RMI Guide Alex Barber Weighing His Summit Bid Options

Posted by: Alex Barber | April 21, 2015
Categories: *Guide News

Tonight I’m in Camp 3. This camp is hands down the most ridiculous camp I’ve ever made. It’s perched atop a small serac maybe 20’ by 20’ with huge drops on three sides. A 150 feet overhanging ice cliff is what I’m tucked under… to protect from avalanches. Yikes!

The past three days I’ve spent making my way up Annapurna. The first day (the 19th) I left Base Camp with two Sherpa guides to re-open the route after a week of snow. But on the way to Camp 1 and after arriving in Camp 1, I was observing avalanche activity that was just too frequent for my comfort to continue pushing on to Camp 2 (as was our original plan). Shortly after making the call to stop for the day at Camp 1, a massive avalanche broke high on Annapurna. Rumbling toward us, I thought, for a moment, it was gonna hit us but luckily it just dusted Camp 1 with a cloud of snow and a large gust of wind.

The 20th I made my way to Camp 2 and found my tent, that I had set up on April 4th when I first established the camp, buried under 7ft of snow. Three and a half hours later I had my tent unburied and patched up. Today, the 21st, I tackled the most technical and dangerous section of Annapurna. Namely, a 3,200-foot climb through steep alpine ice with large seracs always above you. Just think of ice blocks the size of tractor trailers just waiting their turn to rumble down the mountain side. About mid-way through the climb I broke one of the straps on my Millet 8000m boots. Taking refuge beneath a massive serac I quickly jimmy-rigged a fix and kept climbing. The key in these regions is to move as fast as is safe and possible for you.

This evening at Camp 3 I’m sharing this small ice pedestal with another team. We barely fit. Just as dark set in a large stove fire erupted in a tent adjacent to mine. Luckily I had my down suit and inner boots on and could rush out to help reduce the fire. Myself and a few other climbers rushed to kick gas canisters and oxygen bottles out of the fire; throwing snow on it, and principally focusing on preventing the other tents from catching fire. Unbelievably no one was injured! The tent and many of the occupant’s belongings were lost to the fire, but everyone is safe now.

It’s quite windy here tonight. Not sustained, but you can hear the gusts approaching from the distance. Not sure what my game plan is for tomorrow, either head to Camp 4 and make a summit attempt tomorrow evening; in which case I’d be racing a forecasted storm to the summit, or head back to Base Camp and wait for a more stable window.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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Mountaineering Training | The Final Countdown

Posted by: | April 21, 2015
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

As your next climb approaches, it’s a great idea to revisit your training plan with a critical eye and make a plan for how you are going to tune-up for the big event. Within four to six weeks of your climb, assess what is going well in your training and what could use a boost. This might mean entering a race or checking back in on a set of benchmarks that you’ve been using.

It’s difficult to make an effective difference in your endurance base at this point—there simply isn’t time. Cramming in all of the hours that you wish you had done earlier is more likely to lead to injury or showing up to the climb already fatigued.  Have confidence that you’ve done the job of setting yourself up with a good base and look to these other areas of your fitness for the final tune-up:

Core strength: Your core is comprised of all of the muscles that surround your spine, the side muscles, pelvic muscles, the glutes, as well as (but not just!) the abs. These muscles provide the link in the kinetic chain between your upper and lower body, and thus, nearly any movement you make ripples through the core. In climbing, a strong core helps to link the movements that we make rest stepping uphill with the stabilization of the upper body, including a heavy pack. Add an extra workout or two per week of core strength—focusing on the whole core not just the abs—in the weeks leading up to your climb. The extra strength that you build will help you to climb more efficiently, for longer!

Anaerobic threshold: Your final weeks of training should include some tune-up interval workouts. Try to find a mix of slightly longer level 4 interval workouts to increase your anaerobic threshold, and shorter, speed oriented workouts to tune-up your fast-twitch muscles. Emphasizing some harder intervals and speeds during your final weeks can give you a greater ability to recover from hard efforts during your climb and give you a few more gears should you need them.

Flexibility: A focus on strength training often comes at the expense of flexibility. As the muscles are broken down by training and recover again to build strength, they tend to tighten. If you haven’t dedicated much time to stretching and flexibility, use this opportunity to build it. Building flexibility will help your muscles work more efficiently during the climb and can help to prevent injuries or discomfort that may arise from the effort.

In your final tune-up don’t leave out your long workouts completely, but you can reduce your training volume or hours, and in doing so free up some workout time to focus on these areas. Though mountaineering is an endurance sport, strength, flexibility, and your capacity for high output activity are all important and the effect of your training can be greater in these areas over this last period of preparation. Pick out the elements that could use a tune-up, and take this opportunity to maximize your gains and head into your climb feeling ready and prepared.

