Everest Base Camp Trek: Team Flies to Lukla, Treks to Phakding

Posted by: Casey Grom | March 22, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 8,700'

Hello everybody this is Casey Grom checking in from the Everest Base Camp Trek.  Just want to let everyone know that everything is going great here in the Khumbu Valley.  Today we got up early and checked out of our hotel and headed to the local airport and caught our 7:45 flight, that went relatively well.  It was a smooth flight all the way to the Lukla airport.  It was a clear day and we had beautiful views of the Himalaya as we headed into the valley.  And then we had a brief glimpse of Mt. Everest right before we touched down.  We spent the next couple hours just gradually making our way down the valley.  We ended our day, here in Phakding and we are relaxing in the tea house, having dinner and just enjoying the surroundings.  The team is doing great.  We are looking forward to getting some wi-fi tomorrow where we will be able to send a few pictures to let you know what the trip is looking like so far.  Everyone is doing great and we will check in again tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

The Everest BC team having dinner in Kathmandu. Photo: Casey Grom The Everest BC team boarding the plane in Kathmandu. Photo: Casey Grom Arriving in Lukla, the entry to the Khumbu Valley and start of the trek to Everest Base Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from Phakding.

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Everest Base Camp Trek:  Team Arrives in Kathmandu, Nepal

Posted by: Casey Grom | March 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek

Namaste everyone

The team has arrived after some very long and tiring flights. Everyone is doing well after a well deserved night of rest here at the tranquil Yak & Yeti Hotel.

Today we met for breakfast and a team meeting to discuss all the gear and the adventure that we are about to take. After our meeting we headed out on a tour of Kathmandu were we visited the beautiful Monkey Temple, the Boudhanath Stupa and a quick stop at the famous Durbar Square.
It’s quite the culture shock visiting this busy city packed with nearly 4 million people. The streets are packed with people, motorcycles, and cars that honk endlessly.

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the peace and quietness of the Khumbu where we head tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

RMI's Everest Base Camp and Island Peak Team site seeing in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Photo: Casey Grom Exploring in Kathmandu, Nepal before starting the trek to Everest Base Camp.  Photo: Casey Grom

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Mexico: RMI Guide Jake Beren Recaps The Team’s Orizaba Summit

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 15, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 18,701'

Well it sure has been an action packed few days for our team here in Mexico. After a wonderful rest day (I’ll let everyone share their own tales when they return) where the crew scattered about the city causing mayhem and generally having a ball, we launched for Tlachichuca. We’d all been nervously watching the weather after our trouncing on Ixta and the forecast was unclear, on all fronts. We had seen everything from the apocalypse to passable, but there really is never any substitute for the nowcast. Upon arrival at the base of the mountain, in our old friend Dr. Reyes’ climbers compound, we learned that no one had summited in days and that getting to the hut would require a few hours of walking. Snow had overtaken the road and trucks couldn’t reach the hut. No one had ever seen such a low snow level, let alone heard of a vehicle making through drifts feet thick in spots. We were in for it if we were going to even make it to the hut.

We decided to go see how far we could get anyway and started climbing up the steep, muddy road towards the hut. The higher we drove, the more snow there was on the road. Eventually the trucks couldn’t climb much higher and it looked like the walk was going to be epically long. But then, an ace up our sleeve saved the day and a teammate who probably doubles as a stunt driver for the winter chase scenes in James Bond movies stepped to the plate. Voila, we took hours off our approach, making it much further. In the end we walked for under an hour before laying claim to a deserted hut.

