- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Bridget Belliveau
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Lance Colley
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Pepper Dee
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Lindsay Fixmer
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- JM Gorum
- Casey Grom
- Billy Haas
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Mike Haugen
- Andy Hildebrand
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- JJ Justman
- Andrew Kiefer
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Caleb Ladue
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Jeff Martin
- Stoney Molina
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Tyler Reid
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Mike Soucy
- Garrett Stevens
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Christina von Mertens
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Robby Young
Posts for Aconcagua
Posted by: | March 10, 2015
Having recently returned from an Aconcagua expedition, and having unpacked all my duffels, it was time to reflect on what I learned from the experience. I learned that I will never be called out for breathing like Darth Vader or for taking too many rest steps, resting spots are always further away than they initially appear (or are promised) and it is statistically impossible to pack too many gummies. In fact, learning the exact food preferences of your guides, and anticipating their needs before they become hypoglycemic (or just cranky) is key to any successful Aconcagua expedition. For instance, I am now equipped with the powerful knowledge that Steve is partial to sour worms, irrespective of the time of day or the altitude, and Mike has an aversion to any form of fruit and won’t touch chocolate on summit day. And you can never EVER pack too many tubes of Pringles. I will forever carry this insight with me on future climbs.
So what else did I learn? I admit that initially I had reservations about my ability to handle the rigors of an Aconcagua expedition, my “level” being best described as “enthusiastic”. I wondered whether I had sufficient experience to effectively prepare for an extended trip. I had deep concerns about my long-time nemesis, altitude, and how I would acclimatize “on schedule”. And I wondered if being a female climber (and therefore packing less than 200 pounds of pure muscle – a “lightweight”) would prove to be a limiting factor for a climb of this nature. As it turns out, picking rocks up and putting rocks down is not the most important expedition skill after all. In fact, as a female climber you probably innately possess many of the skills you will need.
It is precisely because your mindset is not that of muscling your way up the hill, that as a lightweight, you will appreciate that technique matters. You will quickly grasp that rest-stepping is a technique and not a pace. It is because you will be more open to learning how to do things differently that you will pay closer attention to what your guides are doing and follow their lead. It is true that stuffing your too large a sleeping bag into your too small a compression sack will always remain a fun, high altitude workout, however being inherently more detailed oriented, you are more likely to remember to weigh down the tent bag and keep a firm grasp on the tent while setting it up in hurricane-force winds so it doesn’t blow away into Chile, and to remember to double check that the tent fly is fully zipped so it doesn’t rip in the wind. Perhaps it is because you are more likely to be aware of your own limits that you will appreciate the value of thorough preparation, of perseverance and of thinking several steps ahead. You will naturally be more disciplined, and always purify your water, pack that extra layer and know where every item in your backpack is located. It is because you are more cautious by nature that you will take care of all the details (whether it is cold fingers or simply reapplying sunscreen). All these details will add up over the course of an expedition. Ultimately it is what is in your head that counts the most – your own sound judgment, your own inherent sense of self preservation, that only becomes more deeply ingrained with each climb, that will prove your most valuable expedition skill.
Aconcagua is set in a strikingly harsh environment. You will spend many hours scrambling over a glacier in a desert, as the mountain slowly reveals itself the higher you climb. You cannot take a bus to see it – there are no short cuts. You will only be privileged to see it if you climb it. It is hard. And it is worth it. It will be difficult to recall the exact moment when, reservations aside, it occurred to you that the expedition had been a success, and not only did you cope, but in fact you thrived. Perhaps it was the moment you mastered skiing down scree, or when you welcomed snow as now there was an easily accessible water source and an opportunity to strap on crampons, that you realized you had gone further than you ever thought you could. Maybe it was when you were completely at ease being tent-bound for 4 days at 18,000ft, wondering not if but when your tent would be shredded by the wind, or were content to spend an evening watching snow slide down the tent fly, mere inches from your face. Surely it was the moment you realized you were actually looking forward to ramen night (again!). No, it must have been when you thought nothing of foregoing the tent altogether, and were perfectly satisfied simply to lay down your bag among the rocks and the mule droppings, with a rock for a pillow and just count shooting stars and watch the moon rise beneath an Andean sky. Perhaps it was at that moment that Aconcagua had worked its magic, and you had fully assimilated into expedition life. It is at that juncture that you will realize, that despite being a lightweight, YOU DID IT!!!!! And you can start to dream of your next climb.
