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Entries By jj justman

November 19, 2015

Mt. Everest Southside


At their teacher’s request, the 7th grade class in Crystal River, FL, Skyped with RMI guides JJ Justman and Joe Horiskey for 60 minutes yesterday. We discussed mountain climbing in general, and fielded questions about Mt Everest in particular.

The class was doing a novel study of the book “Peak” by northwest author Roland Smith, which centers on a 14-year-old boy climbing Mt Everest.  Their teacher, Sarah, had inquired by email whether RMI would be willing to Skype with her class.  Of course the answer was a resounding “Yes!”

The students, obviously well-versed in their subject, asked pertinent questions on topics such as: the effects of altitude on the human body, requisites of food and gear for climbing Mt Everest, necessary climbing experience, and surviving for an extended period of time in potentially hostile terrain.

Being familiar with the tragedies which had befallen the mountain the past two consecutive years, the class was riveted to hear JJ’s first-hand account of actually being at Camp l last April 25 when the earthquake struck.  He also presented video of his evacuation by helicopter to Base Camp.

One student asked how climbers deal with being separated from loved ones, friends and family, for extended periods of time. Another inquired about our “scariest moments” as mountain guides.  But throughout, our message to the class emphasized safety, and while mountain climbing does involve accepting a certain amount of risk that is the case for many activities in life (sports, driving, etc). 

Sarah noted at the conclusion of our presentation the kids’ favorite photo was of the abbreviated ‘runway’ in Lukla (at Tenzing-Hillary Airport)!  JJ and I really enjoyed talking with Sarah’s class and look forward to similar presentations with hers and others in the future!

RMI Guide Joe Horiskey

Thank you for taking the time to extend our students’ learning. It was great hearing their excitement and discussions after you signed off. You did a great job connecting with them.

Posted by: Lori Casalvieri on 11/19/2015 at 3:15 pm

November 14, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Weathered Off of Orizaba

Well folks…I had my best weather day on Ixta. And yesterday and today, I had my worst weather day on Orizaba. The team is great but we were unable to summit Orizaba. High winds and a constant rain prevented us from going higher. However, that is not preventing us from having a great experience. As for me, this was a phenomenal team and we had I think, too much fun. Mike and I hope to climb with everyone again. We are now back at Sr. Reyes and are drying all our soggy gear.

This is the last blog for Team Mexico. Thank you all for following along.

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

November 13, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Check In from Piedra Grande Hut

Hi everyone. This is JJ Justman and Mike King and Team Mexico. This morning we parted the beautiful colonial city of Puebla.  We had a great rest day yesterday in Puebla enjoying a little bit of the good life.  This morning we took off and headed to Orizaba, which is where we are right now. We set up camp. We are actually going expedition style, so the tents are up and the stoves are going for some hot drinks. The weather right now is a little little bit cloudy, little bit foggy and a light mist.  The weather actually isn’t too bad; nice and calm so that’s good. Everyone’s doing really, really well. We’re looking forward to a great summit day tomorrow. Our plan is to have an early dinner, and then wake up and start climbing just after midnight, give or take. It should be a full day for us tomorrow, so stay tuned. We’ll give a call, keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully will call you from the summit of the third highest mountain in North America, Orizaba. Thanks for following along. We’ll touch base again tomorrow. Bye.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls in from Piedra Grande Hut in Mexico.

On The Map

November 12, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: RMI Guide JJ Justman Shares Ixta Summit Photos and Video

The RMI Mexico team is in Puebla.  While at their hotel, RMI Guide, JJ Justman, was able to send us photos and a video of his team’s successful Ixta summit. Check it out below!

November 11, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Summit Ixtaccihuatl

Hey, everyone, this is JJ and Mike and Team Mexico. I’m going to give everyone 3 seconds to guess, that’s right, three seconds to guess where we are. You don’t need that much time you guessed it, we are all 100%, the entire team, is on the summit of Ixta as we speak.  I’ll tell you what, it was a beautiful day climbing, actually probably my best day on Ixta of all my years, over a decade of coming here. Just a beautiful day climbing and a great strong team, we worked hard but everyone did well. We are taking a few summit photos, have a little bit of water and food and then we are going to throw the rucksacks back on and head down hill. Don’t go too far away we are going to go all the way down to Puebla later this afternoon.  And I’m going to hopefully make a summit video as well as post a few photos. Thanks for following along. We are really excited to be up here and we really appreciate your support. So stay tuned a little later and you’ll see how beautiful today was climbing.  Take care everyone, chao from the summit of Ixta.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls from the summit of Ixtaccihuatl, 17,340', Mexico.

On The Map

Congrats to Rhonda and the rest of the team.  Stay strong and be safe.

Posted by: Judy on 11/11/2015 at 10:13 am

Awesome!!  Congratulations on summiting Ixta!  We love the blog and hearing how the expedition is progressing.  Can’t wait to see the photos and videos!  Hello to our son, Nick:-)!! Good luck with the rest of the week.

Posted by: Julie Beres on 11/11/2015 at 7:35 am

November 10, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team at Ixta High Camp

Hello RMI Blog followers. Team Mexico is coming at you live from high camp on Ixta. It was a beautiful day. It was a tough day; however, the team did awesome getting to 15,400 feet.

