Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Illiniza Sur in memory of Liz Daley


Our friend Laszlo sends us a message and phtos from his Ecuador climb of Illiniza Sur... 

Buenos Dias my English speaking friends. The first picture says it perfectly, 
All you need is Equador! 


This was taken the morning of our Illiniza Sur hiking day. It had just snowed in Quito two days in a row. Today’s program was an easy one we drove up to the Iliniza parking lot, (4200 m), but before that we stopped to have a great lunch in a village restaurant. The choice was trout or chicken, I choose chicken, as my guide, Abraham said, trout will be in the refugio. (Sorry, but I had to make one personalized sentence. Everytime I say “refugio”, Paul’s smiley face pops up in my mind!)


After lunch we needed it to put the wheels into 4X4, due the very rough road that takes us through pampas, haciendas, and highlands. We were almost ready to put on our backpacks, when the afternoon scheduled rain started to pour down. O.K. one hour rest in the jeep. At 3PM we started our "easy" 4km (app. 3 miles hike.) The trail was very interesting, sometime in the past the Illiniza volcano shot enough rocks and ashes so that even today we can experience it, it’s just like hiking in ocean sands. The altitude isn't on our side either, 4200m up to the refugio at 4700m. The trouts are already on the roaster. If at that altitude I have an appetite, I should be ok. 




After dinner, I went straight to my sleeping bag. Unfortunately from 8PM until 1AM, I had a very bad headache. Let's just say it was due to the altitude. The wake up call was set for 3AM. Breakfast! Who can have breakfast that early? Ya, me, when I fly cross the continent, and wake up at 3AM. 



The two guides and three of us get up to the Iliniza Sur. Even to Ecuadorean hikers the south is a very challenging hike. It has almost everything: rock, snow, ice, steep wall, rock slides, ice caves, crevasses. According Abraham we could be up in 4hrs, and down in 2, so we should be back before the sun's heat melts the only glue, ICE and the rock slides starts. 

On the way up the 50-degree wall, I need it to change my walking position, that is when I remembered Liz and all she taught me; she was my first guide to summit Mt. Baker. May she rest in peace.


We did the climb in 3 1/2 hours, everything went as we planned. I was cheerful up at the summit 5200m. After we came down, we had a better breakfast and kept continue to the parking lot. Now we are resting in a beautiful hacienda until tomorrow. 
 
             
                                                                    -- Laszlo Papa Bóna


Monday, January 19, 2015

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition - Final Dispatch - January 15th 2015, Mendoza Argentina


2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition - Final Dispatch - January 15th 2015, Mendoza Argentina

Guides:

Richard Riquleme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:

Mark Smith
Doug Roberts
Robert VanEtten
Larry Cochrane
Kim Olson
Eric Johnstone


Photos from the trip will be posted in an album on our Facebook page: http://goo.gl/Hk11JK

Richard called in to report that the entire team is back in Mendoza, safe and sound. They are getting some laundry done, enjoying the city and some much needed rest. Richard will send along some photos from the trip that will be posted in the following days.

Thanks for following our team on their great adventure!





Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition January 15, 2015 Los Penitentes

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition - Dispatch #16    January 15, 2015 - Los Penitentes

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Mark Smith, Robert, VanEtten, Doug Roberts, Kim Olson, Larry Cochrane, Eric Johnstone

The team spent their first night off the trail at Los Penitentes, a ski area and hostel located between the ranger station and Punta de Vacas, where they started their trek. Richard sent a couple of photos to be shared, to show the beautiful summer weather.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition January 14th, 2015 Ranger Station 9,700 ft (2,940m)




2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition    January 14th, 2015    Ranger Station 9,700 ft (2,940m)

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Mark Smith
Doug Robert's
Robert VanEtten
Larry Cochrane
Kim Olson
Eric Johnstone



The team just reached the ranger station at 1:20pm PST after 14.2 miles and more than 5000 feet of descending on the final day! The loop around the mountain is approximately 52 miles, with an elevation gain of ~15,000 feet on the ascent and a loss of ~13,200 on the descent over 16 days. Safe travels home guides and climbers.

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #4


Cayambe/Cotopaxi Jan 2-11, 2015


Guide: Romel Sandoval
Climbers: Rod Nease and Tommy Nease

January 11, 2015

Romel and Rob called today with the following final dispatch:

“Hello everyone back home! We’re calling to report that we got extremely close to the summit of Cotopaxi despite very difficult conditions. We reached 18,646 feet in high winds. We ended up pretty much covered in ice by the time we were done, but we had a great time.

There were 60 mile-per-hour winds near the top, and the gusts were pretty much pushing us down, but we were warm and secure and enjoyed just trying to go higher.  Eleven groups made the climb today and we went the highest by far. That’s not a big deal, but we are proud of what we accomplished. What’s crazy is that the weather forecast was for 40 F and clear. Well, we didn’t get that. Romel says that would have been normal for this time of year and that the low pressure system that has hung around here for the last few days is quite abnormal. Well, you take what the mountains give you and do what you can. That’s part of the fun of climbing. Always an adventure.

