Aconcagua Cybercast 2003 - 2004
February 27, 2004. Bald Egos. Pampa de Lenas.
Hey friends and loved ones, this is Vern Tejas with the Bald Egos with the expedition from Aconcagua. We have now successfully navigated our descent from base camp down to Pampa de Lenas, which is about 20 miles, it's quite a bit of a hike. We were able to do it in about 7 hours and afterwards the arierros, the guys that actually run the mules, fixed a wonderful barbeque for us. We had meat that was just the most tender, wonderful cooked up over mesquite wood and a salad and champagne to go with it, beer and goodness gracious it is good to be getting back close to society.
Everyone is in good spirits and happy to be down here where the oxygen is thick. We are down, I guess about 10,143ft. now and the river is running, we are getting a little bit of sprinkling rain. But like I said earlier, we are all in good spirits and happy to be on our way out to civilization. Thank you very much for staying with us throughout. I think some of the highlights for us was not only that we climbed the peak but we did it in good form, good style. We brought back all of our waste, includes human waste and that's not exactly a light thing. We ended up bagging it and bringing it down. So we are leaving no trace on the mountain of our passing and this is the essence of the future of mountaineering, that everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves and everything they bring into the mountains and take it all back out with them. It is a higher standard but certainly one we hope to embrace more in the future because that is the future of mountains, otherwise they are going to be degregated and we don't want that.
So thanks for joining us and we will see if we can get another cybercast when we get back to civilization but thank you for following along with us. It has been a wonderful to have you with us and we just wanted to say once again that we are sorry that Todd Phillips had to leave the expedition early but that we were able to take up the book of names of the different individuals, the young babies that have died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) that has taken so many. We were able to take up his poster and candle to the summit of the mountain; we took some photographs for the project, Summits for Survival. And it was our pleasure to help him along with his effort to take that to the top of highest point in South America and highest point in the Western Hemisphere. Ciao for now.
February 26, 2004. Bald Egos. Base Camp.
Hello friends, families and loved ones out there this is the Bald Egos checking in from base camp, yes in deed. After our beautiful summit day we descended and barely crawled into camp. We were exhausted after 18 hours out on the trail fighting winds and sub zero temperatures. Returning to our camp at camp III and barely able to get into our sleeping bags and get some wonderful, wonderful sleep before we dosed off, Erik and Ang Dorji were able to make a round of hot ramen soup, which just filled our bellies full of joy.
The following morning we woke up to a ground blizzard that was moving about 25-30 knots, all the fresh snow we had gotten the first 3 days were now piled up and caused drifts about 3 and 4 feet deep in which made breaking camp very difficult. But we were still able to get around with hot drinks and breakfast and everybody was able to roll about at about 1pm in the afternoon and began a very torturous decent. Our packs were large and we were fighting the wind and fortunately the snow made it easy to slide our packs down. So several of us opted to drag rather then to carry our heavy packs on our shoulders.
We fought our way all the way down to camp I where we relied on other supplies that we left there just in case the weather gone bad and then our packs became quite large; several being over 40kgs. and we will let you do the math. Forty kilos is a lot of weight to have on your back. We made it down to base camp where Ellie, our base camp manager, had put on hors d'oeuvres for us that was not to be beat. We ate and ate and ate then Erik and Ang Dorji came around with a loud of hamburgers so we stuffed ourselves and we are so happy to be down here in the land of oxygen and the land of the living. The weather has improved quite a bit and everyone is very satisfied with our endeavor. We are happy to be back at base camp safe and alive. This base camp is basically at about 13,143 ft. above sea level and the temperatures range from about slightly below freezing to actually hot during the day. We've taken a rest day all day today and have been enjoying each others company. Enjoying it even more because we have been bathing and getting cleaned up for our hike out. We've got several days to hike out before we get back to the wonderful city of Mendoza. We will keep you abreast of it and of any changes that are to come. Stay tuned for our next cybercast from Pampa de lenas. Ciao for now, that's all.
February 24, 2004. Bald Egos. Summit return to Camp III.
Hello from Aconcagua, it's late Tuesday, February 24th at 3:45pm and the Bald Egos have just called in from the top of the western hemisphere. You know Vern is very tired from breaking trail all day when they are reporting that they are 2,814.3 ft. The closest I can come to that would be to 6,960 meters, but who's counting? Sounds like he is trying to read his altimeter in the white out they have going up there. It's been a fabulous day but the clouds did close up on them just as they reached the summit. Sure enough, there goes the summit views.
There are several very weary people up there, Don, Jim, JD and Sticky as well as Erik and Vern. They just had a big hug up at the top and feeling pretty happy to be there. They also report that John and Ken were feeling pretty exhausted and turned around with Ang Dorji about 200 vertical feet from the summit. For those of you new to high altitude climbing 200 ft can look like Mt. Everest when your energy has run out and taking 5 breaths per step. But the team is ecstatic and happy where they are standing on top of the highest point in South America. Our final member Wayne made the decision to wait for the team at camp III.
One of the highlights of the summit the fact that the team was able to carry up a book of names of children who have died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This project was brought to Aconcagua by Todd Phillips, who had to leave the mountain earlier with a medical emergency. A plaquerd for the first candle was also placed on the summit and the team appreciated being involved with this project, so thanks Todd for being with us on this special time. An additional note from Ellie, Vern reported in around at 7:30pm as the team was arriving safely back at camp III, ready to be poured into their sleeping bags. I am sure Wayne was relieved to see the team coming down the hill towards home. Tomorrow will also be a big day for their tired bodies as they pack up and head back down to the warmth and thick air of base camp. I'll be looking forward to seeing them and I am sure they will be looking forward to seeing base camp. So hopefully we will hear more about their adventures tomorrow.
February 24, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp III.
Hello, it's a big day for the Bald Egos. It's Tuesday, February 24th and it's taken patience and guess work to get ahead of the nasty weather but today they are making their move for the summit. We've had snow every afternoon for about 4 days straight and yesterday was no exception so the guides, Vern and Erik have decided to skip Camp IV and try for the summit directly from Camp III at 19,200ft.
Here's what Vern had to say when I talked to him a little before 6am this morning. He says: We are on our summit push, the weather has been very uncooperative in the afternoon and so we opted to go very early in the morning. We got up at midnight and were off by about 2:15am. We are plowing through a trough of about 1 1/2 feet of snow but we are pushing up, making headway. It's challenging, we are cold and tired but we are going to give it our best shot. The stars are beautiful tonight and there is a glow over Mendoza way and it's the beginning of the sunrise. It's about 5:50am in the morning so we have been at it for about 4 hours now and hopefully we are going to get some light soon so we can see what we are doing. Other then that we are giving it our best shot, drinking a lot, breathing deep, taking about 5 breaths per step. Hopefully when we get past this rocky ridge we will mellow out a bit. So please keep us in your prayers and thoughts and hopefully we will be able to report something a little later this afternoon. That's all for now, ciao.
