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Entries By gabriel barral

January 25, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Team Returns to Mendoza

Hello again from team Aconcagua. Sorry it has been awhile but the last few days have been very busy on our end. Now that we are back in Mendoza sipping red wine and eating great beef we can fill you in on the mountain adventures.

Last Thursday, the 19th, we moved from our Camp 2 at 18,000’ to Camp Colera (meaning: anger) at 19,600’. It was a short move under beautifully clear skies, but we were tired nonetheless from the thin air. We set camp, ate dinner early, and prepared for the early start of our summit push.

The stoves were kicked on early at 3 am to start the long process of boiling water for breakfast at altitude (I believe we are picking up a theme: the length of time it takes to do anything at high altitude is very, very long). We had a beautiful, warm, calm morning for the culmination of our goal. The moon was a sliver, but showing at the bottom, like a saucer, rather than the side as we usually see it in the northern hemisphere. At 5 am, bags were packed with food, water, and extra clothes and storm gear for our day. Crampons were on our feet, and we began the ascent from camp under the light of headlamps, wearing our parkas.

There were many groups headed for the summit with us since the weather was supposed to get worse the following day and for several days after. Many groups, like us, had moved their schedule up in order to take advantage of the end of our weather window. The climb travels many switchbacks up a series of benches to our second break at the Independencia Hut, elevation: 21,000 ft. As we reached it, streams of headlamps from fellow climbers stretched below us. Taking a break here, we refueled our bodies with hot cocoa and alfajors, an Argentine treat. As the horizon began to show signs of light, we started the long traverse to the base of the Canaleta, which is a large snow couloir that takes you to the summit.  Despite the thin air and tired legs, the team was feeling strong as we climbed the last couple of hours and last 1,000 ft to the summit.  It was 1:40pm as the last of our boots stepped onto the top of the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere. We celebrated together with hugs and cheers and relished in the moment for what we had just accomplished.  Although we could have stayed on top for hours, the clouds and snow were rolling in and forcing us to start the long descent back to our camp and our sleeping bags.

We arrived back at camp at 4:30pm, just as the wind was starting to pick up and our bodies were starting to fully tire. Everyone quickly jumped into their sleeping bags and enjoyed an evening of ramen noodles and an early bedtime. The next morning we woke with sore legs and headaches from dehydration, but everyone was ready for another long descent back to base camp. We broke down camp and at 11am we headed back to Camp 2 and eventually Camp 1 to pick up both personal and group gear that we had cached days before. This is the worst part of any expedition, since our packs get heavier with each previous camp we visit. As we left camp 1 to make the last push down to base camp, our packs were weighing upwards of 25 kilos. We walked into base camp at 4:45pm with huge smiles on our faces and were greeted with tang and fresh fruit from the Grajales crew. As we chatted and laughed about where we had just been the previous day, we realized that the hardest and most dangerous part of our trip was over and we had all made it down safely.  We feasted on steak and papas fritas that night and toasted to our 14 days on the mountain. We slept well that night with full bellies and happy hearts, resting up for the 21 mile walk out of the valley and back to the entrance of the provincial park.

Fourteen days doesn’t seem like that long a time, but Sunday we realized how deprived of color we had been, as we walked past brilliant green and yellow clumps of flowers descending the Relinchos valley towards home. Our packs were light and birds were singing nearby, making our steps light and quick. As the day wore on however, our steps slowed as the 15 miles we had to walk that day ticked past. An exciting river crossing of the Vacas river found many of the group in their skiveys, wading through thigh deep glacial waters. The late afternoon temps made the cool water dip welcome however. The last few miles were a long affair, but we arrived in camp to the smell of the arrearos cooking us a feast of an asada. One pound of slow cooked steak per person, tomato salad, fresh baked bread, and local malbec wine sent everyone to bed with full stomachs and a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the stars. Most chose to sleep outside of the tents, for views of the southern cross, and beyond!

Six miles of walking the next morning brought us to Punta de Vacas and the end of our walking! Everyone piled into the van for a tired drive to Mendoza. Showers, and shaves brought everyone back to life, and Monday night the group enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the “patio,” a local parilla (Brazilian style steak house but Argentinian!). The group dreamed up a wonderful way to commemorate the climb: a locally published coffee table book of Aconcagua that each signed to everyone else, so that we’ll remember the faces, friendships, experiences, and stories that we have grown over the last three weeks.

The guides
would like to thank an incredible team of climbers for their dedication, strength, perseverance, and laughter. Gabi’s 25th was a special one. And further, the team would like to thank everyone for their notes, thoughts, and positive vibes while we were headed to the highest point in the western hemisphere!

Goodnight and good luck,
The RMI Aconcagua Crew

Way to go Wally Glover and the rest of the team!
Dan in Indy.

