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Entries By michael murray


Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Hunker In at 9400

We woke to 6-8" of snow at the base of Ski Hill. Light snow was still falling as we ate breakfast, but the trend was improving so we started packing up camp.

By the time we started climbing it was mostly sunny and quite warm. Climbing up Ski Hill in base layers was a treat. Clouds increased and winds ramped up during our climb. By the time we got to our second break, visibility was down to near zero, winds were steadily increasing, and temps had dropped enough to remind us we're in Alaska. It was obvious that conditions would continue to deteriorate, so we put our camp in at 9,400'. It's pretty nasty outside but we're all safe and cozy in our tents. We guides are suiting up to go set up our cook tent so we can fire up stoves and get everyone fed. Hopefully this weather passes overnight, and we can push camp up to 11,200' tomorrow. Time will tell, but 9400' will be our home for tonight. We'll check in again tomorrow with an update.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

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Denali Expedition: Mike Walter & Team Carry Cache to the Base of Ski Hill

Thursday May 9, 2024 – 8:09 PDT

We're back at camp after a good day on the Kahiltna Glacier. We carried a cache of gear and supplies up Ski Hill to around 9700'. Yesterday we had great views and warm temps. Today was quite different, as we were navigating inside a ping pong ball and breaking trail all day. We're hoping for good weather tomorrow so we can move camp up to 11k.

We’ll keep you posted.

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

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Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Arrive at Base Camp, Ascend to Camp 1

UPDATE: Recevied 10:30 am PT

Just a quick dispatch this morning. Everything is flowing smoothly and we're busy making progress. We pulled heavy loads to the base of ski hill yesterday in beautiful weather. It snowed a couple inches overnight and it's snowing lightly this morning, but the sun is poking through and we're gearing up to carry a load of gear up ski hill today. Gotta run, lots of work to do! I'll check back in upon our return to let you know how our day shakes out. Mike.

_________________________________________________________________

RMI Guide Mike Walter and team flew to Kahiltna Basecamp on Tuesday afternoon. They built camp and were taking in the views of their new surroundings.  They spent the night at Base camp at 7,300'.  Yesterday they started the work of climbing Denali, moving from Base Camp to the Base of Ski Hill, 7,800'.  To get to Ski Hill the team descends 400' down Heart Break hill (aptly named) and travels over five miles to establish their next camp. 

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Denali Expeditions: Walter & Team Ready to Kick off RMI Denali Season

The first Denali Expedition of the 2024 Season is ready to fly to Kahiltna Base Camp. The May 5th Expedition team members met in Anchorage on Sunday and made the drive to Talkeetna where they have spent the last few days reviewing gear, packing, meeting with the Park Service and getting all the last details dialed in.  The skies are clear and the group is ready to depart Talkeetna for their expedition to North America's highest peak.  We look forward to hearing from them from the mountain.

Good luck team!

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Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Descend from Base Camp, Return to Mendoza

Today we walked.

It was a dusty, rocky, hot, and dry 15 miles from Mulas Basecamp to the park trailhead. In front of us sprawled an immense valley. Behind us, clear views of the summit we stood upon just a few short days ago.

A perfect setting for reflection.

Some thought back to the summit bid with all the challenges and struggles that came with it.

Others looked forward to the Michelin Star dinner that awaits us in Mendoza tonight. With FKTs being broken to meet the reservation.

Still others spoke of future climbing plans such as Mt. Vinson or Denali.

All in all we started this journey as strangers just a few short weeks ago. But we leave the Park as friends, by our shared experience of climbing Aconcagua.

Thank you for following along, we can't wait till we're back out in the mountains for our next objectives.

Climber Jon Honda 

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Aconcagua: Cifelli and Team Return to Basecamp

Well well well. After a dusty walk downhill we have arrived back at basecamp, albeit a different basecamp on the other side of the mountain, we are back to the land of three course dinners, soda, wine, and real toilets (sort of). A welcome reward after our hardwork on the mountain the last few days.

I have said it before and I will say it again, while summits are great, my favorite part of these trips is seeing a group of individuals come together to create a family and work together towards a common goal. It has been an honor to work with this team and even sweeter that we were able to go 100% to the summit.

We will all be heading home with our heads held high knowing we accomplished what we set out to do.

That being said our adventure is not quite over. Tomorrow we will complete the 15 mile hike (downhill thankfully) back to civilization and end up back in Mendoza for a delicious closing dinner. We have negotiated a deal with the mules to get one more day of help carrying our gear which is greatly appreciated.

To everyone back at home who have been following and supporting our journey, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The support means more than you know, and you will be seeing us back stateside before long.

RMI Guide Michael Murray & Team

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Congratulations to the whole team ! It’s been a privilege to follow along with you! Enjoy the pleasures of the simple things! Cannot wait to see you Myles!

Posted by: Fionnuala Walsh on 1/30/2024 at 6:21 pm

Congratulations to you all on making it to the summit! We can only imagine how hard it was especially the last day with the wind and snow. For those of us who have never done anything like this we cannot even imagine how amazing it must be to stand at the top and feel such an accomplishment. You should all feel very proud of yourselves. We are very proud of our son Ben for helping to lead you up to the summit too. You are all awesome!!