And here at basecamp we will also be waiting for word on the teams progress up the mountain. As an additional update I also talked to Vern again at about 8am or so and they were up at Independencia, the snow wasn't quite as deep and the team was doing well. So hopefully the next time we hear from them will be from the summit. Ciao for now.
February 22, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp III.
Hello this is Ellie calling in for the Bald Egos led by Vern Tejas and Erik Barnes. Today is Sunday, February 22nd and Vern reports that the day started off just beautifully. It was a great day for a rest day, you could cook outdoors and had a nice, slow, leisurely breakfast followed with a hike to the edge of the world, which is a place where it drops down a hundred thousand feet with the polish glacier hanging from the top. It is very thin and everyone enjoyed it immensely. However true to form, with this unsettled weather, the clouds came back in about noon and the team is currently pinned down in their tents by a groupe storm. A groupe storm is very close to hail so it almost sounds like the roof of the tent is caving in right now, it is very loud. So they are hoping that this unsettled weather gets out of it's system and moves away from the mountain soon. So please keep your fingers crossed, the team is planning to take another rest day tomorrow to give this weather pattern a chance to cease and dismiss. So please hang with us, at least it is giving everyone a better chance to acclimatize and build more red blood cells. Folks are getting a lot of books read and Vern is learning a few new guitar chords. So everyone is doing fine and there are no safety issues, just a matter of waiting this snowstorm. So for the hundred and forty third time please stay with us, cross your fingers and keep those prayers coming. That's all from Camp III, ciao for now.
February 21, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp III.
Hello this is Ellie calling in for the Bald Egos lead by Vern and Erik. Today, is Saturday, February 21st and the big news for today is that we managed to wrestle the microphone from Vern so tonight's report is brought to you by Erik Barnes calling in from a snowy and slightly windy camp III at 19,200ft.
The entire team is once again reunited. Today, Erik, Ken and Ang Dorji made their way from Camp III following a day of rest at Camp II. They woke to a morning of snowy, white skies, Sticky informed them from Camp III that the colors were magnificent this morning across the mountain. But Erik says since he is not an early riser he'll have to take her word on it. At Camp II the cloud level was definitely on the rise showering them with more snow and more wind. They'd love to tell us how beautiful the views were, they are usually very stunning but their visibility was limited to about 25 feet. So no views today. So Ken still doesn't believe us when we tell him it is beautiful out there. He hasn't seen it yet. Ken is looking significantly better but is still fighting a head cold. The rest of the team had a nice leisurely rest at Camp III. Some could also call it a weather delay day but they weren't planning on going anywhere anyways.
Vern cooked up an elegant brunch of french toast and bacon, which Ken and Erik were told were excellent. The usual hike to the polish glacier was canceled due to weather, which left them with one of the greatest problems, too much time and nothing to do. As they are learning the aspiring art of "hang" that they are learning the art of the "hang" is sometimes harder then the climb. But in the end the mountain calls the shots.
So before Wayne, JD and John and several others were put to work building a platform and rock wall for the arrival of Ken and Erik. John, Wayne and Sticky have been plotting for Vern and Erik to perform a Midsummer Night's Dream and Erik says to Sticky, in your dreams. Jim and JD have literally split a book in half and are reading it.
At present they are still getting lots of snow and wind with limited visibility. It's a good day for acclimatizing. Overall everyone is looking good and spirits are high. A couple of personal notes, Ken is concerned that his family is concerned since his name has appeared many times in the cybercasts, he just wants to inform everyone that he is mainly fighting a slight head cold and is actually doing pretty well. There is no cause for alarm. Erik would like to send a message out to his grandma Alex and grandpa Marsh telling them how excited he is that everyone is coming to Erik's and Miranda's wedding. Erik also tells Miranda that he is trying to work on his tan but every time he lays out in the snow he just gets whiter. Boy it sounds tough up there. So that's all today from the Bald Egos.
February 21, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp III.
This message from the Bald Egos. And guess what the Team is in Camp III. It was a nice easy push up the mountain. The team set up their tents on rock platforms with rock walls around them to protect from high winds that occasionally wrack that campsite. But today there were no high winds at all. Instead they got precipitation. Vern says it's only the second time he's seen snow on the mountain. Well I've got news for him, he's been lucky. The snow is still coming down, and the team hopes it's going to stop soon. But either way they're climbing up the mountain. they are now safely ensconced in their tents at Camp II, which is at 19,143 feet. Vern reports that the surroundings look quite alpine, very frosty with all the new snow sticking to the rocks, just as if they were in the Alps. Other than that the team is doing well.
Ken and Erik have now moved up and are taking a rest day at Camp II. Ken is starting to feel a lot better and we're expecting that they will be moving up to Camp III tomorrow. Hopefully he will be fully acclimatized in the next couple of days and will be able to join the team on their summit bid. Tonight's dinner is Jaipur vegetables, brought to the team by Ang Dorjee, that wouldn't also be Tasty Bites as well would it? Vern says "eat your hearts out, all you down there, we are eating like kings up here. So that's it for today from the Bald Egos.
February 20, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp II.
Hello this report to you come from the Bald Egos. Alpine Ascents' last but not least, expedition on Aconcagua for this season, led by Vern Tejas and Erik. Its been a wonderful day to day, it started off very calm and clear, so the group again had their breakfast outdoors. Then they loaded up food and gear into their backpacks and carried it up to 19,143 feet. There's that altimeter again. They're starting to get into position and are looking forward to some good weather for their summit attempt. They're happy that everything is progressing quite smoothly.
Ken and Erik were able to rejoin the group at Camp II, they cam up very slowly to help Ken acclimatize, he's tired but happy to be with the team again at Camp II. So they are hoping that tomorrow morning he will be raring to go, but if not now worries, we have enough time to spend additional nights at Camp II. So folks are feeling good and are happy to have this nice mellow acclimatization schedule. The team says thanks for joining them in this cybercast and to keep your fingers crossed for continued good weather. Ciao for now.
February 19, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp II.
The Team says hello to family and loved ones from the slopes of Aconcagua. They are currently camped at 17,143 above sea level at Camp II. The skies are clear and it's a calm day. It's so calm that they are actually having breakfast in the Veranda, pancakes and bacon. Everyone is feeling fine and they are hoping to see Erik and Ken who will rejoin the group today. Erik and Ken spent an extra night at Camp I, to help Ken get better acclimatized. The plan for today is for the group to move food and extra gear up to Camp III at 19,200 feet, and then drop back to Camp II for acclimatization. They're hoping o see Ken and Eric there this afternoon. So everything is good on Aconcagua.
Meanwhile at Base Camp Ellie is fighting off an infestation of mice. This is the first year we have ever had a mouse problem at Base Camp, but I've got all food and potential nesting material such as toilet paper and paper towels securely put away in the barrels. The little critters have no predators up here and are absolutely fearless, even when you make faces at them. So that's it from Aconcagua today.
February 18, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp I.