Posted by: Dan Meno on 1/27/2012 at 3:31 pm

Can’t wait to hear all about this adventure Tom. From all accounts (including the bloggers reporting) you had a wonderful time and share an experience only a limited few understand. What a memory! Safe journey home tommorow and Saturday.
Love Mom and Dad

Posted by: Daisy on 1/26/2012 at 1:51 pm

January 20, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Summit!

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral called with great news that our team reached the summit of Aconcagua

They stood on top at 2 pm (Argentinian time) and are back at high camp happy, healthy, and contently tired.  After dinner and a good night’s sleep, the team will descend to base camp tomorrow.

Congratulations to RMI Guides Gabriel Barral, Pete Van Deventer, Gilbert Chase and Team!

On The Map

Strong work! Congrats to The Team and our main man Larry. Get back safely. The Shasta “Guys”.

Posted by: Tom F. on 1/26/2012 at 11:49 am

Hope all continues to go well.  It’s terrific!

Posted by: holly seaton on 1/24/2012 at 8:59 am

January 19, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Team At High Camp

We are at High Camp (Piedras Blancas) and getting ready for our summit bid. We will leave early in the morning for an alpine start and climb out of camp to join the Ruta Normal.  A gradual traverse along the mountain’s northwest flank takes us to the base of the Canaleta, a 1,000’ long couloir leading to the summit ridge. Upon reaching the top of the Canaleta, a straightforward traverse leads to the Aconcagua summit.

Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral

On The Map

Bryan,  So glad to hear about your climb!!! We are sooooooo proud of you ‘warrior!’ Also, glad you and your team are having a great time!  Can’t wait to see you and ‘celebrate!’  Love mommy and daddy

Posted by: Connie Blalock on 1/21/2012 at 1:09 pm

Bryan,  So glad to hear about your climb!!! Also, glad you and your team are having a great time!  Can’t wait to see you and ‘celebrate!’  Love mommy and daddy

Posted by: Connie Blalock on 1/21/2012 at 1:07 pm

January 17, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Weather Day At Camp 1

Hi there,
We woke up this morning at Camp 1 with high winds, and big plumes of spin drift on the saddle above us, so we decided to stay here for one more day. Our current plan, based on the short good weather window that the forecast has given us, is to move to camp 2 tomorrow, the next day move to Camp 3 and the next day go for the summit!

The group is very excited about the new plan after having been inside the tents for the last 48 hours.  The winds at this moment have started to slow down, so it looks like the forecast is right.

We will check in tomorrow from Camp 2.

Gabi, Pete, Gilbert and the Aconcagua team

On The Map

Sounds like its on like Donkey Kong!
Go get and get it man.
Love you,

Posted by: Chad Johnson on 1/20/2012 at 9:49 am

Wow, Jeff, moving right along!! I got butterflies when I read the agenda, I know you will do well, take care & stay calm, take in each moment, we all look forward to your stories. Luv to you, mum

Posted by: Norene on 1/17/2012 at 7:25 pm

January 15, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: The Team Back from a Successful Carry to Camp 2

Hello again from Camp 1 on Aconcagua. We had a successful carry to Camp 2 today. It was very busy leaving camp this morning, about 60 climbers heading up. The weather was great, sunny and warm with a fresh breeze. We got 4 inches of snow last night, so the mountain is beautiful right now. The whole crew did great on the carry today. Camp 2 at 18,000’ was a new high point for a lot of folks. We are now back at Camp 1 resting and diverting a fast flowing river that is trying to submerge our tents. We are resting tomorrow before we move higher on the mountain. Hope this dispatch finds everyone doing well and enjoying the new year.

You’ll will be hearing from us soon,
The Aconcagua team

Proof that Wally is the most thoughtful man on earth; he asked Bryan,(who unfortunately had to cut his climb short due to asthma) to send me an e-mail letting me know “he is in good shape, and has already made it to 19,000 feet. Waltor is an awesome man, he has made this trip soooo enriching. Dont worry about him”. The Wally Glover fan club can now breath a little easier! Thanks Bryan!

Posted by: Lori on 1/17/2012 at 10:47 am




Posted by: CHRIS CHASE on 1/16/2012 at 11:37 am

January 14, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Team Arrives at Camp 1

Hi there,
Team Aconcagua checking in from Camp 1 (16,200’). We arrived at camp around 3 pm today. It took almost 5 hours for us to complete the move to our new home (we are planing to spend 3 nights here).
It started to snow right after we set the tents and it hasn’t stop since (3 hours), the accumulation is just 2 inches so far.
We are ready to have dinner and relax for the evening and recover from our move.  Tomorrow, if the weather is good and everyone is feeling well, we plan to make our carry up toward Camp 2.

