Entries By billy nugent
February 8, 2016
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
February 7, 2016
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,
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
February 7, 2016
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’,
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
February 5, 2016
Chillin’ at Casa del Sol…
Well, we enjoyed another great day down here in Ecuador with a nice hike, good weather and good company. After meeting our local alpine guide David and an early departure from Quito we made our way to the north towards our acclimatization objective Cerro Fuya Fuya, but also Otavalo, and most notably Cayambe. While the clouds prevented us from peeping Cayambe while on Fuya Fuya, we were still able to enjoy views from the summit of the surrounding volcanic caldera and the large lake below. The whole team moved well and enjoyed the day out and about. We’re now posted up at a beautiful guesthouse up above the city of Otavalo called Casa del Sol, enjoying a beer and waiting for dinner. Tomorrow, however, the real adventure begins as we make our way up towards Cayambe…
More to come!
On The Map
Team Chapman is hoping Jason is having a great time! Enjoy! We love you!
Posted by: Team Chapman on 2/7/2016 at 7:20 am
February 4, 2016
February 3, 2016
Welcome to a series of dispatches from our most recent expedition seminar in Ecuador! This morning we officially met for the first time as a team and enjoyed a nice breakfast at our hotel before heading out on a cultural tour of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. We started off our sightseeing with a visit to the geographic equator and an interesting sort of a natural history museum at the same site. We saw all sorts of cool stuff like enormous anaconda skins, crazy spiders, a spiny Amazonian fish that will swim up your urethra, and even a real human shrunken head from the jungles of eastern Ecuador. Crazy stuff. We spent the afternoon visiting the old town of Quito which is a Unesco World Heritage site with many buildings dating back to the 1500’s. Lots of cool churches were visited and we learned about Ecuador’s tumultuous political history as we saw the sights with our local cultural guide Angel. We’ve got a great group of guys and we are all excited to get out tomorrow and feel a little altitude. Although, it could be said we’re starting out acclimation process right here in Quito, hanging out at just over 9,000’.
February 4, 2016
We woke today to broken clouds and another lovely morning here in Quito. Jaime, our local man with a plan (he’s our coordinator for nearly everything we’ll do) decided to join us on our climb of Rucu Pichincha just for fun. After a quick taxi ride over to the Teleférico and a scenic ride up the gondola we began our approach towards Pichincha’s rocky summit through gentler, but beautiful green mountains. Our team moved well for the most part despite feeling the acute burn of our first serious dose of altitude. The summit block involved a bit of easy scrambling but before long the team found themselves on the summit, albeit in a sea of clouds. Still, we were able to catch a few glimpses of the active part of Pichincha’s caldera, la Pichincha Guagua and down to the buildings of Quito filling the valley far below. We celebrated our last night in Quito with a great pizza dinner and are all looking forward to getting outta town tomorrow on our way eventually to Cayambe in the north.
January 27, 2016
Wow… All I can say is that it’s been a crazy ride. Two days ago we were sitting tight up at Camp 2 waiting for the weather to open up and now we are down in Penitentes celebrating our escape from the wrath Aconcagua. We had decided to hold on a day or two longer and see if maybe the forecasts were wrong but alas, they were not. We made the decision to pull the plug and head down when the lowest wind speed predicted over the next 7 days was over 50 mph with several pulses up in the 70’s. We woke on the morning we intended to descend to clear skies but moderate winds blowing snow and by the time we were able to pick up camp it had clouded over and the wind had intensified significantly. As we descended around and down the mountain the storm chased us all the way to Basecamp… There was no respite despite our descent into a portion of the mountain that is historically more protected. Our team was able to stick together and move well despite the challenging conditions. We were greeted warmly by the Basecamp staff upon our arrival back at Plaza Argentina. We enjoyed real chairs and a real meal (chicken Vesuvius) for the first time in over a week and then crashed hard. The next couple days we made our way down the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys and spent our last night out on the trail after devouring an amazing asado prepared by our mule drivers. We ate (beef, beef, beef!) and drank (vino, and even a little wild turkey) and went to bed happy and tired after a long couple of days. This morning we rose and walked the last of the Vacas to the road where we checked out with the park rangers and were greeted by our shuttle driver with beer and Fanta. Not a bad way to finish a long and tough expedition.
Next stop, Mendoza!
home sweet home
Posted by: kat branchflower on 1/29/2016 at 2:28 pm
What a journey ! At least you all got back safe and sound. Blowing gales here today also!
Love Diane and Paul
Posted by: Paul and Diane on 1/29/2016 at 2:00 am
January 26, 2016
The RMI Aconcagua Team led by RMI Guides Billy Nugent and Katrina Bloemsma were unable to make a summit attempt and are en route to Mendoza. The team left Base Camp today and is camped at Pampa de Las Lenas where they will spend the night. They will finish their trek to the trail head tomorrow and return to Mendoza.
