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RMI Expeditions Blog

October 21, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Beren & Team Recap their climb of Ixtaccihuatl

We awoke yesterday from our odd “hut” at the base of Ixtaccihuatl (a hut for sure, but surrounded by a peculiar number of antennae) to clear skies and a perfect view of our lady and her fuming lover, Popo. These two volcanoes picked up a dusting of new snow with the weather of the last few days and could not look more beautiful in their fresh duds.

With a possible closing of this weather window the team launched towards high camp on Ixta, accompanied by grumbles from Popo as huge plumes of ash and steam spewed from the angry mountain. Ixta remained calm and welcoming to her respectful visitors. We made our camp and turned in for our first night up high on our host and awoke to perfect climbing conditions.

As we climbed this anthropomorphic mountain, up and down the anatomy of a passionate princess of the past, we eventually found ourselves on the unsupported summit at sunrise. We can only assume that Popo admired our approach as he belched approval on our descent.
It was quite a day and as we returned to the land of mortals in beautiful Puebla, a fresh blanket of clouds covered our hostess. We are grateful for the hospitality and look forward to resting in the lowlands of Puebla for a day. Perhaps Pico de Orizaba will shun the blanket for us mountain lovers from the North in a few days time. Put in a word for us will you?

RMI Guide Jake Beren

October 21, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Beren & Team Summit Ixtaccihuatl

Hello, This is Jake calling in from the summit of Ixta.  The entire team is sitting on top watching the sunrise on a beautiful morning.  We have light winds and temps are pretty pleasant.  We did a great job today, and everybody climbed super strong [call lost].

RMI Guide Jake Beren

RMI Guide Jake Beren calls from the summit of Ixtaccihuatl.

On The Map

October 20, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Beren & Team Check in from High Camp on Ixta

Buenos tardes from High Camp on Ixta.

The team is doing great, and we are about to shut down for the night so that we can get up super early and go for the climb. But the team is strong, spirits are high, and everybody did a great job getting to camp today. We’ll give you a shout from as high as we get tomorrow and look forward to checking in then.

Buenos noches.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

RMI Guide Jake Beren checks in from High Camp on Ixtaccihuatl.

On The Map

October 19, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Beren & Team Hike to 12,500’ on La Malinche

Yesterday our exodus from the beating heart of Mexico City brought us to the cloudy base of La Malinche, an extinct Volcano and site of our first foray to altitude. The clouds stayed saturated with moisture, but didn’t really unleash on us for the bulk of the hike. We were able to make it to around 12,500 feet before the wet cloud was accompanied by some wind and it became clear that we weren’t going to get much benefit by soaking ourselves for a few hundred feet more of elevation. Keeping things civilized, we returned to our cabin in the hills for a little R&R, some gear sorting and a nice fire after dinner. The team is doing great and we are now enjoying a fantastic breakfast next to a waterfall before getting rustic on Ixta. The weather looks to clearing up a little and just in time! Keep those fingers crossed for some good weather for our team and we will check in from high camp on Ixta!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

On The Map

October 18, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: RMI Guide Jake Beren & Team Check in from Mexico City

Last night our crew assembled for the first time in the lobby of our hotel to start the process of building a team. There is quite a lot of experience spread throughout our squad and I look forward to seeing everyone get to know a few of Mexico’s big mountains.

Today we will leave this bustling metropolis and head for La Malinche, our first acclimatization hike. We ought to be on the trail this afternoon for our first taste of some thin air. Tonight we will stay at the old Olympic training facility to sleep around 10,000 feet above the sea. We’ve hit the ground running (or efficiently jogging) and look forward to getting started.

Off to a good start!
RMI Guide Jake Beren

October 2, 2015

Chile - Ski Mountaineering

Chile Ski: Tyler Reid and Team Climb Lanin and Complete Their Ski Adventure

My last experience on Volcan Lanin was two years ago, and it was severely windy. Since then I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has had a calm experience on this mountain.

Two days ago as our team was climbing a steep gully, with 7,000’ of vertical relief above us, that Lanin wind taunted us. The weather forecast called for things to calm down in the late afternoon, but weather forecasts in southern Chile should be read with a degree of skepticism - there’s simply a lack data points in these parts to expect much accuracy.

At 3:30 in the afternoon I thought to myself, we’ll give it 45 more minutes. The wind needs to mellow out significantly. And we need to find a safe place to camp. Basically some alignment of the stars, or we’re going to have to retreat to the monkey puzzle forest…

At 4:15 I scampered up the steep edge of the gully while our group took a break under a rock outcrop. On a protruding ridge I stumbled upon a perfect, safe, snowy ledge carved out by that Lanin wind. And then I thought wait a minute - where’s the wind? Gone.

We had an amazing evening camped in our fortified perch, looking out on dramatic cloud layers. Darkness turned to what felt like daytime, with a very full moon illuminating our tent walls.

The next morning we started climbing - kicking steps in the frozen snow with crampons on our boots.

Our Chile Volcanoes trip landed in the middle of a very unsettled weather pattern here in Araucania. 1,500’ above our camp on Lanin, the snow started to fall, the wind started to blow, the clouds came in, and my attention started to turn from my surroundings to my GPS.

