We got down off the mountain yesterday, after a fairly quick hike out from Pampa de Leñas in the cool shade of an early morning. The team moved well, quickly pushing through the last remaining miles towards internal combustion and cold beverages. After checking out with the guardaparques, we grabbed a bite to eat in Penitentes, hopped into our transport, and settled in for the trip back to Mendoza.
Once back in the city, a round of hot showers was in order. After that, we headed down to one of my favorite restaurants here, El Patio Azul de Jesus Maria, where the team feasted on various cuts of meat, enjoyed delicious Malbec, and reminisced about our excellent adventure. The camaraderie and friendship was abundant, and was the perfect complement to our meal.
You know, sometimes you have to step back from a thing to grasp its true measure…and this trip certainly qualifies. While we were fortunate enough to climb onto the summit of the mountain, the real value was not necessarily that point in time or space. Rather, it is the journey we shared over the last three weeks, the sunrises and sunsets witnessed, the in-the-moment focus required to cross rivers and snowy trails, the laughter and human connections made over grilled steak and pots of ramen. While we may part company in a few short days, these memories and shared experiences will continue to give us immeasurable satisfaction, and allow us to return to our lives with new vision and appreciation.
Thanks for following our journey. May it be food for the soul!
Posted by: Ken on 1/17/2014 at 6:37 pm
Today was a big day for the team. Our 9 a.m. launch saw us cruising down the Relinchos Valley in good style and at a good pace, with a little bit of swagger in our step. The first river crossing was enough to wake up the feet, and by the time we hit the bottom and started across the Vacas River we were in full stride.
After a nice foot/leg bath in the cold and swift Vacas River, we were on the good track that runs down and out the valley. It was a long hike, and while the scenery helped occupy some of the time, by the 9th hour most folks were ready for the welcome sight of Pampa de Leñas, our campsite for the night.
We arrived and promptly set up tents. Good thing, too, as a rain squall passed up the valley and forced our crew into the small stone shelter next to the guardaparque hut. The rain couldn’t dampen our spirits or our appetites, though, and we feasted on fresh asado (beef grilled over wood coals) and vegetable salad, washed down with delicious red wine.
The expedition is almost over, and the laughter drifting out of the cramped little shelter told the tale of new friends made, challenging experiences shared, and a bond that has turned this group of strangers into a strong, cohesive team. We’ll finish the last little hike tomorrow, head into town, and rejoin the ranks of the civilized folks. Thanks for watching our progress, and keep it tuned in for the last of our updates.
So proud of you Stefan and all the team. Have enjoyed this blog so much. Knowing you have been safe and having a good trip has taken a lot of stress off everyone here at home. Can’t wait for you to get back so we can hear all the stories. See you soon friend.
Posted by: Martha on 1/15/2014 at 4:15 am
We awoke in Campo Colera to clear blue skies and light winds this morning, ready for the big pack down back to Plaza Argentina. Within a few short hours we were packed up, ready to roll and heading downhill. There’s nothing like using gravity to ones advantage, and the crew did just that throughout the day.
Unfortunately we did have to recover all the gear we cached along the way, so our packs got heavier and heavier as we descended. By the time we got to Plaza Argentina, though, the weight didn’t matter, and we bellied right up to waiting juice, crackers, olives, and cake bites as soon as the packs hit the ground.
Despite being tired from the past couple of days of work, the crew is doing well and still has the energy for yet another spirited round of hearts. Everyone sends their love and thanks for following along! Until tomorrow.,,
RMI Guide Garrett Stevens
January 12, 2014
Posted by: Ben Liken
Well hopefully you got the voice dispatch as well…today was a successful summit day for the crew here on Aconcagua! We woke to clear, dark skies and cool temperatures, for moving well before the sun was up, and were underway with a fairly large cadre of other summit hopefuls.
The sun cracked the horizon as we passed 20,000’, casting Aconcagua’s immense shadow towards the west and creating some sublime photo opportunities. Steady climbing up through cold winds gave way to still air and a soft-shell summit push, and the crew stepped onto the summit plateau around 1:30pm local time. We sat on top for about an hour, then began the long descent back to camp.
Now the team is fed, has full water bottles, and is tucked into tents for good long night of sleep. Tomorrow we’ll start the long descent back into thick air, chasing down dreams of Malbec and beef. Thanks for all the positive wishes!
RMI Guide Garrett Stevens calls from the Aconcagua summit!
On The Map
Congratulations Beng Hoe and rest of the team. Been following the blog daily. The voice dispatch was a nice touch! Enjoy the hike down and stay safe.
Posted by: Helen Lim on 1/13/2014 at 5:34 pm
Congratulations to David and the whole team on your great accomplishment! Have a safe trip down.
Posted by: Lori on 1/13/2014 at 1:22 pm
January 12, 2014
Posted by: Ben Liken
Well here we are, settled into our camp at 19,600’. We arrived earlier today and spent the afternoon getting our tents anchored, water going, hots made and dinner into our bellies. Ben cranked out a huge pot of ramen and mashed potatoes, which should provide ample fuel for tomorrow’s push towards the summit.
The team is psyched and ready for the final leg of this incredible journey. We’ll be up early and out for our summit attempt well before the sun comes up, so it’s off to bed early. The patter of light snow on our tent walls is going to be tonight’s lullaby, and hopefully the winds remain light. Keep sending the good wishes and stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!
