Entries from Aconcagua
January 27, 2016
Wow… All I can say is that it’s been a crazy ride. Two days ago we were sitting tight up at Camp 2 waiting for the weather to open up and now we are down in Penitentes celebrating our escape from the wrath Aconcagua. We had decided to hold on a day or two longer and see if maybe the forecasts were wrong but alas, they were not. We made the decision to pull the plug and head down when the lowest wind speed predicted over the next 7 days was over 50 mph with several pulses up in the 70’s. We woke on the morning we intended to descend to clear skies but moderate winds blowing snow and by the time we were able to pick up camp it had clouded over and the wind had intensified significantly. As we descended around and down the mountain the storm chased us all the way to Basecamp… There was no respite despite our descent into a portion of the mountain that is historically more protected. Our team was able to stick together and move well despite the challenging conditions. We were greeted warmly by the Basecamp staff upon our arrival back at Plaza Argentina. We enjoyed real chairs and a real meal (chicken Vesuvius) for the first time in over a week and then crashed hard. The next couple days we made our way down the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys and spent our last night out on the trail after devouring an amazing asado prepared by our mule drivers. We ate (beef, beef, beef!) and drank (vino, and even a little wild turkey) and went to bed happy and tired after a long couple of days. This morning we rose and walked the last of the Vacas to the road where we checked out with the park rangers and were greeted by our shuttle driver with beer and Fanta. Not a bad way to finish a long and tough expedition.
Next stop, Mendoza!
home sweet home
Posted by: kat branchflower on 1/29/2016 at 2:28 pm
What a journey ! At least you all got back safe and sound. Blowing gales here today also!
Love Diane and Paul
Posted by: Paul and Diane on 1/29/2016 at 2:00 am
January 26, 2016
The RMI Aconcagua Team led by RMI Guides Billy Nugent and Katrina Bloemsma were unable to make a summit attempt and are en route to Mendoza. The team left Base Camp today and is camped at Pampa de Las Lenas where they will spend the night. They will finish their trek to the trail head tomorrow and return to Mendoza.
Jake and Doug. ..amazing trip I’m sure. ..can’t wait to hear all about it but more anxious to get you back home! Love you burly, hairy mountain men!!
Posted by: Marsha and jeremy on 1/27/2016 at 5:05 pm
Sorry to hear you had to “turn-back”. At least you were’nt one in 1974!
Have a safe trip home!
Posted by: Tom Lozier on 1/27/2016 at 10:12 am
January 24, 2016
Well, we are currently pinned down by high winds at Camp 2 and despite the sunny weather we are stuck alternating between chilling outside in camp or baking in the tents. Last night a pretty hefty storm thrashed camp with strong winds, new snow, and repeated thunder and lightning. Skies began to clear this morning and the wind began to abate in camp as it shifted more to the southwest putting us a bit more in the lee of the mountain. Unfortunately, it is still howling up at Camp 3 and the entire flank of Aconcagua is adorned with swirling clouds of spin drift and the summit is sporting a sizable contrail. Today is officially our first weather day as we have been knocked off our planned itinerary for the first time. Still, two days stuck in the tent feels like a lot and we are trying not to get saddled with cabin fever. The team is doing a great job staying positive despite the fact that nearly every other expedition on the mountain has bailed for Mendoza and we are eagerly awaiting the latest weather forecast for a potential summit window…
Wish us luck!
Stuck in the tent for now anyway,
I love you Daddy We all miss you so much.I hope you and Doug are having fun!!! HI Daddy! Love,Bailey
Hey Babe- bails wanted to write you a message on her own!! You guys are all in our prayers for a chance at the summit but we are all so proud of you even if you don’t get a chance at it!! See you soon!!
Posted by: Bailey on 1/26/2016 at 8:28 am
Praying your team gets a break in the weather Jake.
