2002 - 2003 Aconcagua Cybercast

#74 February 26th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hola, this is Vernon Tejas of the Dirty Dozen, fresh from the highest mountain in the western hemisphere, we're finally out at last.  Several Days of pandemonium has been running wild as we have been packing and been moving our gear down the mountain, hiking 20 miles and then 8 miles out.  We got to the road at Punta de Vacas today and viewed a few of the local sights, the cemetery for fallen climbers from Aconcagua, and then to Punta del Inca, the natural bridge arching over the Cuervas River.  And then we had a wonderful meal of hamburgers, it seemed to be on our minds for the last several days, the motivating cry for our group: "Hamburgers and Beer, Hamburgers and Beer, cervezas y hamburgesos! Wonderful.  

So now we're down at Mendoza, had a wonderful celebration dinner, and we all ordered huge steaks, bigger than you can get anywhere, over a pound each, and wonderful salads to go with it and enjoyed the wine that Mendoza is so famous for.  We've wrapped up our expedition with a farewell and will soon be coming back to the United States. Thanks so much for following our trip, and know that we are thinking of you at home and we'll be home soon.  We send our love and soon our bodies on the big silver bird.  Ciao for now from Mendoza Argentina, this is Vern Tejas of the Dirty Dozen saying Hasta Luego Amigos!

#73 February 23rd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello Alpine Ascents Cybernauts.  This is Vern Tejas with the Dirty Dozen.  Oh my goodness you should have been there, fabulous day, snow all over the mountain and we started at the streak of Dawn.  It took us 9 hours to get to the summit.  Across the grand traverse of the (unintelligible), and up the notorious Canaleta.  We took our time, we took a lot of breaks it was a lot of hard work but fortunately all of us stood on the summit, amazing. We even had a juggler, Traverse Zink, on top.  On the way because it was so cold we ended up warming Holt's feet several times, unfortunately in my armpits.  

We took photographs and rock and made several phone calls from the top, and it was quite a wonderful view from up there until the clouds came in and told us it was time to go home.  We ran back down the hill and go back to Camp about 13 hours after we left.  I should mention that I completed my goal of climbing the Seven Summits in nine months by summiting.  I think we've all learned a big lesson here, we learned that is it costs a little more to go first class but it's well worth it. (laughter in background). And on top of that we should eat up because it might be our last good meal. (more laughter)

So now we are looking at a big descent down to Base Camp and then get organized for the mules, our stuff is going out on and we are going out our feet. We should be getting out in a few days back to the wonderful city of Mendoza.  So stay tuned as the Dirty Dozen descend the notorious Roof of America! Ciao.

#72 February 22nd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Good Morning in Cyberland this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for February 22nd, Saturday.  And we have word that the Dirty Dozen have reached the summit!  So congratulations to Paul, Mike, Ben, Tony, Mark, Tim, Kevin, and Holt and also congratulations to Vern, Traverse, and John for all reaching the highest point in the western Hemisphere.

It was a long day for the group they left from Camp III at 19,200 feet at about 7:30 in th e morning and arrived at the summit at about 3:30 in the afternoon. They were all back safely to Camp III by 7pm, very tired and looking forward to the dinner and hot soup made by John who went on ahead to prepare things for them. So we're expecting to see them back in Base Camp by the evning of SUnday and hopefully they'll be able to send in their cybercast message themselves.  SO that;s the news from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#71 February 21st, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for The Dirty Dozen led by Vern Tejas and Traverse Zink.  I'm calling for Friday February 21st, and the report is that from high on the flanks of Aconcagua the team got spanked this morning with a 79mph wind.  They've been clocking these with an anemometer that Vern has along.  However the troops rallied, they did not spend the day in the tents, they went outside to build rock walls, because these were unusual winds coming out of the East rather than the normal winds out of the West.  So the team rallied and got outside to build new rock walls to fortify their position.  These same gnarly winds prevented their move to Camp IV so they spent the rest of the day again resting and recuperating at Camp III at 19,200 feet.  Fortunately the winds died in the evening so the team was able to have a nice dinner.  Vern reports that Traverse sure whips up a mean glop.

If this calm weather holds through tomorrow the team will go ahead and make their summit bid tomorrow starting from Camp III without putting in a high camp.  They're going to grab that weather window if they get it tomorrow. So stay tuned for the summit news from the Dirty Dozen. This is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#70 February 21st, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Dirty Dozen led by Vern Tejas and Traverse Zink and assisted by John Colver filling in for Lhakpa Rita Sherpa.  Well folks it was a horrendous night for the Dirty Dozen, the winds rattled their tents and their minds as well.  Sleep was fitful at best.  Heeding nature's call this morning was a near impossibility, frostbite was in the offering.  Breakfast was a challenge at best, and the cooks risked life and limb while team members carried food back to the comfort of their tents.  But lo and behold, a few hours later, the winds subsided and the sun burst into the sky.  It was the most beautiful sight that they had seen in their lives.  Snow-encrusted peaks all around and not a breath of wind.

Taking advantage of the situation they went on a acclimation hike to the Edge of the world, the spot where the Polish Glacier ends in a cliff and tumbles thousands of feet down to a sheer abyss.  They posed for pictures and captured this most awesome sight.  But sure enough as soon as they had viewed this most spectacular realm, the clouds moved in again and the window slammed shut.  So the team is now munching down a delightful dinner prepared by Traverse, slaving away after coming all the way up from Base Camp to Camp III today, no rest for the wicked.  So the team is strong, they have three experienced guides, and all their fingers and toes are crossed for being able to go up to Camp IV tomorrow.  The team send their thanks to those back home for their fair-weather wishes, and hopes to join you all out there soon from the other side of the summit.  So wishing good weather for the team, this is Ellie signing off from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#69 February 20th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Carpe Diem.
This is Forrest McCarthy checking in for team Carpe Diem with our last cybercast. We are glad to report that we are all back in Mendoza. We are pleasantly surprised by cooler weather. We did not reach Mendoza until late last night. Our van on our journey back to Mendoza got a flat. Justine and Russell rose to the occasion and managed to sort out the bus driver on how to change a tire. Always remember it is never over until it is over.

On reaching the Hotel Nutibara, Justin was happily reunited with his wife Josephine. Late and tired we settled for hamburgers and beer and a good nights rest. Russell has managed to reserve a seat on flight back to Texas tonight. So in instead of a final dinner we had a final break fest. For our final breakfast we where joined by honorary team members Horst and Josephine. Josephine is Justin's wife who has been trekking in Patagonia while we we where on Aconcagua. Horst was one of the Dirty Dozen who joined us for our hike out. Both Josephine and Horst have amazingly been able to fit right in with the Team Carpe Diem.

As discussed over of a toast of clanking coffee cups this morning the Carpe Diem expedition has truly been a pleasure. Seldom have any of us participated in a expedition where the members where as strong, fun, friendly, and supportive of each other. It may have been that only two members reached the summit however it can be said that the expedition was truly a success. Everyone returned healthy, had great time, made great new friends, and had the experience of a lifetime. It is trips like this that remind me how lucky I am to be a guide and make my living meeting such great people and climbing such an awesome mountain.

Justin and myself could not have stood on the summit with out the support and sacrifices of the rest of the expedition members and support staff. We consider ourselves the Carpe Diem summit team. An accomplishment we could not have done alone. We would like to dedicate our brief moment on the top of the top of the Western Hemisphere to Russell's daughter Katie. Never let anything hold you back from fulfilling your dreams. Seize The Day.

Carpe Diem

#68 February 19th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, reporting for Team Dirty Dozen, led by Vern Tejas and Traverse Zink. It's Wednesday the 19th of February.  Vern reports that the weather window opened briefly today and the team was able to push on up to Camp III before that window slammed shut.  They spent two hours securing the camp and then dove into their sleeping bags.  They've all had dinner, and now are sucking up hot drinks and munching on cookies, snug as bugs in rugs.

They're very much thinking of their loved ones at home and how warm they are, as up there on the mountain, the team is facing 50mph winds, 10 degree temperatures which all adds up to a minus 35 wind chill, brrrr.  So they are asking you to all to please think of them in your dreams and telling you night night as they snuggle into their sleeping bags for the night.  And we'll keep you posted tomorrow with news of how they are weathering the storm up there and we all have our fingers crossed that tomorrow morning we'll have blue skies and warmer weather.  We'll be reporting again tomorrow, this is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#67 February 18th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello in cyberland this is Ellie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp on the evening of Tuesday February 18th. I'm calling in for the Dirty Dozen led by Vern Tejas and Traverse Zink.  Vern reports that the team has been stranded at Camp II, like rats on a ship, prisoners of the wind.  Last night regular gusts of 50 - 60 mph pummeled the tents all night long. It was far too rough to feed the team outside so the guides had to take the glop around and sling it in through the tent doors to the huddled team.  This morning a menacing lenticular cloud hung over the mountain, forbidding anyone who dared to climb.  Yet despite Vern's cooking, the team rallied and pushed up through the storm carry food and fuel to Camp III.  Once they secured their cache, they raced the blizzard back to their tents at Camp II to secure them before they blew away.  

So this evening with faces full of pudding and hot cocoa, the team is nestled into their sleeping bags to endure a second night of howling wind, and rocks blowing off the rock wall at Camp II.  The team is tired but do seem to be acclimatizing well and they do send their good thoughts out to family and friends at home.  So tune in tomorrow for further adventures of the Dirty Dozen as they deiced whether to remain at Camp II or push on up to Camp III at 19,200 feet. So for tonight this is Ellie at Aconcagua Base Camp.

#66 February 18th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen. Team Carpe Diem.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie at Aconcagua Base Camp and it's Tuesday February 18th. It is a blustery day in Base Camp and it was a blustery night last night at Camp II for the Dirty Dozen. Yesterday they made the move from Camp I at 16,200 feet on up to Camp II at 17,600 feet.  And they pitched their tents behind the big rock wind wall built by Lhakpa a few weeks ago.  And in addition Vern had them carry in a few more rocks to extend the wall and increase their protection.  Today they're carrying gear on up to Camp III but they'll return to Camp II tonight to sleep for their second night at Camp II.  And it looks like today that they will be needing to put into practice all the things we've been trying to teach the team about how to secure a tent so it will still be there when they return in the afternoon.  Things like making sure the tent anchors are bomber.  If a person can move the anchor the wind can too.  Things like making sure all the door zippers are zipped, the door snaps are snapped and all the weather flaps are locked down.  Because today it's blowing up there and they're going to need all the protection they can get.  Tomorrow the team plans to move on up to Camp III, weather permitting, at 19,200 feet, so we'll keep you posted on how they're doing.  we don't actually have a storm going, it's just the regular Aconcagua winds.

In the meantime here at base campo two arrieros have arrived with six cargo mules to carry 333 kilos of barrels and bags belonging to Team Carpe Diem down the valley to Casa Piedra, where the team will spend the night.  Tomorrow they'll hike on down to Punta de Vacas, and should arrive in Mendoza by tomorrow night which will be Wednesday February 19th.  And I'm sure everyone is looking forward to a good hot shower and a nice restaurant meal in Mendoza, so we wish Team Carpe Diem well on their trip down the valley.

With the wind blowing here in Base Camp as well as up on the mountain I've been checking the tents and patching some minor tears caused by a long season of UV damage from the sun.  But everything looks solid,  all our tents are weathering the wind in good shape and we're looking forward to maybe a drop in the wind tomorrow.  So that's the news from Aconcagua today and we'll give you an update as we hear from the teams, this is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#65 February 16th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hi this is John Colver from Aconcagua Base Camp, with a cybercast for the Dirty Dozen, directly related from Vern Tejas at Camp I:

Today was a wonderful, sunny windy and productive day.  Sun came up right on schedule and Vern prepared a stellar bowl of broth.  After the medical testing during the last few days, he figured everybody was low in sodium, and added to salt to correct this with the result nobody liked the porridge.

The carry from Camp I to Camp II today was accomplished in two and a half hours and fun was had by all.  On the descent the team descended back into Camp I in fifteen minutes.  The team are all in good spirits and having fun with guitars and juggling. The team wants to thank Mary for juggling balls. Happy Birthday Laurie, from brother Tim.  Finally the team is well love to family.  That's it from Team Dirty Dozen on Aconcagua at Camp I. John Colver at Base Camp out.