Posted by: Karen Luedtke on 1/30/2024 at 8:16 am


Aconcagua: Cifelli & Entire Team Reach Summit!

It’s a beautiful thing, to challenge yourself to something you truly don’t know you can accomplish. You figure out truths about yourself that otherwise would be lost behind the comforts of home and the assuredness of monotony. It’s a beautiful thing to know that despite the outcome of an expedition, you’ll return with a lifelong memory. 

A lifelong memory we sure had. Today was a hard fought battle full of wind, clouds, and sideways snow. On typical summit days we revel in the brief reprieve from the cold at two rest stops, Independencia and the cave. Today, we were met with swirling clouds and snow; nothing but glimpses of the sun as the clouds whipped over Aconcagua. Though we weren’t treated to the views that Aconcagua had to offer we weren’t short of a sense of accomplishment. I am so proud to say that 100% of the team stood on top of the Americas today. We were more than likely the highest people touching the earth at the time. Congrats team. 

I do owe the team an explanation though. Ever since I was a kid, i hated the attribution of the saying “ that’s Just my luck” to mean bad luck. Ever since, whenever something good would happen, I’d say the line. The team heard plenty of it during the trip. Saying “ just my luck” to getting an extra lunch, or when the weather forecast was in our favor. Except you just read the above, the forecast wasn’t exactly in our favor, so what gives. Of course some things don’t go in my favor all the time, weather included, but the team showed up in the best shape of their lives, need I remind you we went 100%. The team showed up ready to mentally handle the hardship and discomfort of the wind, snow, and cold. The team gelled and laughed the entire time. So who gives a shit about the weather. If that’s not “ just my luck” I don’t know what is. 

 Congrats again, Team! For a hard fought summit and an excellent trip. 

RMI Guide Dominic Cifelli

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Congrats & strong work to all!! Shout out to my boy Koch for conquering South America! Have a safe trip down.

Posted by: Jeff Vos on 1/29/2024 at 10:11 am

Congratulations, Mikayla and the rest of the team!  Looks a little warmer there than AK

Posted by: Katherine Forsyth on 1/29/2024 at 9:14 am


Aconcagua: Team Ready for Final Push to the Summit!

Look,

If you had, one shot, or one opportunity, 

To seize everything you ever wanted,

In one moment.

Would you capture it or just let it slip?

Yo.

My face is dusty,

I'm not weak, pack feels heavy,

There's something on my puffy already,

Dom's spaghetti, we're nervous.

But on the surface, we are calm and ready,

To rest step, but we keep on forgetting,

What snacks we bear,

How many puffy's should I wear?

We open our mouths, to get the pressure breath out.

I'm not choking, how,

We are not joking, wow,

The time is now, breaks up, 

Over, pow!

 

Snap back to reality,

Ope there goes vanity,

Ope was that rabbit? Beef stew,

It's that bad, but it's all that I got,

So I guess I'll just have it.

We know we've gotta get up and go, 

It don't matter, we're dope,

We know that, and we're tired, 

But not stagnant, we know,

When we go back to our mobile homes,

That's when we check on our snacks again,

Yo, I'm going choclatey.

 

Better go capture this moment and not let it pass us and,

We're gonna lose ourselves in the moment,

These moments, we own it,

And we'll never let them go.

If we only get one shot, we won't miss our chance to go,

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime,

Let's go."

 

All MC lyrics aside, this team truly is ready to go. We are ready to make one final push towards our ultimate goal of standing on the summit of Cerro Aconcagua. Here we are at 19,600 feet with our packs packed, our bellies full, and our excitement unable to be contained. Tomorrow's summit day will test us both physically and mentally, but we are ready to rise to the challenge and give it our all. I want to give a huge shoutout to all friends and family who have been following us on this journey. Stick with us a little longer as our biggest day is right in front of us. See you all tomorrow!

 

P.S. - Happy Birthday Eddie :)

 

RMI Guide Ben Luedtke & Team

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I am so excited for all of you! Today is a great day for up! 

Go get your summit!

Posted by: Michelle DeMers on 1/27/2024 at 6:50 pm

Best birthday song ever!  Thank you all. That was simply amazing.  I’m very thankful and humbled. 

You all are going to do it. All the training, studying and planning leads up to the next 24 hours. 

You’re all such strong athletes and you will dig deep inside of yourselves for what is going to be an epic finish.

Posted by: Eddie DaPra on 1/27/2024 at 6:38 pm


Aconcagua Expedition: Cifelli & Team Take a Rest Day at Camp 2

Rest day

Two things sprung to mind when I was asked to do this post. First what my wife would say “another rest day, you go on vacation and you need rest days?” The other was why me - am I the best rester, is that my speciality?

This put me to think about this. Am I incapable of discussing the climbing/trekking days?  Is that just too technical for me - walking uphill on a pile of gravel and sand everyday - left, right, breathe, left, right, breathe. Yeah, that is super technical so I’m never going to be out in that brigade.