We are following you from SAMCOM in Dallas
Bob & the Crown gang
Posted by: Bob Fiedler on 1/26/2016 at 5:07 am
January 23, 2016
We woke this morning to our first bit of precipitation. When I stuck my head out of the tent around 5 am, we were essentially in a cloud with some light flurries coming down but now the clouds have parted a bit and we’re enjoying views towards Mercedario again. It’s calm and more or less pleasant but we are waiting for a system to hit this afternoon with wind and precipitation. We are on a scheduled rest day and will hopefully see what this storm brings before we try and figure out our next move. When a window presents itself we’ll make a move for high camp at Plaza Cólera and hopefully take a crack at the summit the following day. But for now… We’re about to be stuck in a holding pattern. On a brighter note, we are celebrating a teammate’s birthday today complete with a cake and balloons courtesy of Katrina. Hoping everyone at home wishes John a happy one!
Signing off for now,
We are glad that there are only 9 more days until you get home. We are missing on you. LOVE: Addy Leith Babe
I love you Dad so much. We can’t stop thinking of you because you are our best dad and babe ever. Love, Leith
Posted by: Addelyn on 1/25/2016 at 8:14 pm
Hope all your crazy coats are keeping you warm while you wait out the storm!! We are praying hard you stay safe but have a chance at the summit- hearing the kids prayers would bring a smile to your face for sure!! Can’t wait to see the pics and hear all about your adventures- I like Charlyn an def looking forward to seeing that beard and crusty the clown hair you most likely have by now!!
The kids did awesome in their games yesterday and Mason even played on Bails team since they were short players!!
Stay safe all!!
Posted by: Bre on 1/24/2016 at 8:01 am
January 22, 2016
Checking in from Guanacos Campo 3, or Camp 2 for us at well over 18,000’. We are moved and settled in, enjoying yet another perfect afternoon with coffee, cribbage, prosciutto, and of course, siestas. We felt the altitude before but with this most recent move higher we are all moving a bit slower and scratching our heads a bit longer when trying to figure out where that one stuff sack with our snacks went. The team is staying positive despite a tough looking weather forecast and we are hoping that Mother Nature will give us an opportunity to sneak in a trip to the top. Not much else cooking up here besides our broccoli and rice dinner…
On The Map
Man! We sure hope you guys can at least take a crack at the summit. Always in our prayers. I know I’m a day late on this post, but just know we have been actively thinking and praying for your adventure. Enjoy your time and keep that mind of yours sharp! That altitude is no match for my babers!
We love you so much and miss you lots!
Char and kids
Posted by: Charlyn on 1/23/2016 at 8:29 pm
Amazing to think you’ve gone so far. Hope you get a weather window for your attempt on the summit.
Love Brian, Mary Lou, David and Sarah
Posted by: Brian Macfaden on 1/23/2016 at 10:50 am
January 21, 2016
Well, we are enjoying a pleasant, if a bit breezy, rest day here at Aconcagua Camp 1. People are passing the time watching movies, playing cribbage, reading, and taking Spanish lessons from Pato, our newest addition to the guide team. Not much else to report, we’re hoping to move up to Camp 2 tomorrow where we plan on waiting out the coming weather before making our move to Plaza Cólera (Camp 3) and subsequent summit push. Morale is high and we are all looking forward to being reunited with our best snack food up in the cache at Camp 2.
More to come as the story develops,
Hey Randy (AKA - Mountain Man),
Enjoy your day off. Hope your climb to Camp 2 goes smoothly and the weather there is not too much of a challenge.
Stay strong and be safe.
Posted by: Dad on 1/22/2016 at 6:36 am
Buenos dias querido Randy (Good morning dear Randy) I am sure that you will make your goal. Arrive safe to the top of the mountain. Good for you that you are learning Spanish ( Bueno para ti que estes aprendiendo espanol). Receive all my love and blessing from God,
Posted by: Luz Irwin on 1/22/2016 at 6:31 am
January 20, 2016
Hola! Billy here back at Camp 1 chilling (out) and filling (up on food) after a flawless carry to Camp 2. We moved well and had little trouble putting in our cache of the usual food, fuel, and cold weather/summit gear. We bumped into friends and acquaintances all along the way enjoying the better than decent weather. There were a few minutes of flurries and even a little thunder in the distance but nothing of consequence. As I write this we’re basking in the sun, satisfied with the day’s work.