The team says a hello to friends family and loved ones as they call in from Camp I. Today was a day of wind. As was the night. Their nerves were slightly rattled from the thrashing of the tents in 50 knot winds. They were able to get up and get moving with a little bit of a late start today, they got out of camp by 11:30, but fortunately Camp II isn't far away. In 3 hours or so they were able to ascend to 17,143 feet above sea level. Once again I think Vern is playing with his altimeter. They made a cache there of food and supplies for the higher mountain and they were able to descend back down to Camp I in about 20 minutes on the wonderful escalator of scree that comes down the Col from Camp I, it's a little bit like skiing. Everyone is grateful that the wind has dropped a bit, so they were able to snooze during the afternoon and catch up on their lost sleep.
So the team is in good spirits and now starting a dinner of rice and sausage, a nice Louisiana treat. This is also a tough moment as the team announces that they are sad to have Todd P. leave the group. He had an asthma attack that was severe enough that everyone thought it was better that he return to the lower elevations in Mendoza. We hate to see him go, as he was a real contributor to the team and will be missed. Vern will carry on the candle and the book of names of children who have died from SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a project that Todd was involved with. Hopefully, weather and wind permitting, they'll be able to light the candle on the summit in commemoration of the survival of children to come in the fight against SIDS. So that's it from the mountain, the team is doing well and hoping weather, and wind permitting, to do their move to Camp II tomorrow.
February 17, 2004. Bald Egos. Camp I.
Hello, this is Ellie calling in for the Bald Egos, led by Vern Tejas and Erik Barnes. It's February 17th and the Bald Egos send a howdy to all their friends, family and loved ones. All is well with them, they've now moved up to Camp I, which Vern claims is located at 16,414.3 feet above sea level (He must be playing with his altimeter). They want everyone to know that they are doing fine. They've got a big pot of spaghetti going around and hopefully the wind will drop enough this evening to allow them to sleep well for the next ten hours. We have a haiku today, written by Ken which goes
Oh Lady Aconcagua
Standing tall and grand
We plead let the bald egos soar
We also have two messages to pass along. Ken says hello to everyone following Ken's climb for kids and Sticky says hello to Ben Joanna and Andy. Once again the team is doing well is in good spirits and looking forward to a pleasant evening. So ciao for now from the Bald Egos.
Footnote: Despite the team name, the team members seem to have an abundance of hair on their heads. It seems to be the guiding staff that is a a bit lacking in this area.
February 16, 2004. Bald Egos. Base Camp.
Hello there friends family and loved ones, it's Vern Tejas with the Bald Egos. We are at Base Camp but we are preparing to head up. Yesterday we spent the whole day hanging out, relaxing, recuperating, getting more oxygen on board and having some great meals. After a pancake and egg breakfast we went back to sleep and got up and flew kites and did a few hikes in the Base Camp area. Everybody here on the team is doing well. We're looking forward to moving up today. It's been blowing all night, 50 knot winds, however it's laid right down, I'm guessing it's way less than 14.3 mph winds at this point. So we're going to load up our sleeping bags and all of our personal gear and move to Camp I up at 16,000 feet so just so you know, we're doing fine and thinking of you all and that's it from the base of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. Ciao for now.
February 14, 2004. Bald Egos. Base Camp.
Hey friends and family this is Vern Tejas with Team Bald Egos. We're back in Base Camp after a very big day where we carried food and fuel up to Camp I at 16,143 feet above sea level and we made a cache there, and we proceeded to come down a lot quicker than when we went up. All the team is in good spirits and we wanted to mention that this is a unique day, and to all of our sweethearts out there, Happy Valentine's Day! We're thinking of you. As a matter of fact we've been thinking about you so much, we wrote a poem. As a matter of fact each person contributed 1 line to this poem. And so it's a little disjunctive, but it's quite sweet.
Me and my girlfriend don't wear no shoes
We dance through life without a care
I didn't want to give a line but I couldn't refuse
Whoa it's Valentine's and I'm so far from there
Our goal may be the summit but our hearts are with you
You ask me why I love you dear, do you want to know just why
After all these years I'm glad you said 'I do'
True love is underrated, I'll never say goodbye
And that's our very special Valentine's Day poem from Team Bald Egos, high on the flanks of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. Thanks for tuning in and please stop by again at this favorite website of your and find out what's going on in the days to come. Ciao for now.
February 13, 2004. Bald Egos. Base Camp.
Hello there cybernauts, friends family, loved ones, this is Vern Tejas with the team known as Bald Egos. Well we have safely and successfully navigated our way up the Vacas Valley, up the Rellenchos Valley, and now we are safely ensconced in Base Camp. And my, what a camp it is, this year there seems to be tents everywhere. Even though the season it at it's end, kind of winding down, there are still many many people on this mountain. And believe it or not we are happy to be here. We're presently camped at about 13,143 feet above sea level and enjoying a fine sunny day. All team members are saying that they are doing well. We had a little bit of altitude feeling last night but everyone has recovered quite well and we're looking forward to a great night of sleep tonight.
Big plan for tomorrow is to move food, fuel and excess gear up above Base Camp to our Camp I, and then come back down here to rest again, enjoying the thick oxygen here at Base Camp. So we just wanted to get you guys informed and updated and let you know we're looking forward to climbing this mountain now that we've finally gotten to the base of it. And we just want to pass one message, "Miranda, your star fishing days are numbered."
So with that stay tuned and drop in soon and see how things go, ciao for now.
February 10, 2004. Team VI. Penitentes.
Hi there friends and family, this is Vern Tejas, reporting from Los Penitentes, Argentina. The team has gotten together and we are in action. We moved up from the big city of Mendoza and are now safely ensconced at 8,143 feet above sea level, high in the Andes. The team is gelling quite well and it is composed of John D, John W, Jeanne S, Todd P, Ken O, Don J, James C, and Wayne T. For the supporting roles and staff we have Ang Dorjee Sherpa, who will be working high on the mountain as a safety man for us, we have in Base Camp, our Base Camp Manager here for years, Ellie Henke, and she will be passing later messages on to you, and as well as Erik Barnes, who just got back from a successful trip, will be also on board and offering all his expertise in getting this team to the top.
The team spent several moments scratching our heads today, we came up with a Team name that just made both Erik and myself chuckle, we are to be known as "The Bald Egos" so that's how we are going to be reporting in and hopefully you will be able to tune in and enjoy these cybercasts.
Today we went to the Park headquarters to receive permission to climb, we boarded a bus and threw all of our bags into a big old trailer and drug them up into the Andes. As I mentioned we are at Los Penitentes which is a ski area, staying in a hotel tonight and then tomorrow morning we hit the trail bright and early, hiking into Pampa de Lenas which is the first Camp we come into up the Vacas Valley. We will be on the trial the following day for another 16 Kilometers up to the Rock House, I should mention that this is all taking place on the East side of the mountain. The following day we will then head up the Rellenchos Valley off of the Vacas, on to Base Camp at Plaza Argentina. It will take us three days and we will not be in touch to update the cybercast, however when we get to Base Camp we will give you an update at that time.