We are busy setting up camp and the name of the game is recovering with a good meal and some hot drinks. We will depart tomorrow at 3 a.m. for the summit so wish us well!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

Great photos. Praying for all to have a safe climb. Enjoying the blog.

Posted by: Linda Manley on 11/11/2015 at 7:53 am

November 9, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team at Ixta’s Altzomoni Hut

Today was a fantastic day for Team Mexico! We left our cabins at La Malinche and continued on our adventure. After a hearty buffet breakfast and a few team members saying “I can’t believe I ate 3 breakfasts!” we hit the road and headed to our first objective, Ixta.

We made a quick pit stop to buy a few last items and we also acquired our park entrance permits. We are now settling in the Altzomoni Hut at 12,000’. The team went for another hike to get the blood flowing and everyone is feeling great.

We are now packing and sorting gear for our move to high camp tomorrow. Stay tuned, the team is getting pumped as we get closer to making our summit attempt!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

November 8, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Hike La Malinche in Inclement Weather

The team left the bustling Zona Rosa District in Mexico City and headed for the hills. We arrived in La Malinche at noon and we quickly settled into our private cabanas and dinned our trekking shoes.

The weather was less than ideal with steady rain; however, our team made the best of marginal conditions not to mention rain gear! The park police actually were not going to let us up because of the weather.

You see, the park sees a lot of tourists…locals from the city dressed in sandals and sweatpants. Which, is nice on a beautiful day. For us, the weather wasn’t actually that bad so with my best Spanish I sweet-talked our way to trek up to 13,000 feet.

The team did great! We had a fun time and did our bodies good adjusting to higher altitudes. We are now settled back in our cabanas and we are getting ready for another great dinner here in Mexico.

Heh! After a wet day at altitude this team deserves a little pampering!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

November 7, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Arrive in Mexico City

The team is all here! We are in Mexico City on a beautiful evening and we are looking forward to beginning our expedition. Tomorrow we will head for the mountains to get some fresh air. The weather is nice and we are hoping it continues for us. Stay tuned to the RMI blog for updates.

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

November 5, 2015

JJ Justman: Aconcagua - Mi Amor

For those of you that know me, you are aware of my love affair with Argentina and Aconcagua. For those of you that don’t know, let me explain. It was 1998 when I first visited Argentina and it didn’t take but a few hours from stepping off of the plane to say to myself, “I love this place!”

The first thing you notice while in Mendoza is how beautiful the city and the countryside are. As you walk along the wide city sidewalks that are lined with cafe after cafe, you can’t help but sit down to order a double espresso and watch people. As you sit and watch you notice a different atmosphere that rules Argentina as a whole. That is, people enjoy living! At one table there is a group of businessmen taking a break from work. At another table sit a group of old men in a heated debate over Argentina’s favorite sport, futbol.

Of course coffee isn’t the only thing consumed in Mendoza. The region is best known for its wine production, as Argentina is now regarded as one of the largest producers of quality wine in the world. That leads me to another reason I absolutely love Argentina: no, not the wine per se, but the amazing food and restaurants that inhabit the culture. Whether it be the amazing steak that leaves every single person saying the same thing – “that’s the best steak I have ever had!” – or authentic Italian cuisine, if you are a “foodie” like me Argentina is amazing. Sure, Aconcagua is supposed to be all about climbing; however, as an international adventure, an expedition to Argentina could not start or finish any better than in a city like Mendoza. Now, for the climbing part:

Argentinian Asado

Aconcagua of course is one of the seven summits and at just under 23,000 feet it is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. It is the perfect mountain for climbers who want to get a start at expedition style climbing. The climb starts in the rugged, high mountain desert landscape where temperatures can be very warm. Mules carry our climbing gear the three day trek to base camp at Plaza Argentina. That means a couple of things: One, you get to trek into base camp with a light backpack; two, you get to hang out with the cowboys, also known as Arrieros, every night at the campfire; and perhaps most importantly, you get to experience a true Argentinian Asado as the cowboys cook steak and chicken over the campfire under the stars.

The trusty mules

Once you arrive at base camp, most climbers are pleasantly surprised at how civilized it is. It’s very reminiscent of Everest Base Camp in that there are dining tents, toilets, and even showers. Since acclimatization is very important on such a high mountain, it certainly is nice to have some creature comforts and incredible support from a great base camp staff. The climbing above base camp is physically demanding. When I first climbed “The Stone Sentinel” in 1998 we only made two camps above base camp. Today RMI makes three camps. Camp One sits at 16,200 feet. Camp Two at 18,000 feet and Camp Three at 19,600 feet. With 20 summits of Aconcagua I have seen the success rate go way up due to the more strategic nature of making three camps. This acclimatization schedule helps to make our climbing teams much stronger, but the climb is still a lot of work!

Smiles on the summit

I would love to explain to you how amazing the world looks up high on summit day, but it’s like every mountain I climb: you cannot fully explain the beauty of the high alpine world until you see it for yourself. As you stand on her summit and gaze out, you see a world that never ends; mountains beyond mountains as far as the eye can see. While you contemplate, it doesn’t take too long to begin to smile knowing that as soon as you get down, you are returning to the beautiful city of Mendoza to enjoy the hot weather and swimming pools, after an evening of dining once again on the most amazing food you’ll ever have in your life, that is!

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