Entries By eric frank

Alpamayo: Frank & Team Poised at High Camp

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 17,600'

It is hard to sit under Alpamayo’s southwest face and not stare for an extended period of time. Our team, along with three other groups moved up to the Col Camp (17,600’) today and find ourselves trying to prepare for the ascent tomorrow, but constantly distracted by the beauty of the route. From our tents the route rises nearly 2,000 feet in a vertical line of frozen snow and ice. An alpinist’s dream.

Getting to camp today was a job in itself. We climbed up a glacier for 90 minutes to the base of a headwall. It took three pitches of ice to reach the saddle where camp lies. The team performed well, but climbing 60-degree ice at 17,000 feet with 45-pound packs had everyone breathing hard.

Stay tuned for tomorrow. We hope to make an attempt and will call via satellite phone to update everyone with the results.

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the Alpamayo team

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Alpamayo: Frank & Team Move to 16,200’

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 16,200'

After going to bed last night to the sound of heavy rain and hail, we were unsure what we would find this morning. Waking up to blue skies and warm weather was a pleasant surprise. Once the team had finished breakfast, we set about the arduous process of sorting through gear to carry uphill. Up until now mules have carried our gear, so weight was not a concern. Folding chairs, speaker boxes, cotton clothes, hardback books…anything was fair game. Now that we are carrying the gear on our backs, loads needed to be cut to a minimum and luxury items were left behind.
With the packs trimmed to a reasonable size we made the two-hour climb up to our camp at 16,200’. Currently the team is resting and looking forward to moving up again tomorrow.

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the Alpamayo team

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Alpamayo: Frank & Team’s Rest Day

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 14,270'

After four days of hard work, the Alpamayo team is taking a much deserved rest day. Coincidentally, the weather is marginal today and the constant patter of hail pelts our tents as we read or nap. All in all things are good and everyone is happy.  We plan to rest for most of the afternoon, then practice some rope skills an get packed before dinner.

Happy belated Fourth of July everyone! We are so focused on the tasks at hand, that none of us realized it was the fourth until late in the day yesterday. Signing off from Alapamayo Basecamp.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

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Alpamayo: Frank & Team Cache Gear at 16,200’

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 04, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 14,270'

Today the Alpamayo team made a big jump and moved a portion of our group gear up to the next camp, Moraine Camp (16,200’). We moved well and were at the cache site by late morning. Despite feeling good, everyone was breathing hard and we were happy to drop back to our basecamp at 14,200’.

The food on this trip has been phenomenal. Everyday our cook, Raul, impresses us with his culinary prowess. From veggie omelettes to grilled trout to fresh cut fruit salad every night, we have been eating like kings. I suspect the amazing food has a strong correlation to how good we all feel.

All for now. Thanks for following along.

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the Alpamayo team

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Alpamayo: Frank and Team at Basecamp

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 03, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 14,270'

Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 3:01 PM PT

Howdy, ya’all from Alpamayo Basecamp.

Up here at 14,270’ the air is a bit harder to breathe, but we are doing well and feeling strong. The hike today was a unique mix of open glacial plains and mossy paths through the woods which remind us of the land of the hobbits.
Currently the team is reading or napping in the tents to avoid the intense mid-day sun. We are all performing well and, weather permitting, plan to carry some gear up to a higher camp tomorrow.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

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Alpamayo: Frank & Team Reach Llama Corral

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 03, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 11,580'

The sun is setting, and the sky is a brilliant shade of red as we sit down to dinner. What a day it has been! The scenery during our hike into Llama Corral (11,500’) today was nothing short of amazing. Tower cliffs and a mountain stream provided a great backdrop for plants ranging from cactus to meadow flowers. A thoroughly enjoyable walk.
Thanks to everyone who is following along.

Mike, Scott and RMI Guide Eric Frank

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Alpamayo: Frank & Team Acclimate Near Huaraz

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 01, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru
Elevation: 10,000'

The Alpamayo team had another great day. Early this morning we caught a bus, along with the Peru - Expedition Skills Seminar, an hour out of town and went for an acclimatization hike to just over 14,000’. The scenery was stunning and sporadic hail from passing clouds added spice to the walk. After a few hours we found ourselves next to an alpine lake at the base of a snow covered face. Incredible! This evening we ventured into the heart of Huaraz to buy a few last minute items, and indulge in locally caught trout on the main plaza.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

The Alpamayo team at the alpine lake on the our hike. Photo: Eric Frank View of the Peruvian mountains from the hotel. Photo: Eric Frank Walking into Huaraz to get dinner. Photo: Eric Frank

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Alpamayo: From Oceaside to High Mountains

Posted by: Eric Frank | July 01, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Peru

Greetings from South America!