Jake and Doug. ..amazing trip I’m sure. ..can’t wait to hear all about it but more anxious to get you back home! Love you burly, hairy mountain men!!
Posted by: Marsha and jeremy on 1/27/2016 at 5:05 pm
Sorry to hear you had to “turn-back”. At least you were’nt one in 1974!
Have a safe trip home!
Posted by: Tom Lozier on 1/27/2016 at 10:12 am
January 24, 2016
Well, we are currently pinned down by high winds at Camp 2 and despite the sunny weather we are stuck alternating between chilling outside in camp or baking in the tents. Last night a pretty hefty storm thrashed camp with strong winds, new snow, and repeated thunder and lightning. Skies began to clear this morning and the wind began to abate in camp as it shifted more to the southwest putting us a bit more in the lee of the mountain. Unfortunately, it is still howling up at Camp 3 and the entire flank of Aconcagua is adorned with swirling clouds of spin drift and the summit is sporting a sizable contrail. Today is officially our first weather day as we have been knocked off our planned itinerary for the first time. Still, two days stuck in the tent feels like a lot and we are trying not to get saddled with cabin fever. The team is doing a great job staying positive despite the fact that nearly every other expedition on the mountain has bailed for Mendoza and we are eagerly awaiting the latest weather forecast for a potential summit window…
Wish us luck!
Stuck in the tent for now anyway,
I love you Daddy We all miss you so much.I hope you and Doug are having fun!!! HI Daddy! Love,Bailey
Hey Babe- bails wanted to write you a message on her own!! You guys are all in our prayers for a chance at the summit but we are all so proud of you even if you don’t get a chance at it!! See you soon!!
Posted by: Bailey on 1/26/2016 at 8:28 am
Praying your team gets a break in the weather Jake.
We are following you from SAMCOM in Dallas
Bob & the Crown gang
Posted by: Bob Fiedler on 1/26/2016 at 5:07 am
January 23, 2016
We woke this morning to our first bit of precipitation. When I stuck my head out of the tent around 5 am, we were essentially in a cloud with some light flurries coming down but now the clouds have parted a bit and we’re enjoying views towards Mercedario again. It’s calm and more or less pleasant but we are waiting for a system to hit this afternoon with wind and precipitation. We are on a scheduled rest day and will hopefully see what this storm brings before we try and figure out our next move. When a window presents itself we’ll make a move for high camp at Plaza Cólera and hopefully take a crack at the summit the following day. But for now… We’re about to be stuck in a holding pattern. On a brighter note, we are celebrating a teammate’s birthday today complete with a cake and balloons courtesy of Katrina. Hoping everyone at home wishes John a happy one!
Signing off for now,
We are glad that there are only 9 more days until you get home. We are missing on you. LOVE: Addy Leith Babe
I love you Dad so much. We can’t stop thinking of you because you are our best dad and babe ever. Love, Leith
Posted by: Addelyn on 1/25/2016 at 8:14 pm
Hope all your crazy coats are keeping you warm while you wait out the storm!! We are praying hard you stay safe but have a chance at the summit- hearing the kids prayers would bring a smile to your face for sure!! Can’t wait to see the pics and hear all about your adventures- I like Charlyn an def looking forward to seeing that beard and crusty the clown hair you most likely have by now!!
The kids did awesome in their games yesterday and Mason even played on Bails team since they were short players!!
Stay safe all!!
Posted by: Bre on 1/24/2016 at 8:01 am
January 22, 2016
Checking in from Guanacos Campo 3, or Camp 2 for us at well over 18,000’. We are moved and settled in, enjoying yet another perfect afternoon with coffee, cribbage, prosciutto, and of course, siestas. We felt the altitude before but with this most recent move higher we are all moving a bit slower and scratching our heads a bit longer when trying to figure out where that one stuff sack with our snacks went. The team is staying positive despite a tough looking weather forecast and we are hoping that Mother Nature will give us an opportunity to sneak in a trip to the top. Not much else cooking up here besides our broccoli and rice dinner…
On The Map
Man! We sure hope you guys can at least take a crack at the summit. Always in our prayers. I know I’m a day late on this post, but just know we have been actively thinking and praying for your adventure. Enjoy your time and keep that mind of yours sharp! That altitude is no match for my babers!
We love you so much and miss you lots!
Char and kids
Posted by: Charlyn on 1/23/2016 at 8:29 pm
Amazing to think you’ve gone so far. Hope you get a weather window for your attempt on the summit.
Love Brian, Mary Lou, David and Sarah
Posted by: Brian Macfaden on 1/23/2016 at 10:50 am