Entries By katrina bloemsma
January 16, 2016
Well, we made it to Base Camp yesterday! The team is moving well and feeling good despite our first abrupt change in elevation since the drive from Mendoza to Penitentes. We are now sitting pretty and all moved in at Plaza Argentina at an elevation of right around 4,200 m or about 13,800’. Anita and Griselda, head honchos here with Grajales, prepared us an over the top welcome dinner complete with soup, veggies, a slab of beef, and tiramisu for dessert! Despite the extravagance of the meal the living still isn’t super easy up here and we knew were we are all in for a little bit of discomfort trying to sleep up here on our first night.
Today is another sunny and glorious day up here at Plaza Argentina. The gang actually fared quite well through the night and enjoyed a casual wake up this morning. We all hung out and drank real coffee along with enjoying stuffed breakfast burritos complete with prosciutto and grilled veggies thanks to Katrina’s solid work in the kitchen. We’ll probably burn the rest of the day today preparing both our group and personal loads for tomorrow’s carry up to Camp 1. Everyone’s hanging out grooving on the Andes and looking forward to tomorrow’s foray higher. That and wondering how the Seahawks are gonna do against Carolina.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent
On The Map
Those are some good lookin Donkeys you got there. Now you know what it’s like to hang around West Point in the middle of winter.
Hey, what are the bathrooms like?
You know, I see you doing this and I think, wow! You could have been a Navy Seal and probably led the raid to get Bin Laden.
Remember, one foot in front of the other and if you begin seeing Sharon Steinhauer, get on oxygen immediately.
Posted by: TJ on 1/18/2016 at 2:52 pm
Sounds like things are going well for my mountain man. You definitely have the better weather right now…windchill of -20 here tonight…yikes! All is good on the homefront…Lucas got a promotion at work and Allison is happy with all her classes. Think of you often and miss you!
Posted by: Lisa Irwin on 1/17/2016 at 3:28 pm
January 15, 2016
¡Hola de Pampa de Leñas! After a last night in a real bed we got outta Penitentes and hit the trail. Needless to say the team is psyched to finally be on the move after the months of anticipation and the seemingly endless packing and repacking. We enjoyed clear skies and a decent breeze that despite kicking up a bit of dust was actually pleasant in keeping the temps manageable. Everyone moved extremely well and is currently lounging around camp waiting for the herrieros to finish up grilling up some giant slabs of beef for us. Steak and wine, and a crew of happy campers. Not bad for our first day on the hill.
All for now!
On The Map
Hi Heather and all of you up there.
Sorry to hear about the weather. The New Yorkers have been hit by heavy snow and the weather system is heading to us across the Atlantic but will change to strong winds and heavy rain for us this week. Not quite as bad as you are getting.
Stay positive and try and meditate if the storm noise allows!
Love Diane and Paul
Posted by: Paul and Diane on 1/24/2016 at 11:13 pm
The tough part begins - our thoughts are with you - stay safe
Dad & Luz
Posted by: Dad & Luz on 1/16/2016 at 5:07 pm
January 13, 2016
The team met up around 8 a.m. for a not too early breakfast. Afterwards we split up and set out on the streets of Mendoza, running all of our last minute errands. We visited a couple gear shops, hit the pharmacy, grocery store, all the usual stuff before reconvening for a team lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Nicolas, our liaison from Grajales, was kind enough to deal with all the permit rigmarole that is normally a complete pain. So the pace of the morning wasn’t nearly as rushed as in years past.
Our transfer out to Penitentes showed up at the hotel and we loaded up our gear and hit the road. The drive to Penitentes is absolutely gorgeous, rolling through the vineyards outside of the city, up into the foothills, and eventually making our way into the heart of the Andes. Four hours on the road brought us to the Grajales packing facility where we unloaded and spent the rest of the afternoon packing up for the mules and prepping for tomorrow’s start up the hill.
Psyched to hit the trail…
RMI Guides Billy Nugent and Katrina Bloemsma and team
Hello Dear Rob !!
.....and thank you for the updates Billy ! Just know that there are many of us at home checking the blog multiple times a day for any and every bit of the story .... So don’t be hesitant to overload us with detail :)
RMI really does it right .... Wine and grilled steak ....And with chimichurri I bet!
Relieved to hear the temps are significantly warming at the summit ..... I never thought I’d be happy to see a -7 windchill forecasted for later next week (rather than the -35 I’ve been seeing).
Hoping and praying for continued health and goodness for you and all your comrades. Feeling especially confident since your flock of angels are comfortable with the altitude ;) and cared for you so well in Mendoza!
Missing you tons and tons but so happy for all you are experiencing.
..... Always in my thoughts and prayers…M.
Posted by: MFG on 1/16/2016 at 5:03 pm
Dear Dad (Rick),
I miss you sooooo much, I hope you are doing all right, and I love you.