We were able to go for a small acclimatization hike and the team looks like all of their training will pay off. Everyone looks to be strong cheerful and great attitudes all around and we're looking forward to doing this with each other. I'd also like to mention that Todd P. is here on a project known as "Summits for Survival" and this is to help raise money for research to help end Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, we'll be reporting from time to time from him, along with these cybercasts and he just wanted to thank the hundreds of supporters from around the US that are helping to save babies one step at a time.
That's pretty much it from Argentina for this cybercast, just wanted to make sure you knew everybody arrived, all the bags are here, everybody is safe and ready to go, so join us as we climb the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua, ciao for now.
February 10, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Mendoza.
Hi everyone! This is Eric Remza with Team Gots to have it! I am sitting here in beautiful Mendoza, Argentina. Yes, Team Gots to have it is back from our expedition on Aconcagua and we are really enjoying the fruits of our labor here in Mendoza.
A brief recap of the events that lead to our arrival...
We left Plaza Argentina (Base camp) on Feb. 6th and we had to trek about 20 miles to reach our destination of Pampa de Leña. We all slept out under the stars that evening and the air was warm and thick with something we had been missing, oxygen, so everyone received a much deserved rest. The following morning we got a crackin' start and finished the last 8 miles of our 30 mile trek from base camp to Punta de Vacas (the trailhead). Upon reaching the trailhead we were greeted by the local Argentinean military, they were very kind and gave each of us an orange and talked with us about our climb of the mountain. This gesture was very nice and the taste of a ripe orange couldn't have come at a better time, with the desert heat, the temps. in the low 90´s and now a succulent orange to welcome us back into civilization, it was nice to be back. Our transportation picked us up around 12pm and we made our way back to Penitentes for the afternoon and ate some pizza for lunch. We loaded up our gear which was transported to Penitentes by the mules and bid our farewells to the wonderful los Andes. We then traveled the 3 hour bus ride back to wonderful Mendoza and after warm showers, we had a wonderful celebration meal at the renowned restaurant Francis Mallman. With good food and wine and the company of friends, it was a wonderful way to end this fabulous trip.
Now being here in Mendoza during their summer months is like being in a fairytale. The sun is shining in the blue sky, and the many trees that blanket this city are providing the perfect amount of shade. With the streets full of life and my days here full of relaxation, I am enjoying the wonderment of it all.
Kevin Moore wanted to say thank you to all of his family and friends that prayed for him during this expedition. He also wanted to remind Officer Holguin to do his duty!
Young Grasshopper (Trevor) is enjoying the fun of Mendoza and is looking forward to seeing his girlfriend on his travels to Lima.
Michael is enjoying the company of his wife and sister-in-law and they are all immersing themselves in the culture of Argentina.
Rehn is enjoying a time out from the rain of Seattle and is enjoying herself in a stress-free workzone.
Dennis left the day after our arrival and is back in the love and embrace of what truly means the most to him, his family.
For me, it was great working again with Todd Passey and being blessed with such a cool job.
All in all it was a great trip, you cannot ask for much more, great people, excellent weather, and 100% summit success.
Till the next time, this is Eric Remza and Todd Passey for Alpine Ascents International and the Aconcagua Experience, Ciao.
February 5, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Base Camp
Hello everybody out there in cyberworld, this is Todd Passey calling in for Team Gots to Have It. We returned back to Base Camp yesterday after having a successful summit bid on Tuesday, all seven of us made it to the summit! It was a great summit day, we encountered strong winds traversing the West Face, but once we got into the Canaleta and started ascending the Canaleta , the winds died down and we had a spectacular summit. It was a bit of a chore getting up there, at times, we had some different obstacles to overcome, from people getting sick to back problems, but we overcame it all and got seven of us to the summit of Aconcagua.
A couple of people wanted to send out some personal messages and explain some more about what we went through:
Here's from Kevin to Lisa and family: "Summit was spectacular. After spending two nights at 20,600 feet, being back down at Base Camp at 13,800 feet is positively luxurious. Wind was blowing cold and clear on the NW traverse, with wind chill, measured about 8 below zero. After about 21,500 feet elevation, my cheeks and nose started to get frostbite. Thank god my guide Todd saw my face in time to prevent further damage. All in all, great team, great guides, great adventure. Look forward to seeing my brown-eyed girl."
Then from Dennis: "My heart is filled with gratitude for Brenda, Beth, Nate, Matt, Mary Madeline and Ben. And for all the little things in life like commode seats. To Chris C and Paul B, life has become one step at a time, god bless."
From Rehn, "To everyone who helped me achieve this dream, thank you, it just doesn't seem enough, can't wait to share it with you all soon, love Rehn."
From Michael, "Great summit day and great trip, with love from Michael."
From Trevor, "We made it! The summit was incredible, these mountains are too beautiful for words, I can't wait to see and tell you all about my adventure, Stephanie I've been counting the days until I could hear your sweet voice and see your smile, I miss all of you."
That's all for now from Base Camp. We'll send in a wrap-up, we are taking a rest day today at Base Camp and we will do a two-day hike out and will arrive in Mendoza on the evening of the 7th, when we will do a more extensive wrap-up for the trip. Goodbye.
January 31, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Base Camp
Hey everybody out there this is Dave Morton at Aconcagua Base Camp. It's Saturday, the 31st of January and it is about 3:30pm in the afternoon here. I am reporting in for Team Gots to Have It. Todd, Eric and the rest of the crew have moved up to camp III today and they are all feeling really good. Todd has reported to me that everyone had a good move and are feeling strong, so far so good for Teams Got to Have It. There will probably not be any cybercasts for Teams Got To Have It until the 4th of February. So please don't be alarmed if you don't hear from them for a few days, they are all doing very well and there are a couple of personal messages to send out. Trevor sends his love out to Stephanie. Dennis sends his love out to Brenda. Kevin sends his love out to Lisa. Rehn sends her love out to Scout. And Todd sends his love out to Winslow.
So after speaking with them today it sounds like a nice day at Camp III and everyone is doing well so stay tuned around February 4th to find out if they were able to summit as planned or if they had to wait a little bit longer. From Aconcagua Base Camp this is Dave Morton and everyone from this team sends their love out to everyone out there. We will talk to you soon. Bye-bye.
January 31, 2004. Climb for Lyme. Base Camp
Today is the 31st and this is Ken Bacco for the Climb for Lyme on Aconcagua. We are back at base camp at 13,600ft resting and organizing our climbing gear for the mules in the morning. Our goal is to hike out the Rellenchos and Vacas Valley which is 30 miles. Our mules will be carrying loads. It has been a great adventure full of excitement, pain and a tremendous amount of work. You never expect to get sick up high or anywhere. You train, you take care of yourself, you make all the right decisions and you still get sick. Climbing up high everything is magnified 500% so all one can do is our best. But we have the choice to make a difference in our children's lives. No one ever expects it to happen to them. Lyme disease does not discriminate, it doesn't care about what we expect, we are all at risk everyday. I want to make a difference, I realize that I can't control, why, when or how but hopefully all of us and Climb for Lyme can help with the unexpected. I never wanted 10% of my life to be consumed by the ravages of Lyme disease. I've always planned to summit Aconcagua but once again I am reminded that one ever expects it to happen to them. Make a difference and pledge and get the word out. Thanks to everyone for their support and their financial contributions to the battle with Lyme disease. We owe it to our children. Special thanks to my wonderful wife, Lisa and my great kids Laura and Matt for making this adventure happen. And to everyone at Time for Lyme prove that leading by example. Thanks everyone.