As we walked to the hut, Orizaba loomed over our heads. It sure looked nasty up high, dark clouds whipping over the summit and most of the glacier fully obscured. No one was really mentioning what we all were thinking, but some sure would have to change if we were going to get very high on this one. After a quick review of some climbing techniques, we feasted and turned in for the night. We woke very early and could see a few stars!!  Dios mio!  As we readied ourselves, the wind came out and it began to lightly snow the higher we climbed. Since we were the only climbers in days, the team broke trail through the night and as the storm built turning back was on everyone’s mind.  Each break we reached we reassessed the merits of continuing and we kept reaching the same conclusion, “one more stretch.”  When we reached the top of the Labyrinth (a rocky maze broken by snowy, usually ice, gullies), the wind and snow were peaking. Everyone was dealing so well with the weather that we decided we would climb for a half an hour on the glacier and turn back if it didn’t improve. As we kicked steps up the glacier, the skies lightened slightly in the morning sun and the wind lessened a knot or two.
  “One more stretch?”
  “Por que no?” we concluded and repeated the question for the next few hours, constantly aware of our conditions and strengths. Continually assessing progress and our teammates, eventually it looked like it was going to be a fight, but that we just might stand on the cumbre!  No summit is worth an injury, so the minute things looked like they COULD be sub ideal, we were ready to head back knowing we gave it our best. Orizaba respected the effort and graciously offered our team of intrepid explorers a glimpse of the top and happily we accepted the invitation. What a treat!  Standing on top was a real achievement, and as the only crew on the whole mountain we had the whole hill to ourselves. Amazing day in the mountains.

The weather cleared a bit for the descent and our team did a great job handling the hardest part of the climb, the descent. A truck was even able to make it to the hut and happily saved us an hour of tired walking through the mud at the end of a long day. When we got back to Tlachichuca, hot showers and a marimba band made dinner even that much better.

Quite an adventure down here in Mexico, can’t wait to see everyone back home!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

An RMI Team on the summit of Orizaba, Mexico. Photo: Chris Villar El Pico de Orizaba above Tlachichuca, Mexico. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mexico: Beren & Team Reach the Orizaba Summit!

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 14, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 18,701'

First off a big thanks to everybody and their good weather vibes for us down in Mexico. We were able to sneak one in on Orizaba today as the only climbers to stand on top.  Beautiful day we were climbing in a very volatile weather situation, but we were able to move around and get to where we needed to be at just the right time, and were able to go stand on top.  It was a wonderful day with a great crew.  Thanks so much for sharing everybody with us and we look forward to seeing you all in the next day or two when we get home. Thanks so much.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

View while on the Orizaba summit day. Photo: Zeb Blais Descending from the toe of the Jampa Glacier on Orizaba. Photo: RMI Collection El Pico de Orizaba, stands 18,701' in Mexico. Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Jake Beren calls in after the team's successful Orizaba summit.

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Mexico’s Volcanoes: Team Enjoys Rest Day Exploring Puebla

Posted by: Christina von Mertens, Jake Beren | March 13, 2015
Categories:

What a great rest day here in Puebla!  We scattered about the city, exploring these old streets and doing a little shopping, bus touring and general feasting (what better way to get to know a place?). This morning we are off to Tlachichuca to get ready for Orizaba. Keep those fingers and toes up North crossed for some good weather!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

Exploring Puelba, Mexico.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mexico: Beren & Team’s Weather Wasn’t in Their Favor

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 11, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico

Buenas Dias de Puebla!  The team is relaxing with some well earned hot showers after a big 24 hours in the mountains. Unfortunately, the weather deities did not smile upon us for our attempt on Ixta. After a great job getting to camp at around 15,300 feet above the sea, we weren’t tucked in our sleeping bags for more than a few hours before an exquisite storm rolled in and sat on us for the remained of the night. Our 2 am wake up turned into 3 am, then 4,5,6 and 7 before we finally threw in the towel. Lightning and steady snow can sure make a call easy, but with such a strong crew, I’m sure we could have made a solid bid for the top if the weather cooperated. Everyone did great work weathering the storm and are about to enjoy a fun rest day in Puebla tomorrow. Keep those fingers crossed for a break in the case, weather wise.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

The Mexico team climbing to Ixta High Camp. Photo: Christina Von Mertens The Mexico team all smiles on a rest break climbing Ixtaccihuatl. Photo: Christina Von Mertens Overlooking the historic streets of Puebla. Photo: RMI Collection

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Put a Breath of Fresh Air in Your Core Strength Routine

Posted by: | March 10, 2015
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

The gym is a staple of many people’s training routine. For many who live in the city, or are simply trying to balance packed work, family and training schedules, the gym is the perfect place to get an efficient and high quality workout in. Really progressing in your training takes a lot of discipline and determination. While the gym provides a great venue to get a lot of work in, it can also be a place full of distractions and a place where routine starts to set in and your progress can begin to feel like it is stagnating. Alternatively, there are those who are almost allergic to gyms and avoid them completely. Regardless, after months of training towards your goal, if you live in a locale that isn’t currently anchored in a deep freeze, taking your strength workout outside is a great way to break your routine and inject some new energy to your training.
 
