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Entries from Aconcagua

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

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

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

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

Aconcagua: Cifelli and Team Reach Basecamp


Our first start before sunrise, 

   The wake-up call came at five.

Soon the climbers were busy,

   Our camp was a beehive.

Quickly our duffles were packed,

   And our tents were taken down.

Our daypacks readied for travel,

   We were soon Base Camp bound.

Our first task of the day,

   Was a frigid river to cross.

The pain upon entering hit shockingly fast,

   But once forded no toes had been lost. 

Up Relenchos Valley we trekked, 

   Steep canyon walls on each side. 

We passed mesmerizing formations,

 That Jack our geologist would describe.

We stopped once and marveled, 

   At guanacos high on the hill.

Their grace and their splendor,

   We carry with us still.

We trekked all day on a trail of dust, 

   And rocks, and then more rocks.

Some big rocks to step over, 

   Some small ones in your socks.

Finally Base Camp came in sight, 

   We slightly quickened our pace.

3500’ gain, 7.9 miles in 6 hours, 

   This was truly no race.

We were warmly greeted at camp, 

   With cold drinks and snacks to eat.

The afternoon feast was ended,

   With a delicious chocolate treat.

We have all settled into camp life,

   Playing cards or just laying low.

As we think of the mountain, 

   And those we love down below.

By: RMI Climber Tim Cavanagh  

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Greetings Pops!
Im finally getting on here. We are all doing well here at home. Including your pups. Sounds like you’re having a great start to your expedition. Love your poem. We love you and miss you !
Love, Noel and kids

Posted by: Noel Imfeld on 1/25/2023 at 8:02 am

Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Check in from Casa de Piedra

If you were with us last night you would have slept out under the stars of the southern hemisphere, and when you woke after midnight you’d stay up a few minutes longer watching the Milky Way stretch from ridge to ridge. You might have dreamed of this trip for years or signed up only a month ago.You might be back for your second attempt, comparing this to your trek up Denali, or counting down for an Everest attempt. After all the prep and planning you’d be settling into the pace of the mountain and getting to know our guides. You’d hear about their careers in social work, Iowan ice climbing, and physics research and be grateful both for their expertise on Aconcagua and experience guiding together before. You’d want family back home to think you’re roughing it, and might not tell them about the malbec, bistec, and fresh vegetables prepared over an open fire for dinner - then, as the morning light grew in the Vacas valley you’d laugh again about mummy 10 movies and make your way to the tent for coffee. As you linger over a first-class breakfast Jess races from the kitchen to teach us the Spanish word for toothpick - palillo – with hip and hand motions to ensure correct enunciation for each syllable.

Then, we start to hike. Tim might teach you about the physiology of mammals in the Andes mountains, David would explain the nuances of altitude’s effect on the body, and Jack points to geological features and tells you how they came to be. At breaks we sample apple-flavored kettle corn and sandwiches with every sauce mixed together, cheer as a water bottle is rescued from the glacial river, catch our first sight of guanacos traveling together, and wonder how many birds we could name if put on the spot. Most exciting, and just before camp, we catch our first glimpse of the summit. It stood proudly with the snowfield in view and a wisp of cloud scarfed near the peak. Now, we stay out of the sun, read, and rest - thinking both about those we love back home and the big push that waits for us ahead.

Trusting our training, hoping for good weather, and gaining confidence from the group we passed who made the summit, we settle in for our last night before base camp.

RMI Climber Hudson Baird & Team

P.S. Jane, Shane says hi. 

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Aconcagua: Smith and Team Summit!

What a day!

The team topped out on the tallest peak outside the Himalayas at 1pm this afternoon.

We stood tall and proud at 22,838'.

While not a technical climb, this climb still requires grit and to give it all you have - mentally and physically. The team did amazing! We are all safely back at our tents with bellies full of Ramen and letting our feet air out from a long day of walking.

Tomorrow, we begin our long descent back to Basecamp. There will be tired legs, feet, and backs but there is a huge incentive to get down: bathrooms, showers, pizza, beer, and wine. All of which each member deserves.

We would like to thank all that asked for good weather for us today, because by golly, it was a gorgeous day.

Now it's time to suck in what little oxygen there is here and rest up for tomorrow.

Well done team,

Hannah, Ben, and Dan

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Woohoo!! Congratulations to you all!!

Nick’s Mom

Posted by: Sarah Read on 1/24/2023 at 5:25 pm

Glad to hear the team is doing well and the weather is ideal. We’re praying for a safe journey to the top for everyone. We love you, dad!

From Lillian, “Pops, keep on climbing!”

Well, You heard the tiny little tyrant, I mean, lady, get moving ;)!

Love and God Bless,
Chris, Bo, Lillian and Carl

Posted by: Chris Bo Lillian Carl on 1/24/2023 at 1:56 pm

Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Get Ready in Mendoza then Hit the Trail

The team arrived in Mendoza with all of their gear. The first hurdle of any expedition is the logistical hoops one must jump through in order to pack and prepare. It can feel like quite a challenge to ‘feel ready’ when you step on to the gravel at the trailhead, but the team has it dialed in and we’re truly ready for the expedition ahead of us. Uspallatta, a small town a little ways outside the mountain, was our humble abode last night. We took the time to enjoy the creature comforts of the hotel after packing our bags for the journey ahead. Laying in grass, reading our respective books, and taking naps is how we spent our time after the work was done. The night wasn’t complete until the team and other hotel guests were singing and dancing in a Congo line with live music to boot. Expedition life can be so tough sometimes. Today we leave the comforts of hotels and head out on the trail for our first mountain day. We will do one more pack in the town of Penitentes and prepare our gear for the rigorous journey up the Vacas Valley to Plaza Argentina. Wish for tailwinds, scattered clouds for shade, and cool temps for the trek into Basecamp!

Thanks for following along!

RMI Guides Dominic Cifelli, Jack Delaney and Jess Wedel

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