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Entries from Expedition Dispatches

Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Relax and Rest at Base Camp

Base Camp : Rest Day Before Moving to Camp 1

We spent the first true “rest day” since leaving the trailhead 5 days ago. Yesterday’s carry to Camp 1 was challenging.  This was and will be the most elevation gain in a single day aside from Summit Day. Combine the gain with the continued challenges that come with acclimatization and it was tough. The downtime on the legs and lungs has been greatly appreciated by all.

Whether it was reading, visiting with new friends, playing Kings in the Corner and Farkle, hiking, or just taking some time for self care, we each found something to enjoy and make the most of our time together on this Mountain.

Climbing forces one to be in the “now”. Focusing on each step to sure our footing. Employing the rest step to sustain and finish a long, steep ascent.  The kind that has you praying for a “long” traverse. Pressure breathing to best utilize the oxygen available to you. You focus on what you can control. Not what happened yesterday, or possibly what greater challenges await tomorrow. You tend to the now. Conversely, you “let go” of what you can’t control and you practice trusting others to handle those things. As such, each day the bond of the team grows stronger.

Tomorrow we move to Camp 1 and “really” begin to climb this mountain. We will Largely be out of touch except for text messages from a satellite device. We will have minimal creature comforts like the ones we enjoyed on the trek in and at Base Camp. We embrace the challenge however.

We will do this one step at a time … together!

PS .  Molly - Give Hadley Bear a huge hug and kiss from Daddy!!

Climber Cameron Presley 

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Wow how amazing. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see you guys have summited. I love you tons, be safe!

Posted by: Shelby on 1/27/2023 at 7:54 pm

Hey dad!! Hope you are doing well! I’m so excited for you and proud of you. This is an amazing accomplishment and I look forward to hearing about it I. March! I love you!!

Posted by: Madison Presley on 1/27/2023 at 6:33 pm

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Take Acclimatization Hike and Leave the City

Today was our second acclimatization hike and a travel day as well. It was another perfectly clear day, about as nice as I have seen here. There is a bit of a haze in the valleys from eruptions and perhaps a bit of an inversion. Despite the haze, we were treated to views of Cayambe all day, from a variety of angles.

We are now relaxing at La Casa Sol and mentally relaxing, with our harder objectives lying ahead. Now we just hope this dry weather doesn’t run out for Cayambe and Antisana!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Aconcagua: Cifelli and Team Carry toward Camp 1 on Windy Day

January 26, 2023

The wind is a feral creature, lamenting into the void. Our nearly constant companion, shifting mercurial between head and tailwind the moment we accept whatever circumstances fate most recently dealt us. 

We sojourned beyond the impossible luxuries of basecamp, making our way up serpentine paths through scree and scramble, to deposit material ever higher in preparation for climbs to come. 

While the sun shown splendid, the wind conspired with the very rock to threaten barrages of stones upon our heads. Luckily, our benevolent overlords: Don Dom, Toothpick, and Gator, ensured protective gear emplacement, forestalling calamity and facilitating a timely return to basecamp, amid jubilation for our first successful climb of the trip and empanadas without equal, from our generous Grajales hosts. 

Climber Jack R

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Aconcagua: Smith & Team Return to Mendoza and Complete Trip

Good day faithful readers,

We have concluded our 17 day Aconcagua Expedition. With a final 8mile walk out to the park entrance, we have made it start to finish. Our final night was spent bellies full of Carne asada and a crisp starry night to glance up at intermittently as we rolled in our sleeping bags. It's surreal feeling having been sleeping hypoxic at 19,600' and then in 48 hours on the valley floor. Three hours of walking brought us back to where we started and a quick wait brought us back to our clean clothes at Penitentes. Once back in Mendoza the team cleaned up and became new people. It's crazy what a shower, new clothes, and shave can do for someone's appearance. We enjoyed bottles of wine and listening to everyone tell their highs and lows of the trip. It's been an amazing time in Argentina from the people, the food, the scenery, and the company. On behalf of all three guides, we would like to thank our team for a great expedition. Thier commitment to train and be ready for this trip showed and their ability to adapt and bond as a team has made these three weeks truly enjoyable. So congratulations team, hope to see you all on the next mountain!

