal. Still, we took a break to shoot some photos and let the size and grandeur soak in a little. After arriving in camp around 2:30 pm, we spent the afternoon lounging and some adventurous folks even went for a swim in the river. The river is running a fair bit deeper than normal so our team is going to ford it tomorrow on mules instead of on foot which will be a new experience for all of us.

All for now, will check in again tomorrow from basecamp…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

A team of mules reaching Casa de Piedra. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Aconcagua: Nugent & Team from Pampa de Leñas

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes, Katrina Bloemsma | January 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Today was hot… Our team woke up after a last night under a roof and in a real bed and loaded up on coffee and scrambled eggs before heading back over to Grajales’ packing facility. We put the finishing touches on our packing job for the mules and caught a transfer from Penitentes over to Punta de Vacas where our journey truly began. We took off from the trailhead a little after 10 am and it was already blazing. Strong sun and high temperatures made for a hard day but our team showed a lot of strength by dispensing the first stretch of the trek to basecamp in good time and with strong form. Occasional breezes and some late afternoon wind made the heat bearable. We got moved in to our first camp at Pampa de Leñas after the mule drivers unloaded our gear and waited for a rendezvous with Jake’s descending RMI team. Our minestrone soup was supplemented by delicious beef from the asado that the muleteers had prepared for Jake’s crew. It turns out that our friends at Grajales knew that Gabi, Jake, and myself would all be in Leñas tonight and sent up extra meat for a celebration. Now, I’m laying under the stars with a full belly thankful for great friends and excited for tomorrow’s continued adventure with a great crew!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

The trailhead at Punta de Vacas and the beginning of the approach to Aconcagua. Photo: Linden Mallory

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