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RMI Expeditions Blog

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Practice Mountaineering Skills Prepping for Chimborazo

The team enjoyed a nice night at the Chuquiragua Lodge where we were able to dry out, get a good night’s sleep, and even practice some anchor equalization and crevasse rescue in the courtyard. Victor, our driver, showed up around noon to join us for lunch and we’ll be heading out soon for a night at Estrella de Chimborazo before starting up on the mountain in earnest tomorrow…

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Billy and Company - Enjoy every minute of your experience down in Ecuador, ran or shine - it’s the journey as much as the destination.  Would LOVE to be with you right now!  Thanks again for an amazing two weeks up on Aconcagua.  I had a fantastic time.

Special greetings to my good friend, Rob Yonaitis.

Best regards, Craig

Posted by: Craig Falkenhagen on 2/11/2016 at 11:09 am

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Drying Out at the Scenic Illinizas

The “improving trend” turned out to be a bunch of baloney and shortly after finishing my dispatch last night the starry sky clouded over and began to steadily pour almost without relent. We woke in the morning and the steady downpour had not begun to show signs of letting up. The team decided over breakfast that with the zero probability of climbing Antisana, that our best move was to pack up and hike out and hopefully dry out at a hacienda. So here we are, some time on the road later hanging up all of our gear to dry yet again at another hacienda this time at a scenic spot at the base of the Illinizas. Despite the tough weather the gang is doing our best to have fun and enjoy the Ecuadorian countryside. All this traveling has been fun but we’re hoping to get in a little more legit climbing before our trip winds down.

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Summit!

Original Post 6:34 a.m. PST

Hey everyone. This is JJ Justman and JM and Team Aconcagua. The team is on the summit of Aconcagua! Just below 23,000 feet! My voice is a little hoarse but I am going to hold the phone out and we’re going to give the team a chance to give a big hooray. [Team in the background.] It was a beautiful day climbing. We are the only ones up here on the summit right now. It’s a very quiet day. The weather is crystal clear, not a cloud in the sky, a light breeze. It’s supposed to be blowing a little bit more later today. We got an early start and it was a great effort by the team. We still have to get down, but it’s a safe route. We’ll get back to camp in several hours. You guys, it’s been a great adventure. Thanks for following along. We’ll touch base again here soon. From the summit of Aconcagua, this is the RMI team saying, “Arrivederci!”

RMI Guide JJ Justman

Update 9:54 a.m PST

RMI Guide JJ Justman checked in with the RMI Office. The team is back and high camp safe and sound. Everyone is focusing on staying hydrated and resting. The team will spend the night at high camp and descend to base camp tomorrow morning.

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls from the Aconcagua summit!

On The Map

Congratulations JJ and team!  Can’t believe the weather improved so much since our attempt just a few weeks ago.  Enjoy your descent and asado at Pampa de las Lenas.  Craig

Posted by: Craig Falkenhagen on 2/11/2016 at 10:23 am

congratulations to team lawler- ken and brad. what an effort! can’t wait to have you back at home.

Posted by: anne lawler on 2/10/2016 at 6:43 pm

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Set up Camp at Antisana

Hi all!

Your intrepid team woke this morning after a solid night’s sleep to mostly dry gear (although there were some attempts to dry gloves out the window of the bus) and enjoyed a nice breakfast at our hacienda before heading south towards our next objective. Many hours of transit later we’ve made camp in a beautiful alpine meadow on the side of Antisana and are about to enjoy our first night in tents. The weather currently has cleared significantly and the wind has calmed to nearly a standstill but things weren’t looking so good for most of the day today. Rain plagued our spirits for most of the drive from Guachalá to Antisana and while setting up tents in a bit of drizzle we weren’t so sure that we were going to be so lucky. Knock on wood. Hopefully this improving trend will continue and we will get to take an honest shot at the summit. But first tomorrow calls for a day trip up above our camp to the glacier where we hope to practice our crevasse rescue among other technical skills before returning to camp on the eve of our climb. We enjoyed a tasty spaghetti dinner and are now all tucked in in anticipation of tomorrow’s early rise.