#64 February 16th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Good morning out there in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Carpe Diem, led by Eric Remza and Forrest McCarthy. Today is Sunday February 16th and I've been talking to Team Carpe Diem up on the mountain and they've been having a few health and acclimation problems.  After two rest days up at Camp III, the result is that the team is going to be splitting up, and Terry, Rebecca, and Russell are all heading back to Base Camp with Eric, while Forrest and Justin have headed for the top.  And the good news is that when I just turned my radio on at noon today, there was Forrest, calling in from the summit. So congratulations to Forrest and Justin for a job well done.  Forrest and Justin wanted to thank the rest of their team for their support, especially their spiritual leader, Russell.  And they want to dedicate this climb to Russell's daughter.

In the meantime I have also talked to Eric this morning and the rest of the team is doing fine, they are managing the health and acclimation problems, but they will be heading down and we're looking forward to seeing them in Base Camp tonight and Forrest and Justin joining the rest of the group tomorrow.  And at that point, we'll be calling in the mules and they'll be heading down the mountain.  So that's new for Team Carpe Diem today and we'll be giving you a follow up report for Forrest and Justin when they are coming back down the mountain.

#63 February 15th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie in Aconcagua base Camp calling in for Team Dirty Dozen, led by Vern Tejas and Traverse Zink. It's Saturday February 15th, and the Dirty Dozen have now moved up to Camp I at 16,200 feet.  Vern reports that they made the journey this time an hour faster than they made the carry two days ago.  

Our beautiful weather continues and Vern reports that it is balmy and calm and the folks have been sitting around outside their tents after their arrival at Camp I.  However the good news for these folks is that this is their second and hopefully final time through the final scree and penitentes slope, the steep slope just before you get to Camp I. The folks of the Dirty Dozen have now dubbed this slope "The Bitch." and Bob has renamed the penitentes, they are now known as, "Penitentiaries."  Obviously this is another team that had not developed great love for this final slope up to Camp I.  

But the folks are now at Camp I, and their plan for tomorrow is to carry gear up to Camp II up at Boureasa Col, and the day after that they will be on their way and moving up to a higher camp, so we'll be reporting from them as they move on up the mountain, this is Ellie, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#62 February 14th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Good morning and a happy Valentine's there cybernauts.  This is Vern Tejas with the Dirty Dozen, down in South America on Aconcagua.  We are currently resting at Base Camp and recuperating from our big carry up to Camp I yesterday.  Everyone is eating the pancakes and bacon as if it was the last meal on Earth. They're really enjoying it, put that down!  Today on the agenda is to do a little bit of a yoga exercise class, wash clothing, bathe our bodies, get clean for the upper mountain.  We would also like to send out some Valentine's messages:

This one's from Tony: "Dear Karen Matthew, Joshua, Happy Valentine's Day, love Tony."  "This is HV to Carol, love Horst."  And we also have a "Happy Valentine's day to Mom Dad, Kate, Harriet and all friends reading the cybercast, hugs and kisses, Holt." "To family and friends, and all my loves, happy Valentine's day, Tim."  From Mark: "Happy Valentine's Day to Penny, Courtney, Morgan and McKenna, love Mark."  "Happy Valentine's to family and friends in Las Vegas.  JH, AU, and T-Town, from Ben."  "Happy Valentine's Day Mom, hello to family and friends, from Kevin. Feeling well and everything's going fine."  "Happy Birthday and Valentine's Day Mom. Happy Valentine's Day Anne, I love you and will see you soon in Santiago." "Mike sends his Happy Valentine's love to Kristen, Matt, Chris and sunshine." Paul: "Hi to my family, I'm having a great time on the mountain and I've had a great birthday."  From VET to GVI, "Will you be mine?"

Well kids, thank you very much for listening in, keep your fingers crossed for the good weather to hold, we're having a waxing of the moon, it should be full in the next couple of days, which should help us higher up on the mountain, in particular when we move to the summit early early in the morning before the sun comes up. Thanks for dropping in, stand by and stay tuned.  This is Vern Tejas with the Dirty Dozen, saying ciao for now.

#61 February 14th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Carpe Diem.
Good morning in cyberland, this is Ellie Calling in for Team Carpe Diem led by Eric Remza and Forrest McCarthy.  Well it's Friday February 14th which means it's Valentine's Day.  And Team Carpe Diem is enjoying it up at the thin air of Camp III, they have a rest day today at 19,200 feet. And when I talked to them this morning, they said there was a light breeze, lots of sunshine, a few headaches, and they're planning on taking a walk later on today out to the Edge of The World, which is a big cliff near Camp III where they can see a long way down.  For Valentine's Day we have messages from the group... 

From Russell, he says "Happy Valentine's Day to my beautiful wife and daughter, my heart is there with you, happy Valentine's day to Joy Cam and the rest of the family.  From Justin, "From Hound Dog to Critter, LK.  FM to AEB.  Send a LLD for VD. And Eric says Happy Valentine's Day to all the women in South America.

Also I've been informed that the team has voted Russell as their spiritual leader.  I don't have any details on this but I'll try to find out exactly what this means, it sounds like there's a story behind it.  So that's the news from Team Carpe Diem up at Camp II on Aconcagua.

Also as a side message, Willi Prittie left Base Camp yesterday noon, and passed Team Dirty Dozen up at Camp I at about 2:30 in the afternoon and appeared up at Camp II just as I was talking to Eric and Forrest on the radio about 7. So Willi is traversing the mountain, and going down the other side and will be going through Plaza de Mulas and out that direction and back to Mendoza.  So it sounds like the mountain has been smoking up there behind his feet and we wish him well on this trip across the mountain.  So that's the news from Aconcagua Base Camp for February 14th, Valentine's Day.

#60 February 13th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hey cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with the Dirty Dozen.  It's been a long and hard day.  We packed up all the food and fuel that we're going to use on the mountain itself and put it on our backs and headed up the moraine.  Ahhh, goodness, it must have been about 7 hours just plodding along, doing the power pressure breathing, kicking steps, resting.  Everybody seems to be very tired from that ordeal.  We finally came to the last moraine, which seemed to be composed mainly of rock that were not in situ.  Rocks that when you put your weight on them, they tended to move down the hill and that created quite a bit of exhaustion, one step forward and two steps back.  So finally after several hours we got to the top and I surprised everybody by telling them it was another 20 minutes further.  We established a cache, a depot at 15,000 feet at upper Camp I and put all of our goodies in there.  

Now we have returned back to Base Camp and had a fabulous meal of pasta and sauce and everybody seems to be flaking out fairly quickly.  They will soon be in bed, nodding their heads.  We're hoping for the people who have had a little bit of difficulty sleeping on account of the altitude, that exhaustion will overrule the altitude and they will get their first real good night of sleep. So with that, tomorrow we're planning a big day of rest and recuperation and we'll be sending all of our love out on Valentine's day to all the dear ones back home.  So please tune in tomorrow for the Dirty Dozen Valentine's Day Special!

#59 February 12th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Carpe Diem.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie at Aconcagua Base Camp calling in for Team Carpe Diem, led by Eric Remza and Forrest McCarthy.  It's the evening of Wednesday February 12th, and I talked to Forrest on the Radio and he reports that they are al comfortably encamped at Camp II, at a grand 17,600 feet. That's right up there and most of them say they're feeling the lack of oxygen.  However this team has been incredibly blessed with beautiful weather, and it's been about as good as it gets.  The col at Camp II, is a pass between Aconcagua and the neighboring mountain called Amagino.  This Camp is infamous for it's high winds which funnel between the two mountains.  However Forrest reports that the conditions are excellent.  The team has been sitting around outside in the balmy warm sunshine weather.  So we cross our fingers for them and hope this keeps up all the way to the summit.

In the meantime we have some messages from the team.  Brian thanks Kenny for watching their house.  Rebecca is hoping her mom is burning up the links.  Russell says hi and love to Jackie, Katy and Family.  Katy I thought you were in my pack today with Buck.  Now I know how all the Care Flight paramedics have felt carrying me all theses years.  Thanks to Tommy and Lloyd for all the practice at cold weather sleeping.  Justin says HD to Charlie, feeling good send love.  So that's it from Team doing very well and feeling strong up at Camp II.  Their plan is for tomorrow, Thursday, February 13th, they will be moving up to Camp III at 19,200 feet.  That will be another jump for these folks and followed a rest day and then on to Camp IV and then the summit.  So stay tuned for further news from Team Carpe Diem, this is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#58 February 12th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hey cybernauts, what a wonderful day we've had, resting and recuperating here at Plaza Argentina, the Base Camp of Mt. Aconcagua.  People's headaches have somewhat subsided and they're waking up and saying they're feeling somewhat better, it's a big push to get up to 13,000 feet.  And we're planning on just hanging out all day, maybe doing a little sock washing, resting, relaxing, we're sorting food and preparing for our first haul on the mountain itself which will start bright and early tomorrow morning. So join us tomorrow for the further adventures of the Dirty Dozen, ciao for now, this is Vernon signing off.

#57 February 11th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hey cybernauts of Alpine Ascents. We finally made it up to Plaza Argentina and we're camped at 13,600 feet above sea level, people are bushed.  We've been breathing positive pressure all the way up the Relenchos Valley.  We had to do a little side hilling today, with drops down maybe 150 feet down to the rushing Relenchos River.  It's quite impressive, the hike along there, the mules...heavens to Betsy, how do the mules get along such a steep winding trail?   We'll just have to trust that they can make it, they've got all our gear with them so hopefully they'll make it up to this camp soon. 

And goodness there's Ellie greeting us, and she has our tents set up already! That's a wonderful thing.  We're so bushed we can hardly think about setting them up now.  We're looking forward to a a long restful night and hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to rest and relax and get a little acclimatization Ciao for now.

#56 February 10th, 2003  Casa de Piedra, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hey cybernauts of Alpine Ascents and we're talking to you from Casa de Piedra Camp, 13 miles up the Vacas Valley, a wonderful beautiful hike today, crossing over the alluvial fans that are pouring down from the Andean mountains.  Currently we are just to the East of Aconcagua and we're looking up the Relenchos Valley which perfectly frames Aconcagua above us.  We can see the upper Polacas and part of the South Face, and it's quite impressive and intimidating.  Overhead a pair of hawks is soaring, playing tag, as we're camped along a bubbling brook, with the green grass all around, in the distance we can hear the braying of donkeys. And tonight we're having for the first time I've ever had, stir fry on one of these mountain trips, thanks you Traverse.

#55 February 9th, 2003  Pampa de Lenas, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello cybernauts this is Vern Tejas with Team Dirty Dozen, high on the flanks of Mt. Aconcagua here in beautiful Argentina.  We have a half moon shining overhead, and we just rolled into Pampa de Lenas.  It's a beautiful campsite, very clean and hygienic as well. This is where the rangers, the park guardians, have a Ranger Station and we're going to camp right along the banks of the Vacas River currently rushing and laden with silt.  And we'd like to say that we're happy to be here, as a matter of fact, here's the group, I'm going to let them introduce themselves: "Traverse Zink, Mark Peterson, Bob Murphy, Harry Jung, Kevin Gifford, Tony Van Maarken, Tim Burke, Paul Barnes, Holt Hunter, Ben Cobb."

That's the team ladies and gentlemen, and we're parked right now at 9,410 feet above sea level, we've had a beautiful hike in, passing little streams that have been running down from high in the Andes and today we've covered approximately, eh, eight miles. That's a change of a little over 2,000 feet.  Everybody's doing well, despite all the hiking through the boulders we survived.  Tomorrow the big plan is to move up the beautiful Vacas Valley and to a new camp called The Rock House or Casa de Piedra.  So please, Staaaand by and stay tuned for further adventures of the Diiiirtyyy Dooozeeennn.

#54 February 8th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Dirty Dozen.
Hello Alpine Ascents cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with Team Dirty Dozen, and we're sitting here eating a pizza in Penitentes and boy is it good!  We're at a location just south of Aconcagua in Argentina in a place called Penitentes.  It's is a ski resort during the winter but as you know it is now summertime in South America and we're located at about 8,600 feet above sea level.  We're preparing to head up the Vacas Valley for the next several days and approach the highest mountain in South America, the Roof of the West, Aconcagua.  So stay tuned and tune in tomorrow for further adventures of the Dirty Dozen. 