We will check in tomorrow when we are return to Camp.  Thanks for all the comments on the RMI blog, keep sending them.
Team Aconcagua

On The Map

Thinking of you Tom and sending our love and support. We will pray for good weather and an enjoyable climb tomorrow. Mom and Dad
Wherever you are - be all there. Jim Elliot

Posted by: Daisy J. Dwyer on 1/17/2012 at 7:42 pm

hey baby! it was sooo good to hear your voice today, tell whom ever let you borrow the phone that i said THANK YOU!! sfter talking with you i realized how hard it must be living (surviving) at 19,000 ft!!! i love you so much push to your limit and you know your body : ) all my thoughts and prayers are with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: wiyanna on 1/15/2012 at 7:06 pm

January 13, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Resting at Base Camp

Hey all,

This is the Aconcagua crew checking in from Base Camp. It’s been a beautiful rest day here with crystal blue skies most of the morning. It was a great day to sit outside, enjoy the sun, and visit with other teams here. Several folks were even warm enough to take showers via nalgene bottles.

It hasn’t been all play though, as each team member had to sort through gear and decide what is going to make the move with us and what will stay here at base camp. It’s an important task, since from here on out, every extra thing we bring adds weight to our packs. We will enjoy a last gourmet dinner from our outfitter, Grajales, before our big move to Camp 1 tomorrow. As I write, clouds are building, and it looks like we may get a touch of snow to brighten the landscape tonight.

All the best, and we’ll check in from 16,000’ tomorrow!


RMI Guides Pete, Gabi, Gilbert, and team

On The Map

Hi Jeff & team,  I look forward to reading the blog everyday, sounds all good from here. I’ll bet you are getting to know one another & know who you’re on the mtn w/keep the postive feedback coming.  I hope you are sleeping well,I could just picture you taking a shower from you water bottle.  Love always, take care mum

Posted by: Norene Kimes on 1/15/2012 at 12:25 pm

Hang in there, be safe and have fun!

Posted by: Holly Seaton on 1/14/2012 at 8:01 pm

January 11, 2012

Aconcagua Expedition: Resting at Base Camp

Our team arrived yesterday to Aconcagua Base Camp at 14,000’ after three nice days on the trail.
We spent today resting and acclimating for the upper mountain. After a delicious breakfast we checked in with the Basecamp Medical Staff and received a clean bill of health all the way around (everybody looks like rock stars).

During the afternoon we worked on sorting the gear that we are going to carry to Camp 1 tomorrow.  The weather was marvelous until 4 pm and since then it has been cloudy with a little bit of snow.

The team wants to wish a very Happy Birthday to Chad Johnson!

RMI Aconcagua Team

On The Map

H.i Dave . What do think of that screed hill up to camp 1. The good news is that you have to do it one more time . Ross

Posted by: Ross on 1/12/2012 at 8:25 am

Wally: Glad you’re doing well. Keep it up. Keep warm.

Posted by: Greg Scherschel on 1/12/2012 at 7:48 am

January 11, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Team arrives at Pampa de Lenas

Hi everybody,
This is the Aconcagua team checking in from Pampa de Leñas camp.
After a few days in Mendoza and Penitentes doing the hardest part of climbing a big mountain (getting the climbing permits, trying to get all the duffel bags that didn’t make it to the airport with us, packing a ton of food and gear for the mules, etc), today we started the trek to Base Camp. The mountain welcomed us with a perfect blue sky day. We hiked for five and half hours today and got to our first camp on the Vacas Valley.
Everybody did a great job and we are all feeling good. We are getting ready to sit down to dinner. Pete and Gilbert have cooked a gorgeous veggie pasta, almost as good as the amazing Argentinian steaks that we were eating since we arrived in Mendoza.
That is all for today, cheers!

RMI Guide Gabriel Barral and Team Aconcagua.

On The Map

January 9, 2012


Aconcagua Expedition: Team Arrives in Mendoza

The entire team arrived safely in Mendoza with all our gear (almost).  One delayed bag should be arriving tomorrow in Mendoza. 
It is after midnight here and we just returned to the hotel after our first team dinner. We had a great meal enjoying the local flavors of Malbec and of course some Argentinian beef.  We were busy all day with everyone’s arrival and our first team meeting.  We are now just finishing the day.

Everyone is excited to start the trip and is looking forward to get closer to the big mountain.
Gabi, Pete and Gilbert

SIR WALTER GLOVER: Great weather forecast for the climb! Godspeed and have fun! Dan & Deb Meno

Posted by: Dan Meno on 1/11/2012 at 10:51 am

bryan!!! i am sooo happy to be able to hear your voice!!! hang in there!! you are my superman!! i love you.. prayers and wishes from everyone here….good luck!!!!!

Posted by: wiyanna on 1/11/2012 at 10:45 am

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