I have to say, today was an awesome experience. I gave it my all and my son gave it his all. We’re proud of what we did and had a heck of a good time together and with Romel. It would have been nice to make it to the top, but we were close, and it’s the amazing process that counts the most.

It’s been a great trip. We have felt very well taken care of from logistics and lodging to the great food all the time.

This has been far more than an expedition. We got so many personal things from it.  We enjoyed the country in every way. The people here are wonderful. It’s been an awesome experience and now Tommy and I are looking forward to more climbing together back in the US! ”


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Jan 13, 2015 Dispatch #15 Plaza de Mulas 14,490 ft (4390m)



2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition  Jan 13, 2015   Dispatch #15   Plaza de Mulas 14,490 ft (4390m)

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Mark Smith
Robert VanEtten
Doug Roberts
Kim Olson
Eric Johnstone
Larry Cochrane

The team spent the day descending more than 5000 feet from high camp to Plaza de Mulas. Tonight they will enjoy lots of food, showers and the company of other teams in this base camp. Tomorrow the team plans on continuing their descent to Penitentes.





Monday, January 12, 2015

2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #14 January 12 22,842ft (6962m)


2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #14 January 12 22,842ft (6962m)

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Mark Smith
Robert VanEtten
Doug Roberts
Kim Olson
Eric Johnstone
Larry Cochrane



Aidan called in to update us on their summit attempt and the teams plans for the coming days.



2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #13 January 12 22,842ft (6962m)



Summit Dispatch! - January 12, 2015    22,842 feet (6962m)

We are pleased to announce that guide Richard Riquelme and Robert VanEtten reached the summit of Aconcagua today! 7 hours and 20 minutes from high camp. They enjoyed the summit in perfect weather. Congratulations guys!

The plan is for Aidan to make a summit attempt with Doug Roberts and Mark Smith tomorrow after enjoying a well deserved rest day.





2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #12 January 10 - 11 Camp 2 (18,000 ft)


2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #12, January 10 -11 Camp 2 (18,000ft)

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Eric Johnstone
Kim Olson
Larry Cochrane
Robert VanEtten
Doug Roberts
Mark Smith

Over the weekend the team moved form Camp 2 to Camp 3 located at 19,700 ft( 5970m). The weather looks like it is going to hold out and everyone is feeling well. The plan is for a summit attempt on Monday



2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #11 January 9th Camp 2 (18,000 ft)


2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch #11 January 9th Camp 2 (18,000 ft)

Guides:
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Eric Johnstone
Kim Olson
Larry Cochrane
Robert VanEtten
Doug Roberts
Mark Smith





Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #3

Cayambe/Cotopaxi Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #3

Guide: Romel Sandoval
Climbers: Rod Nease and Tommy Nease

January 8, 2015


Rob called at about 7 p.m. Ecuador time with the following report:

“We had an excellent climb on Cayambe today,  but high winds kept us from going all the way to the summit.  We had a good climb, but the wind was something! ‘

We reached 17,300 and decided to head down.  This system is blowing in from the Amazon.  It’s not real cold but the winds are sustained.  Yesterday it was foggy most of the day which Romel says is very unusual, and it gradually got windier as we moved into evening.  When we woke up at midnight to have breakfast and leave for the ascent, it was blowing at least 60 mph, and the hut hut was bending under the force.  

We decided it was definitely a no go at that point and went back to sleep (it was only sort of a sleep to be honest!)

It snowed a little in the night, but that was no big deal.  We left the hut at 5 am and the winds had dropped to 30 to 40 mph.  That’s still a lot of wind, but we had the gear for it and stayed plenty warm.

We decided to head up to the glacier and see how we felt.  We felt fine when we got there, so we kept going.

I would say we climbed for 3 hours or a little more and had a pretty good pace.  The winds were a little calmer the higher we went, which was surprising, but because of greater exposure up high, we knew we would be back in high winds and that it would soon be brutal.  So at 17,300 feet more or less, we decided to take a break and then head back down.

It was pretty exciting to be out there in the wind and still feel totally in control and be warm enough.  The views were good too.  Sometimes the mountain was obscured, but at other times we saw a lot.  It’s a beautiful mountain, that’s for sure.

We remembered Director Dunham’s final trip letter before we left where he mentioned that in the face of unforeseen challenges, “maintaining a spirit of flexibility and adaptability are the shortest routes to having a good time.” we did exactly that.  We said, “OK, this is one of those unforeseen challenges!”  and we successfully maintained our flexibility and we adapted!  We realized vividly how huge the scale of nature’s forces are and how small we are.  It had its brutal aspect, but we had a good time being out there dealing with it and getting as high as we did.

I have to add, Romel is quite the cook.  Our cabin food here has been very enjoyable!  I could east his food all the time.

Last night we had Romel’s mushroom soup, homemade mac and cheese, tofu sausage (my son is a vegetarian and he loved them), and peaches for desert.  Oh, those were goooood peaches!