However, am I the best rester, what about the rest of the bunch?

Start with the guides.  They are never going to be assigned as superior resters.  Job security with RMI suggests they’ll never get the rester job.

What about Norm, my tent mate? Norm never rests.  Whether it’s out shooting beavers to make his wife’s world famous beaver stew, or do DIY around the house - shelves and presses to keep everything in place (he could do with some shelves in the tent!). No, not Norm.

Mikayla , hmmm?  No not her either. On rest days Mikayla is off negotiating world peace and post Cold War detente with any passing Poles or Russians Mikayla is too focused on world peace.

Chris, surely an option.  However, Chris is the best dressed person on the mountain. As we crawl from our tents every morning, covered in dust and stained with the remains of last night’s dinner, Chris is like James Bond - clean, sparkling. I’m positive he gets overnight Amazon deliveries of new gear. But I digress, is Chris a rester?  No, Chris spends his rest time searching for the latest gadget or piece of gear. What’s the next 360 degree camera?  Also Chris is an inventor and an environmental evangelist- something we didn’t know at the outset of this trip.  His latest “the Oop stove” provides instant sustainable heat in your tent and solves the blue bag challenge.  Also, even when I wake in the middle of the night I hear Chris doing some wind experiments. No, Chris’s rest days are his busiest days.

Finally the three lads - Andy, Jon, Ben.  (Ben has been a champion sleeper since he reconnected with his sleeping bag).  Whenever I ask Jon how his afternoon sleep went he replies “I had a great sleep”. So the anesthetist, the pathologist and the unsuspecting patient spend their afternoons doing some macabre fiendish high altitude medical research.  It’s important that science progresses

Yeah, I guess I am the obvious choice.

So the rest day was just that.  A quick 90 minute saunter up a nearby hill, that we somehow completed in 45 mins - thanks Ben L.  An afternoon sharing all the excess food we carried to Camp 2.  A charcuterie board, dates, granola.  It was truly a rest day

Climber Myles O'Neil 

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Myles you seem to be the only team member that knows the importance of a good rest day.  Mikayla does like to practice her Russian; who knows maybe world peace can be negotiated on the top of a mountain.

I’m excited for each days blog as you get closer to the summit!  Ever onward, ever higher!

Posted by: Michelle DeMers on 1/27/2024 at 5:55 am

That was a fun post to read.  I think I have your new team name after seeing this set of pictures.  “The Blue Man Group.”  (Sorry Mikayla, I did want to excuse you, so that probably doesn’t work).  Arc’teryx is drone dropping new gear daily.  You all are so close. Time to dig deep.  One foot in front of the other and just envision how good it is going to feel at the top resting while celebrating with hugs and fist-bumps.

Posted by: Ed DaPra on 1/26/2024 at 6:20 pm


Aconcagua: Cifelli & Team Rest-Step their way to Camp 3

Today began with a team meeting at breakfast. Last night there was a possibility that mud slides in the Vacas Valley would prevent us from coming down the mountain the way we came. Fearless leader Dom confirmed we would not be able to backtrack the way we came and instead would go down the other side of the mountain to the Mulas base camp, a route known as the "360." Since we would not be able to go back to our original base camp, we'll have one of the helicopters pick up our duffels and bring them to us at the Mulas base camp. 

Our carry day to Camp 3 today brought many us to new high points, with Camp 3 at nearly 19,600ft. Since we would have to carry all our gear up and over the mountain, as opposed to caching it at Camp 2, we all had pretty heavy packs. As we climbed today, the air got thinner and thinner, for most of us requiring a breath every step. Even though we have been at 18,000ft for almost two days, it still required significant fortitude to keep climbing. 

High elevation does a number on your body. As you climb higher, the decreasing oxygen makes it difficult to even do the very basic tasks, you loose your appetite and have to force yourself to eat, and for most climbers there is a point where they need start taking Diamox to help prevent high altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema. 

After a few days at a particular elevation, we get acclimatized and start feeling good. But we can only bring so many supplies and we have only so many days to get to the summit and back. So our schedule keeps us moving to a new higher point just as we were getting used to our current camp. This is mountaineering and one of the many things that makes it so difficult and the act of doing it so rewarding. Getting to a rest stop on a hike or the next-higher camp on a carry or move day brings a sense of relief that is hard to find in any other activity. 
As we approach our last uphill move day, and followed soon after by our summit bid, it's important to remember what a great feat we have accomplished so far, and how lucky we are to be up here with the best climbing team you could ask for. 

Climber Andy Green

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This just got even more exciting. Mudslides, helicopter transport and an alternative route. You’re all so close!

Posted by: Ed DaPra on 1/25/2024 at 7:19 pm

Amazing! Difficult! Rewarding! And the VIEW!

Personally could have done without some of the detail on the altitude challenges on the body Dr. Green. I trust the spirit of the team to check on each other.  Difficult day for sure.

And, best of all, The Summit is Just There!

Posted by: Michelle DeMers on 1/25/2024 at 4:04 pm

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