Pick your favorite short jogging loop, and rather than just going for a 45 min jog, turn it into a core strength session.  Set out for a good warm-up, jogging at a gentle pace that is still conversational. After 10 or 15 minutes of jogging, set your sights on a comfortable spot (grass or a forest floor are much nicer than concrete!) and pick two exercises to do a set each of (pushups and crunches for instance). This style of workout will build more endurance strength since it utilizes body weight, so try to pick a number of repetitions that you can do several sets of with recovery, but still push you hard in the individual set. 60 full crunches and 40 pushups is a great example. Once you have completed both sets, return to your feet and jog easily for 200 meters. Rather than a standing recovery, the active recovery of jogging easily will still allow you to recover, but will train your body to recover while maintaining at least some level of effort. After the active recovery, pick another comfortable spot and pick two more exercises to do a set of each (dips on a park bench and side planks). After completing the second round of sets, jog again for another 200 meters before doing a third set of exercises. 6 exercises is a great number to start with for your total workout. Continue the process until you have done 3 sets of each (9 total strength stops). Once you are done, finish the loop to cool down and head home!
 
As you progress, you can vary the workout in the number of repetitions you do during each set, or by varying the total number of sets. Try to mix up the exercises that you use week to week, so that you stress muscles in a different way. This a great workout to do with partners. You can spice it up by having different partners choose the exercises for a given set, which can add variety, an element of surprise, and show you some new exercises to add to your routine. Your local park or parkway is a great place to head to for this workout. If you don’t have a loop that is suitable, try a couple of laps of a small park. While it may take some imagination to get going, getting outside and breaking up your strength routine is a great way to keep the upward progress of your training going!
_____
These resources have a number of good core exercises for inspiration:
http://www.brianmac.co.uk/exercise.htm#cte
https://experiencelife.com/article/core-circuit-workout/
http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/circuit-training-exercises.html

Mike Walter on the way to the summit of the West Ridge of Mt. Forbidden, North Cascades, WA.   Courtesy Eli Berko

Climber’s Perspective: What I Learned On My Recent Aconcagua Expedition

Posted by: | March 10, 2015
Categories: *Aconcagua

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

Rebecca Rosenweig on Aconcagua in Argentina. Photo: Rebecca Rosenweig
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Mexico: Beren & Team Check in from the Altzomoni Hut

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 09, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 12,000'

Buenes noches from the Altzomoni Hut. The team is doing great. We had a wonderful acclimatization walk, a big meal and we’re just turning in for bed before heading up to our high camp on Ixta tomorrow morning. The team is in wonderful spirits and everybody is doing quite well on our perch on the hill above Puebla in between Popo and Ixta. It’s a beautiful night and the weather seems to be improving, which is great for us tomorrow to start our climb of Ixta. We’ll check in tomorrow. Thank you for all the good wishes and we’ll talk to you soon.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

Popo seen from the flanks of Ixta, Mexico. Photo: JJ Justman


RMI Guide Jake Beren checks in from Ixta's High Camp.

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Mexico: Beren & Team Moving Toward Ixtaccihuatl

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 09, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico

Today we are headed out from our post in Malintzi and moving on towards Ixta. Luckily we will get a chance to do some sight seeing on route. Traveling to another country is about so much more than just trying to stand on top of a mountain. It is often the spaces in between the summits that you remember years after the summits fade. Here’s to the waterfalls and markets, the small town zocalos (town squares) and random Christmas tree farms in the foothills on the way to the climbs. And we hope everyone back home is enjoying the in-between time too.

