Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 30th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

The team is hunkered down at Camp 2 (18,00ft) with some strong winds. Excellent position to move to Camp 3 and then to the summit once the weather clears. Wish the team a Happy New Year and good weather with the arrival of 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 16-30) – Dispatch 4

December 29th Dispatch - Chimborazo Summit

Climbers: Philip Argyres, Sarah MacGregor, Yao-Wen (Wayne) Huang, Yu-Lin (Amanda) Tsao

Guide:  Romel Sandoval

Romel called the evening of Wednesday, December 28th, with the following report:  

Hello again!

We are calling to give you the good news that we have summited Chimborazo!  It turned out to be a very good climb.  We left camp at midnight in beautiful, clear weather.  The stars were really out - thousands of them!

It was clear for a good part of the climb, but eventually we moved up into a cloud as we got closer to the 20,703-foot / 6310-meter summit.  By the time we reached a little over 17,000 feet it was really snowing. 

Let's say the weather was not very nice on top, but we were truly pleased to complete the ascent and stand on the summit of this giant mountain!  It was really fun to be up there!  


We had no problem on the descent, and we made good time back to our camp and then back to our vehicle.  We walked back down into clear weather at about the same altitude where we had left it, so that was really good.  We had great views again, once we were just under the very distinct bottom of the cloud layer.

This afternoon we drove out of the mountains and then a little north to the town of Ambato (8521 ft / 2597 m).  The town sits on the floor of the north/south valley that runs between Ecuador's two parallel ranges of volcanoes.  

At Ambato we left the Pan American Highway and descended through the Eastern Sierra by way of a valley system created by glaciers thousands of years ago and carved a little deeper through the modern era by waters of the Rio Pastaza.  

We headed down-river to the beautiful and lush town of Baños.  Here we are enjoying the sight of palm trees in the town square and the active volcano, Tungarahua (16,480 ft / 5023 m), just to our south.  In town we are at 5971 ft / 1820 meters, so in contrast to the atmosphere on Chimborazo, here at an altitude 15,000 feet lower (!), we are really enjoying the warm and delicious oxygen-rich-air!

As you can guess, today was quite a workout, so the team is currently napping in our hotel.  We'll meet for dinner before long and discuss what we want to do on our "rest and recreation day" in Baños tomorrow 




We may do some mountain biking, explore the canyon and waterfalls just downstream, or head down-river towards the Amazon Basin to enjoy more contrasts between the alpine zones we've been in for the last two weeks and the jungle which is so close.  

We'll be heading back to Quito on Friday and will give you a final report in a day or two. That's all the news for now.  Thank you for following along!


2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 29th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

From AAI Climber Nicole Brockmueller...

"Today was the type of day that will keep us coming back to the mountains – Our chefs (guides) spoiled us all day… Pancakes with pears & walnuts for breakfast, quesadillas for lunch, and pasta & cookies for dinner – combine that with great temps, sunshine and glorious Scenery – basically, you have the best “rest day ever”! Though we likely have some “tent days” coming up (higher wind speeds forecasted We are all in good spirits & in a great position to wait the weather out. :) – Nicole"

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 28th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

From AAI Climber David Atkinson...

"Hey everyone watching our progress, we all travelled up to camp 2 yesterday in some beautiful weather arriving around 2pm to stunning views of the Andes. Although a relatively short mountain day was all feeling pretty worked and relieved to have the majority of our tents already up thanks to the hard work of the porters, the guys are super human!! Looks like we may be here for a while with high winds looking to hit the mountain, we remain optimistic:-)"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 27th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

From AAI guide Andy Stephen...

"Hi everyone, today we carried to camp 2. We had great weather all day, which was a relief after a very windy last 24 hrs. We arrived Back at camp around 5pm and ate burritos cooked by Chad. Tomorrow, we plan on moving up to Camp 2 while the weather looks good. We are All having a great time up here and can't wait to get to camp 2!"    - Andy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 16-30) – Dispatch 3

December 27th Dispatch

Climbers: Philip Argyres, Sarah MacGregor, Yao-Wen (Wayne) Huang, Yu-Lin (Amanda) Tsao


Guide:  Romel Sandoval

The team has been unable to call successfully, but they sent a text saying they had a great time on their attempt on Antisana, but the weather kept them from reaching the summit.  Team members said they learned a lot from the guides in the process of the climb and were pleased to get as far as they did under tough conditions.