#53 February 7th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Carpe Diem.
Good morning everybody out there in cyberland, this is Forrest McCarthy with Team Carpe Diem calling in from Base Camp.  Just happy to report that we had a really enjoyable hike in, Justin named all the plants and wildflowers for us.  The winds have been mild so far this trip, it's been a little warm hiking in but nothing too bad.  We took our time coming up to Base Camp here yesterday.  So far everyone is doing really really well.  We had a couple of mild headaches from the hike in yesterday but we're just enjoying a lazy morning, we had a big round of French Toast, and brewing up lots of espresso, drinking some good coffee here at Base Camp.  

Today we're going to spend the afternoon, besides relaxing and acclimatizing, getting our gear all packed up for our carry up to Camp I tomorrow.  We have a few messages from the team:

Justin Adams would like to say hi to Josephine and all friends in Kelly.  Becky and Terry say hello to all their family and friends Lungland ROTC in Jacksonville, into the homes of the lumberjacks.  Becky almost got cold feet at the first river crossing, but Forrest's belly came to the defrosting rescue, "we are psyched!'  Russell says hi to everybody and he's doing well "I hope you're feeling better Katy, I love you mom and miss you both, Kay should have  come to help with my Spanish, hi to everyone at Careville Fire and the Fire Station, tell Pam I'm reading the tank."

Other than that this is Team Carpe Diem and exactly what we're doing, we're seizing this day of acclimatization.  So this is Forrest over and out.

#52 February 3rd, 2003  Mendoza, Argentina. Team
Greetings one more time everyone out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Mendoza, Argentina for Team .  We had a very relaxing 3-day hike out from the mountain to return back to Mendoza.  During the trip everyone actually slept out so we had very wonderful Southern Hemisphere star views and stargazing the night out.  And we did return pretty much without incident to Mendoza.  I do however want to award the final cupcake award to my assistant guide, John Colver, for not properly securing the coffee canister which in turn exploded in his pack causing us to run out of coffee for the last two days of the trip!  Mind you I think there was probably some justice in that given the fact that John was also the heaviest coffee drinker on the trip.

In any case it was a very nice trip out and once in Mendoza we repaired to a restaurant known as Boca Doro, this is a very nice restaurant near downtown Mendoza which has the best steak in Mendoza bar none.  The majority of the party ordered half-kilo cuts of what is basically the tenderest, best-cooked châteaubriand in the world in my opinion.  We had a very good group, very good teamwork very good working together in general, the only final thing I would like to say about this group is note to Gordon: We need to come up with a better system of psychological testing so we don't get a crazy group like this all together again.

#51 February 3rd, 2003  Penitentes, Argentina. Team V
Hello everyone out there in cyberland, this is Eric Remza with Alpine Ascents International.  Our trip in named "Carpe Diem", Latin for "seize the day".  Our Team members are Russell King from Corinthe, TX.  Terry Ryan and Rebecca Ryan, both from Jacksonville, FL, Justin Adams from Jackson Hole WY.  Joining me guiding this expedition is Forrest McCarthy.

Our day started with visits to the Park Office in Mendoza to purchase our climbing permits.  It then took us about three hours drive from Mendoza up to the ski area of Penitentes.  It is very scenic on the drive and road parallels the Rio Mendoza.  Justin commented on how similar the topography and vegetation is to that in areas found in Utah and Colorado. We will spend one night here at the hotel in Penitentes.  This will allow the Team to acclimatize to our new elevation of 8,600 feet.  

Tomorrow we will get a leisurely start and begin our three day trek to Base Camp. Our first camp tomorrow night will be at Pampa de Lena at an elevation9,600 feet.  It usually takes about 5 hours and the distance about 9 miles to reach the camp.  The following day we will then trek 13 miles to Casca de Peidra at 10,900 feet.  It usually takes us around seven and a half hours to reach this camp.  Also we will be able to see our mountain we will be climbing as soon as we reach camp , we get a magnificent, spectacular view of Aconcagua and both sunrises and sunsets while looking at this vantage point of Aconcagua are absolutely amazing.

We will not be able to send a cybercast until we get to our base camp and once we do that we will let you know how our trek was from Casa de Piedra up the Relenchos Valley to our Base Camp at Plaza Argentina and that elevation is around 13,800 feet.  Until then This is Eric Remza and Team Carpe Diem saying ciao from Aconcagua, take care, bye.

P.S. A happy birthday to Amy Brennan from Forrest McCarthy.

#50 January 30th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Greetings to everybody out there in cyberland, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Team has in fact now all returned to Base Camp after our successful summit.  The return to Base Camp from Camp III was dubbed "Run for the Hamburgers!" and the entire team certainly enjoyed the freshly cooked hamburgers here at Base Camp.  

We are luxuriating in the fresh air and the thick air of 14,000 feet today while we prepare for organizing our gear and for the trek back out to civilization which will begin tomorrow.  

It was a very changed mountain on the way down, being as we just had a meter of fresh snow going up, and most of that has actually melted away now in the very strong desert sun here. Midsummer has definitely come to Aconcagua the mountain.  A lot of changes on the glacier; what were small very clear water streams are now huge rushing brown torrents with ice melt and snow melt that is happening.  Also much of the remaining neve penitentes that we reported on a couple of times have grown to a huge size.  There are a few that we were actually climbing between that were probably very close to 4 meters high! It's probably some of the largest neve penitentes that I have ever seen any place.

In any case it has been a glorious expedition, we're still enjoying after our snowstorm, glorious weather here in Argentina on Aconcagua and we're hoping that continues on our trek out so we can spend a couple of nights bivouacking out and star watching in this wonderful Southern Hemisphere sky.  There will be a final update when we get to Mendoza, and we'll tell you about our adventures or mis-adventures on the trip out and perhaps some kind of a party that might be instigated once we get to Mendoza.

Matt did indeed, I would like to report, sleep out at every single Camp all the way up and down the mountain, so he becomes the first person to bivouac out like that.  I'm not sure if that's a positive achievement or an achievement of (laughter) all of us thinking him nuts, but in any case he's definitely an outdoors Matt.  So that's all for now from Aconcagua Base Camp from Willi Prittie.

#49 January 28th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hello in Cyberland this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp reporting the summit success of Team .  It's Tuesday January 28th and congratulations go out to Kathy, Greg, Matt, Kevin, Pete and Jeff for reaching the highest point in the western Hemisphere.  Congratulations also to Richard for reaching his personal high point. Richard turned around somewhere in the vicinity of Independencia and this is the highest that Richard has gone as well.  So congratulations to the whole team.

Matt McDonald says "Standing on top of the tallest place outside of Asia, the magnificent views is second only the love he has for his wife. 

And John gives us our quote for the day from Johann von Goethe: "Above all the clouds there is only silence."

So congratulations to Team .  They have returned back to Camp IV where they are getting some soup and hot drinks.  They will be packing up and returning down to Camp III to spend the night at a little bit lower elevation and tomorrow they'll be packing up everything and heading for Base Camp.  So by tomorrow night we should be hearing from Team themselves.  So that's it from Ellie at Aconcagua Base Camp.

#48 January 28th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hello in cyberland it's Tuesday January 28th and this is Ellie calling in for Team.  When I talked to Willi last night, he said they successfully made their move up to Camp IV, and had some serious trail breaking along the way.  Apparently there's still some pretty deep snow from the previous storm.  He says he lost Jeff and Greg between the Penitentes but that's okay he still has plenty of other people left. (laughter)  He says it's still hot and sunny up there, with no wind.  The news is that Matt was going to bivouac up at Camp IV but Willi says he was blown off the ridge.  Now how can this be when he also reports that there was no wind up there.  We'll have to clarify this to find out what's really going on, I'll bet Matt slept out anyway. ;)

The team took off this morning, Tuesday, at about 7;00 or a little thereafter, heading for the summit.  So I'll be waiting for news from the summit team and pass along the good news when they arrive. We have very good weather today so we are expecting success.

In the meantime we have some personal messages from a few of the folks as they head for the summit:

Pete says "Hi to Cheryl, and in-laws Pat, Chris, brother Boo, Steve Fisher and family, and Mike Lawrence.  I'll see you all soon."

Kevin says "Hi to The Blue Thunder Racing Team, family and friends, I'm having a great time."

Greg sends "Love to my precious ones, I miss you so."

So that's the news from today and we'll be calling in as soon as we hear anything from the summit.  So even though the team reaches the summit and keeps on going whenever they hear me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#47 January 27th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hello out there in Cyberland, this is Ellie calling in for Team .  It's the morning of Monday January 27th and our stretch of beautiful weather continues.  Yesterday the team took a rest day up at Camp III and as an indication of how good our weather has been, we've been notified that Matt has broken the Alpine Ascents Aconcagua bivouac record by sleeping outside at every one of the camps so far.  Camp I, Camp II and now he is sleeping outside again at Camp III.  We'll see what happens at Camp IV, it's starting to get pretty cold the higher they go, so hang in there Matt, we'll see how far you go.

In the meantime, yesterday morning, Sunday, Lhakpa left Base Camp at about 8:00 to head up to Camp III to join the team since John was down here in Base Camp. Lhakpa was traveling light and also took along a bag of cold pills and antibiotics for the sniffles and sneezes going on at Camp III.  But Willi also reports that no one is feeling too bad and they're expecting that everyone will be making the summit attempt on Tuesday, as long as our good weather holds.

Today, Monday, it continues clear and warm and almost no wind.  John was feeling better today and left Base Camp at about 7:00 this morning to go on up to Camp III, but he will probably just miss the Team as they head up to Camp IV just ahead of him. If everything goes well, John plans leave early tomorrow morning to catch up with the whole team on their summit bid. So we wish him well catching up with everybody.

Well the latest news is that we have another Cupcake Award Winner.  The lastest recipient is Greg.  The story is that when the team arrived at Camp III two days ago, they spent almost an hour looking for a missing tent piece. They went through all the gear multiple times before Greg realized that he did indeed have the missing part.  So congratulations to Greg, our latest Cupcake Winner.

Meanwhile here in Base Camp after chaos for the last couple of weeks, I am enjoying my first actual day off since about January 5th!  This means getting a bath, hair wash and doing laundry.  I'll actually have a day or two to catch my breath before Team heads back to Base Camp, probably the day after tomorrow.  So stay tuned tomorrow for news of the Team's summit attempt, we'll cross our fingers for our continuing good weather.  So even though Gordon Janow threatens to cancel the Aconcagua Season for the year whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp

#46 January 26th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hi this is John Colver calling in with an update from Base Camp at just over 13,000 feet on Aconcagua. It is Sunday at approximately 5:00pm.  I spoke with Willi and the team this morning on the radio.  They are well and having a rest day at 19,200 feet and preparing to move to Camp IV tomorrow morning for a summit attempt the day after.  I want to say that we miss Kurt and send bets wishes to him.  Unfortunately Kurt needed to leave the expedition and a as result of his lung infection, and he was flown out by helicopter yesterday morning and is in Mendoza, currently, so best wishes to Kurt.

The rest of the team is strong and I'm more than a little frustrated to not be up at the 19,200 foot camp with them.  However my decision to descend was a simple one. It's near impossible to recuperate from any illness over 18,000 feet, and so a difficult decision, it was a simple one.  I wish I had two or three days instead of one to recover, and let some antibiotics work, so today I'm wrestling with the decision to attempt to climb back up to join the team for the summit bid.  It's disappointing to spend over two works moving toward the summit goal, and getting sick so close to the top, but timing is everything and I may need to let this one go.  Lhakpa is climbing up to join the team today, I have no doubt that with or without my assistance there will be a determined and committed effort to reach the top of the Americas in two days time.

And finally I will take the privilege of awarding The Cupcake Award to the entire team with the exception of Willi and myself.  During the past week, Kathy has convinced the entire team to try tea bag facials each night and in addition to this, various other creams, lotions and scents not normally found on climbing expeditions, have been circulating among the group, so what can I say, Kathy is clearly the most beautiful woman on Aconcagua and all of the men look like girls.

So keep your fingers crossed please, for the weather conditions for the next two or three days. And that is it on behalf of the majority of Team at 19,200 feet and for myself at Base Camp, out.

#45 January 25th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hello this is Ellie calling from ABC and it's Saturday January 25th.  Team led by Willi Prittie and John Colver, is still battling the fierce high altitude sun.  The heat wave continued as the team moved on up to Camp III today at 19,200 feet.  They also cached part of their gear a few hundred feet below Camp I and tomorrow they'll drop down to retrieve it as part of their rest day activities.  The team's been battling a variety of sore throats and sniffles and John was feeling bad enough at Camp III that he actually turned around and returned to Base Camp where the Base Camp doctor diagnosed him with a throat infection.  Hopefully with the help of antibiotics John will be on his feet and on his way back up the mountain in a day or two.