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

Dave Hahn leads the Everest team on an acclimatization hike to Kala Patar. | JJ Justman

Mt. Everest Expedition: Sherpas Make Camp 1 & ABC, Climbers Take Dress Rehearsal

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

Finally, a breakthrough day.  Our excellent Sherpa climbing team ran up to the midpoint of the icefall where we’d cached gear yesterday.  They put all of that on their backs and busted on up to establish Camp 1 at approximately 19,800 ft.  Two of the guys, Rinjin and Sonam then cruised on up to Camp 2 (Advanced Base Camp), claiming our campsite -which will be crucial with the mountain as busy as we expect it to be- and retrieving our ABC gear from last year (“abandoned” when the season came to an unexpected end last year).  Meanwhile- Chhering, JJ Justman and I guided the climbing team on our much anticipated “dress rehearsal” for the Icefall.  We were up at 3:30 AM, eating at 4 AM and walking by 4:30 AM.  The intention was to travel smoothly and efficiently to the midpoint of the Icefall and return to base… as a check that the entire team would be ready for the committing step of moving to Camp 1.  We did just that on another perfect weather morning.  It was encouraging for all of us, and a little awe inspiring when three of the Icefall Doctors caught up and passed us as if we were standing still -all while carrying heavy and cumbersome sections of ladder to put in place at yesterday’s trouble spot near the top of the Icefall.  About two hours into our climb, we hit our own first real ladders and aced a half dozen awkward crossings.  We took a break at the midpoint, still in deep and cool shadows and then got set for the equally challenging descent to Base.  The team cruised through this test, showing the advantages of two weeks of training and acclimatizing.  We were back down to the luxuries of Base Camp by 9:30 AM, feeling like we’d already put in a full day of hard work.  The remainder of the day was spent resting, talking with climbers and guides from neighboring trips, and enjoying a few hours more of T-Shirt weather before we bundled up again for the late afternoon clouds.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Ascending thru the ladders of the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn

On The Map

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2

Rock on…haha BTW, I recognize the guy in the climbing picture.  Hiking behind Hans.  Give him a hug for me.  Safe travels to Camp 1. xoxo

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Posted by: Bonny Rogers on 4/21/2015 at 2:36 pm

Hi all together, great pictures from the icefall!!!
You are in and everybody is well and feel fine - I hope so! And thank you Dave and JJ, you… read more

Posted by: Ute Novak on 4/21/2015 at 10:58 am


Mt. Everest Expedition: Hahn & Sherpa Team Make Another Attempt to Get to Camp One

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

Another early morning, another attempt to get through the Khumbu Icefall.  Thwarted.  We were still hoping to accomplish a recon/carry and so I headed out with our Sherpa climbing team at 4:30 AM.  As we started, the Sherpa teams ahead of us formed a solid parade of headlights, snaking up through the glacier in the darkness.  We made fine progress though, easily passing our highpoint from the other day.  That last time the weather was poor, and this time it was perfect, so we could see everything we needed and wanted to see about the climbing route.  Our luck ran out near the top of the technical difficulties when we skidded to a stop at 7 AM at the tail end of a monumental traffic jam.  We spent 90 minutes inching upward, stomping our feet to stay warm (we were still in deep and cool shadows), and alternately eyeballing the ice towers hanging over our heads and the nearby site of last year’s tragic avalanche.  Finally, with perhaps a hundred Sherpas at full stop between ourselves and a fairly difficult wall climb, we determined that we’d pushed our luck far enough.  We descended, cached the load at the icefall’s midpoint and got ourselves out of the line of fire and on our way back to Basecamp.  Sherpas and climbers did eventually make camp one and even camp two on this day, but the missions took perhaps three times as long as they should have, with much of that time spent at risk… Not for us.  We reached sunny and safe Base Camp shortly after JJ Justman had departed with our team for a Pumori Camp One hike.  The route needs more work and we conveyed this idea as best we were able to the Icefall Doctors and their administrators.  In general terms, it takes a safer path than the routes of recent years, but more work needs to be done and more ladders need to be fixed in order to handle the Sherpa traffic, let alone the less skilled foreign climbers who will soon hit the climb in great numbers.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Sherpa teams and guide attempt to navigate through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn Sherpa and guides going through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn

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3

Don’t we go to the mountains to get away from traffic jams! You exhibit that all important combination of dogged determination with prudence that is so important up there. Glad… read more

Posted by: Everett Moran on 4/21/2015 at 6:45 am

Glad you are a safety guy.  Hate to think of the frontline team in the risk zone while awaiting a traffic jam.  Be well. Sending my best. xo

