Entries By tyler reid
Today we rode the chairlift up the lower flanks of Cheget, a little ski area adjacent to Mt. Elbrus, and were treated to our first views of the mountain. As skiers, we were pleased to see some fresh snow up high. Above the chairlifts we had a beautiful alpine walk up to 11,400’ - a good start to the acclimatization process. We spent the afternoon going through our equipment and making final preparations to head up the mountain tomorrow to our camp. All is great with us…
RMI Guide Tyler Reid and the Elbrus Ski Crew
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There’s a saying I’ve always liked to believe, that your abilities in the mountains are inversely proportional to your abilities in the city. Whether or not this is true, I was more than happy to hand over the reigns to Svetlana this morning, our Russian tour guide. She took us on a very interesting and informative journey through Moscow, with emphasis on the Kremlin and Red Square (she speaks perfect English). A sensory overload of history, beautiful architecture, and tourists concluded with a delicious lunch at a traditional Georgian restaurant - an unmarked hidden gem down a side street, through a parking lot, around a corner, and down a staircase.
Tomorrow we fly to Mineralnye Vody, and head for the mountains! We’re ready…
RMI Guide Tyler Reid & Team
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Our whole team is here in Moscow and we just finished up a nice first dinner together. Everyone did great overcoming our first challenge - walking back to the hotel in a severely down-pouring lightning storm. With jet lag. Everyone passed the test with flying colors. And flashes of light.
We’re looking forward to a great trip!
RMI Guide Tyler Reid and Team
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My last experience on Volcan Lanin was two years ago, and it was severely windy. Since then I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has had a calm experience on this mountain.
Two days ago as our team was climbing a steep gully, with 7,000’ of vertical relief above us, that Lanin wind taunted us. The weather forecast called for things to calm down in the late afternoon, but weather forecasts in southern Chile should be read with a degree of skepticism - there’s simply a lack data points in these parts to expect much accuracy.
At 3:30 in the afternoon I thought to myself, we’ll give it 45 more minutes. The wind needs to mellow out significantly. And we need to find a safe place to camp. Basically some alignment of the stars, or we’re going to have to retreat to the monkey puzzle forest…
At 4:15 I scampered up the steep edge of the gully while our group took a break under a rock outcrop. On a protruding ridge I stumbled upon a perfect, safe, snowy ledge carved out by that Lanin wind. And then I thought wait a minute - where’s the wind? Gone.
We had an amazing evening camped in our fortified perch, looking out on dramatic cloud layers. Darkness turned to what felt like daytime, with a very full moon illuminating our tent walls.
The next morning we started climbing - kicking steps in the frozen snow with crampons on our boots.
Our Chile Volcanoes trip landed in the middle of a very unsettled weather pattern here in Araucania. 1,500’ above our camp on Lanin, the snow started to fall, the wind started to blow, the clouds came in, and my attention started to turn from my surroundings to my GPS.
Time to go down. Good thing skiing is so much fun in and of itself. We were smiling big by the time we rolled into camp, and smiling bigger by the time we hit the snow line on the lower flanks of the mountain. 3000’ or so of perfectly smooth corn…
Thanks Chile for 8 awesome days of skiing, and thanks Lonquimay and Sollipulli for allowing us to visit your summits. Llaima and Lanin…we’ll be back next year. And thanks to our awesome Chile 2015 crew: JP, Stephen, and Wendy. And a special thanks to our amazing local outfitter and guide, Sergio Perez.
Today we’re having a rest day in the town of Pucon with an afternoon trip to the Termas (hot springs). Tomorrow we set out for two days on Volcan Lanin, our final objective of the trip. We’ll keep you posted on how things go the next couple of day but for now, it’s time to rest.
With Sergio’s 4x4 driving skills playing a crucial role, yesterday our Hyundai van plowed through the 20 cm blanket of new snow over the road to Las Araucarias, a ski area at the base of Volcan Llaima. It felt like full blown winter leaving the parking lot - snow falling from the sky… We decided to take the optimistic approach and see if we could potentially climb out of the clouds. After an hour or so we were at the top of the ski area, with no reference points above. We were able to fit five of us in a tiny unused lift shack, and I did what I usually so when times are uncertain: put on some reggae. With my iPhone as the sound system and Chronixx filling the air, it was the ideal “out-chill the situation” maintenance break. Properly fueled and motivated, we ascended into the whiteness above. Hours later we found ourselves in the parking lot, this time Sergio’s Hyundai as the sound system, Protoje filling the air, cervezas in hand, smiles on our faces… Llaima (and the weather) said no yesterday, but what a positive day in the mountains it was.
