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Entries By billy haas


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Solveig & Team Summit El Pico de Orizaba

Hello Everyone!

We are all back in Tlachichuca after a beautiful summit day on Orizaba.  We awoke at midnight and were out the door by just after 1. The team did an excellent job of preparing and getting out of camp on time!  With all he new snow in the area lately, we were able to put crampons on just above the Piedra Grande Hut which made the walking conditions a bit more efficient! We reached the summit at just after 9 am and enjoyed clear skies, calm winds, and relatively warm weather, considering it was one of the coldest climbs I’ve had down here. 

We enjoyed nearly an hour of time on the summit and then carefully began our descent to camp.  The upper mountain was a bit icy and we exercised careful footwork and precision focus on our walk down the steep and smooth slopes of the Jamapa to the glacial moraine at 16,000’.

Back in town, we were all excited for the delicious dinner the Reyes family provides, and quickly got our equipment packed and ready in order to fully enjoy our meal at this quaint and historic soap factory.

Today was the final day of our expedition, and we are all looking forward to heading home to family and friends!

Thanks for following along!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall Billy Haas, and the team

Audio transcription from Orizaba summit
Hi everyone! This is Solveig calling in from the top of Orizaba. The team and I are up here. It’s a beautiful day- light winds and clear skies. Was a beautiful night as we climbed under a full moon. The team is doing well. We’re going to take a few more minutes and enjoy yourselves and then start our descent. We will check in from Tlachichuca. Cheers.


RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall calls from the Orizaba summit!

On The Map


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Solveig & Team Ready for Orizaba Summit Bid

Hi everyone. This is Solveig calling in from the Piedra Grande Hut on Orizaba. Our team arrived around 3 p.m. We have beautiful skies and light winds; we’re all really excited about our climb tonight. We are going to have a delicious pasta dinner and then tuck in early and get ready to go climbing. We’ll touch base tomorrow when we return. Ciao.

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall


RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall calls in from Piedra Grande Hut.

On The Map


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Solveig & Team Enjoy Rest Day in Puebla

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We are all enjoying our day off today. After getting some well deserved sleep most of the team spent the day drinking coffee, eating various types of mole sauce, and taking in the beautiful sights of this historic city.
Tonight we will gather for dinner and discuss the logistics for our departure to Tlachichuca tomorrow morning.  The forecast looks great, and we are all excited about our next mountain…El Pico de Orizaba!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall, Billy Haas, and the team

Looks like you’re having a great time and seeing some beautiful sights.  Am enjoying following your blog and seeing the pics.  Lynne Penrice

Posted by: Lynne Penrice on 1/22/2016 at 1:32 pm


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Team Recaps Summit Day on Ixta

Well, what a day.  We went to bed last night to cold temps and high winds and by the time we woke this morning at 2 am the winds had calmed and the temps were on the rise.  The climbing was tough right out of camp today, mixed snow and rock conditions up the Knees Route made for some challenging conditions.  However, once we crested the “Knees” the roller coaster ridge line of Ixta made for some great climbing.  Conditons for the rest of the climb were ideal and we enjoyed a great summit and descent.  We really snuck the climb in today because on the way down from High Camp conditions began to deteriorate.  We are all currently on a bus to Puebla, where we will be resting and sightseeing tomorrow before gearing up for our climb of Pico de Orizaba.

Cheers,

RMI Guide Billy Haas

On The Map


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Solveig & Team Check In from Altzomoni Hut

Good evening from the Altzomoni Hut!
After a long drive, multiple vehicle transfers due to muddy washed out roads, and a little bit of extra walking, we are all getting some rest in preparation for heading up to high camp tomorrow.
It was a beautiful day with excellent views. We even had the good fortune of catching a glimpse of Popo erupting this morning on our drive!  Everyone is feeling strong and excited to hit the trail in the morning.
We’ll check in from camp tomorrow night!
Buenos noches!

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall

On The Map

Happy to see everyone smiling and doing great! Good luck to you all…especially Tara and Karl ;)

Adios from Texas,
Erin

Posted by: Erin on 1/19/2016 at 6:49 pm


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Waterfall & Team Hike La Malinche