In the meantime Ellie assembled a care package of cold pills and throat lozenges which Lhakpa will deliver up to Camp III when he heads up to join the team tomorrow.  However the Team is generally strong and several team members are filling in for John while he recuperates at Base Camp. The planned schedule weather permitting, is still for a rest day tomorrow at Camp III, then on up to Camp IV and hopefully the summit on Tuesday, so we'll keep you posted.  So even though Team all starts sneezing whenever they hear me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#44 January 25th, 2003  Mendoza, Argentina. Team Con Gas
This is Traverse Zink and Conan Bliss calling in the final cybercast for Team Con Gas.

Team Con Gas arrived safe and sound in Mendoza in the small hours last night. The trip continued to be an adventure until the end. Over cafe con leche at the Nutibara Hotel, the team clearly recalled the final days of the trip.

The snowstorm at base camp subsided by the 23rd, leaving nearly a half meter of snow, enough to stall the mules, but not the team's enthusiasm. As the sky cleared, the park service (Parque Provincial de Aconcagua) helicopter arrived to evacuate an injured climber from another group. As they had two extra seats, two of our climbers, Hank Garrett, and Mike Anderson were fortunate enough to fly out in the helicopter.

The remainder of the group left base camp late in the day on the 23rd ahead of the pack mules. We carried our winter clothes, hiked in plastic mountaineering boots. With some cheese, pate, and crackers for appetizers we waited for the mules to arrive with our dinner and tents at Pampa Las Vegas Camp. The sun set, the mules arrived, faithfully after wallowing down the snow filled valley. The Arrieros (muleteers) worked incredibly hard.

From this camp half the remaining group woke early on the 24th to hike 22 miles out to civilization , while the other half slept in and rode saddled mules with the Arrieros and equipment. The hiking group pushed on with incredible speed. The mule group found their passage on the trail blocked by a huge mud/boulder/debris flow stemming from a steep valley. After two hours of strategizing and waiting for a decrease in the flow, the Arrieros/mules led by Dave Schwimmer, forded the torrent of mud and rock to gain the other side. From here it was an easy jaunt to the trailhead.

It's been a crazy, challenging, amazing expedition.

Team Con Gas signing out...

#43 January 24th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Hello this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team led by Willi Prittie and John Colver.  Today started with sunshine and a mild breeze which is a big relief from what is was doing a couple of days ago.  While most of the group headed up to Camp II, Willi started down with Kurt who has been battling a respiratory infection.  They were met part way down to Base Camp by Lhakpa who turned around and continued on down to Base Camp with Kurt, while Willi turned around and headed back up to Camp II.  Lhakpa will have one more rest day in Base Camp before heading up on the mountain to assist the group in their summit attempt.  Willi reports that the rest of the journey up to Camp II was Hot!  Although they had some relief from the breeze above Camp I.  In fact it was so warm and nice that the group was able to lounge around outside and three people actually forsook their tents and slept outside all night.  Willi says it's about the nicest he's ever seen it at Camp II.  

So the plan for tomorrow is to move on up to Camp III, take a rest day, then on to High Camp and hopefully the summit.  So we'll keep pour fingers crossed that this spell of good weather following the storm continues to give them a good chance for the top of the mountain.  So even though John earns the cupcake award by burning the soup whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#42 January 23rd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team .
Hello in cyberland. Today, January 23rd we have news from John Colver calling from camp I for Team . They've had a pretty dramatic turnaround from yesterday. Going from storms and high winds and snow, to sun and intense heat today.  Team  did complete their carry up to Camp II today.  Reports from the mountain have it that most teams at Camp I hesitated to head up the mountain not wanting to be the first to kick a trail up through all the snowdrift.  But Team  jumped right in and led by Willi and John, completed their carry up to the Col in about 3 hours.  That's good time folks, so it looks like the team is feeling good and moving strongly.  It was also nice enough for them to lounge around outside their tents when they got back to Camp I.  They did also give assistance to an Australian Team heading down the mountain, after being battered by the storm as they were camped higher on the mountain.  They put them up in a few tents, provided hot water and generally gave them assistance as their stragglers came in as late as 11:00 at night. So the plan for tomorrow is for the team to pack up their tents and head up the mountain to make camp up at Camp II.

Meanwhile down at Base Camp it's like a battle zone, with teams retreating off the mountain in the wake of the big storm, including our own Team Con Gas.  The base Camp doctor has been making the rounds at Base Camp treating many cases of frostbite, pulmonary ailments and a variety of other problems.  Altogether 7 people were evacuated by helicopter today. The rest of the team continued their dramatic retreat from the mountain by waiting in suspense for most of the day at Base Camp wondering if their cargo mules could plow through the deep snow as far as Base Camp. They didn't want to take off hiking without knowing if their tents and sleeping bags would catch up with them.  At 2:00 we had reliable information that they were indeed in their way. So the team set off to hike down the mountain to the Casa Piedra Camp.  The mules did indeed arrive at 3:00, but with only 1 arriero to load the mules even with the assistance of Lhakpa and Ellie.  Lhakpa shone once again, applying his previous yak loading experience to loading mules and revealing a greater understanding of Spanish than he had previously let on. As he was able to communicate very well with the arrieros about loading techniques.  Unfortunately we estimated that the mules wouldn't arrive at Casa Piedra with the tents dinner and sleeping bags until almost 9pm.  So we hope that Team Con Gas had warm clothing packed in their day packs the way they are supposed to. We are also concerned about our arriero, Omar, having to take the mules down the steep slopes of Relenchos Canyon so late in the day, with all the melting snow turning into ice as evening came. Omar is definitely not a candidate for the Cupcake Award.  So even though Vern Tejas threatens to stay in Antarctica and let the final team lead themselves whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#41 January 22nd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team 
Hello in cyberland, it's Wednesday January 22nd and we have news from Team . In all the excitement and confusion of the departure of Team Con Gas, I missed passing on Team  quote of the day from yesterday, which was, "The definition of terror is when excitement progresses beyond the possibility of recovery."  I don't think that Team  has reached the point of terror yet, because every time I talk to them they are laughing and it doesn't particularly sound like it's hysterical.  

In the meantime, the team sends greetings to everyone out there in warm comfortable dry cyberland, which is very different from what the team is enduring up at Camp I.  We've had a fairly substantial storm come through so the team cancelled any though of carrying any gear up to Camp II and spent all day Wednesday burrowed in their tents.  There was a substantial pressure drop which was indicated by a gain of over 600 feet on their altimeters while the team was stationary at Camp I.  Willi claims this was the second greatest pressure change he's ever seen on the mountain in 12 years of guiding here.  As a result we've seen a great amount of snow dump during the day today. Luckily there were only moderate winds, but Willi estimates a meter to a meter and a half of snow coming down. This presents problems higher on the route for potential avalanche hazard, but is no direct threat to the team at this point.  By the time they move up hopefully the sun will consolidate the snow and reduce the hazard.  By this evening the storm seemed to be giving up and clearing, giving us all beautiful views of the surrounding snow-covered peaks.  However at this point Willi figures the Polish Glacier climb is completely out of the question.  It would take some very dramatic changes to make it possible at this point.  So the team is back on their original schedule, just delayed by another weather day, hopefully they'll be carrying up to Camp II tomorrow.

On a final note there's been some discussion amongst the team regarding the Cupcake Award for the day.  Some team members felt the award should go to the weather since it was miserable but hadn't really done any major damage.  But those folks were outvoted by the rest of the team who decided that that was definitely not a good idea.  So the cupcake award for the day goes undesignated.

So even though Matt Lepisto turns off his computer and goes home for the day whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#40 January 22nd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Con Gas, Team 
Hello this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Wednesday January 22nd.  Things have been pretty busy around here so this will be a brief update for both climbing teams.  Yesterday, January 21st,  both teams had a brief respite from the weather, even though another huge lenticular cloud formed over the summit.  The cloud was just high enough to allow Team Con Gas to make their escape from three nights of battling storms at 20,600 feet.  It took them all day but they finally staggered into Base Camp about 7:30pm, exhausted from their ordeal.  The Base Camp doctor checked out a couple of people but everyone is okay and looking forward to heading back to Mendoza soon, although a couple of people will be riding on mules for their final descent.

In the meantime Team , completed their move to Camp I yesterday.  They also arrived tired, but managed to get their tents up before the snow started again.  And it's a good thing because it's been snowing all night and all day today.  There's at least a foot of snow here at Base Camp, not counting the drift, and more keeps coming down. And I'm sure the higher on the mountain you go, the more snow there is.

Today both teams are cozily tucked into their tents but i suspect that things are a little bit easier up there at Camp I than they are here at Base Camp.  I'm sure the Team are enjoying hot drinks, playing cards and reading books, while meanwhile here at Base Camp, Conan and Traverse are trying to make sense of their hastily packed gear from up on the mountain and are trying to get packed for their tentative departure for Mendoza tomorrow.  So that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp and even though Willi and John zip up their tent and pretend they're not there when they hear me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#39 January 21st, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Con Gas
Hello cyberland, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp where we have a report from team Con Gas for the evening of Monday January 20th.  Traverse calls in that after a second night of dubious sleep or lack thereof, due to the incessant howling of the wind at 20,600 feet, the team had rallied themselves for yet another summit attempt the morning of January 20th.  He says that hurricane force gales, halted the team near Independencia at almost 21,000 feet and they returned to Camp IV, where they climbed into their tents and sleeping bags and drank another round of hot drinks.  Despite lack of sleep and oxygen, he says their appetites seem to be only slightly abated.  Dinner for the evening was quick and easy, dehydrated instant potatoes in a personalized format, with instant corn soup, instant veggie soup, instant chicken soup, instant.phparagus soup and parmesan.  Who would have thought that instant potatoes could be so exciting?!  Traverse reports that the team has grown fond of living inside their North Face VE-25 tents, in the wind, the way a mouse likes living inside a bass drum, until the music starts.  But they have no choice but to weather the wind and snow, reading last weeks books, practicing their Spanish by reading the soup wrappers, and hoping that the storm will break tomorrow morning, possibly for another summit attempt, but most likely for a hasty retreat.

Since the evening's report (as I am calling this in on the morning of Tuesday January 21st), once again we awoke to the sight of a huge lenticular cloud glowering over the summit.  So Team Con Gas is calling it quits after three nights at Camp IV, at 20,600 feet.  They will be heading down for the well-deserved thick air and balmy temperatures at Base Camp.  And hopefully we'll be hearing from them the next time in person, probably by tonight from here at Base Camp.  So even though Team Con Gas may vote to descend the other side of the mountain, whenever they hear me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#38 January 20th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team
Greetings to all out there following the progress here on Aconcagua this season.  This is Willi Prittie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp...Yes, Base Camp.  The entire group went up with high hopes yesterday, to do our move to Camp I, unfortunately we hit kind of the same weather that Team Con Gas was battling up high on the mountain, and we were dealing with continuous 40-60mph winds, gusts in the 70-80 mph range, which made it a bit difficult and we stopped and reevaluated the last little bit, the last 500 feet or so before Camp I.  Our winds were rising at that point, generally Camp I has 20-30% higher winds blow off the east potentially in those kinds of conditions than the slopes below Camp I have.  So we decided that while that wasn't an impossibility, at the stage of our acclimation, if we stressed ourselves too much , we would probably pay for it for several days afterwards in terms of recover time.  That combined with, we have one person with a bit of an eye irritation, and somebody else with some sinus irritation largely due to dust, but we were feeling a bit under the weather, so we decided to go ahead and cache at that point and head on back to Base Camp.  

So we did that, enjoyed another night at Base Camp, that's nothing but good for our acclimatization in general. Today we have really nice weather down here, although there is a very large lenticular cloud over the summit, so we're going to go ahead on up and complete hopefully our move to Camp I today and take it from there.

I am pleased to announce that the honorary Cupcake Award goes to Kevin, for not only forgetting his pants at Base Camp when we started up yesterday, but for the very, shall we say amusing, reaction when it dawned on him that he had in fact forgotten his pants at Base Camp.  So Kevin is our winner of the Cupcake of the day award, and will be wearing the pink armband all the way up to Camp I today for that.