Yesterday evening we drove to another mountain, the Hyundai taking us up and up and up a steep lava rock road in 4LO, into a mysterious and remote mountain jungle. Out of the mist appeared Sollipulli Lodge, a place that inspires your childlike imagination. “Eco lodge” is probably the best term to describe this place - each room is its own incredible yurt-like pod situated on a lagoon, with other beautiful alternative structures connected by boardwalks. Mountain jungle living, combined with incredible comfort, and incredibly gracious hosts - the father and son duo Christian and Robert.
Sollipulli is a volcano with an expansive crater that similar to Crater Lake in Oregon and was once much taller before collapsing inward on itself. This morning we had a beautiful ascent to the summit, using a variety of ski mountaineering skills along the way. The weather was in and out, but eventually we found ourselves back in the “viento blanco” - low visibility, annoyingly windy, snowing…
I learned a new tactic on Sollipulli for terrain reference in whiteout conditions. When you’re in the lead, it can be hard to know what sort of terrain you are on, or about to walk into, and guides will use various tricks in these conditions to ensure they’re not leading the group off a cornice or into a crevasse. These are low tech solutions like throwing snowballs, casting a piece of cord tied to your ski pole like a fishing rod…or bringing along a pack of three golden retrievers who follow you all the way to the summit, clearly loving every minute of it, while also providing valuable terrain reference. These Sollipulli dogs were amazing, and also very competent in the winter alpine environment.
Our Sollipulli descent ended in a wood-fired hot tub next to a crystal clear river, an ideal place to relax in the late afternoon rain.
After an adventurous summit on Lonquimay, the last couple days have been focused on simply ski touring in the beautiful terrain this region offers.
Yesterday we drove through the longest tunnel in South America to the Las Mellizas range, touring from the base of an abandoned ski area called Los Arenales. We had lunch on a mini summit called Mirador de Los Volcans and our ski descent dropped us into our first close encounter with Araucarias (monkey puzzle trees).
With 15 cm of new snow and a bit of a break in the weather, today we skied beautiful long laps from another mini summit adjacent to Volcan Lonquimay - warm, smooth powder, definitely the best snow of the trip.
As I type, Sergio is preparing a traditional Chilean asado (barbeque)...an eating experience I have been thinking about for the last year. I have no doubt it will be our best meal of the trip (and the bar has been set high).
Greetings from the Suiz Andina in Malalcahuello! Today was our first day with skis on our feet and it was a beautiful one. We rode the lifts at Corralco, a ski area on the lower flanks of Volcan Lonquimay, a training ground for the U.S. Ski Team. Spring snow conditions and the sun shining through ominous clouds made for an ideal day of remembering how to ski. The vibes are super positive in our crew and we’re psyched for what’s to come. Stay tuned…
Update 8:25 pm PT
Setting out into uncertain weather today with Volcan Lonquimay as our optimistic feeling objective, I wasn’t convinced we were going to see the top. After three thousand feet of skinning we transitioned to climbing mode, and as cool as it feels to have skis on your back, whippet in hand, crampons on your boots…those skis make great sails in a gusty north wind. We climbed the direct route on Lonquimay and despite having to battle the elements on the way up - wind, diminishing visibility, pelting snow and rime ice coating us head to toe… with a take-it-one-step-at-a-time mentality we managed to ski from the cumbre (summit). It was sort of the opposite of a carefree descent requiring precision whiteout navigation and a few other guide tricks, but before we knew it we were back in Malalcahuello sipping on the legendary pisco sours at the Suiz Andina…well earned. Thanks Lonquimay!
Just a quick note that our whole Chile Ski Team is here with all of their gear. Sergio picks us up in 10 min and we’ll be headed out for our first day on skis at the base of Lonquimay. Will try to check in later with more of a dispatch…
RMI Guide Tyler Reid
The journey and people are usually the best part. And better to be back safely than not at all.
Posted by: Keith on 9/21/2015 at 2:22 pm
The Four-Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Tyler Reid were unable to reach the summit due to strong winds. The team has safely returned to Camp Muir. They will descend from Camp Muir to Paradise this morning. We look forward to seeing the team in Ashford later this morning.
Sorry to hear that you couldn’t make it….maybe next spring?
Posted by: Edward Waddell on 9/13/2015 at 9:37 am