Entries from Aconcagua
February 7, 2015
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
Congratulations to team on an exciting adventure! It was a well deserved celebration! I’m looking forward to the stories and pictures Bruce. Safe travels home. xo
Posted by: Joyce Pully on 2/8/2015 at 4:40 am
February 6, 2015
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
February 5, 2015
Today’s agenda was a carry of group and personal gear to Camp II (18,000ft) and this is personally one of my favorite days. After our carry and move to Camp I the terrain eases off a bit and becomes less cumbersome to Camp II. As the trail leaves Camp I we slowly switchback our way up the South side of a broad basin. At about 17,000ft the route hooks North and heads for a col (low spot) in between Aconcagua and fellow neighboring peak Cerro Ameghino. Once through the col the Northern expanse of the Andes unfolds and we are greeted with views of ancient glaciers and 6,000 meter peaks. The view stays much the same all the way to Camp II and the team wasn’t complaining!
Everyone did great with the new altitude today though and we are now currently re-hydrating and recouping with some hot soups and a siesta before dinner. Tomorrow’s agenda: REST DAY!
RMI Guide Steve Gately and Team
February 4, 2015
After nearly two weeks of progress moving in fits and starts, as we move camps, carry gear, and take rest days to acclimatize, the last several days suddenly start to rush by. We had a great, though very difficult, summit day yesterday. The sun shone in a completely clear, brilliant, azur sky, but as has been the nature of the last several days, the wind continued to rush on. We prepared in gusty conditions that made it uninviting to leave the tent, and donned our packs. For much of the climb we received only gusts, protected from the main force of the wind, the constant noise of which we couldn’t ignore. This region has received very little precipitation for the last several years, and the results of that were the second major challenge of the climb. Where snow fields usually provide nice cramponing, only sand existed, and climbing sand hills at 22,000 feet is no small task. We persisted, and at 2:45, crested the summit of Aconcagua.
Time flies, and while that was only yesterday afternoon, it feels much further removed. We woke this morning to the ever present wind gusts plastering the tent to our face, and packed our bags to head to base camp. As we descended, we picked up the items that we had cached at our previous camps, so our packs grew heavier, even as the air grew thicker. We arrived at base camp to a delicious spread, which was followed up shortly with our first carne dinner in a while. We organized our bags for the mules, and tomorrow we will reverse our course, once again carrying light day packs as we descend the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys back towards Penitentes, and ultimately Mendoza. Everyone is excited at the prospect of more beef, wine, and warm temperatures that await us in the coming days. Thanks for following,
RMI Guides Pete, Alex, Juan and team
On The Map
Congratulations to everyone! I was sorry to read about wind and sand but share your elation at completing the climb!
Posted by: Sally Falkenhagen on 2/5/2015 at 3:43 pm
Congratulations to everyone and get back safely! Will look forward to hearing more about your accomplishment, Kevin, next time I’m in Easton!
Posted by: Jane Osman on 2/5/2015 at 4:40 am
February 4, 2015
The Gang Moves to Aconcagua Camp 1.
For all the creature comforts of base camp, the Gang decided they’d had enough quesadillas, pizza and breakfast burritos and wanted to start eating oatmeal higher on the mountain.
We scrambled up the loose scree slope again to Camp 1, this time to spend three nights. We have amazing views of the Andes. The ridge across the Vacas River has every shade of red and brown you can imagine.
The Gang worked hard to move supplies through the scree and 2,400 feet of elevation gain. We are resting in our tents after a tough day.
It’s always sunny at Campo Uno!
On The Map
We’re with you and watching from afar - SFFG snd all of SH!
Posted by: Lois Smith on 2/5/2015 at 10:20 am
February 3, 2015
Pete Van Deventer and Team called into the RMI Expeditions Office to let us know they reached the summit of Aconcagua and are safely back at High Camp. Pete will send a full report of their summit day after they rest and re-fuel.
Fantastic job Kev! Congratulations to you and the team and continued success coming down.