Monday, December 26, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 26th at 10pm (Argentinian Time)

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

Woke up to a bit of wind, but clear skies so packed up and made the move to camp 1. Halfway up the weather got a bit rowdy but we had a great time in the wind and snow and the whole team reached camp 1 in good shape! Now we're hunkered down in the (cozy) cook tent eating some pasta and hoping the wind slows tomorrow so we can make a carry to camp 2!

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 25th and 26th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

From 12/25:

Hola! This is Andy from Aconcagua, yesterday we put in a cache of food and gear at camp 1 (4900m) and descended back to basecamp. We hiked through a zone of incredible snow formations called penitentes, and had a really pleasant day. We arrived back at camp around 5pm and ate bacon wrapped steak and sweet potatoes at the grajales restaurant, followed by a little dessert and a small portion of wine.

From 12/26:

Today, we awoke to very stormy and windy weather, and by this afternoon it was snowing, a rarity during this time of year up here. We are all ecstatic to be having a white Christmas in the middle of summer! He storm is continuing into tomorrow morning but we are still hoping to move to camp 1 in the morning. Feliz navidad! -Andy

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 8, 2017)

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Swauger

The team is headed up to Camp 1 to store gear and food they don't need until the upper mountain. They will then return to BaseCamp and stay the night and move the rest of their camp to Camp 1 Christmas Day. This puts the team in excellent position to acclimatize for the summit attempt in a few more days!

Friday, December 23, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 23rd at 2am local time

Guides:

Andy Stephen
Chad Cochran

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

From AAI guide Andy Stephen...

"Hi everyone, this is Andy with AAI Aconcagua Team 1. We had one of the most spectacular days of trekking yesterday with views of the mountain in the distance. We arrived at BaseCamp around 4pm (Argentina time). BaseCamp is very plush and we had dinner. Steak and Mashed potatoes! The weather is fairly warm but windy. This morning Chad and I are cooking pancakes and letting everyone sleep in for the rest of the day after three big trekking days in a row. Spirits are high and everyone is feeling strong and enjoying their time in the Andes so far. That's all for now, we will check back in later."

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 16-30) – Dispatch 2

December 23rd Dispatch

Climbers: Philip Argyres, Sarah MacGregor, Yao-Wen (Wayne) Huang, Yu-Lin (Amanda) Tsao

Guide:  Romel Sandoval

We’re calling to let you know that we successfully summited on Cayambe! One rope team reached the top at 6:30 am and the second a few minutes after 7. It was another great climb. Conditions conditions on the glacier continue to be very good.

Here’s Philip with some words on the climb:

Philip:  I had really wonderful day - just spectacular. It was my first climb on a glacier, and it was just awesome. It was a good work out and when we got down we were all ready for a nap! We’re looking forward to a little touring in the Antisana Reserve before heading up for the Antisana ascent.
Here’s Sarah.

Sarah:  I'm felt really good on the climb. We had beautiful weather and great guides. “Hi Mom” - I know you're probably checking this all the time; we're doing really well. And “Hi” to my wonderful husband!

Romel:  We had another comfortable stay (and great food again) at Hacienda Guachala and are now exploring the Antisana Reserve. We’ll be staying in another hacienda tonight Everyone could benefit from (and enjoy!) a full day of rest today. And it’s our job to eat well and fortify ourselves!

Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Antisana base camp. It too will be an easy day, and we’ll have a nice drive across open grasslands with views of two of the other big peaks in the area – Sincholagua (15,988 ft / 4873 m) and Cotopaxi (19,347 ft / 4099 m).

Cotopaxi is still active, expelling ash and steam most of the time, and it is still closed to climbing because of the potential hazards of gasses and further eruption.

We’ll be out of range for communications for a while, but we’ll call Christmas Sunday or on Monday at the latest. Our summit day is Christmas Day.

Wish us good luck!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 21st

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

The team completed the longest part of the expedition. A 9 mile trek to Casa de Pierda (10,665ft). They were able to get a small glimpse of the Polish Glacier on the mountain! The group will be headed to Plaza de Argentina at 14,000ft today, another difficult portion covering 7 miles and over 3,000ft of elevation gain. A well deserved rest day is nearly here!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2017 Aconcagua Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) from Dec 20th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnik
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller

AAI guides Andy Stephen and Chad Cochran have checked in. The team is on the trail making their way up the Vacas Valley. They will camp tonight at 9,385ft. Only 13,500ft to go!