On The Map
January 10, 2014
Posted by: Ben Liken
We went to bed last night hoping for lighter winds than the previous night, and thankfully the weather gods delivered the goods. The team enjoyed uninterrupted slumber, and woke today to more blue skies.
The weather has definitely gotten a little colder than it was down below, so our morning was a slow roll through hot coffee and cereal. As the sun climbed higher, the temps warmed and the crew enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of cards and conversation in our tents.
We continued resting throughout the day, conserving energy for tomorrow’s move to Camp 3. If all goes well and the weather continues to hold, we’ll be checking in from the highest reaches of this beautiful mountain over the next couple of days. Keep it dialed in for more updates!
RMI Guide Garrett Stevens & Team
Today started early for the team when a wind storm kicked up through camp in the middle of the night, snapping anchor lines and making sleep quite difficult. We did manage to grab a few zzzz’s, however, in between resetting anchors. But the nighttime fun ensured we were all up with the sun, ready for hot drinks and a hot breakfast.
We spent a couple of hours after breakfast reinforcing the rock walls around the tent platforms, and then packed up personal climbing gear for a carry to Camp 3 at 19,600’. The team moved well as we got higher and higher, with the thin air forcing each of us to concentrate on good rest stepping and being as efficient as possible. The wind stayed with us all day, making our down layers feel nice despite the bright sun.
We dropped our cache at high camp and headed back down. Many personal altitude records were set today, as the team remains strong. An early dinner was in order and now we’re tucked into sleeping bags, hoping for calmer weather and a more restful night.
Now it’s just a waiting game; waiting for the right forecast and good weather for our launch towards high camp and the summit bid. Thanks for your support and we’ll follow up tomorrow!
On The Map
Stef - Winds are decreasing Saturday night! Looking good for the summit attempt on Sunday. Good luck to all. All is ok back home.
Posted by: Steve on 1/10/2014 at 11:43 am
Go team! I checked the mountain summit forecast and it looks like the winds will be slowing down some on Saturday and Sunday, with a change of some snow on Saturday night. Y’all stay safe and warm. Sending love and good summit juju.
Posted by: Amy on 1/10/2014 at 8:16 am
The team has now trekked into the thin air of Camp 2. With an elevation of 18,000’ nothing proves to be easy up here. Even the simple tasks like setting up tents, inflating a sleeping pad, or heading to the bathroom take twice as long, but the team is handling it perfectly!
After a relatively short hike up and now having camp established, the goal is to breathe, sip water, and feel good. With the views of this proudly positioned camp it can at least aid in the task of feeling 100%. It looks in one direction northward over the impressive crest of the Andes Mountains, with glaciers pouring out of the high valleys. In another direction, is our next goal, Camp 3, 1,600’ above our current location. And in yet another, the top of Aconcagua, around 4,800’ above us.
As the summit draws closer, it is tough to just lay in the tent and let our bodies adjust to this unforgiving environment, but very key to our success. The team is strong, positive, and amped to be in one of the highest places in the world.
On The Map
Hope you are having a great trip. Your hard work is paying off. Be safe!
Posted by: Martha on 1/9/2014 at 4:10 am
Good job Dad all your hard work is paying off, hope your enjoying your self.
Posted by: Gabe and the Family on 1/8/2014 at 8:13 pm
One of the hardest things about climbing big mountains is managing your time. There are days when you have to hammer down, grab that pack, and head up. Today, thankfully, wasn’t one of those days.
Instead, we took a rest day here at Camp 1. More sun and light winds made it a pleasant day to be calm and quiet around camp, to catch up on stories from other team members, and continue our hydration.
We’ll be moving tomorrow, so a day to replenish and refuel before going higher was definitely appreciated. We will check in from Camp 2 tomorrow…until then, keep your fingers crossed for continued good weather!
RMI Guides Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, and Nick Brown
On The Map
Hey Stefan! I was just thinking….. that’s all. Did it make you smile??
Posted by: Martha on 1/8/2014 at 9:39 am
Stefan and group. Keep up the hard work you can do this:-) Hope you are having a great time. It is freezing here in Florida.
Posted by: Martha on 1/8/2014 at 4:18 am
When you think about mountain climbing, it can generally conjure up images of folks heading up and out in the predawn hours, headlamps shining as they make their way higher. While we’ll get to experience that later in the trip, today’s mission was to get our luggage staged at chopper camp, roughly 18,000’ on Aconcagua.
We woke to more clear blue skies and absolutely still air. This rare combination on Aconcagua is something to savor, which we did as we departed camp at the civilized hour of 9 am and made our way up and over Ameghino Col and around towards Camp 2.
In very short order the team pulled into camp with our kits, got the gear stashed, and headed back to the comfort of our tents at Camp 1. We are currently sitting inside, trying to avoid the intense UV that is beating down out there.
This afternoon is the start of a nice long rest period for us, as we will be chilling here for the remainder of today and all of tomorrow. We’ll check back in later!
On The Map
Bill and Team! Yahoo… enjoy resting and relaxing as you trek downward. So looking forward to seeing you on January 23rd Bill…breakfast is my treat! D
Posted by: Dav'ne on 1/7/2014 at 8:46 am
Enjoy your day resting. Take lots of pictures.
Posted by: Martha on 1/7/2014 at 4:17 am