Hello from the La Malitzi Resort! We are snug in our beds nestled on the flanks of La Malinche, a 14,636’ extinct volcanic remnant. We spent the day in this Parque de Nacional stretching our legs and lungs for the first time since we all gathered in the city. We were treated to perfect weather and excellent hiking temperatures. However, as is often the case driving in Mexico, we were delayed by an enormous traffic jam.  A bottleneck not in the city this time, but instead shortly before arriving at the mountain. Mexico City was recently hit by a large storm that deposited snow at relatively low elevations.  Since this is quite a rare occurrence, the local news outlets have been broadcasting a continuous cycle of footage of families up playing in the snow; some touching it for the first time! 
With all the media attention, there were hundreds of cars trying to access the La Malinche trailhead and things quickly slowed to a halt. 
After waiting as long as we could, we left our overnight bags with the driver to sit in traffic, and began the journey through the literally thousands of local hikers towards our goal of reaching the upper slopes of the mountain.  Given our time frame, we had no chance of reaching the top, but we hiked for 3 hours amidst a herd of parents, grandparents, children and dogs running past us and often stopping to inquire where we were from and if we were going to look for the snow, as well.
When we reached our high point, we bundled up and rested for a half an hour or so, allowing our bodies to recover while enjoying the expansive views from 13,300’.
Upon our arrival back at 10,000’ our driver had finally reached the resort, checked us in, and most importantly made sure the propane water heaters were warming up for a well deserved shower.  It was nearly dark as we got settled and we were all anxiously awaiting the fantastic dinner that Rogelio (our transportation coordinator) promised.
It did not disappoint! We feasted on steaks, chorizo, tortillas, beans, guacamole, and grilled vegetables resting on small charcoal grills on our table.
Everyone is now off to bed for a solid 8 hours of rest, and then tomorrow we begin our journey toward our first objective, climbing Ixta!
Well check in tomorrow from the Altizomoni Hut!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall, Billy Haas and the team

On The Map


Mexico’s Volcanoes: Team Gathers in Mexico City

Hello from Mexico City!
Our team arrived throughout the day, and by 7pm we were all gathered on the rooftop patio of the hotel for an equipment review and logistics breakdown of the days to come.
We are all looking forward to leaving the hustle and bustle of urban life and heading into the hills for our first acclimatization hike.
We’ll check in again from the La Malitzi Resort.
Thanks for following!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall and Billy Haas


Mountaineering Training | RMI Guide Billy Haas’ Efficiency Techniques for the Mountains

As climbers we make every effort to be as lazy as possible.  We seek to accomplish our goals and objectives with as little effort as necessary, and will cringe at the idea of making something harder than it needs to be.  This may seem contrary to the image of climbing as an extreme activity during which many people find their physical and mental limit. However, a we often choose objectives that are at the peak of our abilities and thus we are required to maximize efficiency in our effort if we are to succeed.  What I refer to tongue-in-cheek as laziness is in reality efficiency: efficiency, which can be found in every aspect of mountain existence.  Whether it be the way a rock climber positions their body on a route or an alpine climber packs for an expedition, success in the mountains involves high levels of efficiency.  

There some methods of efficiency that don’t directly involve the physical act of climbing but rather things you can do prior to and while climbing that can give you a leg up. I refer to these as “putting money in the bank.”  I think that saying came from a high school teacher referring to gimme questions on an exam, but for me “money in the bank” means any techniques or tricks that can give you an efficiency advantage in the mountains.  I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned from my time in the mountains with a specific focus on climbing Mt. Rainier:

  • A great place to start improving your efficiency in the mountains begins with your equipment: what equipment are you using and does it work for you? Place a high priority on critical items such as boots and or packs, and worry less about items such as a fancy headlamp or spork.  For me, a well-fit boot that is designed for the type of climbing I am doing is imperative.  A good boot can mean the difference between a successful summit and a failed attempt; blisters and cold feet should never thwart a climber’s chance at the summit.  In addition, find a climbing pack that carries weight well and fits you properly.  Forget all the fancy features and pockets; a simple and minimalist pack that fits and carries weight well is what I look for.  You might be able to get by with an old pack or a warm weather climbing boot, but why chance it? Having the right gear for the task makes for one less thing that could slow you down.
  •  
  • Maintaining your gear makes a big difference too.  I regularly spend a few hours taking care of small issues that have cropped up with my equipment to make sure that everything is going to work well when I need it to and not fail when it really counts.  I trust my life to my equipment and so do others.  For example, I frequently re-waterproof my gloves and Gore-Tex jackets.  A headlamp is no good if your batteries run out, and a boot will not work as well if the laces snap.  Not every piece of equipment needs to be new, but it does need to work properly.  Climbing is too much fun to be hampered by equipment issues!
  • With the right gear and everything dialed in, you need to pack it all up.  As guides, we seem to have a magical ability to pack 50 liters of gear into a 30 liter pack, but what may seem to be magic is really just some good common sense.  My favorite metaphor for packing is “brick and mortar.”  Some of your items are going to be bricks (eg: sleeping bag in stuff sack) and some are going to be mortar (eg: puffy jacket).  When packing, also consider multi-use items.  A 1/2 liter nalgene makes for a great coffee mug and can also carry an extra 1/2 liter of water when you need it.  You want to maximize space and value in your pack.  Crampons don’t need a crampon case, since quite often wrapping them in your gaiters works just fine and saves space and weight.  Putting some time and thought into a well-packed kit can often fit in a smaller pack.  Smaller packs equal lighter packs, giving you a little more money in the bank.
  • With packing complete, there are still a few more things you can do before a climb that will get you ahead.  For me this starts with my nutrition and hydration.  On Mt. Rainier, I’ve found that from the time I leave home in the morning to the time my team is hiking out of Paradise (approx. 1.5 hours), I can easily sip down a liter of water.  Don’t chug water, but slowly sip a liter in the morning and on the bus ride to Paradise. This will help make sure that you are hydrated for the beginning of your climb.  Pre-hydration, which can start as early as the night before, allows me to bring less water during a climb (less weight), and helps prevent dehydration.  I can recover more quickly, and can focus on other aspects of the climb instead of staving off dehydration.
  •  
  • With regards to nutrition, my best suggestion is to learn your own body.  I know how much fuel my body needs at a high level of activity, which is less than some of my friends but definitely more than others.  For two-day trips such as Mt. Rainer, I try to be as precise as I can with the amount of food I bring.  Start by factoring around 200 calories per break and then adjust from there to your specific needs.  In addition to that, bring foods you enjoy eating and can eat while exercising.  I love pizza, but definitely wouldn’t want a slice in the middle of a climb.  Remember; when we climb at altitude the effort is roughly similar to how our bodies feel during a slow jog.  Focus on foods that hold a lot of caloric value.  By bringing the right food and bring only the food you’ll need, you’ll save space and carry less weight.
  • Lastly, be efficient with your time.  When taking a break, maximize your time resting and recovering. Get your self-care chores done early and quickly so that you get as much time off of your feet as possible.  This applies to getting to camp also.  Take care of business first so that you spend a maximum amount of time recovering later.  Use momentum to your advantage: we take short breaks so we do not lose our momentum, and when you roll into camp use that same momentum to set up and settle in before you are too tired to do the things you should have done.  This might be setting up camp or dealing with a pesky blister; the sooner you get it done the sooner you can rest.  Keep in mind that even if we feel great we still need to recover!

These are just a few theories on how to be more efficient while climbing.  Climbers are constantly in opposition with gravity and time, so a light pack will allow us to expend less energy, and quick recoveries will make us stronger for the next day.  Every bit of money in the bank you can save will give you a better chance of success on the mountain, and will be one less issue to worry about.  Learn from others, and learn what works best for you.  Take the time to find the right gear, pack well, eat and drink right, and maximize your rest because the climb is not getting any easier and the mountains are not getting any smaller!
_____

Billy Haas guides trips on Mt. Rainier, Mt. McKinley, and abroad for RMI Expeditions. When not traveling to mountains around the world to climb or ski, Billy guides backcountry skiing and teaches avalanche courses in Salt Lake City, UT.

Questions? Comments? What are your suggestions for staying efficient in the mountains? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog


Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Descend to 14K Camp, Airstrip by Morning

Sunday, May 31st 1:54pm PDT

Mike Walter called from 14K Camp on Mt. McKinley. Both his team and RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer team will be heading down to 11,000’ Camp or 7800’ Camp tonight. Their plan is to be at the airstrip in the morning. If the weather cooperates, they will be in Talkeetna by tomorrow afternoon. 

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Mike…Congratulation to you + your team…Walter

Posted by: Waltero on 6/2/2015 at 5:53 am


Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team on Summit!

Update Saturday, May 30th 8:30 pm PDT

Mike Walter & team were safely back at camp by 6 pm PDT. They will begin their descent to Basecamp tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30th 2:40 pm PDT

RMI Guide Mike Walter and team are standing on the summit of Mt. McKinley! Mike reported a strong team and and short-sleeve weather on top. The team will begin making their descent shortly and will send a dispatch when they are back at camp.

Way to go team!

On The Map

Totally awesome .....congratulations To RickyBobby and Ericquito!! We are so proud of you!  Can’t wait to tell you in person.  Perseverance pays off in a big way.  Looking forward to catching up at the lake.
XOXOXO your aunts and uncles in Chicago

Posted by: Maca-Mangan-Surpless on 5/31/2015 at 6:16 pm

Congratulations Solveig!  I can’t wait to see you back in Seattle.  Love you lots
TS

Posted by: sigrid on 5/31/2015 at 12:12 pm

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