So we had a very hearty dinner last night, a fresh vegetable stew, strawberry cheesecake. Started out this morning with a very hearty breakfast, fresh eggs over easy, over rice and vegetables.  So we're fortified, we're acclimatized, we have good weather to start with and we're really looking forward to the day. We'll continue to give you updates on Team and hope you are all enjoying our progress as we are on the mountain.  That's all from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#37 January 20th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Con Gas, Team
Good Morning, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp and it's Monday January 20th.  Well I'm sure you're all eagerly awaiting news from Team Con Gas, Led by Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink.  Well the word for today is wind.  The team took of from Camp IV at about 8:00 to look at things, but as they were going up, an even bigger lenticular cloud than yesterday's cloud was forming on the summit.  They made it as far as Independencia, but people were being blown off their feet so they decided to call it quits and return to Camp IV.  When I talked to them at noon, they were all safe at Camp IV and hunkered down in their tents to wait out another day.  They're starting to feel the effects of time at high altitude, but they're all hoping that the storm will blow through today, so they can maybe make another attempt tomorrow.  In the meantime as they are getting battered up there, Mike Anderson send Birthday Wishes to his mom.

Meanwhile back down at Base Camp while the summit lenticular was battering Team Con Gas, high winds also struck here at Base Camp as Team led by Willi Prittie and John Colver, were packing up to move to Camp I.  While the team were getting their gear together, having breakfast and getting packed up we all witnessed at least two tents from other camps being blown away here and in other parts of Base Camp. So so far we're proud to day that the Alpine Ascents tents have remained solid, with their high wind walls and heavy rock anchors, so good work team.

But the team was on their way by about 10, 10:30 with hopes of actually being able to put up their tents upon arrival at Camp I.  We'll see what actually happens when they finally get up there.  Team is also proud to announce the first recipient of their cupcake award which goes appropriately to John Colver for his double accomplishment of burning the soup last night and almost burning down the Base Camp dining tent.  Luckily there was no actual damage so he escaped nomination for a Darwin Award. Throughout the day John will proudly wear the pink bandana armband. But John sends out a plea to his friend Donn, for fire assistance at Base Camp.  So stay tuned for further recipients of the cupcake award.  So even though the arrieros pack up their mules and head for the barn whenever they hear me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International Base Camp.

#36 January 19th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Con Gas
Morning, it's Sunday January 19th, and this is Ellie reporting for Team Con Gas, led by Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink.  Yesterday the team moved up to Camp IV, fighting head winds the entire way.  They arrived at 20,600 feet almost out of gas. And by the time they got tents set up in all that wind, they were really running on empty. Once again special mention goes to Lhakpa, with his efforts with the tents. Apparently there was a bit of excitement up there, and Conan tells me to check with Lhakpa for the entire story, so maybe we'll have more news on that front at a later time.

Meanwhile the wind dropped during the night, but this morning everyone woke to the sight of a huge lenticular cloud over the summit. Lenticular clouds are formed by high winds, so the guides first delayed the team's departure for the summit and then cancelled it altogether, as they watched the clouds coming and going over the summit.  So today, they'll spend waiting at Camp IV, and hopefully there will be better conditions for them tomorrow, we'll keep our fingers crossed and keep you posted on their progress towards the summit.  So even though Willi Prittie turns his grip around and heads back to Mendoza whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#35 January 19th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Hi this is John Colver and Willi Prittie with an update for Team IV on Sunday January 19th.  Firstly, in search of a name, we will now be known as Team or the Team formerly known as Team IV.  

Yesterday we portaged a large load of equipment and supplies to Camp I.  Everyone is going strong and we made light work of a very heavy day's climbing.  Today is a rest day, we are eating lazing and organizing at Base Camp, and also we have instituted the cupcake rating system.  Starting tomorrow and each day, a member of the team formerly know as Team IV, will be awarded Cupcake of the Day award and presented with a pink leader armband to be worn during the following day's climb.  Under this system, points will be awarded for various actions, such as complaining about the cold, breaking equipment, whining, sulking, poor navigation, kicking rocks on other team members, or sleeping in and other actions as designated by guides.

Kevin set a new PAR of 16,100 feet. The weather is perfect, we've had full sun all day, full moon all night. Some personal messages: Greg says love to Kim, Marissa, and Mom, spectacular mountain.  Jeff says hi to Sue Steve, Mike and David, miss you all. Richard says hi Claire Alex, Gail, everything is fine, hope you are well. Kathy says hi to Jed and Jesse, I love you to Infinity and Beyond! love hugs and kisses to family and all my friends.  Matt says, really missing bunches (?) Kevin says hi to Bobby, Jim Debby, Alan wish you were here having a great time.  John says hi to Claire and Aleister, see you soon love uncle John.

So that's it from Aconcagua, life is good, we might be having a bit too much hilarity, but then a gain if you're not having fun, what's the point.  So back again tomorrow, more to follow.  Adios Amigos.

#34 January 17th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team Con Gas
Hello out there is cyberland, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Con Gas led by Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink.  It's Friday January 17th and the team is having a rest day at Camp III at 19,200 feet.  And what better thing to do on a rest day than to recreate all the messages I tried to record a couple of days ago and screwed up the recorder. So here they are once again:

Hank says, "The air is getting thinner and so am I. Looking forward to a 3 dollar steak in Mendoza."

Megan says "I am here with a great bunch of guys who have traveled and climbed all over the world.  We miss all the comforts of home but we are enjoying the mountain.  I wouldn't want to be here with anyone else."

Jeff sends his "love to Ruthann, Rob Rachel, Rick and Boris.  I am experiencing good health and strength, the views are as beautiful as the conditions are challenging, I love you all."

Martin sends his "love to Erin, Adam, Karen, and Amber.  For Mom Lorena, and Stephen, all big mountains are worthwhile to climb."

Shahid says "My plastic boots are working great.  I am acclimatizing very well. LTM. At 19,200 feet I am doing well. There's great views of the Andes and I'm powering to High Camp."

Mike Anderson says "I am having a terrific time, great people to share this experience with, I love everyone at home, keep the good wishes coming, I feel them, Love Mike. This is close to the highest Kev and I have ever climbed. Things are looking good.

Kev Kev sends his "love to Beth, Danielle and Delaney.  It's a lot of work hauling a pack to above 18,000 feet but the views are spectacular."

Dave says "Hi to all including the Scoobys.  You're my all time high at 19,200 feet."

Traverse says to Ann "So many things here remind me of when we first met.  I love you and I'm counting the days until we get married.  Also thanks for the little red book, I take it everywhere."

Conan sends his love to Jen and Tiger, and hopes school is going well.

The team is strong and in good spirits, the plan is to move up to Camp IV tomorrow and hopefully, on to the summit on Sunday.  So, even though Conan picks up his ice axe and heads for the hills whenever he hears me say it, This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International Aconcagua Base Camp.

#33 January 17th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team IV
Greetings to everyone out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp.  It is my pleasure to introduce Team IV on Aconcagua this year.  Team IV consists of Kevin Bailey, Greg Jacobus, Kurt Gusinde, Jeff Dossett, Kathy Jackoway, Pete Donavan, Matt McDonald, and Richard Roche.  In addition both Greg and Matt and myself hopefully, weather, conditions and mountain gods willing, will be looking at the Polish Direct Route and assessing the possibilities of climbing that this go around.  

We're having great fun so far, this is the fourth day of being together here, three days of trekking in and our rest and acclimation day here at Base Camp on the mountain. This group in terms of their level of preparation, (and by that I mean all types of preparation, the previous experience they've had (because this is not a mountain for beginners), the mental preparation, the physical preparation, the preparation of gear, this is probably by far the most prepared group I've ever had here on an Aconcagua expedition.  So we're all really excited to be here at Base Camp, and looking forward to the challenges of the mountain.

We had a great trek in, although a bit unusual.  We had the contradictions of having both a dust storm at Pampa de Lena on the first night of the trek in, and also at that same location, we had some rain showers come through, so if that's not a contradiction in weather, I'm not exactly sure what is.  At any rate, we did for the most part have good weather, and even on the second night of the trek up, most expedition members chose to sleep out under the stars where we got some wonderful star watching in the Southern Hemisphere sky, which is very different and unusual compared to our Northern Hemisphere sky.

Everybody was very strong getting to Base Camp, as I am speaking it is mid-afternoon here on Aconcagua, everybody is out taking walks and enjoying a nice sunny, but lightly breezy day here at Base Camp, and everybody's gear is pretty much prepared sorted and ready to go and we're looking forward to doing our first carry up to Camp I tomorrow.  We're hoping that the weather actually continues like it's been for the last two days, it seems to have gone back to the blue sky conditions that we enjoyed for the first two expeditions on Aconcagua. So that's all on this beautiful sunny day at Base Camp here on Aconcagua, and we'll be keeping you posted as we advance up the mountain and come to terms with this great challenge.

#32 January 16th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
Hello there is cyberworld, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Con Gas, led by Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink.  It's Thursday January 16th and Conan was calling in from Camp III at 19,200 feet.  Conan reports that oxygen ,or lack thereof, was the theme for today. The team carried full packs up to 19,200 feet for the first time today in a single carry.  Their lungs begged for oxygen, the mountain gods offered up winds and gusts up to 50mph, knocking everyone off balance.  They continually asked themselves how so much wind could contain so little oxygen.  

When they arrived at Camp III, they battled the wind to set up tents, and settled in for a 2-hour nap.  Once again., Lhakpa was stellar, as the star force helping them set up the tents.  Team Con Gas is doing well after a nap, and is gorging on veggie pasta soup for sinner.  Tomorrow they look forward to a complete rest day and perhaps a hike out along the turn of the Polish Glacier.  So even though Traverse Zink spills the soup at high camp whenever he hears me say it, "This is Ellie Henke signing off for Alpine Ascents International, Aconcagua Base Camp.

#31 January 16th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
Good morning this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Con Gas, led by  Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink. It's the morning of Thursday January 16th and yesterday the team moved up to Camp II at Boureasa Col in near perfect weather conditions.  When I talked to them last night, Conan reports that everyone was lounging around outside the tent and just enjoying the sunshine.  However it seems that the wind did come up over night and when I talked to them this morning they reported that they had a fairly unrestful night what with the winds buffeting the tents all night. So hopefully that won't keep up too long for them.  However this morning I do see wind blowing snow off Amagino, the neighboring mountain, so it looks like they might have a little continuing wind today.

But despite the wind they were getting packed up this morning and preparing to move up the mountain to Camp III at 19,200 feet.  At leas the sun is shining and it looks like they should have a good day of it.  Last night they also gave me a list of personal messages from the folks, unfortunately my tape recorder to get it all down was recording at the wrong speed and this morning I can't understand a word they're saying.  Tomorrow they are going to have a rest day at Camp III, and hopefully I will be able to get them to repeat the messages for everybody and get them sent out.

Meanwhile here at Base Camp, we're expecting the arrival of Team IV led by Willi Prittie and John Colver. It should be coming in this afternoon and I'm watching for their mules to arrive at any time. So that's the news from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#30 January 14th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
Good evening this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Con Gas, led by Traverse Zink and Conan Bliss.  It's Tuesday January 14th and Traverse reports that this was the most beautiful morning yet at Camp I, at 16,200 feet.  He said the team awoke to a dusting of new snow and spectacular clear blue skies.  After a hot breakfast to warm the team up in the chill morning air, the team carried food and fuel up to Camp II at 17,600 feet.  Traverse says that the entire carry took about 4 hours so this was definitely an easier day than the previous trips between base camp and Camp I.  So I'm sure everybody was relieved at that.  He said that everyone was feeling the thin air a bit but that it was a great day to be moving up on the mountain.  Traverse also reports that the team had great photo opportunities from Camp II, and says they took many shots of he mountains out to the north, especially Mercedario, which is the next large mountain out to the north, it sounds like it was pretty spectacular out there.

Following the photos, the team blasted down the scree slope and arrived back at Camp I, just in time for a snow squall to send them all scurrying into their tents.  20 minutes later the sun was shining again, and Traverse describes the scene as heads poking out of the tents like little prairie dogs out of their holes.  Sounds like the dinner menu for tonight is shrimp fried rice, pudding for dessert and live entertainment featuring juggling by the dynamic duo of Conan and Traverse.  Rumor has it they are practicing up for a summit juggling attempt, we'll keep you posted on how that goes.  