January 30, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Base Camp
Greetings to everyone out there this is Willi Prittie reporting once again from Aconcagua for Team Inconceivable. Everybody came down, it was a long day from Camp IV all the way to Base Camp two days ago. A little bit footsore, but we've been having an 'eatfest' here in Base Camp. Yesterday was our rest day after the summit and also organizing gear to ship out and we've enjoyed almost all the food in sight, everything from fresh hamburgers to freshly made pizza here in Base Camp. Definitely recovering our appetites here at low elevation.
Today we're beginning our three-day trek out and our features on that will be sleeping in in the morning, relaxing in the thick oxygen, warmer conditions and not the least of which, there's going to be a champagne breakfast tomorrow morning, which we're going to have en route, we're very much looking forward to the steak in Mendoza, etc. etc. and looking forward to relaxing and just reflecting upon the wonderful climb we've had here of Aconcagua. Base Camp is pretty deserted, it looks like most everyone is up the mountain, doing their attempts right now, so there's not a whole lot of traffic and we're not anticipating seeing a whole lot of people or crossing too many other expeditions coming in at this point. In any case we'll keep you posted and let you know how the final expedition Inconceivable party goes in Mendoza, it's likely to be a very big blow out! That's all for Team Inconceivable on Aconcagua.
January 30, 2004. Team Gots To Have it. Camp II
Hey there this is Dave Morton with a report from Team Gots to Have It. I just spoke with Todd at Camp II and his team made a carry up to Camp III today. It was breezy but a beautiful day and they are all doing well and are back in their tents sitting in their tents, playing cards and having a great time. So that is what is happening with Team Gots to Have It. Tomorrow they are planning to move up to Camp III and they will be in touch soon. Thanks, Bye-Bye.
January 30, 2004. Team Climb for Lyme, Base Camp
Hi it's January 30th this is Ken Bacco for the Climb for Lyme on Aconcagua. Today was summit day. We left the tent with headlamps blazing at high camp at 6:00am. It was quite cold and the wind was howling. I was feeling quite bad. I would be lucky to be running at 50% this morning. The past two days I have felt terrible and had little sleep. The climb was spectacular, the sun rose over the mountain. After climbing just above 21,000ft I decided today was not the day for me to climb Aconcagua. It was a heart-wrenching decision to make. But unfortunately I was not healthy up high but I was able to make that decision, as hard as it was, unlike Lyme disease how, where or when will I be affected by this horrific disease. We are all at risk in our yards, on the golf course, playing soccer with the kids; we don't have the luxury of deciding when. It would have been great to get to the summit via either route but if we have made any progress to raising funds and awareness about Lyme disease then I accomplished my goal and I can always come back and climb another day. Please help Climb for Lyme make a difference. Thanks to everyone.
January 29, 2004. Climb for Lyme, High Camp
Hi this is Ken Bacco. We took a rest day today at 19,200. A large lenticular cloud was ominously over the summit this morning. At Camp at the ridge and most definitely at the summit had extremely high winds, 'nuking'. Dave is feeling great and hovering at around 110%, I on the other hand am hovering at about 90%. My dream to climb Aconcagua via the technically challenging route up the Polish Direct will not be realized this trip. I have decided to switch to the false Polish Route. It will a very demanding day. One has to realize his limitations and put his dreams on hold. Hopefully my next trip to Aconcagua, I will get the 110% required. My dream of finding a cure, proper treatment and a test for Lyme Disease is one that we all can realize together. Help Climb for Lyme make a difference. Please pledge and get involved.
If we get a decent day tomorrow, we will go for the summit. So say a prayer and thanks again for everyone's support.
January 29, 2004. Eckerd College, Mendoza
This is team Eckerd College, reporting that life is good in Mendoza. When we last checked in, we were walking out of base camp after a well deserved rest day at the relatively oxygen rich elevation of 13,800 feet. The first day of the hike out was a long one, perhaps the longest most people had hiked in a day. Ellie estimates it to be close to 23 miles with an elevation loss of nearly 4000 feet. Heading down feels good and the pace of the crew was brisk as we headed down towards the wonders of pizza, hand soap and easy living.
The first part of the hike was down the Rellenchos Valley with the mountain behind our shoulders at every bend. A few raging stream crossings made the way interesting and we later learned, took one of our mules (with our kitchen barrel and Andy's pack) for a swim. Upon reaching the Vacas valley, our crew allowed ourselves a real rest in what appeared an oasis. A glacier fed spring flows below our previous camp (AKA fecal creek) to create a verdant grassy oasis. We laid in the greenery and ate lunch, napped and pondered the climb. With antsy feet and Yerba Mate been enjoyed, we forced ourselves to continue the remaining 9- 10 miles to Pampa de Lena.
Up early the next morning, Vance and Seth were super keen to be out. They collapsed the tent on Andy and Steve, who appeared oblivious for at least a half hour. Later that morning, the two mischievous ones discovered rocks in their packs. A few hours later at noon, our team was met at the trailhead and we stormed the local pizzeria to begin the feast that would continue for the next few days. The summit team of Seth, Andy, Steve, Vance and Cecelia wants to extend all our thanks to the support team who we started the climb with. We missed having you guys around and it felt great to know that all of you were supporting us!
Hey Kali - Steve and Cece did the line dance for you on the summit! You might of thought it was pathetic, but hey, we were at 22,982 feet. Not many Cowboy bars at that altitude. Stay tuned. There is one more report coming, perhaps the best one yet, written by team SAS in base camp about the harrows of summit day.
January 29, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Camp II
Today the team is calling in from Camp II at about 17,500 feet. Today the team had a big move from Camp I at 16,200 feet and the climb up took about 3 to 3 and a half hours. Eric reports that everyone is doing well and they are working well together as a team in setting up camp. The tents are set up behind a good rock wind wall, which is really needed in the gusty wind. The tents and hot drink were definitely inviting after being knocked around in the wind a bit.
Today we have messages from some of the team members. Dennis aka the Wrangler, wants to give a shout to everyone at his office. Trevor, Young Grasshopper as he is known to his team says hello to all of his bros in Canada and Rehn says hi to Scout and a belated birthday hello to Chris. Mr. Bojangles known as TK wants to give a big shout to Big house in the Big House from 17,500 feet. Michael, known as Dr. Zeus, sends his love to his wife.
So tomorrow the plan is to do a carry up to Camp III at 19,200 feet. They'll be bringing up food and personal items before returning to sleep. Also starting tomorrow there may be a brief break in the cybercasts as Ellie heads to Mendoza for a well-earned rest for a few days. The plan is for Team Gots To Have it to Call in a cybercast or two on the phone carried by Dave Morton and to pick up again at Base Camp following the summit. So hopefully we won't have too big of a break and I'm looking forward to some well-earned rest. So wish well to Team Gots to Have it as they head on up the mountain.