All for now!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Call from High Camp, Summit Bid Tomorrow

Hey everyone. This is JJ Justman with Team Aconcagua. We are all up at High Camp, 19,600 feet. We’ve got camp built. We have the stoves fired as well. We’re melting snow for water, getting some hot drinks going. It’s a calm day right now, but the forecast is for a little bit of winds to pick up for tomorrow but then it’s supposed to really be bad the next couple of days after, so we are taking advantage of this window. It’s nice weather now- keep your fingers crossed for us that it will continue. We certainly are hoping that it will; but regardless, we’ll have a safe climb tomorrow. We’ll touch base with you. It’s going to be very busy so don’t worry. We’re going to have a full day ahead of us but everyone is doing really well, which is the great thing. So I’m anticipating a fun summit climb tomorrow. Take care everyone. We’ll touch base later on tomorrow whether we’re on top of the summit or when we’re on our way down. Take care everyone. Ciao from Argentina.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls in from Aconcagua High Camp.

On The Map

Nice work mike. Just one foot in front of the other now. Praying for a Summit for you guys. Eric

Posted by: Eric on 2/10/2016 at 3:08 am

I wish I could be up there with you guys, YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP YOUR COMPOSURE!! And don’t forget your water shoes, you wouldn’t want JJ yelling at you.
Best of luck guys,
I’m pulling for you

Posted by: Greg Jr. on 2/9/2016 at 12:27 pm

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Retreat from Cayambe

Today the gang got a good old-fashioned butt-kicking at the hands of Nevado Cayambe. We woke in the middle of the night to strong winds but clear skies and decided to rig up and take a shot at climbing. The walls of the refugio were rattling in the wind and I remember thinking to myself that we were gonna probably have a pretty tough go out there. Shockingly, as we left the hut and climbed around the rock buttress above we found ourselves moving through the terrain in much more manageable conditions. The wind backed off and we were looking up at a starry night and the city lights below. We made our way up a couple of steeper rock steps and onto the dry glacier in short time and continued up the hill. Chase and I both remember thinking to ourselves, “we just might pull this off…” But alas, the wind was to return as we climbed higher but this time with some serious moisture. The wet came in pulses and we were able to deal with it until we reached a bench in the glacier at just over 17,000’ where we all came into the break and looked each other over. The truth was undeniable, we were all soaked and the conditions were worsening. Sadly, we knew we had to turn around before the summit and weave our way back through a very crevassed and broken glacier. Despite not making the summit we still got to climb through some incredible terrain and glacial formations and everybody agreed that we were getting a full value experience. Some hours later, when we finally stumbled back to the hut, the storm has significantly increased its ferocity and was plastering us with sheets of sideways rain and strong gusts. We napped for a little bit and loaded our soaking gear into 4x4’s and headed back to Babylon. Tonight we’re drying out and enjoying a real bed at Hacienda Guachalá. Built in the late 1500’s, it’s the oldest hacienda in Ecuador with tons of crazy history from famous visitors (including Edward Whymper, the first to climb many of these peaks in the 1700’s) to pre Inca constructions, and even a crypt beneath the chapel. Tomorrow we’re headed for Antisana, praying for good weather, now, I’m headed for dinner!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Check Out the Route Above Camp 2

Well, word on the street is that the Broncos won the Super Bowl. I don’t believe it, but you can believe that we are having a great day at Camp 2. Today we’ve got sunny skies, moderate winds, and lots of quesadillas. We are also the only humanoids in sight, which is quite a treat. We went for a quick shuffle above camp this morning to get a view of what lies ahead, and everyone is excited to get moving again. We’ve got a lot of resting left do do today, but everyone sends their best. Hopefully next time we talk to you will be from high camp!