Weather allowing the team plans to move up to sleep at Camp II tomorrow, so we'll keep our fingers crossed for good conditions.  So that's it for today from Aconcagua Base Camp and we'll keep you posted on how Team Con Gas is doing as they move up  the mountain.

#29 January 13th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
Hello out there in cyberland. This is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Team Con Gas, led by Conan Bliss and Traverse Zink.  It's Monday January 13th, and the team has had a successful move today up to Camp I.  Conan reports that everybody was strong and that they arrived at Camp about an hour and a half faster than they did on their previous carry up to Camp I. So it sounds like everybody is doing well.

Conan reports that they moved in in what he calls "grappel weather", which means snow.  Grappel is the name for pellets of snow that are formed by being blown around by updrafts and that's exactly what we had, thunderclouds, only with snow instead of rain and we had the thunder and lightning along with it.  Here at Base Camp, we were awed by the beauty of veils of snow cascading down the cliff on Amagino, just like waterfalls. It was a beautiful sight.  But our desert landscape has definitely now turned to winter rather than summer.

Conan reports that the team snuggled into their tents which had previously been set up during their carry to Camp I two days ago and the team enjoyed a nice soup and pasta dinner, which they ended up sharing with a team of ski patrollers from Oregon; climbing a mountain can be a very social event.

So the team is hunkered down in their tents for the evening; special for our cybercast, imagine Traverse is in the background making wind sounds for all you folks out there in cyberland. The plan for tomorrow is to carry another 1,500 feet up the mountain to Camp II where the team will leave a cache of gear and food for the upper mountain and then return to Camp I to sleep.  So that's all from Team Con Gas for today and be sure to tune in tomorrow when they'll be calling in again.

#28 January 12th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
This is Team Con Gas reporting January 12th.  Many smiling faces here at Base Camp this morning.  Traverse and Conan brewed espresso, while Ellie and Lhakpa fried potatoes for Team Con Gas.  Yesterday was a big day.  We climbed though the endless Penitentes to Camp I and dropped off a load of food and fuel before returning to Base Camp.  What is a Penitente you ask?  Imagine a stalagmite of ice up to eight feet in height.  Jeff described the day as climbing a thousand picket fences.  Hank felt like he was walking through gigantic upside down icicles. David said you can't climb enough stair s to be ready for this, but it was amazing.  Mike and Marty cussed their way up.  Megan said "Penitentes, Schmenitentes". Group consensus: it was a hard day and we're all psyched to be resting here at Base Camp before moving up tomorrow. Signing off.

#27 January 10th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
Hi this is Conan Bliss calling from Base Camp.  After a restful day today the group looks forward to a carry to Camp I tomorrow.  We're all thinking of our friends and family so this is a message of love.

Traverse sends his love to Ann, and says he saw a cloud resembling a tulip today.

Megan says hi to the Clorox Tax department Hi to family and friends, 'appletinis' in February!

Art sends love to  Nancy and a pat to Momoko.

Mike sends love to Holly and family and hopes that the cats and dogs are behaving.

Kev Kev sends love to Beth, Dannielle, and Deleany (?), Please put chemicals in the hot tub, I'm going to need it.

Dave sends love to Isolda and family.

Jeff would like to send his love to his fiancée Ruth Ann, and also to Rob, Rich, Rick and Morris.

Conan sends his love to Jen, and a pat to Taiga.

Shahid sends warm greetings to family and friends, no monkeys here.

Hank misses his dog and eagerly anticipates climbing the Canaleta.

Marty want to pass along a big hello to everyone at Grower's and his love to Mom Jill and Deb. I've never seemed so small but in the shadow of this giant.

We'll talk to you tomorrow.

#26 January 10th, 2003  Mendoza, Argentina. Team II
This is Forrest McCarthy with a final report from Team ¡Viva el Sueño!, happily back in the heat of Mendoza. This morning while enjoying cafe con leches next to the pool after a fine night's rest in beds with pillows, I observed the wind and sunchapped faces of our team and sensed the relief, satisfaction, and accomplishment that only mountaineering can provide. Often while on the mountain in an effort to to ease the worry of our friends and family, we report only the highlights of our days, diminishing the hardships and suffering inherent to high altitude mountaineering and occasionally downplayed the consistent high winds, the sub-zero temperatures, the grueling work to progress to higher camps, and most importantly, the separation from our dearest friends and loved ones (especially during the holidays). These are the sacrifices we make to pursue the often unexplainable rewards of mountain climbing. Without the strength, endurance, determination, and teamwork of the members of Team ¡Viva el Sueño! our success would not have been possible. Attempting Aconcagua is often falsely interpreted as a less challenging climb due to its lack of technical maneuvers, however Aconcagua's stature as the second highest of the mighty Seven Summits and the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia warrants great respect. It is extremely remote with a considerable approach, persistent howling winds, an absence of porter support, and a nearly 14,000 foot elevation gate from the initial trailhead to summit. It is a burly montana. Of course, if it was easy then it would not have been nearly as rewarding. As Matt has oft-been quoted throughout our journey, "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there!" 

I would just like to acknowledge all the sacrifices and grand efforts made by all of our team members to successfully make it to our half way and high point, the summit, and to endure hot sun, more wind and sore toes in order to complete our adventure and return poolside to our hotel in Mendoza. And now, a few final messages from our team members before they depart from Mendoza: Guy is looking forward to his South American reunion with Amy in just a couple of days. Mike would like to thank his kids Shawn, Andy, and Ryan...Ria and his mom for their help and support to make this trip possible. Matt says, "I'm very excited about seeing my best friends, "the Three Musketeers (Scott, Sophie and Adam). I would especially like to wish a very happy birthday from the top of the world to Scott. This was for you. Thanks for your support." Amy sends a big Happy 1st Anniversary wish to Anya and Tyson. She's resistant to leave the austral summer but looks forward to her reunion with the Wisterman.

Thanks for sharing in our dreams and realities throughout this adventure. May you all Viva El Sueno! Thanks


#25 January 10th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team III
This is Traverse Zink and Conan Bliss calling in our cybercast for the 10th of January.  After three full days of hiking we've arrived here at Plaza Argentine, which is Base Camp for Aconcagua. French Toast, coffee and orange juice started out our day.  Team Con Gas, is in good spirits and looking forward to a day of relaxation here at 13,800 feet.  

Our first day of hiking from Penitentes to Pampa de Lena, we used a roll of duct tape on Sahid's shoes, the sole fell off within the first three miles of hiking, but he still has sole.  The next day we continued up the Vacas Valley to Pampa las Vegas.  We practiced setting up our tents in the wind, and were in awe at the spectacular view of the east face of Aconcagua rising 12,000 feet above us.  The last day of hiking into Base Camp started with a cold river crossing of the Vacas River and we hiked up the steep side of the Relenchos Valley to Base Camp. We would like to thank Ellie and Lhakpa who greeted us at Base Camp, they welcomed us with snacks, hot drinks, and a warm Base Camp kitchen. We're all psyched about our new home here at Base Camp, the views are spectacular in all directions and it's a great international community.  Good bye.

#24 January 7th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello everyone out there in cyberland, this is Eric Remza with Alpine Ascents and Team ¡Viva el Sueño!.  We're down at Base Camp, yes we had a beautiful day on the summit of Aconcagua two days ago.  It was excellent.  We started off with some winds, and then once we got to the Canaleta, which is the main couloir leading up to the summit ridge, the Guanaco Ridge, to the sumit, the winds did die down and once we got to the summit which was beautiful, we spent about 45 minutes at the summit just enjoying the views.

It was a very long day hiking down., We did spend the night after the summit at 20,600 feet and upon the following day we did make our journey down to Base Camp. Everyone is doing great, breathing the thicker air down here at 13,800 feet and just enjoying the fine food and warm smiles of Ellie here at Base Camp. 

A few quotes from people:  Guy wishes Amy Happy Birthday. Mike wishes everyone, his friends and loved ones back home, that he's looking forward to seeing them soon. And then Matt his quote to all his friends is "The man at the top of the mountain didn't fall there." SO there you have it, everyone is doing well and looking forward to talking to you soon, this is Team ¡Viva el Sueño! out, take care.

#23 January 6th, 2003  Mendoza, Argentina. Team I
Greetings, this is Willi Prittie one more time with the expedition wrap up for Team I on Aconcagua.  We all had a really great time coming out like Argentineans, riding mules.  There were a few minor spills and thrills and some close calls on the very steep slopes coming down and no one had any problems other than some minor backside soreness.  Nothing like riding on a mule for a couple of days when you're not used to it, to find some muscles that you didn't know existed.  Anyway we all had a really good time and beautiful weather coming out.  We've enjoyed some very very nice dinners at some nice restaurants here in Mendoza, to wrap up what I believe all of us feel has been an absolute perfect expedition for everybody. So we're all psyched and in the next day or two we'll all be going our separate ways and the first Aconcagua of this season will be nothing more than a fond memory and some writing on the cybercast page. 

So we hope you've enjoyed this coverage and family and friends that have been following this, I hope it's proved enjoyable and useful to everyone and in subsequent expeditions we will be of course continuing the cybercast coverage on AlpineAscents.com.  Ciao for now.

#22 January 6th, 2003  Penitentes, Argentina. Team III
This is Traverse Zink and Conan Bliss calling in from Penitentes  with Alpine Ascents International's Aconcagua Expedition 3. Our group includes Marty Johnson, Megan Delehanty, Robert Dawson,  Shahid Ahmed, Jeff Stowell, Art Daar, Mike Anderson, David  Schwimmer, and Hank Garrett.   

Today we went for an acclimatization hike in the nearby mountains up to 9,600 feet the group is strong and ready to head out first thing in the morning.  Extensive care was taken in the  preparation of 637 kilos of food, fuel and fun, packaged in barrels, to be carried in to basecamp by mules.   For the next three days we will be hiking up the Vacas Valley in to Plaza Argentine (13,800) where we will set up basecamp.  During the hike in there will be no cybercasts from our group,  but tune in for our cybercast on January 10th. We will be all be thinking of our loved ones during the hike in! Ciao!

#21 January 5th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hello cybercasters, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's January 5th, a day that Team ¡Viva el Sueño! is going to remember for a long time.  The team started out from Camp IV this morning at about 7:30am to beautiful blue skies, reasonable temperatures, and get this: very low wind.  Didn't even count as wind, call it breeze.  And the excellent conditions continued throughout the day.  They had a wonderful climb with excellent crampon conditions all the way up the Canaleta.  I received a call at about 3:30 local time from Forrest, that everybody, yes 100% of Team ¡Viva el Sueño! was standing on the top of Aconcagua.  So big congratulations go out to Mike, Matt, Guy and Amy for this incredible accomplishment.  And also to their guides, Eric Remza, Forrest McCarthy and Lhakpa Rita Sherpa for molding such a successful team.

I've also just talked to Forrest again it's about 6:00 local time and everybody is safe back down in Camp IV, and I've already been asked whether the beer tomorrow will be cold.  And I've assured them that I will put it on ice before they arrive.  So I'll be preparing the feast tomorrow for the Team ¡Viva el Sueño!, when they return back to Base Camp tomorrow and they can give you their own cybercast report in their own words of how things went.  So that's it until tomorrow, this is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#20 January 4th, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp and Team ¡Viva el Sueño is now at Camp IV, high Camp.  They've been battling 30mph winds and higher gusts ever since they left Base Camp.  But today Forrest reports that the winds finally settled down and gave them very good climbing conditions.  Everybody did an excellent job getting up to Camp IV, and they're now settled in and waiting for tomorrow when they head to the top.

Camp IV has incredible views, Forrest describes it as "An ocean of peaks laid out before them."  So if the weather cooperates, tomorrow is summit day.  The team will be starting somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning, late enough to miss the coldest temperatures of nighttime but early enough to get in a full day of climbing.  So stay tuned as Team ¡Viva el Sueño heads for the top tomorrow.

#19 January 3rd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hello this is Ellie at Aconcagua Base Camp calling in for Team ¡Viva el Sueño.  Today is Friday January 3rd, and today finds the team up at Camp III at 19,200 feet.  Today was a rest day so everyone spent the day relaxing, eating and hydrating; drinking lots of liquids.  Eric says that everyone is doing great and that their big adventure for the day was a hike over to "The Edge of the World."

The Edge of the World is an impressive cliff right next to the end of the Polish Glacier, and it's a place where you can literally look down thousands of feet and also see a great distance down the Relenchos Valley.  Eric says thankfully the gusts of wind actually dies down for a while and the team was able to get a pretty good view looking out over the edge., This is not something you want to do when the wind is blowing too strong, it can be a little bit of a scary place.