2017 Aconcagua Expedition Team 1 (Dec 18, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017) Dispatch 1 from Dec 19th

Guides:

Chad Cochran
Andy Stephen

Climbers:

Andrew Zuehlke
Arliene Pearson
Brandon Kwasnik
Corin Kwasnki
David Atkinson
Jim Swauger
Nicole Brockmueller


Hello all. Welcome to AAI's Aconcagua Expedition Team 1 dispatches. After a successful meeting and gear check on Sunday the team enjoyed a dinner in Mendoza, Argentina and are making their way to Penitentes today. There the team will finalize all equipment before taking off on the approach to the mountain tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 16-30) – Dispatch 1

December 19th Dispatch

Climbers: Philip Argyres, Sarah MacGregor, Yao-Wen (Wayne) Huang, Yu-Lin (Amanda) Tsao

Guide:  Romel Sandoval

Hello!

This is Romel calling from Ecuador. Everything is going well here!

We enjoyed meeting up in Quito, and we had a very enjoyable first day as we did a little easy touring and exploring as each person began their adjustment to the altitude.  The team’s first night was in Quito, of course, and at 9350 feet / 2850 that’s a good place to begin the process.  We always set an easy pace on the first day as drive north to cross (and straddle!) the equator and then continue on to Otavalo, to explore a pretty Ecuadorian town that has a very large and colorful market.

We do a good amount of walking, but all at an easy pace.  We know that if people just beginning their adjustment are too vigorous in the exercises or activity, that can bring on at least a light version of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), so we are careful to avoid that by going easy.

On our second day, Sunday, we hiked up beautiful Pasachoa (13,776 ft / 4199 m).  Going at a easy pace, everyone did fine and made the summit.  It was a gorgeous day – really it was perfect – sunny and warm.  And today we hiked higher and, again, everyone summited Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft / 4776 m).  We had a little light rain late in the day, but mostly it was sunny.

Everyone is having a good time, and we are all looking forward to climbing Cayambe in a few days.  At 18,996 ft / 5790 m, it is our first major peak.  We are now driving to Hacienda Guachala, one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador, for a good night's rest and – as I have assured the team – a very, very good dinner!

Here is Sarah who will add a few words to our report:

This trip is going really well!  Great, in fact!  We've had nice weather in the mountains, but yesterday after our hike we saw hard rain flooding the streets of Quito. We were thankful to not be out hiking in it!  Our group is having fun, and people are excited for our next climbs.  Does anyone want to say anything else for the dispatch? (A chorus of "Hi's and "hello's" were heard around the car from Philip, Wayne, and Amanda.)

Here's Romel, again:

The climbers are feeling good. They are adjusting well, and have had no altitude issues. Tomorrow we'll be traveling to the hut on Cayambe at 15,250 feet (4648 meters) and we’ll start our training (or review for some climbers) of glacier climbing skills.  On Wednesday we’ll spend a good part of the day doing some more practice climbing, then have an early dinner and an early bedtime to be ready for the Cayambe ascent, which will begin at about 1am! 


We'll call, again, after summiting Cayambe.  Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 2-16) – Dispatch 3

December 13th Dispatch

Climbers: Mike Schipper, Andrew Ford, Deli Ford, Jacques Proteau, Patricia Alcivar

Guide: Fredy Tipan

Hello again from Ecuador!

This is Fredy and the team calling to let you know that we summited on Antisana (18,874 ft / 5752m)!  We had a spectacular day with perfect weather. 


We traveled back to Quito after the climb and had a wonderful farewell dinner for part of our team that is heading home.  We have had so much fun together on this trip, we are going to miss them.

Here is David with some words for friends and family back home:

Antisana was really an amazing climb, and it was so great to summit together.  This whole trip has really been amazing!  Both Cayambe and Antisana were such good climbs and so beautiful to be up there on those majestic peaks. 


The climbing was perfect – excellent weather and excellent snow conditions.  It was great cramponing.  The climbing was great, the guiding was great, and everybody enjoyed it.  And we really had fun with our final dinner together.

Here's Fredy again:

Yes, as David said, we couldn't have asked for better conditions.  The snowpack on the glaciers was perfect. 

Someone asked in an email if we have been seeing many birds.  I was hoping that we would see some condors around Antisana, but on this climb we didn't.  I was surprised, though, that we saw two black eagles.  Usually they are seen roughly between 5,000 and 11,500 feet, but we saw them just below Antisana.  They are big and they are beautiful with about a 5-foot (1.5 m) wingspan.  That was very special.