Posted by: Hillary and Hallie Haggard on 1/15/2016 at 4:38 pm
January 12, 2016
Hi everybody and welcome to the dispatch blog for this year’s early January RMI Aconcagua expedition. Billy here checking in from lovely Mendoza, Argentina, where the last of our team (and a bunch of missing luggage) has finally arrived. We had an informative meet and greet this evening poolside at the classic Nutibara Hotel, a haven for Aconcagua climbers from all over the world, where we all got to know each other and run through some important details about our upcoming adventure. Afterwards we headed out on the town for our first team dinner, enjoying the steaks, wine, and Italian influenced food Mendoza is famous for. It looks like we have a very fit and experienced climbing team this year which bodes well for our chances up on the mountain. We’ll check in again tomorrow from Los Penitentes where we’ll be packing up our loads for the mules and finishing up the last of our preparations before heading onto the mountain.
Gerald from team 2015 wishing you all a safe climb! Remember it’s about the journey not the destination :)! However let’s face it the destination is pretty AWESOME! Can’t say enough good stuff about Billy and Katrina. Love Love Love e;m!!! You guys are in good hands with this A team! Watch listen and learn…They have so much experience and knowledge not to mention their professionalism as guides was invaluable to the 2015 teams success. Been thinking about joining you in Ecuador Billy Feb.2nd… What no Katrina! Maybe not then LOL!!!
Have a GREAT climb team!
Posted by: Gerald Flynn on 1/13/2016 at 9:06 am
Randy…your epic adventure begins! Best of luck and try to stay warm. I will think of you every time I crawl under our nice warm electric blanket. I love you! “The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
Posted by: Lisa Irwin on 1/13/2016 at 8:32 am
For the past two winters I’ve traveled to the south side of the globe to join RMI’s teams on Cerro Aconcagua (Argentina). Despite being a skier and winter-lover through and through, each fall I find myself eagerly anticipating my trip to Argentina. Thanks to the Andes, the cuisine, and the new friends I make there each year, I’ve fallen in love with Aconcagua. Here are the top five reasons I look forward to making the long voyage south each winter:
Mules: Aconcagua is a unique mountain in that it is exceptionally dry. Its base camp at 13,800’ is reached by hiking twenty-seven hot, dusty miles along the Vacas river which sits deep in a rocky and sparsely vegetated valley. We rely on mules to carry our heavy expedition equipment to Base Camp over the course of our trek. The mules, loaded with two or three 30 kilogram duffels a piece, run along the river kicking up dust with the southern flanks of Aconcagua as a backdrop. Unlike horses, which expire quickly without water, the mules can run the 27 miles to basecamp fully loaded in a single morning and make the return trip to the trailhead that same afternoon. The mules are cared for and driven by Herrieros, the predecessors of the iconic South American Gauchos. The Herrieros ride the largest and sleekest mules and wear a traditional red cap that looks like a wool beret. They tie large patterned sashes around their waists and tuck a large, leather-sheathed blade in the back. At night the sashes are used to cover the eyes of the younger or more rambunctious mules in camp while the riders sit around a fire and grill in the Argentinian style. Which leads me to another part I love about an Aconcagua expedition…
Asado: A traditional grill that sits just off the ground. Slow burned hardwood provides the coals to cook large slabs of heavily salted steak. There is simply nothing better than coming down from climbing to a camp dinner of fresh steak and wine. Over our Asado dinner the last night on trail, the team has a chance to reflect and enjoy each other’s company, knowing they’re reaching the end of a successful expedition.
Mendoza: This small city nestled in Argentinian wine country is our jumping off point for all Aconcagua expeditions. Mendoza draws tourists of all sorts: wine connoisseurs, climbers, fly fishers, horseback riders, and a host of others. But all of them find in Mendoza some of the best cuisine and wine South America has to offer. The rise in popularity of Argentinian wines complements a rich food culture that descends from a mélange of European and native cultures. Whatever you crave after three weeks in a tent, whether steak, authentic Italian pasta, empanadas, fusion, or just pizza, you’ll find it in Mendoza. I promise, it will be delicious.
The View from Chopper Camp: So far everything I’ve mentioned about climbing Aconcagua has been about food and culture (forgive me, I love a good meal!). And while the cultural experience in Argentina is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of the Aconcagua expedition, the view at Camp Two on Aconcagua takes my breath away every time. Sitting below the Polish Glacier on a small ridge at 18,600ft, Camp Two (or Chopper Camp) offers up the first views of the greater Andean range. From Base Camp on up, climbers see Aconcagua towering above them day and night, until suddenly we come around the final traverse into camp and the Andes stretch out as far as you can see: to the north and east toward Mendoza and west all the way into Chile. It is here, at Chopper Camp, that the expedition picks up energy: the summit is close, the final push on the horizon!
The Team: As the old adage goes, it takes a village to climb a mountain, or something along those lines. Aconcagua requires a tremendous amount of teamwork every step of the way. Our broader team includes the mule drivers who make sure our equipment arrives, the porters who help a climber with an especially heavy load, the Base Camp staff who cook us our first dinners, the drivers, expedition providers, hotel staff and numerous others who work with RMI year after year to make sure climbers and guides are cared for along the way. These people become part of our team. They have become friends and mentors and I look forward to seeing them each year. And then, there is our expedition team: the three guides and ten climbers who live together, work hard building camp together each night, eat every meal together for almost three weeks, and learn more about each other in that time than most people learn in a year. This network and the chance to be part of a new climbing team, more than anything else, calls me back to Aconcagua year after year.