That's a wrap,

RMI Guides Hannah, Ben, Dan, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Yay! So happy for all of you :)

Posted by: Shelby Read on 1/27/2023 at 11:57 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Take First Acclimatization Hike

As our first real warmup, the team hiked Rucu Pichincha today. Of all my times on this peak, today was by far the clearest. We were able to identify numerous big mountains once we got off the Teleferico (gondola): Cayambe, Antisana, Sincholagua, Cotopaxi, Rumiñahui, Chimborazo, Iliniza Sur and Iliniza Norte. Being such a clear day also meant we did not get rained on to end the hike nor have to slip around on the muddy trails following a rain event.

We have been happy to be in Quito, adjusting to life in Ecuador, but are now ready to venture into the countryside. Tomorrow, we head for our second acclimatization hike on Fuya Fuya and will stay the night at La Casa Sol, just outside of Otavalo.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome!! All the Best to you Dustin and Team!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/27/2023 at 4:49 am

Kilimanjaro: Grom & Team Check in from Barranco Camp

Hey everybody, this is Casey Grom checking in from the Kilimanjaro Climb. Just want to let everybody know that we're doing great here on Kilimanjaro. We've had some technology difficulties with our satellite modem, but luckily today I've got a little bit of cell service. So calling to let you guys know that the last couple of days have been great. We had a nice hike from the park entrance, on day one up to the forest. And yesterday we made it up to Shira Camp, up on the top of the Shira plateau. Today, Day 3, we made our way up to Lava Tower which was about 15,000', sort of a high point for a number of folks on the trip.  I am hoping to get that satellite modem going here at some point and will try to get a few pictures out  to everybody. Currently the team is doing really well and the weather's been pretty nice for the most part. We just wrapped up dinner here and we're going to head to bed shortly. Our game plan for the next couple days, in they off chance that we can't get a message out, tomorrow we're going to climb the Barranco wall and make our way over to Karanga Valley which will be our last camp before we move up to our High Camp and make our Summit attempt from there. Our goal is going to be to try to get to the summit around 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning on Sunday morning for us. So that'll be Saturday evening for a lot of folks back home.

Just checking in all is good, and we look forward to getting some pictures to everybody as soon as we get an opportunity. So keep your fingers crossed we have good weather for the climb and we'll check in as soon as we can.

Thanks for following,

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from Barranco Camp, Kilimanjaro.

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Kaitlin! Have an amazing time! Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures! Good luck

Posted by: Steve on 1/27/2023 at 11:13 am

Sending Grom & Team best wishes for safe travels and great weather as you ascend the mountain.  So proud of Kaitlin as she has planned and trained for this for so long.  Can’t wait for photos and stories. 
Hugs and love to all!

Posted by: Lori on 1/26/2023 at 10:20 pm

Aconcagua: Smith and Team Bask under the Stars for their final mountain night

Howdy howdy,

We woke up for the last time on the mountain.

We opened our eyes to a frosty dome tent as we packed up our sleeping bags and got ready for breakfast. Today, we headed down the valley towards the park entrance. 8hrs and 17miles later, we arrived at Lenas, our first camp we stayed at 16 days ago.

We started our expedition with a carne asada dinner and ended it the same way. Bellies full of steak, potatoes, veggies, red wine. Our bellies no longer rumble and are now instead very full. The team earned this glorious meal cooked by a spectacular chef. With a light breeze we are headed to our sleeping arrangements, some in tents, others sleeping under the stars.

It's a surreal moment looking back at being at 19,600' just yesterday and now sleeping on the valley floor. Tomorrow, we finish our trek out to the gate entrance, concluding our 17-day trip up and down Aconcagua. Everyone is ready and excited for the hotel amenities - top on the list is a shower, a reliable toilet, clean clothes, and a comfy bed.

For now, we are content laying in the dirt after a long day hiking.

Buenos noches,

Hannah, Ben, Dan, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Godspeed to the climber in the red beret!

Posted by: Jenny French on 1/26/2023 at 6:58 am

Congrats Hannah to You and your Team! You all Rock!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/26/2023 at 3:22 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier and Team Tour Quito

Everyone arrived with all bags in tow. That is as much of a win as we can ask for on day one.

Today, we ventured out on a tour of Quito and La Mitad del Mundo (literally, The Middle of the World). It was a particularly sunny day, and we spent a little time enjoying the variety of flowers at El Museo de Intiñan, the indigenous equatorial museum.