Oh yes, and we had maple syrup on our morning pancakes yesterday.  Wow.  First class.

So we’re at hacienda Guachala about ready to have dinner.  We just ordered.  Tommy is having trout, potatoes, and salad, and I am having filet mignon.  Oh yes I am!

Tomorrow we heading to Cayambe town then to the lodge El Porvenir  for a little R & R.  Should be good.”


Ecuador High Altitude Expedition Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #2

Cayambe/Cotopaxi Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #2

Guide:  Romel Sandoval
Climbers:  Rod Nease and Tommy Nease


January 4, 2015


The team called again on Sunday, January 4th with the following news:

“We climbed Pasachoa today. It was a good work out! We left town at about 8:00 after a good breakfast and starting hiking at 9:50. The whole climb up and down took us 4 hours and 20 minutes. We felt comfortable moving at a medium pace.

Cotopaxi had a cloud cap on it, but we could see most of its glaciers quite well. The weather continues to be excellent – a little windy but wasn’t a problem. We also had good views of Guagua Pichincha which we’ll climb tomorrow, and views of the city of Quito and a couple of other peaks.

Tommy is an amateur botanist, and he knew all the plants on Pasachoa. I know he's good at this, but I was impressed by how much he knows. It’s a beautiful landscape on and around Pasachoa, and it was great to be up there getting the amazing views.

We could feel the altitude today. I had a little headache, but it wasn’t that bad. I’m taking diamox, and I am sure that is helping me. It’s so good to be doing these acclimatization hikes before heading to the big peaks.

It is such a great thing to be down here with my son. He’s moving to Seattle soon from our home area in South Carolina, and it really feels good to be out in the mountains with him.

This is the most surreal thing I have ever done. The beauty here is inspiring, and it is such a wonderful experience to share. I have this feeling I’m going to be hooked on climbing. I’ll need to visit Tommy in Seattle and start exploring the North Cascades together.

OK – that’s it for now. On to Guagua Pichincha!”


Ecuador High Altitude Expedition Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #1

Cayambe/Cotopaxi Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #1

Guide:  Romel Sandoval
Climbers:  Rod Nease and Tommy Nease

January 3, 2015



Romel and Rod called this afternoon to report that they had a great time visiting the markets of Otavalo as they began their acclimatization.  Rod said:


“We’re a little tired as we got all of our souvenir shopping done today.  Not a small task but it was very successful!


Now we can focus on the climbing.  The weather has been fantastic.  We had a great day on Friday exploring Quito and today was beautiful too.  We’ve really been out and about and have been enjoying ourselves.

We got back to town today at about 4:15 pm.  It was a big day, and now we are looking forward to a good dinner.  We’ll keep you posted.”



2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch 10 - January 8th - Camp 1 16,300ft(4940m)


2014/2015 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch 10 - January 8th - Camp 1   16,300ft(4940m)

Guides: 
Richard Riquelme
Aidan Loehr

Climbers:
Eric Johnstone
Kim Olson
Larry Cochrane
Robert VanEtten
Doug Roberts
Mark Smith


The team has been waiting patiently at Camp 1 the past few days waiting for the strong winds to die down. Unfortunately, three climbers from the team descended with Richard yesterday due to altitude illness and a strained back muscle. Aidan and the other half of the group cached at a Col between Camp 1 and Camp 2 in preparation for the move to Camp 2 tomorrow, weather permitting.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dispatch 8 - January 5th Camp 1 16,300ft (4940m)


Dispatch 8 - January 5th Camp 1 16,300ft (4940m)

Today the team made the move from the Plaza de Argentina base camp to Camp 1 located at 16,300 feet (4940 meters). As Richard states "The glamping is finished", now the real expedition climbing begins! The winds are starting to gust and some clouds are moving in today, but the forecast shows clearing and sun again starting wednesday. It sounds as though everyone is pretty tired from the first cache and camp cycle, but in great spirits and getting rested up for more.








Monday, January 5, 2015

Dispatch 7 - On the Move to Camp 1



Dispatch 7 - January 4th Plaza de Argentina

Aidan calls in a dispatch from base camp. The team enjoyed a rest day with a day hike and a spectacular moon rise. Tomorrow the team will move up to Camp 1.




Friday, January 2, 2015

Dispatch 5 January 1st 2015

2014 Aconcagua Expedition Dispatch 5 (New Years Day) Falso Polaco / Upper Guanacos Traverse

12:43AM at 01/01/2015

We received a voicemail from Aidan yesterday morning around 5AM their time.

"Wishing everyone a Happy New Year from the Andes.

Group is en route to base camp. They had a relatively uneventful New Years Eve. There were a few parties going on around camp but they all agreed that discretion is the better part of valor.

It has been very windy but the skies have been clear. Wind is supposed to die own over the next few days.

After sleeping in and finishing breakfast they were packing up and preparing for the move up to BC. 6 to 7 hours of trekking and 3,000ft of elevation gain.

Group is doing great and enjoying the sunshine and beautiful views."