Rebecca R. - Aconcagua, February 2015
We are currently back in Plaza Argentina enjoying some well deserved pizza and ice cold beverages. The team cruised down hill this morning, picking up gear and waste, leaving Aconcagua in better shape then we found it. When your descent takes only 4.5 hours compared to the 9 days it took on the ascent, you have to just shake your head a little.
The team is all smiles, waiting on shower water to heat up, enjoying time out of their boots and laughing.
This will be our last dispatch of the climb. We will walk to Leñas on Saturday for an amazing Argentine BBQ (that’s slow cooked beef for you non-southerners). Sunday will see us with a short hike to the road and back in Mendoza.
Thanks for checking in on us during the climb.
February 12, 2015 - 11:56 am PT
The team is all safely back at Camp III after a successful summit day! Warm temps and literally zero wind made it one for the record books!
RMI Guide Steve Gately
9:20 am PT
Hi, this is Mike King with RMI Aconcagua Team 7 stand on the top of South America! We had a challenging day with extremely cold weather, and wind in the morning. We had a lot of new snow and scree on the way up on the upper mountain. The team did great. We’re gonna be heading back down in about 20 minutes. A beautiful day, I don’t have ever seen a more beautiful day on the top of Aconcagua. We will call or send a posting when we get back to high camp. Thanks for joining us!
RMI Guide Mike King
Mike King Calling from the Summit of Aconcagua February 12, 2015
We finally got around to packing up camp and climbing up to 19,600 feet, our High Camp for the expedition. Extremely cold and calm morning with a new blanket of snow on the surrounding Andean peaks made for a scenic day.
High Camp is never anyone’s favorite camp for a few reasons:
1. Sleeping at 19,600 feet can be difficult.
2. There are no ‘great’ tent sites due to how the wind swirls around.
3. Lack of snow makes drinking water a time consuming process.
Good thing we are making our summit bid tomorrow and will be back in Base Camp telling stories before to long.
Wish us luck! We will check in hopefully from the summit on Thursday afternoon.
On The Map
The Gambler said it best, “you have to know when to hold em, know when to fold em”. He wasn’t referring to his chain of Kenny Rogers’ Roasters, but to our team taking another weather day at Camp 2.
We received only a few inches of snow, and with strong winds our tents were drifted in this morning. A cloud reminiscent of Mordor hung over the upper 4,000 feet of Aconcagua until 11am. Instead of getting a late start and arriving in High Camp later in the day, we will dry our sleeping bags and acclimate.
Our summit day will be the 12th. The Gang is hangin’ tough and enjoying the saxophone riff from WHAM’s “careless whisper”.
On The Map
This morning we woke to the traditional Aconcagua weather pattern, cold temps and consistent winds. We watched snow billow off the upper Polish glacier into the sky forming clouds that resembled smoke rising from a 23,000 ft bonfire.
Everyone is chomping at the bit to move camp and begin our summit attempt, but we will spend one more night at Camp 2 and hope the forecast of 5-20 mph winds holds out.
Quesadillas for lunch and more tent time. If you are reading these blogs with any desire to go expedition climbing get a Kindle and crush tent time like a pro.
RMI Guides Mike King and Steve Gately
On The Map
Rest day at Camp 2:
Our coldest morning of the climb here at Camp 2 on Aconcagua. Our water source is a large snowfield, that lately has been a raging torrent due to warm temperatures and almost zero snowfall this season. The amount of water and ice that has melted at Camp 2 has begun to erode tent sites that have been staple spots at an already cramped camp.