Katrina Bloemsma hails from the mountains of Colorado, but now calls the Pacific Northwest home. She guides in Washington on Mt. Rainier and the North Cascades, and further south, on Aconcagua. An avid skier and climber, Katrina can be found chasing deep snow and warm rocks when she isn’t guiding.
May 30, 2015
Four Day Summit Climb
The Mount Rainier Summit Climb team led by JJ Justman topped out on Columbia Crest at about 7:30 this morning. JJ reported great weather and light winds of about 15 – 20 mph. After spending some time on the summit, the team began their descent about 8:20 a.m.
Congratulations summit team!
January 31, 2015
Hi all. Billy here with the last installment from our riveting series of blog posts documenting one of this year’s RMI Aconcagua expeditions. We officially wrapped up our program last evening with an amazing dinner at Francesco Barbera complete with all of the pageantry you’d expect from a fine dining experience in Argentina: cocktails, wine, delicious handmade pastas, dessert, coffee. We deserved a little luxury after so much hard work in such a harsh environment and indeed there was much rejoicing. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the team for their patience, dedication, and hard work all along the way and to thank Katrina and Billy Haas for being exceptional guides and teammates the whole trip too.
I’ve had tons of fun and can’t wait to come back next year…
congrat’s to Billy, Katrina, and Billy Haas ! super job to all !
Posted by: Bill Nugent on 1/31/2015 at 2:58 pm
January 30, 2015
We made it off the trail today and after a quick lunch and a semi-successful sage sauce recipe aquisition in Penitentes we loaded all of our duffels onto the van and hit the road for Mendoza. We got into town around 5:30 or 6, checked into the hotel, and finally got those showers we´ve been dreaming of for so many weeks. Our sunburned, dirty faces definitely make us stand out among the normal people of the city but what can you really do? We´re headed out for a brew pub and a casual dinner tonight before we have our official celebratory dinner tomorrow night at a fancier restaurant. I´ll check in one more time tomorrow evening to officially wrap the expedition up.
Ciao, headed for some cervezas…
RMI Guide Billy Nugent & Team
So, Glen, you are back on semiI level ground. Havel a good meal and shower, bet that feels good. Have a safe trip back home. See ya soon!
Posted by: John and Kathy on 1/30/2015 at 6:23 pm
January 29, 2015
Well, we made it back to Basecamp. Big loads and tired feet made for a tough day but we were greeted at Basecamp last night by a spread of snacks and cold drinks, but more importantly, hugs and congratulations from Anita and Grizzelda the Basecamp managers. We dined on steaks and real salad and vegetables which were absolutely delicious after over a week of mountain food. This morning we woke up had a quick breakfast before readying the mule loads and are now about to hit the dusty trail for Pampa de Leñas. The herrieros will be preparing a traditional asado there for us tonight but I anticipate that we´ll be out of touch for the evening because it´s hard for the satellite phone to stay connected down there. The canyon walls are just too narrow. The long march home continues…
RMI Guide Billy Nugent & Team
January 26, 2015
12:45 pm PT
Billy called the RMI Office from Camp Cholera: Everyone is safe and sound. We will stay here tonight and descend to Plaza Argentina tomorrow afternoon.
Thank you for all the blog comments and congratulations!
8:48 am PT
Hey there, it’s Billy Nugent of the team El equipo de dos Guillermos, checking in from the summit of Aconcagua. I’m up here right now with six climbers and three guides, 22,800-something feet. So what do you guys think? [Team cheers!] As you can tell a happy but tired bunch. Everyone is doing extremely well. We are definitely winded up here at extremely high altitude. We’ll give you guys a jingle when we are headed back into our high camp at Plaza Cholera.
Other shout-outs. [Brief loss of transmission]
Carter, Walker, and mom I love you guys so much. Thank you for everything.
Erica, Thurston, Bella, Brent, Ally, Christian, everyone. We made it! Hurrah!
Hey guys, it’s Lindsay, I made it. Thank you so much for the support and love. Love you guys. See you when I get back.
Tanya, Benjamin, and Abby- love you and I’ll see you all soon.
Kathy, Kelsey, Eric, Ailie- I love you. I’m on the top of Aconcagua- woohoo! Jerry and Rhonda, John and Kathy- thanks for the support. I’ll be seeing you soon.
Babs and Phil- much love from Katrina.
That’s all I got unless Haas has something. I love you mom and dad [from Billy Haas].
Sorry mom and dad, love you guys too. Signing out. We’ll call you from high camp.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent and team call in from the Aconcagua summit!
On The Map
Hey Glen congratulations you made it! Fridolin
Posted by: Fridolin on 1/28/2015 at 2:52 pm
Sorry just had to post… We are just so proud:))) sounds like an amazing team… can’t wait to hear about it all. Sleep well under the stars. Xx
Posted by: Aliki on 1/27/2015 at 4:47 pm