RMI Guide Jake Beren

Vibrant market in Amecameca, Mexico. Photo: RMI Collection

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Previous Page More Entries

Expedition Stats

Aconcagua Expedition
12/13/2014 - 1/5/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
12/20/2014 - 1/12/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
12/27/2014 - 1/19/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/10 - 1/24/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/4 - 1/27/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
1/6 - 1/19/2015
Cayambe - 17,000' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Ecuador's Volcanoes
1/20 - 1/30/2015
Cayambe - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/11 - 2/3/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari
1/24 - 2/7/2015
Kilimanjaro - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/18 - 2/10/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador
2/3 - 2/16/2015
Cayambe - 16,500' / Antisana - Summit / Cotopaxi - Summit
Aconcagua Expedition
1/26 - 2/18/2015
Aconcagua - Summit
Mexico's Volcanoes
2/14 - 2/22/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - Summit / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/8 - 3/13/2015
Mt. Rainier - 11,200'
Mexico's Volcanoes
3/7 - 3/15/2015
Ixtaccihuatl - 15,300' / Pico de Orizaba - Summit
Expedition Skills Seminar - Winter
3/22 - 3/27/2015
Mt. Rainier - 10,080'

Recent Images

  • Trail leading into Everest Base Camp. Photo: Casey Grom
  • Looking down on Everest Base Camp on the side of the Khumbu Glacier. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Rows of Mani Stones between Deboche and Pheriche. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Teahouse in Pheriche, Nepal. Photo: RMI Collection
  • The Tengboche Monastery, Nepal. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Monks in prayer at the Tengboche Monastery. Photo: Linden Mallory
  • Annapurna Base Camp looking toward the glacier leading to Camp 1. Photo: Alex Barber
  • On the trail from Namche to Deboche with Ama Dablam looming high above.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • The RMI Team enjoying the views of Everest from the summit of Kala Patar.  Photo: Casey Grom
  • The RMI Everest Base Camp team hitting the trail with a fresh dusting of snow.  Photo: Casey Grom
  • The views from above Namche Bazaar of Everest and the Himalaya.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Members of the RMI Everest team with Mt. Everest in the back ground.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The helicopter waits in Tatopani hoping for better weather to fly to Annapurna Base Camp.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • Enjoying the hot springs in Tatopani while waiting for better weather.  Photo: Alex Barber
  • The RMI Everest Base Camp Team Trekking above Pheriche.  Photo: Casey Grom
  • Pheriche tea house nestled among the hills. Photo: RMI Collection
  • An early wake up to watch the sunrise over Mt. Everest.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Everest Team enjoying some acclimatization days in Namche.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Everest Base Camp Trek Team en route to Pheriche.  Photo: Casey Grom
  • The RMI Everest Base Camp Team on the trail to Pheriche.  Photo: Casey Grom
  • RMI Guide Alex Barber riding a rickshaw in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Alex Barber
  • Annapurna in Nepal stands 26,545ft.
  • Jo's Garden in Phakding, village before Namche Bazaar. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Everest team trekking up Namche Hill. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • View from Namche across the Valley to Kwangde. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Views of Everest and Lhotse as the team treks from Namche to Deboche. Photo: RMI Collection
  • The Dudh Kosi River which flows along Phakding.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • The busy streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Billy Nugent
  • The streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: Casey Grom
  • Everest BC team day hike to Tamo Monastery. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The Everest BC team visit the Tamo Monastery. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The trail leading back to Namche Bazaar, Nepal. Photo: Casey Grom
  • RMI Everest Climber, Peter Rogers, celebrates his birthday in Kathmandu. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The 2015 RMI Everest team meets for dinner in Kathmandu. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: RMI Collection
  • The Everest BC team trekking toward Namche Bazaar. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The Everest BC team stops for a photo along the trail to Namche. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The Everest BC team crossing the Dudh Kosi River. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The Everest BC team having dinner in Kathmandu. Photo: Casey Grom
  • The Everest BC team boarding the plane in Kathmandu. Photo: Casey Grom
  • Arriving in Lukla, the entry to the Khumbu Valley and start of the trek to Everest Base Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection