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Entries By alex barber

RMI Guide Alex Barber Feeling Better After Bout with Illness

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted an update. Mostly - ok entirely - because I’ve been ill. The most likely culprit, in my mind, for this bout of illness was the suspiciously under cooked mutton I had a few nights ago. Today, though, I’m feeling better and my focus is returning to Annapurna.

Mountain news: While I’ve been tent-ridden not too much has happened. Camp 1 was hit by a massive wind gust produced by a large avalanche originating from high up the mountain near Camp 3. It ripped a few tents from their guy lines and the group that was there when it happened lost some gear. All my on-mountain gear is cached at C2, though, so this hasn’t affected me. Progress has been made toward Camp 3 by one team, but nobody has yet reached it. Deep snow on the approach to the crosshairs couloir is the main issue. The team using bottled oxygen are planning their first summit attempt for the 15th or 16th.

My plan is to climb directly to Camp 2 on the 12th and Camp 3 on the 13th. The section between Camp 2 and 3 is the most technically difficult and dangerous area. But time spent above 20,000’ is a most important aspect of acclimatization for a no O’s attempt. Until then I’m working on kicking this illness and recuperating my strength for this next push up the mountain.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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RMI Guide Alex Barber Back to Annapurna Base Camp

Yesterday, April 4th, I descended back to Annapurna Base Camp from Camp 2. In total I spent one night at C1 and two nights at C2. The route into C2 was, at times, waist deep powder snow and it’s even deeper above. So for now Camp 3 is inaccessible. Less afternoon snow storms and more sunny days to consolidate the sugar snow will be required before I can push higher. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next couple of days is for heavy falls (20-30”) of snow above 18,000 ft. After that, it looks like we might have a clearing trend.

I’ve attached four pictures. The first shows the route from BC to Camp 1 (note the two climbers at the base of the route). The second photo shows the route from C1 to C2 and then the route continuing from C2 to C3, the third is my tent and equipment at C2, and the fourth is a view up the mountain from C2. This is a awe inspiring and beautiful mountain!

Today in Base camp a herd of wild sheep stopped by and there are rumors of some type of bobcat roaming around as well. For now I’m sitting out stormy weather and looking for my next window to get back onto the mountain.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hope the weather is favorable for the rest of the climb.

Posted by: Gerri Seaton on 4/6/2015 at 3:36 pm

Larry Seaton - we are praying for your safety and the safety of your team mates. 
What an adventure you are having and I’m sure you will have many exciting stories to tell us.
Love, Mom

Posted by: Gerri Seaton on 4/6/2015 at 3:24 pm

RMI Guide Alex Barber Climbs to Camp 2 on Annapurna

Made Camp 2 today, it’s quite the distance from BC…and I’m still not even above 19,000’!

The route to Camp 2 starts with a stretch of glacier travel. After which you gain a large cleaver that takes you to Camp 2. I had a leisurely morning in Camp 1, drinking insta - coffee and watching the weather before deciding to try for Camp 2. The weather today was all over the place.

Annapurna’s weather still feels very random and forecasts have been inaccurate. And as usual, what I’ll do tomorrow will be dictated by the weather gods…

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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RMI Guide Alex Barber Reaches Camp 1 on Annapurna

Today (April 1st) I moved up to Camp 1 at about 17,000’ from 13,800’ Base Camp. Enjoyed good weather in the morning which turned to light snow in the afternoon. The route to C1 is quite a distance from BC and has some enjoyable climbing. Low angle water ice and low grade mixed climbing, also a precarious arm wrap rappel of some 200’ on the most insane choss… The recent snowfall - plowing through knee deep snow - made some sections of the route very tiring.  I’m hoping the weather holds and I am able to make Camp 2 tomorrow. I’ve got three days worth of supplies including today, so I’d like to spend the next two at Camp 2.

Hopefully the weather plays along…

When I return to BC I’ll post up a few photos for a visual of the route so far.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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How long do you plan for this trip to take?

Posted by: Mary on 4/2/2015 at 1:52 pm

RMI Guide Alex Barber Checks in from Annapurna Base Camp

Yesterday I flew into Annapurna Base Camp. As the pilot and I made our way through the deep valleys from Tatopani, Annapurna I appeared, rising some 12,800ft above. Yikes! A beautiful jumble of rock and ice. I leaned over to the pilot and nervously asked him if he could return me to Kathmandu. He just laughed, assuming sarcasm…

After arriving in base camp and setting up my camp, I went for a slow jog in the evening toward the glacier (see picture) and got my first glimpse of the way to Camp 1. The route looks to follow an ascending traverse across a cliff face of rock and snow which has the advantage of bypassing a 2,500’ glacial ice fall. It does seem like the slightly better of two bad options - although the cliff still holds many things above you that could become hazards.

Tomorrow I’ll attend a Puja (a ceremony in which meditational prayers are offered to the Buddhas and holy beings to request their blessings or help), after which I’ll start pushing uphill. Currently it’s snowing here in base camp with consistent thunder. The weather forecast is predicting unstable conditions until April 4th. However, there seems to be an afternoon trend to the wet weather, which if it holds shouldn’t affect my acclimatization climbs to C1/C2.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now!

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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How long is your acclimatize period between C1/C2?

Posted by: Mary on 3/30/2015 at 6:34 am

RMI Guide Alex Barber Annapurna Update

Annapurna Expedition
March 27 - Update

Enjoying the hotsprings of Tatopani while the helicopter does all the heavy lifting… sort of a ridiculous way to start an expedition.

March 26 - Update

In Tatopani tonight, we made several attempts to fly into Annapurna Base Camp today through low visibility and heavy rain. The low visibility prevented us from touching down though. Flying with less than 1,000 m visibility is quite hazardous with cliffs rising high above all around you. Hopefully with the more stable weather in the morning we will be able to fly into Base Camp tomorrow. For now our Helicopter is parked in a rudimentary soccer field in the small village of Tatopani. Pretty comical and has created quite the stir among the local population.

RMI Guide Alex Barber

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RMI Guide Alex Barber Begins His Personal Expedition to Annapurna

RMI Guide Alex Barber begins his solo / nO’s attempt on Annapurna:

The 24th of March around mid-day I made a turbulent landing into Kathmandu for my fourth 8000m expedition. The forecast for the next five days is showing two meters of snow… That combined with a large snowfall in late February has me nervous.  I worry that I will arrive to a dangerously loaded mountain, a mountain known for its frequent avalanches. But as of now I am sending my bags ahead to Tatopani. Tomorrow morning (27th) I’ll be taking a helicopter from Kathmandu to Tatopani and if weather permits I’ll be in base camp tomorrow afternoon.

For now, the focus will be to survive the congested streets of Kathmandu, as I make last minute purchases like fuel, food, lighters, etc.

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Following your blog.  Enjoying reading a ‘real’ blog expressing your fears, concerns, obstacles that you face.  I look forward to following you.  This is going to be an awesome journey because Annapurna is no cake walk—keep us posted even on the days when you feel like crying.  :) 

Be safe.

Posted by: Mary on 3/27/2015 at 7:06 pm

Alex, your living my dream! What you are attempting to do is extraordinary and just attempting such a climb makes you a legend in my book. Be safe and as I’m sure you already know I will say it again to help ingrain it into your head. Become one with the mountain. Feel it. Become part of it and most importantly listen to it. I really want you to make it down so one day I can shake your hand and buy you a beer!

phil Grech

Posted by: phil grech on 3/26/2015 at 8:39 pm

Aconcagua: Van Deventer & Team Celebrate in Mendoza

As the expedition draws to a close, the days come flying by in a blur. After a big descent to Aconcagua Base Camp with heavy packs, we fell into our sleeping bags and got one of the best nights of sleep of the trip. The group chose to fore go setting up tents and laid out sleeping bags in the big dining tent, and for the first time in many nights, we didn’t spend the whole night listening to the wind slap at our tents.  We woke in the morning, caffeinated up, and did a hasty pack job of the our duffels for the mules. We grabbed our day packs, light once again, and started off down the mule trails, retracing the paths we had walked two weeks earlier (ironically, most of the group didn’t remember much of it and was convinced that we were exiting a different way). While our packs were light, and our hiking shoes a lot more comfortable than our boots, the nearly 15 miles of rocky trail walking took about ten hours, and by the end, everyone’s dogs were far beyond barking.

Fortunately, the amazing arryaros were waiting at Pampe de Lenas, with the fire already started and meat on the grill.  The team feasted on more carne than we could possibly eat, especially with the shrunken stomachs that result from two weeks of high altitude living.  Once again, we chose to fore go the tents, and everyone unrolled pads and bags on the ground and watched the Southern Cross trace its arc across the canyon rim.  We woke early, and though everyone was feeling the previous couple of days, the motivation to finally reach the park entrance and be done trumped all of the physical discomforts. Three and half more hours brought us to the tree-lined aqueduct that signals the final stretch to the end of the long trail. We grabbed our dust covered bags from the mules and loaded a shuttle to Mendoza. With a quick stop for another huge meal, we were in Mendoza by evening, showering off the weeks of dust. 

We wrapped up the trip with another great culinary experience at El Patio Azul de Jesus Maria. We feasted on a traditional Argentinian parilla (bbq) with boundless different cuts of meat cooked slowly over a wood fire. Malbec was plentiful for washing the meal down, and was the perfect way to refuel after weeks up the mountain. Most of the group will spend the next two days in Mendoza, planning to explore the shops, rest by the pool, and perhaps tour a few vineyards, before we return to winter time in the States.

We would like to thank the whole team for the incredible team work that they displayed throughout the entire trip, the camaraderie, and the effort that each and every one put out. This was a group that was a pleasure for the guides to work with. Finally, I’d like to thank Alex and Juan for kicking ass the entire trip. The whole trip was a pleasure all the way around, and we’re already looking forward to next year!

RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

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Congratulations to team on an exciting adventure! It was a well deserved celebration! I’m looking forward to the stories and pictures Bruce. Safe travels home. xo

Posted by: Joyce Pully on 2/8/2015 at 4:40 am

Aconcagua: Van Deventer & Team Back to Base Camp

After nearly two weeks of progress moving in fits and starts, as we move camps, carry gear, and take rest days to acclimatize, the last several days suddenly start to rush by. We had a great, though very difficult, summit day yesterday. The sun shone in a completely clear, brilliant, azur sky, but as has been the nature of the last several days, the wind continued to rush on. We prepared in gusty conditions that made it uninviting to leave the tent, and donned our packs. For much of the climb we received only gusts, protected from the main force of the wind, the constant noise of which we couldn’t ignore. This region has received very little precipitation for the last several years, and the results of that were the second major challenge of the climb. Where snow fields usually provide nice cramponing, only sand existed, and climbing sand hills at 22,000 feet is no small task. We persisted, and at 2:45, crested the summit of Aconcagua.

Time flies, and while that was only yesterday afternoon, it feels much further removed. We woke this morning to the ever present wind gusts plastering the tent to our face, and packed our bags to head to base camp. As we descended, we picked up the items that we had cached at our previous camps, so our packs grew heavier, even as the air grew thicker. We arrived at base camp to a delicious spread, which was followed up shortly with our first carne dinner in a while. We organized our bags for the mules, and tomorrow we will reverse our course, once again carrying light day packs as we descend the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys back towards Penitentes, and ultimately Mendoza. Everyone is excited at the prospect of more beef, wine, and warm temperatures that await us in the coming days. Thanks for following,

RMI Guides Pete, Alex, Juan and team

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congratulations to everyone! I was sorry to read about wind and sand but share your elation at completing the climb!

Posted by: Sally Falkenhagen on 2/5/2015 at 3:43 pm

Congratulations to everyone and get back safely!  Will look forward to hearing more about your accomplishment, Kevin, next time I’m in Easton!

Posted by: Jane Osman on 2/5/2015 at 4:40 am

Aconcagua: Van Deventer and Team Summit!

Pete Van Deventer and Team called into the RMI Expeditions Office to let us know they reached the summit of Aconcagua and are safely back at High Camp.  Pete will send a full report of their summit day after they rest and re-fuel.

Congratulations Team!

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Fantastic job Kev! Congratulations to you and the team and continued success coming down.
Cheers to all!  Jeff Logeman

Posted by: Jeff Logeman on 2/5/2015 at 10:49 pm

Congratulations everyone!

Posted by: Ruthie on 2/5/2015 at 5:33 pm

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