OK - so now some of us are continuing to do Chimborazo.  This will take us several days, and I don't know if we will be able to make a connection to give you news until the end, but we will try.  Wish us good luck and continued good weather!



Thursday, December 8, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 2-16) – Dispatch 2

December 8th Dispatch

Climbers: Mike Schipper, Andrew Ford, Deli Ford, Jacques Proteau, David Field, Patricia Alcivar, Galen Pickard, Jeffrey Sperling

Guide: Fredy Tipan

Hello!

This is Fredy, in Ecuador. We are all very happy after a successful day on Cayambe (18,996 ft / 5790 m).

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the group completed their glacier skills training above the hut on Cayambe. We had good snow and ice conditions on the glacier, and techniques training and the practice climbing went very well.

Today we enjoyed a great climb of Cayambe with beautiful weather – sunny and super clear atmosphere. Five climbers reached the summit! Three chose to not climb all the way to the summit, but everyone is feeling great and had a really good time on this gorgeous mountain.

I will put Galen and Patty on the line:

Galen: Hello! First, thank you to AAI for all of your work in making it possible for me to go on this trip. It has been absolutely lovely! It's also been quite a challenge, but I am looking forward to the next climb, Antisana. There have been no cases of major altitude sickness in our group. Everyone is doing so well!

Patty: Our climb was a total "ass-kicker," today! I am doing the Second Summits Program, so this is my second time on this expedition. We had bad weather, last time, but the weather on this trip has been so clear. Cayambe is a tough climb, but I couldn't believe the views from the top! They were beyond breathtaking. We could see Antisana and Cotopaxi, and I actually broke down and cried. We have top-notch, awesome guides, too. Today was the best, most beautiful climb I've ever had!

Fredy here, again:

We will stay at Hacienda Guachala tonight – not very far – in the foothills of Cayambe, and travel tomorrow to the Antisana Reserve. We'll continue to the Antisana basecamp on Saturday, and climb Antisana on Sunday. I will call, again, after our summit day (18,827ft / 5,740 m).

Now we're looking forward to more great food and a little rest and relaxation at the hacienda. Talk to you again soon!


Monday, December 5, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 2-16) - Dispatch 1

December 5th Dispatch

Climbers:  Mike SchipperAndrew Ford, Deli Ford, Jacques Proteau, David Field, Patricia Alcivar, Galen Pickard, Jeffrey Sperling

Guide:  Fredy Tipan

Hello!

This is Fredy calling from Ecuador.  We’ve just finished our third day of the trip, and everything is going great!  This is a really nice and motivated group of people, and we've been having a lot of fun together.


Most folks arrived on Friday, and Saturday morning we had a nice breakfast together at the hotel and did a program orientation.  After that we headed north to the equator and then continued to the town of Otavalo where we went to the huge market.  

The market was a really fun cultural experience. It was super busy with locals.  Most of the people shopping there are from surrounding villages.  They come in to town once a week and they dress in traditional clothing, so their shopping and their traditional clothes are very interesting for our team to see as our climbers did their own shopping.   And we had a delicious Ecuadorian lunch!  Everyone seems to like the food here!

So that was Saturday, and the last two days we have used for acclimatization hikes.  Yesterday we climbed Pasochoa (13,776 ft / 4199 m), and today we climbed GuaguaPichincha (15,670 ft / 4776 m).  The group summited both peaks without any problem.  Everybody is acclimatizing really well on our schedule, and we haven't had any altitude illness issues.  Judging by each person's adjustment so far, I think they will all do very well on the major climbs!

Here is Jeffrey who will add a few words to our report:

Everything is going really well. I’m from Chicago, which essentially has no elevation, so this trip has been intense for me, but good. I’m nervous about our next climbs, but also looking forward to them.  The guides are fantastic and so are the team members.  In addition to the climbs, we’ve been enjoying the Ecuadorian culture.  The landscape is absolutely breathtaking!  We’ve had good weather, overall.  A light rain seems common in the afternoons here, and we had just a drizzle, today.

Here’s Fredy, again:

Tonight we will head to Hacienda Guachala, below Cayambe, which will be our first big climb.  The hacienda has a very nice, countryside atmosphere, and the food is terrific.

More news tomorrow if we can make the connection.  We’ll be traveling to the hut on Cayambe at 15,250 feet (4648 meters) and starting our glacier skills training.  Wednesday we’ll do more training to make sure everyone is prepared, and Thursday we’ll climb Cayambe!  We'll call each afternoon if we can make the connection.


Bye for now!