Oh, we also met our third guide who traversed the mountain from the other base camp (Plaza de Mulas) and descended with us back to camp. His name is Pato, which means “duck,” and he’s a pretty cool dude. Not much else to report other than some inclement weather in the forecast, hopefully it doesn’t slow our roll too much…
Until our next dispatch,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent and team
On The Map
Randy…sounds like things are going well so far. In fact with all your chilling and filling and basking in the sun it sounds like you are on a very leisurely vacation…makes me a little jealous…haha. I know better but I hope you are enjoying the challenge. Lucas wanted me to tell you his great news that he just passed his MIG certification for a vertical up weld. He is so excited!
I miss you and I’m hoping Mother Nature remains kind to you.
Posted by: Lisa Irwin on 1/21/2016 at 10:26 am
It’s National Hug Day, so a great big hug with warm thoughts to Dr. H from all of us! Have a good climb today!
Posted by: Linda Sitton on 1/21/2016 at 6:55 am
January 19, 2016
Billy here checking in from Aconcagua Camp 1 after a smooth move on up from basecamp. We enjoyed sunny skies and a bit of light breeze, all in all a perfect day to head up the hill. After arriving mid afternoon we took our time settling in. We had to move our cache over to our actual campsite, setup tents and get moved in. Sometime after we had set up camp the notorious Camp 1 creek began to flow. This made for a little engineering project redirecting the flow of water around our tents and with just a little bit of effort we’ve managed to stay dry… So far anyway. Camp is a bit crowded with several teams so good tent spots are at a premium. We just scarfed a toretellini dinner and are crawling in for the night, all of us a bit tired but no worse for the wear.
On The Map
Good luck Dad,
Posted by: Sam Falkenhagen on 1/20/2016 at 11:58 am
Great that things are going smoothly. Looks fantastic from up there. Good luck to the team and with weather the rest of the way. Look forward in seeing Jake with hair..LOL
Cheers from The guys at Sound Beverage.
Posted by: David Bruce on 1/20/2016 at 7:49 am
January 18, 2016
Ground control (RMI base) to Major Tom (our intrepid Aconcagua team)...
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on…
We are eating up on our last rest day here in Base Camp and making our last minute preparations.
Ground control to Major Tom…
Commencing countdown engines on… Check ignition and may god’s love be with you…
Wish us luck as we blast off up onto the beast. Tomorrow’s plans call for a move up to Camp 1 which has the team excited if a bit nervous. Lots of work lies ahead but we are poised and ready for the challenge. The weather has been stellar and we hope it continues to cooperate for us as we step out of the capsule that is Plaza Argentina not to return until our bid for the top has culminated. Of course we’ll keep checking in along the way.
On The Map
We are all pulling for you! CPLs and TRs send their best!
Posted by: Arland Fagerstrom on 1/19/2016 at 12:53 pm
I’m so glad the weather is good! All our thoughts are about the A-team having THE BEST CLIMB EVER!
Posted by: Sally Falkenhagen on 1/19/2016 at 10:54 am
January 17, 2016
We enjoyed an amazingly perfect day on our first push above Aconcagua Basecamp. Despite the good weather our loads were big and the route up to Camp 1 was quite different than in years past. Lots of penitentes (tall, spiky snow features) made for difficult walking at times and a new route across the glacial remnant below the final scree slopes into camp. Despite these challenges our team remained true to form and moved extremely well ultimately putting in a big cache of gear, food, and fuel at over 16,000’. We are resting/acclimatizing tomorrow in basecamp before we head out on the upper mountain for good. All is well here in Plaza Argentina and the team is looking forward to the coming days.
Please don’t let Branchflower fall off the hill…....he owes me $20 from a football bet!
Be Safe to All!!
Posted by: Tom Lozier on 1/18/2016 at 7:29 pm
What an awesome picture. What an incredible experience you are having. Take lots of photos.
We are with you all the way.
Take care and stay safe,
Dad & Luz
Posted by: Dad & Luz on 1/18/2016 at 5:37 am