From there, our tour heads to El Panecillo, a small hill just south of the old town. Panecillo basically translates to "little bread loaf" as it is just a small rise that affords a person a nice view of Quito. If you make an early morning trip here, you can usually see Cayambe, Antisana and/or Cotopaxi from atop the hill. In the afternoon, mounting clouds tend to obscure the view.

We, then, headed down into the old town to have a look around at some statues, historic buildings, and old churches. But perhaps more importantly, there was a quick stop for empanadas and ice cream. Much of culture can be absorbed through food and discovering the taste of fresh guanabana ice cream is certainly a cultural experience.

Today is just the beginning of what we all hope is a safe, successful climbing trip!


Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thanks for being our biggest fan Farmer Dave!

Posted by: Dustin on 1/26/2023 at 6:46 pm

Hey Dustin ,
You Rock! Looking forward to following along again!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/26/2023 at 3:26 am

Aconcagua: Cifelli and Team rest, acclimatize, and await a Farkle champ

We spent the day at Basecamp. Rest and Acclimatization

Walking to Basecamp would be enough of an adventure for most people but not us. The mountain looks down on us; both inviting and intimidating.

Tomorrow, we will carry a good portion of gear, food, and fuel up to Camp 1. Thus, one of our tasks was to organize and reorganize our gear for the move ahead. 

The other task for today was to rest, acclimate and mentally prepare for the challenge ahead. Most of us awoke feeling the altitude to one degree or another but today was a day to recover and prepare.

After our packing was complete, most of the team took naps, read, chatted, or played cards. Dom “yet to be named” Cifelli imparted the sage advice to take care of our ourselves, something so frequently overlooked in our day to day lives. And so, we took care of ourselves and each other. We took a brief stroll in the late afternoon to move our bodies and explore the area around us while enjoying another sunny afternoon.

As we prepare for dinner, a cloud and some light flurries rolls in and we start to plan for our evening. Will Tim remain the reigning Farkle champion, or will Jack “Gator” Delaney get his vengeance and his first victory, or will Jess “Pa-li-llo” Wedel come out of nowhere to earn the crown? Regardless, the night will be filled with laughs and good conversations. 

Good night from Basecamp.

Climber David Scordino 

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi dad,

We accidentally left a message for you in the other blog . . . and we thought, wow, that was the fastest summit ever :-) lol.  #teamnosleep   #momlife

We’re glad you guys have made it safely to Basecamp and you guys are keeping yourselves entertained by the beauty and your games. Not sure if Sir Albert would be pleased to hear you’re dethroning him - Farkle Champion.

We’re thinking of you and praying for a safe journey for all. Love you to the moon and back.

God bless,

Chris, Bo, Lillian, and Carl

Posted by: Chris Bo Lillian Carl on 1/27/2023 at 8:31 am

Hi Pops!

By the sound of it,the first part of your trek is off to a good start. I can just imagine the beauty that surrounds you. I read that you are the reigning farkle champion… never heard of it so it could be true or maybe the altitude is getting to everyone’s senses haha. Either way I’m always up for a challenge, when you return.
Sending love,
Cody and girls

Posted by: Amanda on 1/26/2023 at 12:12 pm

Aconcagua: Smith & Team Descend to Base Camp

Good evening all,

Today we said goodbye to Aconcagua High Camp and hello to basecamp. We woke to a breezy, chilly morning as we broke down camp. Cold fingers and toes couldn't slow down our packing with so much incentive to go down, one being more oxygen. We made our way back to our previous camps to pickup gear left behind. With each stop our packs got bigger and heavier. Descending almost 6,000' puts some hurt on the body, especially the toes. But the team moved well and before you knew it we were back at the comforts of basecamp in our camp shoes drinking beer and juice and munching down delicious wraps. After enjoying our drinks and food, we sorted gear for tomorrow and patiently waited for dinner. Everyone's tummies are bottomless pits right now. Instead of setting up tents most of the team has opted for a slumber party in the dome tent where we eat our meals. It's one less chore in the morning before hitting the trail to the Park entrance. Tomorrow is a big day walking down to Lenas but it does conclude with a Carne asada celebration dinner. That is it for tonight. Now it's time to enjoy some much deserved and needed rest.

Goodnight all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Ben, Dan and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome Hannah!! I love following along!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/25/2023 at 9:17 am

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