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Posted by: Bonny Rogers on 4/20/2015 at 1:48 pm


Mt. Everest: Hang Time at Base Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 19, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

Finally, the storm has fled.  It was about six days of snow or the threat of snow… But the wind blew like crazy last night and our bad weather is now somebody else’s bad weather.  Bright and strong sunshine all day today… T-Shirts were just fine at midday in Everest Base Camp.  The Icefall Doctors were hard at work in the big jumble and the rest of us stayed out of their way, just as planned.  Teams could be seen clawing all over the ice towers close to camp, practicing in their own little chutes and ladders gymnasiums.  We took an afternoon cruise through the maze of ice ridges and towers in the “safe” part of the glacier and then tried to catch up on 3G connections.  Internet access has been a little squirrelly these past days what with the cloud blocking solar power and the wind wrecking reflector dishes.  Word by late afternoon was that the route is almost restored to Camp One… With some difficult trail breaking through new snow remaining to be done.  I’ll try to keep up with our Sherpa team early tomorrow with C1 as our goal (once again).  JJ Justman will take our climber gang hiking.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Horseshoes at RMI Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman 2015 Sherpa World Championship Horseshoes. Photo: JJ Justman

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2

Larry,

I’m glad you and the team can put the 15-2, 15-4, 15-6, 15-8 behind you and get on the move!

Howard

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Posted by: Howard Norman on 4/19/2015 at 11:40 am

Allez Allez Super Team !

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Posted by: Chrystel on 4/19/2015 at 10:50 am


More Entries

Expedition Stats

Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/10 - 1/24/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/4 - 1/27/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
1/6 - 1/19/2015
Cayambe - 17,000' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Ecuador's Volcanoes
1/20 - 1/30/2015
Cayambe - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/11 - 2/3/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/24 - 2/7/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/18 - 2/10/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
2/3 - 2/16/2015
Cayambe - 16,500' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/26 - 2/18/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Mexico's Volcanoes
2/14 - 2/22/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - Summit / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/8 - 3/13/2015
Mt. Rainier - 11,200'
Mexico's Volcanoes
3/7 - 3/15/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - 15,300' / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/22 - 3/27/2015
Mt. Rainier - 10,080'
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
4/12 - 4/17/2015
Mt. Rainier - 12,400'
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  • Dave Hahn leads the Everest team on an acclimatization hike to Kala Patar. | JJ Justman
  • Ascending thru the ladders of the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa teams and guide attempt to navigate through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Sherpa and guides going through the Khumbu Icefall.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Horseshoes at RMI Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • 2015 Sherpa World Championship Horseshoes. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Significant avalanche shown in center bottom of Annapurna photo. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna route past Camp 2. Photo: Alex Barber
  • RMI Guide Dave Hahn joins the Sherpa in some Icefall exploration. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • A looksee at the Icefall confirms continued storm and busted ladders as they are turned around. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Winter Seminar team enjoys the sunrise on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • Sunrise on Mt. Rainier with Little Tahoma. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The Winter Seminar Team taking a rest break on Mt. Rainier. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The view of Mt. Rainier after the storm earlier this week. Photo: Brent Okita
  • RMI Climbers testing out their down suits while at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Sherpa team in their down suits at Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Panorama of Base Camp with Annapurna being the left most peak.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Khumbu Icefall seen with the new snow from yesterday's storm. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Dave Hahn leading the RMI Everest team in a training session into the lower section of the Icefall. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Everest BC - Mark Tucker choosing to go with his air game. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Overnight snow covers Everest Base Camp. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Hanging out in the EBC cook tent on a snowy day. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The RMI Everest team gather for a meal in the cook tent. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Common Tent at Base Camp. RMI Photo Collection
  • Fun and Games at Base Camp on a Rest Day. RMI Photo Collection
  • Views along the trail to Kalapathar- hike from Everest BC.  Photo: JJ Justman
  • Dave Hahn leading the way to Kalapathar. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The 2015 RMI Everest team at Kalapathar. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Grom & Team celebrate at Baskin Robbins in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The 2015 Everest Icefall Doctors- Stout ladder load. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Guide and Everest BC Manager, Mark Tucker, crushing the ball. Photo: JJ Justman
  • An RMI team playing golf at Everest BC. Photo: Mark Tucker
  • The Everest team training in the lower Khumbu. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team practices with crampons on ladders. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team training on fixed ropes in the lower Khumbu. Photo: JJ Justman
  • The Everest team's training day on fixed rope. Photo: JJ Justman
  • Climbers walking through the streets of Lukla.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • The views while hiking to Pumori Camp One.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Enjoying the views from Pumori Camp One.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Looking over Namche Bazaar.  Photo: RMI Collection