January 28, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Camp I
Hello everybody this report comes to you from Camp I. Today the team did their first carry up to Camp II at Boureasa Col. It was a beautiful day, hardly any wind to deal with. There were a few headaches and some tired people when they returned, but nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone is psyched for the move up to say at Camp II tomorrow and everyone is hoping that this great weather will hold for a little bit longer. Everyone sends their love to family and friends from Team Gots to Have It.
January 28, 2004. Team Climb for Lyme. Camp I
Hey everybody this is Dave Morton. Ken and I are here up at Camp III at 19,200ft. We took an acclimatization hike quite a ways to the Alpine Ascents Camp IV which is approximately around 20,500ft. It is a little bit breezy and it seems like it has been this way for the past week or so. We've had beautiful days, few clouds in the afternoon and breezy at night. We are doing just fine. Tomorrow we are going to take a full day off for a rest day at this camp. And then on the 30th we will be going for the summit for sure. We have made our arrangements for going out already so on the 30th we will go for the summit and then it all depends on that. So we would like to say hi to everyone out there and we are both doing well.
Ken has one message on the end of this: "Hi I would like to say thank you to everyone at fairfield-living.com for their support and having us on their web page, we really appreciate it. Thanks very much, have a great day. Bye-Bye."
January 27, 2004. Team Gots to Have It. Camp I
Hi everyone, it's Tuesday January 27th and we have a report from Team Got To Have it, led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey. The team completed a successful move from Base Camp at 13,800feet to Camp I at 16, 200feet. Everyone did great though it was a little slow through Penitentes. It was nice to have our tents set up from the previous carry, so we could just pop in our tents and lay out our sleeping bags. The team just finished dinner and returned to the warmth of their tents. There were some cumulous clouds building but they will likely be gone by morning. Tomorrow is a carry to Camp II, where we will cache our gear, and heavier clothing before returning to Camp I. Eric also like to introduce new team names.
Todd is Hooks; Rehn is Ladyhawk; Kevin is Mr. Bojangles; Dennis is the Wrangler; Mike is Dr. Seuss; Young Grasshopper is played by Trevor; Eric is Mr. Hotdog. So we welcome the team names and that's it form Team Gots To have it. Out..
January 27, 2004. Team Climb for Lyme. High Camp
Hi, it's 1/27 this is Ken Bacco on the Climb for Lyme on Aconcagua. We moved up to high camp at 19,200ft, there are snow showers and partially cloudy skies. It is noticeably colder up here. Tomorrow we will climb up to 21,000ft to help acclimatize. Dave is ready to go and is running at about 110% and myself doesn't quite have his octane, I am running about at 90%.
As I was climbing up today I thought about all the wonderful individuals that have given their support to Time for Lyme. What would be great is if we could get a few of the local corporations in the area to help lend their support. So think about it and if you have any contacts or would like to get your corporation involved please call Diane or Debbie at Time for Lyme. Corporations are a tremendous resource that could help to make the difference in our battle with Lyme Disease. Thanks to everyone.
January 27, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Camp IV.
Hello in cyberland, it's Tuesday, January 27th and our first report from the evening comes from Team Inconceivable led by Willi and Winslow. Well after all the anticipation Team Inconceivable finally pulled it off today standing on the top of Aconcagua at about 2:30pm this afternoon. They left high camp this morning at about 7:30am in biting cold and gusty winds. But the wind dropped as they continued and was nonexistent when they stood on the summit. Willi reported that the route is in the best cramponing condition that he has seen in the 14 years. That sounds pretty good.
However it was still chilly on the top, not exactly t-shirt weather. So our congratulations go out to Chuck McGibbons, John Harazmus, and Sam Casoria as well to Willi and Winslow and a hearty slap on the back for Kurt Gusinde, who turned around above about 22,000ft and Joe Gonet who turned above around at Camp IV and returned to Camp III with Ang Dorjee. This was a major accomplishment for both of them to reach their lifetime high points. And as of 6:15pm this evening I talked to Willi at Camp IV where everyone is safely enjoying hot drinks and dinner and happily are crawling into their sleeping bags after what was definitely an exhausting day. So we are looking forward to seeing them back at base camp tomorrow for beer, champagne, hamburgers and breathing a little thick air and enjoying a little bit of warmer temperatures. So they will be giving another report later.
January 26, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Camp IV.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in for Team Inconceivable led by Willi Prittie and Winslow Passey for Monday, January 26th. A few weeks ago it seemed inconceivable but guess what Team Inconceivable is here at high camp. Camp IV at 20,600ft and is in position for a summit bid tomorrow. Everyone did very well on the move between Camp III and Camp IV which took about 3 1/2-4 hours, which is very good time. Now they are all settled into their sleeping bags and our starting on dinner and also the lengthy process of melting drinking water for the summit bid tomorrow. So they can get a little rest before getting up at pre-dawn tomorrow morning so they are all in great anticipation and waiting to see what mother nature throws them on the big day. So stay tuned tomorrow for news from Team Inconceivable.
January 26, 2004. Team Climb for Lyme. Camp I.
Hey everybody out there this is Dave Morton and it is the 26th, Monday and Ken and I are at Camp I getting ready for a move up to our Camp II tomorrow at 19.2. We are still having continual high pressure which is great, clear skies again for another day. It was a tad bit colder today but for the most part it has been beautiful still. We had a relaxing day at Camp I, resting and preparing our gear for tomorrow. So tomorrow we will be moving up to 19,200ft that will be Tuesday. Wednesday we will be an acclimatization and rest day and then after that we will be shooting for the summit over the next few days or so. We will talk to you tomorrow and we have our fingers crossed for Willi and Winslow's team who are going for the summit tomorrow. It looks like so far they are going to have a beautiful day. So we will be waiting to hear from them as well and will probably pass them on the route a couple days from now when they are coming down from their high camp or Camp IV. So anyway that is for today and we will talk to you tomorrow. All the best, bye.
January 26, 2004. Team V. Base Camp.
Hi it's January 26th reporting in from Team V, Team Gots to Have It reporting from Plaza Argentina. Today was our final day at base camp before we start climbing this mountain in true. We spent the day lounging around, napping and reading. Kevin is convinced that many on the team that the mountain's bests are some of life's great pleasures. So everyone except Todd and Eric took turns bathing, the guides know better then to waste that much time and energy to get clean when we know we are just going to get dirty again. The weather has been grand and sunny with just a little breeze. We are all hoping that the weather gods will keep smiling on us all though we know the weather is part of the experience. We are excited and prepared for whatever lessons this mountain has to teach. A couple of people want to send out some personal messages. Michael sends out his message to Susan, "your love surrounds me, even here on the mountain. Give the kids an extra dog bone for me". From Rehn, " Scout, I love you and miss you. Hello to all my family and friends and I am doing well". Trevor says, "I am doing great, mom and dad, I miss you and baby I miss you so much and your love is with me all the time. I wish you were here with me. To all my friends, keep it real - Peace". Next is Dennis, he sends his love and prayers to Matt, Mary, Madeline and Ben. Until next time this is Team Gots to Have It led by Todd Passey and Eric Remza signing off.
