January 22, 2014
Thanks to everyone that have followed along… The team is back in Mendoza and enjoying some of the finer things in life: food, wine, sunshine, hanging by the pool, etc. We had a great team dinner last night and are now hanging out and lazing around while we wait for our flights back to the states and Canada. Despite not getting the summit we had a ton of fun and a hell of an adventure. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the group for being fun, hard-working, and determined.
‘til next year,
RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Walter Hailes and Katrina Bolemsma
We’ve loved following your journey, team. Thank you for sharing it : )
Posted by: Rocky the climbing pup (and Kendra) on 1/22/2014 at 6:46 pm
January 20, 2014
Hey everybody out there in RMI adventure blog land. Billy here, I’m checking in with our group from Pampa de las Lenas after our walk down from Base Camp today. Hot and sunny, lots of river crossings, sore feet but some of the mule drivers are cooking up a steak asado dinner for us tonight, and then we’ll hit the sack. Tomorrow we’ll continue our walk out of the Vacas Valley and hit the road, and then head back to Mendoza. So the next check in, we’ll be saying hello from the hotel in Mendoza. And that’s all for now.
Billy Nugent calls in from Pampa de las Lenas.
Hello to you from blog land! I am so sorry the weather didn’t cooperate- I cannot imagine how frustrating that must have felt. I also cannot imagine having the strength and determination and skill to climb 20 thousand plus! Please accept a heartfelt congratulations for all that you did, and perhaps more importantly, all that you didn’t do. It takes tremendous courage to make smart choices.
Sending you all laughter, foot massages, delicious food, sweet rest, comfort and lots of Love,
Posted by: Barbara on 1/21/2014 at 4:11 am
January 20, 2014
This is Billy. I’m back at Base Camp with the whole crew. We are all a little bit bummed out but happy to be back down at least with the thicker air here and looking forward to a home cooked meal tonight from the Grajales staff. It was a tough day up there yesterday and we spent most of the day today with heavy, heavy walk down. But everybody’s in good spirits for the most part and we’ll check in again later on as we walk out from Aconcagua.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent checks in from Aconcagua Base Camp on their descent.
On The Map
Wow, I can’t even imagine the adventure you have had. Glad everyone is back. Oh, the stories you will share.
Posted by: Debbie on 1/21/2014 at 3:05 am
Dawn & Len,we are happy to hear all are back at base camp safe. What an incredible adventure you and your team have had! A huge thank you to your guides for making what had to have been an extremely difficult decision to turn around when you were so close. We are looking forward to hearing more when you get home. Mom & Dad.
Posted by: Sue on 1/20/2014 at 7:51 pm
January 18, 2014
It’s a cold, cold world.
We woke up and fired the stoves at about 3:30 this morning and things were looking good: clear skies, bright moon, and calm winds. We scarfed a quick breakfast, had a quick cup of coffee, packed up, and hit the not so dusty trail. The consistent snowfall of the past week has blanketed the mountain so what is normally a gravelly trail out of Cólera was a very snowy sendero. Our team moved well, per the norm, despite the large number of other climbers clogging the route and before too long we had climbed past the Indepencia Hut (ruins) and hit the traverse into the Canaleta. At some point along the way we found ourselves no longer enjoying the clear skies but instead traveling under consistent snowfall. In fact it was snowing heavily and visibility was poor. Despite the worsening weather the snowpack seemed ok until we reached the center of the traverse. Walt and myself headed out further without the group and found the normally gravelly trail under several feet of snow. In fact the whole Canaleta was smoothed over with the storm snow. Every other team on the mountain had already turned around due to avalanche hazard but we hadn’t seen anything worth turning around until the deep storm layer that we encountered in the lower Canaleta. While the snow didn’t seem super reactive the steeper part of the Canaleta was surely more dangerous and there was no way to see without exposing ourselves to the hazard. With worsening weather and continued snowfall we decided that the dire consequences of an incident were too much for us to shoulder. We weren’t willing to bet our lives on it so we did the smart thing and turned around at 21,500’. Now we are back at high camp and the weather is still crappy. So much for the forecasted sunny day…
On The Map
Sorry to hear you didnt make it to the top this time but I’m glad you made a smart decision and did what was best. I’m sure it was still quite an adventure and Mike, can’t wait to see the pictures when you get home. Safe travels back to the States!
Posted by: Rich on 1/22/2014 at 10:47 am
Billy k- you have accomplished so much on this trio. Even without the summit you must have so many stories. I can’t wait to hear all about! Now get you butt home :) !
Posted by: Libby on 1/19/2014 at 12:30 pm
January 17, 2014
We’re at high camp, poised and ready! Last night we had quite the snowfall, almost 8”, which is quite a lot for Aconcagua. We spent the morning digging out and packing up for our move up. The large majority of the climbers who were queued up at Camp 2 made the move up to Camp Cólera with us today so trail breaking wasn’t so bad. Our team stayed together and moved smoothly through the terrain despite very hot temperatures. Blue skies and direct sun at almost 20,000’ coupled with the reflective blanket of new snow made for some serious UV exposure not to mention the high temperatures. It felt like being in the Mega-Tan 9000 industrial strength, Baywatch endorsed tanning bed all day. Then as we arrived at Camp Cólera the clouds rolled in and it started to snow again. If the last seven days are any indication, the snow should stop and the clouds should lift sometime overnight. We have our fingers crossed for a clear and comfortable summit attempt tomorrow.
We’ll check in tomorrow after the hurly burly’s done!
On The Map
Best wishes Mer and to all climbers! We’re so excited for you!
Posted by: Delese on 1/18/2014 at 4:48 am
Len and Dawn
We hope the weather cooperates for you and the team and you have an enjoyable and safe summit attempt. Good luck and we will be thinking of you.
Mom and Dad
Posted by: Jack and Sue on 1/17/2014 at 10:23 pm
January 16, 2014
Today marked the passing of yet another rest day. We hung out at Camp 2 along with many others; Katrina counted more than 67 tents in camp today. We sat the day out watching all sorts of crazy weather over the course of the day: Intense sun/heat, chilly breezes, pelting graupel and hail, puking snow, and continual thunder and lightning all afternoon… Pretty exciting. It seems the horde of other climbers have a very similar strategy to us. Our team is well-rested and ready to move up to Plaza Cólera (our high Camp 3) in what looks to be marginal weather tomorrow putting us in position to take a crack at the summit in better weather on Saturday. A strong wind event is forecasted to begin ramping up with moderate winds on Sunday and over 60 mph winds forecasted for Monday. Hopefully we can nail it but it certainly has been a bit of a chess match with the mountain and the weather.
Wish us luck as we roll out on our summit push over the next two days,
RMI Guides Billy, Walt, Katrina, and the Whole Gang!
Scott - Good luck on making the summit on the first try. Be well! Dad & Mom
Posted by: Ralph on 1/17/2014 at 2:24 pm
Following this blog feels akin to watching classic Hitchcock. The suspense!
Sending positive thoughts your way for favorable conditions, focused minds, and strong bodies.
Posted by: Geoff on 1/16/2014 at 10:16 pm
January 15, 2014
Greetings friends, relatives, loves ones, roommates, neighbors, acquaintances, enemies, stalkers, etc. We’ve made it safely up to a crowded Camp 2 (Guanacos Campo, Chopper Camp) and settled into our tents. The move from Camp 1 was largely uneventful except for partly cloudy skies which made for rapid, drastic temperature changes… Freeze or fry, as they say, never comfortable. We moved extremely well despite the slightly funky weather and big loads and were greeted by the many Camp 2 inhabitants. We actually had to use our snow shovel and a borrowed McCloud to grade out new tent platforms in the dirt. Moving earth turned out to be quite a bit more taxing than the actual climbing! Anyway, we are all here feeling the altitude a bit but doing well nonetheless. Tomorrow’s plan is largely dependent on the weather forecast we get tonight, wish us luck and good favor with Mother Nature!
All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent
On The Map
Hope the weather is good tomorrow Dawn & Len . We are following every step of the way - good luck to all.
Posted by: sue Menduk on 1/16/2014 at 5:11 am
Hi Jeff we are watching your progress, many well wishers from work and family. We miss you and love you Debbie, Andrew and Madison
Posted by: Debbie on 1/15/2014 at 7:23 pm
January 14, 2014
The rumor mill was definitely flying around the mountain yesterday about some big, bad weather system coming in next weekend… Luckily it has been pushed back out of the extended forecast and our intrepid team has been able to stick to our prescribed acclimatization schedule. Which means we’re resting today! Laying around in the tent at over 16,000’ isn’t as exciting as it sounds but the rest will serve us well as we climb higher tomorrow. We are in good spirits and hopeful that the weather will cooperate as we move in to striking distance over the next couple days.
Laying around, eating jamon y queso, drinking coffee…
It’s a grand life,
RMI Guides Billy, Walt, Katrina, and the gang
On The Map
Climb strong and climb safe! Be well.
Posted by: Tich on 1/15/2014 at 11:30 pm
Our entire team is cheering you on Patrick and can’t wait to see you plant The Comeback Initiative flag proudly on the peak! We know how hard you’ve trained for this, and you continue to amaze us with your courage, fortitude and accomplishments!
Keep up the great work!
EXOS / The Comeback Initiative
Posted by: Dan on 1/15/2014 at 7:16 am
January 13, 2014
We are continuing to plod our way slowly but steadily up this mountain. Our team woke to beautiful blue skies this morning and took advantage of the good weather by putting in another cache up at our Camp 2, which also goes by the names “Guanacos Camp 3,” and “Chopper Camp.” No matter what you call it, it sits at over 18k’ and is one of the last spots with running water as you ascend. We made short work of the carry, climbing the 2,000’ or so in 3 stretches and made even shorter work of the descent back to Camp 1. The skies clouded up this afternoon so we got to enjoy some comfortable napping temps in the tents. We spent the rest of the day eating napples, reading, and listening to tunes. Rumors of deteriorating weather have us pondering our next move but our plans call for another rest and acclimatization day.
We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for us,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent
David and I are thinking about you, Meredith. Be save and have a wonderful climb. Love to you.
Posted by: Tracye Wear on 1/14/2014 at 7:08 pm
Nugent, when you hit the casino after your climb make sure to look for a guy wearing a Ferrari tshirt. In the mean time hide your knife from the gouchos!
Posted by: EDGE on 1/14/2014 at 9:56 am
January 12, 2014
We said our bittersweet goodbyes to the good life at Plaza Argentina this morning as we headed up on the mountain to begin our climb. No more steak or lasagna dinners but it sure feels good to be finally doing this! The team climbed extremely well and made even better time up to Camp 1 than we did on our carry a couple of days ago. Everybody is a bit tired but in good spirits… Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and another work day tomorrow as we try and push a load of supplies further up the mountain.
Also wanted to make a shout out to Garrett’s team, who made the summit today! Nice work guys…
Buenas noches de campo 1,