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:

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

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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Mexico: Beren & Team Acclimate on La Malinche

Posted by: Jake Beren, Christina von Mertens | March 08, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 14,636'

A great evening of meeting the team included the necessary briefing, but more importantly a solid dinner. The next morning we loaded up our equipment from the hotel and started our drive into the mountains.

Our first stop is the Mexican Olympian trainatorium,La Malintzi. Our team of wanna be altitude aficionados showed great promise on our first foray. Everyone shook off some jet lag and travel weariness and performed admirably. We made our way through giant ponderosa pine forests, eventually leaving the trees behind and gaining the ridge ofLa Malinche, an extinct volcano and our first chance to work up high. The collective wrist-mounted technology consensus put our team at 13,800 feet above the sea. Not a bad first day. With a start like this I’d say we’ve got a great shot at some good times in the mountains. Stay tuned as we push on through this adventure!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

Views from the La Malinche trail in Mexico. Photo: Zeb Blais Views from the rocky summit of La Malinche. Photo: RMI Collection

Jake Beren calls in from Mexico.

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Mexico: Waterfall & Team Celebrating Their Successful Expedition

Posted by: Solveig Waterfall, Chase Nelson | February 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico

A big thanks to everyone back home! All your wishes for good climbing weather were answered! We woke up at midnight after a deafening storm of rain and hail to perfectly clear skies and calm winds.

The ascent took us just over eight hours and we spent over 45 minutes on the summit enjoying some of the warmest, calmest, conditions I’ve experienced at 18,600’! After taking photos and celebrating, we descended in just over three hours.  We are all now safely back in town enjoying showers, cervesas, and awaiting a delicious dinner at the Reyes Compound.

Tonight we are looking forward to a well deserved rest and then heading home tomorrow!

Thanks for following along,

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall

February 21, 2015- RMI team on the Orizaba summit. Photo: Solveig Waterfall

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Mexico: Waterfall & Team Summit Orizaba!

Posted by: Solveig Waterfall, Chase Nelson | February 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 18,701'


Solveig called from the top of El Pico de Orizaba. It was just after 9:00 am Mexico time. The weather was nice with calm winds.

They were going to head back down to Piedra Grande Hut and will check after their descent.

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall

The shadow cast by Pico de Orizaba at sunrise. Photo: Solveig Waterfall The Mexico Team making the final steps to the summit of Orizaba. Photo: Solveig Waterfall Chase Nelson and his rope team cresting the Orizaba summit. Photo: Solveig Waterfall

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Mexico Volcanoes: Solveig & Team at Piedra Grande Hut

Posted by: Solveig Waterfall, Chase Nelson | February 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 14,000'

Good Evening!

We are all doing great here at the Piedra Grande Hut at the base of El Pico de Orizaba. After a bumpy and dusty 4x4 drive, we arrived today around 3:30.  Up next was setting up tents and getting our gear together so we could all settle in and enjoy a delicious pasta and garlic bread dinner before tucking in for the night.

It’s cold here at 14,000’, and everyone is settled in for the night. We had beautiful weather on our climb of Ixta and also on our rest day, but here at camp we are in the clouds and we’ve been receiving mixed precipitation types of rain, snow, graupel, and hail. Cross your fingers this system moves out and allows us a shot at the summit!

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall and the Team

Approaching the foot of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico. Photo: RMI Collection Orizaba on the drive to Piedra Grande Hut. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mexico Volcanoes: Solveig & Team Relax in Puebla

Posted by: Solveig Waterfall, Chase Nelson | February 19, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico

After yesterday’s hard work and success, today was spent as a well-deserved rest day for the team in Puebla! We kicked things off with a full night of sleep and a casual start, and folks were free to spend the day exploring what the town has to offer. It was a very relaxing day for everyone, and a few members of the team even went for massages!

We gathered in the evening for a nice dinner at el Mural de los Poblanos, a short walk from the hotel. There we shared photos and reminisced about the days adventures and the climb. Spirits are high, and tomorrow we leave the city for Orizaba.

RMI Guide Chase Nelson

Orizaba view from Puebla, Mexico. Photo: Chase Nelson

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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