January 26, 2004. Eckerd College. Base Camp.
We also have a report today, Monday, January 26th from the Eckerd College Team. The team enjoyed a leisure rest day at base camp yesterday and today is hiking out to Mendoza. They are starting about a 23 mile hike to Pampa de Lena. Then about an 8 mile hike tomorrow to their final destination which is pizza at Penitentes and then showers in Mendoza. The team reported that they had so much to talk about and prepared about a 5-6 page report about their adventures on the mountain. So rather then calling it in from our satellite phone they will be sending it in by email from Mendoza. So stay tuned for further adventures from the Eckerd College gang.
January 25, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Camp III.
Hello this is Ellie calling in for Team Inconceivable led by Willi and Winslow. It's Sunday, January 25th and the team is reporting in from Camp III at 19,200ft. They had a great rest day today, the group thought they were on vacation; they slept great, had a long very deluxe breakfast of eggs, bacon and fried tortillas and then they casually walked over to the Polish Glacier ice cliff, known by many as the end of the world, where they actually got to see a large chunk of the glacier break off and fall thousands of feet to the valley below. This is a very dramatic spot. Since they were out of harms way it was a treat to see.
Everyone is doing well and tonight they are preparing to move up tomorrow to Camp IV where they will rest, eat and prepare for their summit attempt the next day. So it is coming up soon. Also the entire team would like to make a note that they were sad a few days ago at David Moore's retirement from the team. He hurt his back after a slip in the penitentes and didn't want to risk further injury in his back. So David if you are reading this cybercast the entire teams says "we miss you bro". Also to David from Ellie, who has been on the radio almost daily to Andreas and the Grajales team in Penitentes. He is fairly certain that your military green bag is in Penitentes, it was so old and didn't have a name on it so they thought it was an locals instead of belonging to a client. We think the bag that has your cell phone in it is in a backpack that Willi and Winslow left in Hotel Ayelen. We will check on all of the above and do what we can to get your stuff sent back to you soon. So that is it from Aconcagua base camp and wishing Team Inconceivable well on their way to the summit.
January 25, 2004. Team Climb for Lyme. Camp I.
Hey everybody this is Dave Morton updating you on the Climb for Lyme here on Aconcagua. It's January 25th about 9pm, Sunday evening and today we carried a load up to our second camp. That is the camp at 19,200ft which is usually camp III for most Alpine Ascents groups but for Ken and myself we are just going straight from camp I to set up our camp II (Alpine Ascents camp III), which is a bit confusing but we are presently back to camp I where we took up a load to the 19,200ft camp. It was about a 3,000ft gain today so it was quite a push since we had just come to base camp the day before. Tomorrow we are going to take a day off and get a little bit of R and R in. And the following day we are going to move up to our second camp at 19,200ft. So that will be our last camp. From there that camp sits at the bottom of the Polish Glacier and from there we are hoping to go up the Polish Glacier direct route and it sounds as though it is still pretty good but we will see how it goes when we get up there. There were a couple people going up the route today and it was another nice day, with spectacular weather and hoping our luck doesn't run out here. So tomorrow we will have a nice casual day and we will call in with an update then. Until then please take care, we will talk to you soon. Bye Bye.
January 24, 2004. Team Tortuga. Mendoza.
To close an amazing expedition Team Tortuga with Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes enjoyed a celebration dinner in Mendoza last night. The group was all smiles as we reminisced over the past 3 weeks. Many toasts were raised and friendships cemented as we enjoyed our much awaited steak dinner and danced the night away. In the immortal words of Garrett Ehrke: "Are you going to eat that?" Team Tortuga signing out.
Note: Congratulations Team Tortuga for participating in a pilot program to remove all human solid waste above base camp. As the first Alpine Ascents expedition to accomplish this, we hope to set the standard for clean climbing.
January 24, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Camp III.
Hello in cyberland this is Ellie calling in fro Team Inconceivable led by Willi and Winslow. Today is Saturday January 24 and the team is getting up in the world. Today they arrived at Camp III at 19,200 feet and they are now ensconced in their nice North Face portable home. They had a very good move today, a little breezy and they heard that it was really windy at Camp III, but the wind dropped today and they had a very nice day for their move up. Some people as they were climbing, were wondering things like who won the Iowa caucus, who's playing in the super bowl and if they've found any life on Mars. Well it just goes to show you that funny things happen to the brain at altitude. As a final note, Chuck sends his love to his wife Becky and to Julie. So for now the team has just finished their dinner of mashed potatoes and gravy and are climbing into their sleeping bags to ward off the evening chill and I suspect that since tomorrow will be a rest day for them , it may be a while before they climb out of those sleeping bags again. So stay tuned and we'll find out about their progress tomorrow.
January 24, 2004. Climb for Lyme. Camp I.
Hi this is Ken Bacco calling for Climb for Lyme. Today we moved up to Camp I at 16,200, this is the start of the high altitude part of the climb. Tomorrow we will carry up to our high camp at 19,200 feet. Both Dave and myself are feeling quite well at the moment, but tomorrow will bring another day of new challenges. Everyday a person affected by Lyme disease faces a new and difficult challenge. If only we understood Lyme Disease and could be more effective. Please get involved and help Climb for Lyme make the difference. There are children who deserve it. We can win this battle, thanks for your support.
January 24, 2004. Team V. Base Camp.
This is Team V, newly named Team Gots to Have it, formerly named Teamo Supremo, led by Todd Passey and Eric Remza. Greetings from Plaza Argentina Base Camp at 13,800 feet on the Eastern flank of Aconcagua. We arrived yesterday, January 23rd after the three-day trek in and up the Vacas and Rellenchos Valleys. Our first view of the mountain on the afternoon of the second day was a real stunner, it is truly one big mountain.
Today was spent resting and acclimating in preparation for our carry of loads up to Camp I at 16.2 tomorrow. We have to drink constantly in order to assist in acclimatization. Imagine having to drink 2 quarts of water throughout the night before getting up in the morning, a challenge in itself. Suffice it to say we pee constantly. The International flavor of Base Camp is a real treat. Climbers calling out to each other in Spanish, German, Russian and Italian lends an undercurrent of shared anticipation and excitement.
Despite a few mild headaches yesterday we are all feeling well and healthy. Kevin introduced Dennis to the invigorating enlightenment of an ice-cold mountain bath. Young Trevor, Grasshopper to his ascended masters, Eric and Todd, our guides, has chosen the path of wisdom, through listening. Michael seems unfazed by the elevation thus far after his recent ascent of Kilimanjaro. Rehn, the only female team member is a steady and strong force, shouldering the load without complaint on a team that would otherwise all be Y chromosomes. Kevin would like to send birthday greetings to his son Oliver in Baghdad, and a special hello to Lisa. Me be loving you much honey. Dennis sends a message to his family, "Heart is filled with love and gratitude for Brenda Beth, and Nate. This is Todd Passey, signing off.