We are going for a walk to 19,000’ this morning to stretch our legs and lungs. 18,000 ft is the highest our group has slept and the guides are pleased with how everyone is acclimating. We are still anticipating high winds tomorrow and remain flexible in our ability to move up if we see a significant difference in the forecast.
RMI Guides Mike King, Steve Gately & Team
On The Map
The Gang Moves to Camp 2
Well the good weather only lasts for so long when you are climbing in the big mountains of the world. We moved camp this morning after enjoying another warm and calm night.
We spent the day looking at high wispy cirrus clouds over the summit from the West and ominous lenticular clouds building in the East. The most recent forecast has high winds entering the picture starting tonight and lasting several days.
We are in a good position to wait for better weather with a rest day tomorrow and the ability to use two weather days if needed. We are sitting on a lot of food and fuel.
Until next time,
On The Map
As the expedition draws to a close, the days come flying by in a blur. After a big descent to Aconcagua Base Camp with heavy packs, we fell into our sleeping bags and got one of the best nights of sleep of the trip. The group chose to fore go setting up tents and laid out sleeping bags in the big dining tent, and for the first time in many nights, we didn’t spend the whole night listening to the wind slap at our tents. We woke in the morning, caffeinated up, and did a hasty pack job of the our duffels for the mules. We grabbed our day packs, light once again, and started off down the mule trails, retracing the paths we had walked two weeks earlier (ironically, most of the group didn’t remember much of it and was convinced that we were exiting a different way). While our packs were light, and our hiking shoes a lot more comfortable than our boots, the nearly 15 miles of rocky trail walking took about ten hours, and by the end, everyone’s dogs were far beyond barking.
Fortunately, the amazing arryaros were waiting at Pampe de Lenas, with the fire already started and meat on the grill. The team feasted on more carne than we could possibly eat, especially with the shrunken stomachs that result from two weeks of high altitude living. Once again, we chose to fore go the tents, and everyone unrolled pads and bags on the ground and watched the Southern Cross trace its arc across the canyon rim. We woke early, and though everyone was feeling the previous couple of days, the motivation to finally reach the park entrance and be done trumped all of the physical discomforts. Three and half more hours brought us to the tree-lined aqueduct that signals the final stretch to the end of the long trail. We grabbed our dust covered bags from the mules and loaded a shuttle to Mendoza. With a quick stop for another huge meal, we were in Mendoza by evening, showering off the weeks of dust.
We wrapped up the trip with another great culinary experience at El Patio Azul de Jesus Maria. We feasted on a traditional Argentinian parilla (bbq) with boundless different cuts of meat cooked slowly over a wood fire. Malbec was plentiful for washing the meal down, and was the perfect way to refuel after weeks up the mountain. Most of the group will spend the next two days in Mendoza, planning to explore the shops, rest by the pool, and perhaps tour a few vineyards, before we return to winter time in the States.
We would like to thank the whole team for the incredible team work that they displayed throughout the entire trip, the camaraderie, and the effort that each and every one put out. This was a group that was a pleasure for the guides to work with. Finally, I’d like to thank Alex and Juan for kicking ass the entire trip. The whole trip was a pleasure all the way around, and we’re already looking forward to next year!
RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer
It is not often that a group has a camp to themselves on Aconcagua, that is where we find our team today. After enjoying a sunny and near windless morning the team is organizing personal gear, reading and relaxing. The little headaches and discomfort from our carry to Camp 2 yesterday have dissipated and everyone is adjusting to life at 16,200ft.
The weather has been great with lots of sun, warm temperatures and light wind. We would like to climb higher during this high pressure system, and the team is taking every opportunity to acclimatize appropriately.
As I am typing this dispatch, all I hear is laughter and conversation coming from our tents and that is a welcome sign after two hard days of climbing and caching equipment. We move to Camp 2 tomorrow to begin a holding pattern for our move to high camp and summit day.
On The Map