Adios- RMI Guides JM Gorum and JJ Justman

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Experience Winds on Cayambe

We woke this morning to a quiet refugio but that didn’t last long… The weekend hordes of locals would soon overwhelm the small refugio and unfortunately for us, the weather wasn’t really cooperating for our planned day of training up on the glacier. Despite gusts to 50 mph and sideways drizzle we geared up and tried to make our way up towards the glacier. We didn’t last long. After making our way up some 600 or 700 feet we were getting blasted by even stronger winds and getting wet to boot. We pulled the plug and headed back for cover, ultimately using a rock ridge for some protection. It was barely enough for us to get the training in we’ll need for tonight’s attempt at the Cayambe summit. Luckily, the wind is backing off a bit along with the crowds of day visitors and we are hoping both trends continue and allow us to make an honest crack at the summit.

I’ll check in tomorrow evening and let ya’ll know how it went,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Happy Birthday SPS!!! We L and M!!!! Enjoy yourself!!!!

Posted by: Team Chapman on 2/8/2016 at 8:39 am

Happy Birthday Jason!!!!  Love, mom and dad

Best wishes to the team for a safe and successful climb!!

Posted by: Esther Chapman on 2/8/2016 at 5:57 am

Aconcagua: Justman & Team Move To Camp 2

It’s like no one else is on this giant mountain. We are alone. Don’t mistake that for being lonely, the team is having fun and the bonds the mountain brings grows even stronger. However, there is not another team in sight! Rare.

Our Aconcagua team left Camp 1 this morning and we decided to move up to Camp 2 at 18,000 feet. Everyone as usual did a great job. Our oxygen sats are high and our spirits are even higher. Our plan now is to take a well deserved rest day tomorrow.

Someone told me the panthers are in the Super Bowl? Carolina has a football team!?

Go Broncos!!!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and JM Gorum

On The Map

Hi there, Mike,
  We went to the Lee Co.Community Band Concert at 3:00 on Sat, then went to look at the tornado damage before heading for the Sieferts’ Super Bowl party.  Brought Apple Streudel, two boxes of football brownies, and a case of Coke Zero.  Had a great time;everyone asked about you.  As you know our Carolina Panthers lost; Cam Newton didn’t do much.  So glad that you will ascending the summit tomorrow rather than Sat.  Brrr! Love reading J.J.Justman’s blog.
    Happy climbing
    Mom and Dad

Posted by: Joan and Spence Vigneau on 2/9/2016 at 2:06 pm

It was an awesome game.  Great defense on Broncos and they pummeled Cam Newton several. times.  I was still a little sad though my Packers were not in it.  I know Cheese head.  LOL.  Hope all of you are doing well and wish you the best of luck on your summit bid.

I am so looking forward to doing this climb or a Denali climb in the next couple of years.  Will be doing Rainier next year, and then Denali or this one the year after.

Posted by: Kevin Stone on 2/8/2016 at 6:30 am

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Explore Market, Arrive Cayambe Hut

Saturday, February 6, 2016

After a light breakfast at the Casa del Sol we headed down to find a bustling Otavalo Saturday market. We cruised around town shopping for souvenirs, avoiding kids hellbent on silly string annihilation, and finished up our Otavalo experience with a nice lunch in the main square. After that we left town and headed for the hills under the guidance of Victor, our fearless driver. The road to Cayambe isn’t in the best shape these days and despite massive potholes and some pretty steep switchbacks for a bus Victor was able to deposit us about 30 minutes shy of the refugio. After our short walk, we settled into our accommodations in the refugio and enjoyed a hot drink. The evening brought us to dinner (pork chops!) and knot session to lay the foundations for more skill training to come.

Cozy above 15,000’,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Hope you art all four pork chops. Meat sweats are a critical component of good acclimatization.

Posted by: Bunny Lebowski on 2/7/2016 at 12:35 pm

Hi Poppy I love you Its Olivia

Posted by: Olivia on 2/7/2016 at 11:19 am

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