The plan for tomorrow is for the team to get a leisurely start and head up to Camp IV, High Camp, where they'll hopefully only spend one night before heading for the summit on Sunday.  All of this of course depends on the weather, we're hoping it cooperates, but right now things look really good.  We've had our usual wind, but the only cloud cover we've had is occasionally fair-weather cumulous.  So we're crossing our finger that the good weather continues and the wind doesn't pick up any more than it has.

Special messages, one from Matt: he says hello to his parents and thanks them for always being there for him in his adventure travel. And picking up one that we missed two days ago from technical difficulties, Mike says Happy New Year to Ria. And that's it from Aconcagua Base Camp, we'll be following the team as they get closer and closer to the summit. Stay tuned tomorrow.

#18 January 2nd, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I & Team II
Greetings, this is January 2nd and this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Group I, led by Willi Prittie and John Colver.  And what a spectacle it was, picture this: 6 cargo mules, 8 saddle mules, 4 arrieros, all milling about base camp together, what a sight.  Yes the team did manage to get off all on mule backs, and they were also joined by two people from a French team going down as well.  Hence the 8 mules rather than just 6.  So they took off between about noon and 1:00 today, it took a while to get everything sorted out.  One of them I believe was riding the same horse that Randy Kardoes went out on a couple of weeks ago and Randy you'll want to know that it was just as reluctant to move this time as it was last time.  So they're off and running.  Kevin was hoping to be riding Secretariat but I told him Kevin I don't think you can handle Secretariat."  So I'm sure that we'll have plenty of stories from the team once they reach Mendoza and are able to call again.  

In the meantime Lhakpa took off at about 7:00 this morning to go all the way from Base Camp after one rest day yesterday after the summit.  And he will be going back up to join Team ¡Viva el Sueño! who today are moving up from Camp II to Camp III at 19,200 feet.  They had a wonderful carry up yesterday, we've had very good sunshine conditions, as usual they had a little bit of wind, but thanks to Lhakpa's huge rock wall at Camp II, they were able to set their tents up behind that and had a very good evening.  So we're expecting to be hearing from them later on this evening from the lofty heights of Camp II.  That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#17 January 1st, 2003  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Greetings to everyone out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting for the first team on Aconcagua, yet again.  We are reporting from Base Camp where we are enjoying, yes, the warm thick oxygen of 14,000 feet after our summit.  Yesterday, the 31st, the last day of 2002, we descended down to base camp, it is a very long descent, 8,000 some odd feet to come down.  We were a bit footsore but very happy to be down in the thick oxygen where we could relax and have a rest day here today.  

Actually the highpoint of yesterday coming down was our transiting of the Neve Penitentes, the pinnacles in the snow, which this year because of the heavier than normal snow levels and the elevation from Base Camp to just above Camp I are growing larger than normal.  And it is quite a surreal experience to be in these forests of snow pinnacles, oftentimes two meters high, winding your way down between them. So that was a very good highpoint for us. Also a couple of quick reports in terms of conditions on the summit. We experienced perfect cramponing conditions on the traverse to get to the base of the Canaleta, the final gully on the summit of Aconcagua.  And the Canaleta itself was also perfect cramponing conditions.  

These conditions have also led however to the entire Polish Glacier to being extremely icy at this point. We have cancelled our climb of the Polish Glacier, on this the first expedition.  We see what the weather has in store for future trips here, but at this point both the Polish Direct Route and the Polish Glacier Climb, two very separate and distinct climbs are extremely icy and have only been climbed by one person that I am aware of at this point and he is a very talented ice climber, and his comments were he wanted ice climbing tools and monopoints all the way up because everything was a sheet of water ice from top to bottom.  That makes for much more demanding and dangerous climbing, and for that and other reasons we decided to forestall our attempt.

So we hope everyone out there had enjoyed following along all the family and friends here of Team I.  We will actually do a final report from Mendoza, what our plan is ,is to have the entire team as a whole, riding mules back to the International Highway for two days to get back to Mendoza.  So this will be a new experience for several folks and we will keep you updated on how sore our butts are after two days on mules.  So that's all for now from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#16 December 31st, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Greetings from Aconcagua Base Camp. It's December 31st and Forrest McCarthy says Happy New Year to everyone in cyberland from Team ¡Viva el Sueño!  The team is thoroughly ensconced in Camp I tonight at 16,100 feet.  Today the Team carried up to Camp III at Boureasa Col, at 17,500 feet.  Boureasa Col is a little bit above the saddle between Amagino and Aconcagua.  It was a beautiful day, Forrest reports that the perpetual winds died down although it was still blowing a bit up at the Col itself.  Everyone was super strong and just cruised through the carry.  Now they are all back at camp and arguing which tent gets the deck of cards.  The plan for tomorrow is to make a move up to Camp II, so we hope our good weather holds for these folks.

From the team, Matt say Hi to his girlfriend Joanna, and Team ¡Viva el Sueño! wishes everybody a happy new year.  And happy new year from Base Camp as well.  We'll be reporting back again on the new year tomorrow.

#15 December 30th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hello this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua, reporting for Team ¡Viva el Sueño!  It's Monday December 30th and this team has just completed their move up to Camp I today.  So they are on their way out of Base Camp and on their way up the mountain.  Forrest reports that they had perfect conditions moving on up unlike the last several days when we've had high winds, wind seems to be the name of the game around here anyway.  But this team's day started with a thorough clean up of Base Camp to leave everything clean and ready for the return of Team I tomorrow.  Forrest reports that everyone was super strong and the team arrived at Camp I about 3:00 pm, almost three hours faster than their previous carry up to Camp I.  They were able to get their third tent set up before the afternoon winds hit again.  But they're hunkered in and have just finished a good dinner.  Spirits are high and they are looking forward to moving up high on the mountain.  The plan is to do a carry up to Camp II tomorrow, returning afterwards to Camp I to sleep.  This is typical of the principle of climb high sleep low.  This will be their second night at Camp I and hopefully the following day they'll be able to move on up and sleep at Camp II.  So we'll be watching them as their climb continues and waiting for reports from Forrest and Eric as they move up the mountain. That's it from Aconcagua.

#14 December 30th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello out there in cybercast land. Today is Monday December 30th, and this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp.  Today is also summit day for group I led by Willi Prittie and John Colver.  This has been a fairly ironic day.  After this team has been hammered by high winds for the last week, today we had a turn around.  Today Base Camp got all the wind while high on the mountain, there was no wind at all.  When Willi called from the summit, he said "What wind? We're getting 2mph at the most."  Such Luck.

After trying to sleep through a night of wind gusts, the original plan was to leave high camp this morning at about 8am.  Towards dawn things calmed down though, so the departure time was moved up to 7:30am.  The reports of perfect crampon conditions up the Canaleta proved true and the first group arrived on the summit at about 1:30 this afternoon.  The rest of the team arrived later throughout the afternoon.  

Special congratulations go out to Kevin Devries and also to Lionel and Theresa Lavenue for making the summit on this, their second attempt on Aconcagua.  So we're real proud of the whole team.  And a special mention must go to John Colver, because this was his first time up Aconcagua, after guiding on many other mountains, so may there be many more summits for him.

At the time of this report everyone is safe back in Camp IV, where I'm sure they're all going to get a good night's sleep and sleep in tomorrow morning before returning all the way down to Base Camp tomorrow.  And I will make sure there is a feast waiting here upon their arrival.   So congratulations to the entire team and we look forward to seeing them here in Base Camp tomorrow evening.  That's it from Aconcagua Base Camp.

#13 December 29th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello everyone out there in Cybercast Land.  This is Ellie reporting in from Aconcagua Base Camp.  And the news for today, Sunday December 29th, is that Team I, led by Willi Prittie and John Colver are at Camp IV, yes that is High Camp at 20,600 feet.  Willi feels like they've paid their penance from all the days and days and days of wind, it seems like it's been going on for at least the last week.  But tonight is absolutely gorgeous.  Willi says you couldn't ask for better, there's almost no wind, it's warm in the sun, and they have unlimited views over the rooftop of the Andes, with views of snow topped peaks and glaciers.  Everyone is feeling well, everyone climbed well today, and everyone is psyched for the summit.  Willi says, "what more can I say? tomorrow's the day."  We all hope the weather gods cooperate for them and we'll be reporting in tomorrow as Group I heads for the summit.

#12 December 29th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hey everyone out there in cyberland this is Eric Remza with Team ¡Viva el Sueño! and Alpine Ascents International.  We're calling from our fourth and final evening from Base Camp at 13,800 feet on Aconcagua.  Yesterday we carried all of our food and gear needed for up high on the mountain to Camp I at 16,100 feet.  The total elevation gain was about 2,300 feet and our round trip time was about 11 hours.  What made our ascent a tad longer than usual was a result of the increased snowfall these mountains received during their winter, therefore there was a fair amount of Penitentes, a phenomenon that happens when the wind sculpts the snow into towering ice pinnacles, therefore traveling through these can be pretty time consuming.  So we were all able to set up two tents at Camp I and with the precision teamwork of this group the task went smoothly, especially when you're dealing with 30-40 mph winds and the altitude.  

Special thanks to Ellie, our Base Camp Manager.  Upon arrival back at camp, she greeted us with some warm food and warm smiles.  Today was a rest day and we just relaxed an have been eating food all day and just allowing our bodies to recoup from yesterday's hard ascent.  So everyone is doing great and we're looking forward to our move tomorrow up to Camp I.    Some special quotes from the team: Amy says "Happy Birthday" to her dad.  From Guy, here's a quote from him: "Hi, Amy, I miss you and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon ion Argentina.  Hi Dad, and any other friends and family tuning in.  I'm doing well and had a very tough day yesterday with the carry to Camp I, but supposedly it was one of the toughest days besides summit day, so I'll keep you posted."  Alright that's it, take care. bye bye.

#11 December 28th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Good morning this is Ellie Henke calling in for Group I, led by Willi Prittie and John Colver, it's Saturday December 28th.  Willi has called in from Camp III, where they've had a rest day there at 19,200 feet.  They also did a short back carry today, going back down the mountain a short distance to pick up gear that they had cached the day before between Camps II and III, so now they have everything that they need with them up at Camp III.  Willi says that everybody is feeling strong and good and excited to be hading towards the summit.  Willi also reports that they started the day with a breakfast of bacon and eggs, and will finish up tonight with a dinner of Polish Stew, followed by a chocolate silk pie dessert!?  Sounds good to me.  Bu that should get them fueled up for the push up to Camp IV tomorrow.  

They also have a special message from Kevin to Jody.  He says "Happy Anniversary, you take my breath away, I love you."  

That's pretty amazing that he's here on his anniversary, some other people we know would be in pretty deep doo doo for that, wouldn't they?  So we wish the group well heading up to Camp IV tomorrow, and we'll be reporting as we head for the summit.  That's all from Aconcagua, we'll report again later.

#10 December 28th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Good morning, this is Forrest McCarthy calling in for Team ¡Viva el Sueño! We had a great rest day here at Base Camp at 13,800 feet.  Everybody's doing really well and really strong.  We're packing up this morning to do our first carry to Camp I at 16,100 feet.  We'll be crossing the lower part of the glacier here across the moraine and then a little steep section where our first camp will be.  We'll be carrying up some loads of food and fuel today and then returning back to Base Camp for another rest day tomorrow.  Everybody's doing really great and just looking forward to getting out and stretching our legs and starting to move up the mountain.  That's all for Team ¡Viva el Sueño!

#9 December 27th, 2002  Aconcagua Camp III, Argentina. Team I
Morning, this is Ellie Henke calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp where we've heard from group I led by Willi Prittie & John Colver.  This is Friday December 27th and John is calling in from Camp III at 19,200 feet or 5770 meters (At least that's what John says, we'll trust his calculations.)  Either way, John says the air is getting thin.  As they climbed today, John said the views just kept getting better and better.  He described seeing peak after peak to the North, with Chile on the left and Argentina on the right.  He said "Aconcagua is a world of contrasts, and is always spectacular, with all colors, grays, browns  reds, the white snows, blue skies, everything is stunningly beautiful up there.  He says the weather has been a bit breezy, we've had some breeze here at base camp as well, and I'm sure its; stronger up there.  And he says it's been quite cold.  At this point the team will take a rest day tomorrow and also retrieve the cache of gear that they left at about 700 feet below Camp III.  And then it's on to Camp IV, and hopefully to summit possibly by Monday.  So we're keeping our fingers crossed that the winds don't get too strong and our week of good weather here continues long enough to give them a good chance for the summit.  We'll hear from them tomorrow on their rest day at Camp IV. This is Ellie signing off from Base Camp.