Cheers to all! Jeff Logeman
Posted by: Jeff Logeman on 2/5/2015 at 10:49 pm
Posted by: Ruthie on 2/5/2015 at 5:33 pm
February 3, 2015
The team woke this morning after a wonderful nights sleep despite not being serenaded by the sounds of war drums and a seemingly lost pan flute player. If that wasn’t enough we then treated the team to breakfast burrito’s and real drip coffee!
Everyone is doing great after yesterday’s efforts and today we focus on resting for our move to Camp I (16,200ft) tomorrow. Moving up is always such a good feeling. After 4 nights at Basecamp everyone is excited for a change of scenery and for most, getting to Camp I feels like we’re finally starting the climb as we leave the creature comforts of Basecamp behind. Tonight we’ll enjoy our last meal with silverware and plates until our descent. The gang sends there…. Well why don’t we just let them tell you!
Loving the music here at base camp: Oasis, Bon Jovi, and Ace of Base! -Candace
We are both feeling good and relaxing with quesadillas at base camp on a rest day today. Love to all. - Jeff and Mere
I am taking a break from technology -Sam
I told people at work I didn’t have access to email -Rebecca
RMI Guide Steve Gately
Woohoo! Sounds like you all are rocking it up there! So jealous that you get to enjoy the company of Candace!! She’s so much fun :) Be well! ❤️! Tiffany
Posted by: Tiff!! on 2/4/2015 at 10:53 pm
Posted by: tina baker on 2/3/2015 at 8:26 pm
February 2, 2015
“THE GANG CONTEMPLATES DRUM CIRCLE SABOTAGE”
A stint at Plaza Argentina wouldn’t be complete without being kept awake by the repetitive and monotone sound of Argentine dance music mixed with improvised drum solos, all accompanied by a Peruvian pan flute.
This amazing melody finally wrapped up around 4am. The Gang took a load of food and equipment to Aconcagua’s Camp 1 today in great style, despite the dry and dusty scree slope that must be gained. We spent an hour at 16,200 ft and descended to quesadillas and siesta.
Rest day tomorrow and hopefully a full night’s sleep.
It’s always sunny at Plaza Argentina!
On The Map
February 2, 2015
Though the tents shook with the wind again last night, the gusts came fewer and further between. As the sun rose this morning the gusts became rarer, and we decided that this was our day to move to our high camp at Colera (Spanish for anger, not the disease). We were still prepared to face strong winds as we moved into more exposed terrain on the way, but Aconcagua gave us a pass and we climbed with gentle breezes and brilliant sunshine the whole way. We are now settled in, working on heating water for dinner- which takes a long time at 19,600’- before we rack out early to prep for a hopeful summit attempt tomorrow. All of the days of hard work have gotten us here, and everyone is excited to be in place for the final push to our objective. We’ll be in touch tomorrow to let you know how it goes.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Alex Barber, Juan, and the team
On The Map
You mom asked me to tell you comgratulations on how far you went, She is very proud PBB.
Posted by: Joyce Pully on 2/3/2015 at 6:31 pm
So glad to hear weather will let you take your shot at the summit today. We are all cheering you on from Fargo!
Posted by: Diann on 2/3/2015 at 6:32 am
February 1, 2015
We decided this morning to take a Groundhog Day at Camp 2 on Aconcagua. With gusty winds swirling around camp, the group thought about it and decided that another day of acclimatization would make everyone stronger. We have plenty of extra days to spare, and an important skill here in the mountains is being able to curb our enthusiasm to rush in higher and make the necessary adjustments to set us up for success.
We spent the day sorting snack food, playing cards, and trading food with tent mates. At this point in the trip, the grass is always greener in a neighbor’s snack bag, since things that looked so delicious when we were shopping have come to look much less appetizing with too many repetitions. It is exciting to get some new additions, and some of the card games started taking on snack food bets.
Our plan is to head up to camp 3 tomorrow weather permitting, which will put us in place for our summit attempt.
RMI Guides Pete, Alex, Juan, and the gang.