This is the RMI Expeditions Alpamayo team making our inaugural check-in from the Peruvian city of Huarez. After spending most of yesterday on planes, the team had a brief layover in Lima last night before catching a shuttle up into the mountains today. With a dinner of Alpaca steaks, we are currently nestling into bed and getting excited about the days to come.

RMI Guide Eric Frank & Team

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Mt. McKinley: RMI Guide Eric Frank’s Final Thoughts

Posted by: Eric Frank, Geoff Schellens | June 19, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 348'

June 19, 2014 - 9:34 am PT

As the wheels of our bush plane touched down in Talkeetna last night, my mind breathed a bittersweet sigh of relief. On one hand, we were back in civilization with amazing conveniences, such as flush toilets and food with expiration dates, but the trip had not turned out the way I hoped in previous months of dreaming about it. After taxiing through the airfield, we unpacked the plane and I cataloged the 36 hours of frenzied activity leading up to that point.

The weather throughout this trip was challenging. Aside from the first few days traveling up the lower Kahiltna Glacier, we battled ominous and unpredictable forecasts, and lots of marginal weather. The team did a great job of staying positive, always assuming that after the snow ended we would get our break. Day followed day, but the snow didn’t stop. It wasn’t a blizzard by any means, but just bad enough to not be able to move up high and make a summit attempt. Every morning we would get up and either watch snow fall, or see wind howling across the summit plateau. 

After nine nights at 14,200’ camp we were in a difficult position. We had managed to get a food cache up on the route, just below 16,000’, but the snow was presenting avalanche danger, the forecast hadn’t improved and the days were counting down. The group had a long discussion about schedules and desires, eventually coming to the conclusion that we would split ways. Part of the team would stay, join another RMI team for support and wait for better weather. The other half of us would pack up most of the gear and move downhill toward the runway. Family, friends and work obligations were calling our names. After a 15-hour, 14-mile walk through the night, we made it to the landing strip, caught a plane and found ourselves on terra firma Tuesday night around dinner time.

As a guide, these trips are some of the most difficult to manage. The puzzle was one piece from coming together, but it wasn’t meant to be. The frustration was not solely ours. This has been a rough year in the Alaska Range weather-wise. When we flew onto the glacier, the summit success percentage was a depressingly low 16%. It has hardly risen since then.  It would seem as though this season has been one of failure, but I prefer to view it differently. As a team, we did everything we could to be ready, the mountain simply said “no.” That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have an enjoyable trip with lots of good memories. Quite the contrary, we had several good weeks together filled with learning and bonding. I am reminded of the very applicable mountain phrase, “The summit is for the ego, but the journey is for the soul.”

Final thoughts-

To our three climbers- Andy, Jesse, and John. Thanks for arriving fit, ready to climb and with great senses of humor. You guys were a riot to hang out with in the cook tent, and on the rope. I have every confidence that given a decent weather window, you guys could tag the top.  Unfortunately, not getting a chance to summit is sometimes part of big mountain climbing. You guys handled it with class and smiles. I hope our paths in the mountains cross many times in the future.

To my fellow RMI guide, Geoff Schellens, it is always a pleasure to work with you. Good times, buddy. You are smart, patient and ridiculously strong at altitude. I felt lucky to be up there with you.

To all the family, friends, armchair mountaineers and acquaintances who followed along in the last few weeks; thank you for the support. Your comments on the blog and daily positive vibes were the fuel that pushed us along up there. We thought of you in every decision, and with each picture we took.

Until next time, keep warm and enjoy every moment of life.

RMI Guide Eric Frank

Talkeetna, Alaska - Sunset at 1:49 a.m. Photo: Eric Frank

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Mt. McKinley: Upper West Rib Team Weathers Another Day

Posted by: Eric Frank, Geoff Schellens | June 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

June 15, 2014 - 11:26 pm PT

We awoke this morning to blue skies and our excitement spiked. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent that this was only a trap door, the forecast is still looking poor for the next few days. We decided to stay put here at 14 camp, and by early afternoon the clouds and snow were back. The team is beginning to become discouraged and there is talk of heading down hill without a better weather forecast. That’s all for now.

RMI Guide Eric Frank and the McKinley Upper West Rib Team

On The Map

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