#8 December 27th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team II
Hello everyone out there in cyberland, this is Eric Remza and Forrest McCarthy of Alpine Ascents and Team ¡Viva el Sueño!.  Calling from 13,800 feet at Aconcagua Base Camp. Well our last three days we did our 30 mile trek up the Vacas and Relenchos Valleys, all three days were beautiful with great weather, lots of sun and mild wind.  We also saw little traffic on the trail other than an Italian group and a private group of 4 from Seattle, WA.  

This will be our Base Camp for the next four nights. Today Friday the 27th of December is a well deserved rest day.  We are planning on spending the day relaxing, eating, drinking, and allowing our bodies to acclimatize to the higher elevations.  We will also organize our gear to be moved to Camp I on our carry tomorrow.  The whole group is doing excellent, Mike, Matt and Guy are all eating like mules.  Mike would like to say hello to his children, Sean, Andy and Ryan, and hopes they are behaving and not causing their grandparents any grief.  Great weather today, and that is all from Team el Sueño, we look forward to talking to you tomorrow.

#7 December 26th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Good morning, this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua Base Camp for Thursday December 26th.  We've heard from Willi and John calling in from Camp II at 17,600 feet.  Willi reports that they had a beautiful day moving up to Camp II, but it was a bit challenging as well.  Willi reports that they encountered winds of 20-50mph, with a few gusts that he guesses were up towards 70 mph. so they had their hands full going up to Camp II today.  But they finally arrived and I'll let you know that Camp II is beautiful.  The scenery changes up there and the folks are able to look out toward the north and see the entire chain of the Andes heading out to the north, its definitely a reward for all of their work getting up there.  And congratulations are due to this group for getting their camp set up in record time in these very difficult and windy conditions.  Willi says their teamwork is awesome, they got three tents put up and anchored in less than an hour.  Anchoring these tents is the big part, to hold them down with the high winds we put heavy rock on each one of the cords. so this is a big job and congratulations are definitely in order for these folks.  However after they got the tents set up, they loaded up their packs again and carried up some additional food and supplies from Camp II at 17,600 feet up to 18,500 feet and made a cache there, so when they move up to Camp III tomorrow they'll be able to pick up their gear and supplies or else come back and pick them out at a later time, so it definitely helps them ion their move on up the mountain.

So everyone is feeling strong, the plan is that the team will go ahead and move up to Camp III tomorrow, the 27th and hopefully everyone will remain strong and feeling good.  And at this point they are excited to be moving up the mountain.  That's it for December 26th on Aconcagua.

#6 December 26th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi this is Ellie calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, it's December 26th, Thursday, and I know I am not supposed to do this, but I am going to try to play a recorded message from Willi up at Camp I for Christmas, it came through so well we'll try it:

"Hello all you cyber folks out there, big greetings again on Christmas Day, so another Happy Christmas from 16,100 feet t Camp I on Aconcagua.  IN the background you hear the pressure cooker merrily cooking away, we have our Cajun rice and beans on the menu for tonight, just about ready to go to feed a big bevy of hungry climbers up here.  We all had a Christmas present today and that was beautiful weather.  Things have finally gotten really nice here on Aconcagua, we had a perfect blue sky, we've got a cloud layer building today, moderate winds a great carry to Camp II, everyone is in great spirits, what more and better for Christmas can one possibly ask for.  So this is Camp I on Aconcagua, so long for now."

#5 December 24th, 2002  Mendoza, Argentina. Team II
Hola. This is Forrest McCarthy broadcasting from Mendoza, along with Eric  Remza. We would like to introduce team '¡Viva el Sueño!' (Live the Dream!),  which is precisely what we are preparing to do as we head to Penitentes to  begin our journey up the great White Sentinel known as Aconcagua.  The 'Dream Team' includes Matt Turnbull and Mike Kraft, our European  contingent and Guy Downing who joins us after a many international travels,  but calls Arizona home. Amy Brennan is enthusiastic about this Aconcagua  adventure, but wishes her main backcountry companion, a marvelous mutt by the  name of Mr. Wister, was part of this fantastic team who will be spending  Christmas and New Year's together.   Everyone is geared up and excited about departing Mendoza and heading for  the hills (although they will miss the $3.00 filet mignons). All send love  to their families and friends this holiday season. With additional birthday  wishes to Eric's mom and Matt's dad.   ¡Feliz Navidad! We are so glad to have you follow us on this journey. Stay  tuned. Our next cybercast will be from base camp in just a few days. Merry  Christmas!

#4 December 24th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hi, this is Ellie Henke, calling from Aconcagua Base Camp, It's December 24th, which means it's Christmas Eve.  Here at Base Camp music is starting to play and the party is about to start. It's traditional here in Argentina to stay up until midnight to welcome in Christmas and this is usually accompanied by fireworks.  I hope this year we are not hit by exploding gas canisters like we have been in previous years.  Up on the mountain, Group I led by Willi Prittie and John Colver, moved up to Camp I today, this was after saying goodbye to Randy and Tyler Kardoes.  Tyler has decided that high altitude climbing is not for him.  So the two of them went out with another adventure, riding mules back down to Punta de Vacas. And they'll be spending the rest of their vacation, having other adventures, either here in Argentina or at home, they haven't decided yet.  Also going down on Thursday will be Courtney Klaich, her dad Nick left by helicopter the other day, so Courtney has decided that since they planned to have a vacation together, and that she would like to spend it with her Dad rather than here on the mountain, so she will probably return at a later date.

So joining Willi and John going to Camp I are Lionel and Theresa, Kevin and Stuart.  John says Happy Christmas to everyone from up at Camp I, I talked to him on the radio.  They are spending the night at just over 16,000 feet.  John reports that they've had a fairly arduous three days moving all their tents and supplies and gear up to Camp I.  This is John's first time on Aconcagua, and he has been fascinated by the trips up through the large snow pinnacles called Penitentes.  These are large ice fins that range anywhere from knee height all the way up to head height and can be fairly difficult to climb through.  

The climb from Base Camp to Camp I is about 2,000 feet, which under ordinary circumstances would be a reasonable effort.  But at 14-16,000 feet of elevation, and having to cut a trail through these penitentes, John reports that the climb so far has been "quite arduous". However, after difficult icy conditions the last two trips, which required crampons and step cutting all the way to Camp I, today they got a break finally, consider this a little Christmas present.  Things warmed up a little bit and they were able to use their previous steps and the snow was a bit softer so it sounds like the going was a bit easier today than it has been previously.  However John says he has been entertained by Willi chopping away at the Penitentes, as if he had some grudge against them.  But John couldn't resist and even joined in the battle later on himself, so it sounds like they're having a good time up there. Everyone has arrived safely at Camp I, everyone is feeling strong and ready to climb and the next day they will be doing a carry up to Camp II at Boureasa Col.  John would like to send a special message to his fiend Donn, "Donn, you'll be humoured to hear that my boots have disintegrated half way through the climb to Camp I yesterday, luckily I have been able to score a new pair of Scarpa Invernos, so the old boots are gone and the new Invernos are firmly planted on my feet."

So John, if you wouldn't abuse your boots so badly trying to kick steps in the ice, maybe these things wouldn't happen.  Anyway the entire team send Christmas greetings to all their family and friends and want you to all know that they are thinking about you.  Ellie and Willi send special hugs to Mom and Dad, Fred and Martha and all the folks on B dock.  So Merry Christmas to all you out there in cyberland, and we'll be reporting again soon as the climb continues.

#3 December 23rd, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello everyone again from Aconcagua Base Camp, this will actually be the last base camp report for a while from myself.  We are in fact heading up the mountain.   Due to weather conditions and ice conditions we actually did three carries to Camp I instead of the traditional three carries.  Nick actually was getting a bit altitude ill, so after some discussions amongst ourselves and with the base camp doctor, (they had helicopters coming to build a new ranger refugio or shelter here at Base Camp) so they elected to actually put him on a helicopter back to Mendoza so as we speak he is sitting around the pool drinking pina coladas undoubtedly.  What can I say, somebody's got to do it.

At any rate, the rest of us are moving up to Camp I at this point today, those of us left on the expedition.  And our rest and acclimation day, the second one at Base Camp was a very wild day indeed, we had very high winds, several tents here in Base Camp went down here, none of ours, but other expeditions, and we were very, very happy to be just kind of cowering down here in Base camp rather than being on the mountain.  Yesterday we completed our first full carry all the way up to Camp I, and set tents up up there and got all of our supplies ensconced at camp I.  We had an absolutely beautiful day, very little wind, sunny, warm, but very very challenging conditions going to camp I.  It was extremely icy, we had to chop steps and wear crampons for a good part of the final slopes leading up to Camp I, it's a very different year this year.  At any rate it looks like we have another beautiful day, and we are all moving up to Camp I, so subsequent cybercasts will be from us through Ellie. And we will keep everybody posted, but we're hoping that the weather kind of straightens out and stays good for us for a while.  For now this is Willi Prittie, goodbye from Base Camp.

#2 December 22nd, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello everybody out there in cyber land this is Willi Prittie reporting once again from Aconcagua in this December of 2002.  Team I for this season completed our first carry yesterday.  We experienced interesting weather for Aconcagua, it was very chilly, we have a chilly season here this year, temperatures down in the 20's even low on the mountain means that we're going to be fully expecting to hit 25 below zero to 30 below zero temperatures up high on the mountain, so it will be challenging.  There's also a lot of snow and ice around, it seems like most of the snow is in a band from between about 13,000 feet to approximately 16,000 feet or so.  Quite heavy, that means a lot of Penitentes, very sharp pinnacles of snow crowded together that are formed from differential sublimation.  They make working your way through them quite taxing oftentimes, also a lot of ice along with that makes for some slow and difficult travel through a lot of the areas that we need to go through.

But we did have really good weather yesterday, it was  along day so there's some really tired people.  We actually did cache our gear short of Camp I, which is a little bit of an unusual step for us, but due to very high winds at Camp I and very icy conditions on descent we didn't want to push things too late.  That's okay, it's better for our acclimatization at any rate not to push things too far.

So far everybody is maintaining their health fine, and kind of going through the early acclimatization process and we're all very hopeful that things will continue to work out, and so far we've not experienced really extreme winds or snowstorms on the mountain, which is great in my opinion.  Lhakpa also did a carry to Camp III yesterday and he reported very dry conditions above Camp II, he brought all of his gear up pretty much for the season.  Very strong winds up on the mountain, he was reportedly on several occasions knocked over with his full backpack on, by the force of the wind gusts. 

And also FYI the Polish Glacier and Polish Direct climbs are reportedly extremely icy, pretty much water ice from bottom in a solid sheet all the way to the top.  So we'll see how that work out or if conditions change as the season goes on. That makes for very very slow, taxing climbing, it's much better to have nice neve, or Styrofoam ice up there.

So to close a couple of quick messages,: "Hi, Jody you're the best, " from Kevin and also "Hi to Laurie and Stedmill (?) from Corey and Nick."  This is Team I on Aconcagua signing off.

#1 December 20th, 2002  Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I
Hello everybody out there, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp on this 20th of December, in the year 2002, the beginning of the season.  We've had a quite busy time in preparation for the expedition this year, it involved lost luggage and delayed flights and lots of other things, but finally got everything all straightened out and we're pretty much ensconced in Base Camp, we got here late yesterday.

On this trip we have Lionel and Theresa Lavenue, we have Nick and Courtney Klaich, we have Kevin Devries and we have Randall and Tyler Kardoes.  We're enjoying a rest day after the harder day of trekking into Base Camp.  We're enjoying beautiful weather, nice blue skies gentle winds for the most part, a lot of snow on the mountain this year which is a good thing, snow is always preferable to climb over scree.  Lots of snow down on the lower approach as well, the last day through the canyon there was about nine snow bridges crossing the river which actually makes getting across the Relenchos River far easier than normal.  

So today is a good rest day, as I was mentioning, tomorrow, we,  if all things go according to plan, we should be heading up for our first carry to Camp I.  So this is Team I signing off for now from Aconcagua Base Camp.

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