Time to go down. Good thing skiing is so much fun in and of itself. We were smiling big by the time we rolled into camp, and smiling bigger by the time we hit the snow line on the lower flanks of the mountain. 3000’ or so of perfectly smooth corn…

Thanks Chile for 8 awesome days of skiing, and thanks Lonquimay and Sollipulli for allowing us to visit your summits. Llaima and Lanin…we’ll be back next year. And thanks to our awesome Chile 2015 crew: JP, Stephen, and Wendy. And a special thanks to our amazing local outfitter and guide, Sergio Perez.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

September 27, 2015

Chile - Ski Mountaineering

Chile Ski Mountaineering: Reid & Team Take A Rest Day

Today we’re having a rest day in the town of Pucon with an afternoon trip to the Termas (hot springs). Tomorrow we set out for two days on Volcan Lanin, our final objective of the trip. We’ll keep you posted on how things go the next couple of day but for now, it’s time to rest.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

September 27, 2015

Five Day Summit Climb

Mt. Rainier: September 27th Summit!

The Five Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guides Brent Okita and JJ Justman reached the summit of Mt. Rainier early this morning.  Brent reported a beautiful day with clear skies and great climbing.  The team will spend some time on the summit enjoying the views before starting their descent. 

Congratulations to today’s team, what a great way to finish the 2015 Mt. Rainier climbing season!

I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone and especially Caleb and Brent. True professionals in every sense. Thank you for the unforgettable experience.

Posted by: Jed on 9/29/2015 at 11:43 pm

Congratulations Kevin, a major accomplishment. I’m sure the view from the “top of the world was worth the climb”! Safe travels back home to you family. I hope to see you soon to hear all about it.

Posted by: Scott L. Robik on 9/28/2015 at 11:20 am

September 26, 2015

Chile - Ski Mountaineering

Chile Ski Mountaineering: Reid & Team Summit Sollipulli

With Sergio’s 4x4 driving skills playing a crucial role, yesterday our Hyundai van plowed through the 20 cm blanket of new snow over the road to Las Araucarias, a ski area at the base of Volcan Llaima. It felt like full blown winter leaving the parking lot - snow falling from the sky… We decided to take the optimistic approach and see if we could potentially climb out of the clouds. After an hour or so we were at the top of the ski area, with no reference points above. We were able to fit five of us in a tiny unused lift shack, and I did what I usually so when times are uncertain: put on some reggae. With my iPhone as the sound system and Chronixx filling the air, it was the ideal “out-chill the situation” maintenance break. Properly fueled and motivated, we ascended into the whiteness above. Hours later we found ourselves in the parking lot, this time Sergio’s Hyundai as the sound system, Protoje filling the air, cervezas in hand, smiles on our faces… Llaima (and the weather) said no yesterday, but what a positive day in the mountains it was.

Yesterday evening we drove to another mountain, the Hyundai taking us up and up and up a steep lava rock road in 4LO, into a mysterious and remote mountain jungle. Out of the mist appeared Sollipulli Lodge, a place that inspires your childlike imagination. “Eco lodge” is probably the best term to describe this place - each room is its own incredible yurt-like pod situated on a lagoon, with other beautiful alternative structures connected by boardwalks. Mountain jungle living, combined with incredible comfort, and incredibly gracious hosts - the father and son duo Christian and Robert.

Sollipulli is a volcano with an expansive crater that similar to Crater Lake in Oregon and was once much taller before collapsing inward on itself. This morning we had a beautiful ascent to the summit, using a variety of ski mountaineering skills along the way. The weather was in and out, but eventually we found ourselves back in the “viento blanco” - low visibility, annoyingly windy, snowing…

I learned a new tactic on Sollipulli for terrain reference in whiteout conditions. When you’re in the lead, it can be hard to know what sort of terrain you are on, or about to walk into, and guides will use various tricks in these conditions to ensure they’re not leading the group off a cornice or into a crevasse. These are low tech solutions like throwing snowballs, casting a piece of cord tied to your ski pole like a fishing rod…or bringing along a pack of three golden retrievers who follow you all the way to the summit, clearly loving every minute of it, while also providing valuable terrain reference. These Sollipulli dogs were amazing, and also very competent in the winter alpine environment.

Our Sollipulli descent ended in a wood-fired hot tub next to a crystal clear river, an ideal place to relax in the late afternoon rain.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

September 25, 2015

Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir

Mt. Rainier: Muir Seminar Wraps Up Week on the Mountain

The final Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir of the 2015 climbing season is wrapping up their final day on Mt. Rainier. Yesterday, the Seminar led by RMI Guides Casey Grom and Billy Nugent made a summit attempt. The teams reached 13,300’ before increasing winds and deteriorating weather conditions prompted their descent. Today the teams are descending from Camp Muir to wrap up their week of climbing and training. We look forward to welcoming all of the climbers at Rainier BaseCamp in Ashford this afternoon.

Sorry you did not make it to the Summit.  We hope the experience was still worth the challenge!
Good job to all the climbers!

Posted by: Beth n Tyler on 9/26/2015 at 7:23 pm

An amazing feat, inspiring and beautiful.  Congratulations on your ambitious drive!

Posted by: E J FIsher on 9/26/2015 at 8:37 am

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