January 23, 2004. Team Tortuga. Base Camp.
Hello from Aconcagua Base Camp. We also have a belated cybercast from Team Tortuga from January 22nd. Things have been pretty busy here so we've been running a little behind time. I have a written message from them that says, "This is Team Tortuga with Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes calling from sunny Base Camp. After a successful summit day, Traverse, Erik, Ang Dorjee, Ciaran, Ian, Doug, Bob, Glen, Marshall, Garrett, Dana, stood atop of Aconcagua, the Roof of America and highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere at 22,841 feet. Our summit day started with a weather check at 4:30am that revealed clear starry skies form our Camp IV at 20,600. After some lukewarm drinks and cereal bars, we were climbing strong, breaking trail and getting wind blasted. The wind was blowing so strong in the Grand Acero, that the tracks were being filled in before the second the second person could get to them. The Canaleta provided some protection from the wind and sunshine and beautiful snow conditions. The weather on the summit was perfect and there was plenty of time for hugs and photos.
Yesterday we descended form Camp IV down to Base Camp at 13,800 feet in a marathon push with brutally heavy packs. It was worth the effort however, as upon arrival in Base Camp we celebrated with champagne, wine and a spaghetti dinner. The Base Camp mess tent was full of smiles and sunburns and we celebrated well into the night. Tomorrow we start the trek out and plan to be in Mendoza in two days. We are all looking forward to Steak salad and wine. Today we also celebrated Bob C's birthday, we also say hi to Omar in Mendoza.
We also have a couple of message, one comes from Marshall, who says, "to my grandchildren, Grace, Emma, and Michael and to our our unborn Washington twinkle, I climbed to the highest point of any mountain outside of the Himalayas. If you put one foot forward enough times, anything is possible in life, love Pop." We also have a message from Doug, who says, "Greetings from Base Camp after a successful summit of Aconcagua. Love to Family and special friends and climbing buddies, including James, Rob, Doug Jr., Bob, Phil, Mary, Dennis Doug and also to Jen, sorry I missed you on the mountain, and Deborah." Also from Doug, "Happy Birthday to Lynn." So that's our belated hello from Team Tortuga as they head back to Mendoza.
January 23, 2004. Team Inconceivable. Camp II.
Hello, our next report comes from Team Inconceivable led by Willi and Winslow. It's Friday January 23rd and Winslow reports that they had a beautiful day today moving loads up to Camp III at 19,200 feet. Several people hit their lifetime high elevation point today,. The team enjoyed great view lots of sun and very little wind, which is always a blessing here on Aconcagua. Upon returning to Camp II, the group was looking forward to a nap and also looking forward to a dinner of curried rice as well as a good night's sleep. So that's it from Team Inconceivable at Camp II on Aconcagua, looking forward to moving up to Camp III.
January 23, 2004. Eckerd College Summit.
Hello, today's big news comes from Team SAS, also known as Team Final Countdown and also known as the Eckerd College Team. And at this point they are reduced to Steven F. and Andy W. along with Cece, who reached the summit of Aconcagua today at about 2pm. When we talked to them at the summit, they reported that they were tired but very excited at the summit, especially after almost being turned around by high winds on the mountain. Unfortunately, one last member of the team, Seth S, was turned back by the mountain yesterday and is now safely ensconced in Base Camp and waiting for his friends and teammates return.
Since the last cybercast the team has had a grand time despite sitting well above 19,000 feet. They had two full days that were spent acclimatizing at Camp III. The team played Spades and another game called Steve-o, or SAS, or some other name since the game is new. The games was conceived in Steven's high-altitude dreams and was perfected by the team later in the day after the dream. The highlight of acclimatization days included brief self-arrest lessons, learning to wear and use crampons, cliff-top hikes to local high points and a view which included Cerro Almano, Mercedario and of course Aconcagua itself.
Yesterday's move to Camp IV was quite a 'long hard slog' as a current administration official might put it, but was nonetheless successful. The movement upward began at 6:30 today and was cold and windy, however the team showed its mettle and pushed its way through to the top. By 6:15 radio call this evening we heard from them and they were safely back at Camp IV, enjoying hot drink prepared by Vance. Tomorrow the team begins its descent, propelled by thoughts of Mendoza with its showers, enormous local steaks, fine wines and of course, its media-based entertainment. Finally and most importantly the team is egged on by thoughts of loved ones following these cybercasts. The team looks forward to seeing everyone soon. That's the report from Seth Andy Steven, Cece and Vance.
January 23, 2004 Climb For Lyme, Base Camp.
Hey everybody out there this is Dave Morton with the Climb for Lyme and Ken Bacco. Just a short message tonight it's Friday the 23rd about a quarter to ten at night We had another good day today it was beautiful weather again. Tomorrow we're going to leave the luxury of Base Camp and good meals and start getting into our dry food,, Anyway we're looking forward to making some progress, making the move up to Camp I and after that we'll be carrying up to our second camp the following day. And then have a rest day, so we'll be at Camp I for a few days. Ken and I are both well, we say hi to everyone, and we will talk to you soon, bye.
January 22, 2004 Climb For Lyme, Base Camp.
Hi it's Ken Bacco for the Climb for Lyme on Aconcagua. Today the fun started, we had our first carry to Camp I at 16.2. It was a grueling 8 hours. We were treated to fantastic views of our route up the Polish Glacier. Dave spoke with another guide today who had just done the Polish Glacier Direct Route, which is our intended route also. He said it was in great shape, so hopefully, with a little luck, the good conditions will last.
I would like to say hi to everyone at Climb for Lyme: Debby and Diane and all the other wonderful people who make that great organization work. They all give so much to Lyme Disease. I am proud to be affiliated with such a dedicated group of people. Please get involved and help us make a difference in the battle with Lyme Disease. I appreciate everyone's help in getting the word out and making people aware. Every donation gets us that much closer to getting the Lyme Center at Colombia opened. Please consider making a pledge, thanks.
January 22, 2004 Eckerd College Group, Camp III.
The next report is from the Eckerd College Group, and they've sent me a written note which says, "Greetings to all the friends and family of our summit team. We are at Camp III at 19,200 feet, watching weather build on Aconcagua. The winds are picking up here and we are building up our rock walls to prepare for a storm that may be coming. Or perhaps if the weather gods are kind, this storm will not materialize. Aconcagua creates it's own weather, so it's always hard to predict. Another project of the guides this morning is to build a pulley system it between the tents to facilitate the transfer of hot drinks between one tent and another. We still have three weather days left and everybody is in good spirits." So stay tuned for our next adventures. We'll be back tomorrow with further news.
January 22, 2004 Team Inconceivable, Camp II.
Hello in cyberland, it's Thursday January 22nd and our first report comes from Team Inconceivable, led by Willi and Winslow. They're calling in from Camp II at Amagino Col at about 17,300 feet. The team is recovering from their rest day at Camp I with activities such as bathing, laundry, building rock structures, including building a 'rock man' and enjoying the day under a brilliant blue sky. Such a rest day. They finished the evening with a delicious strawberry cheesecake. The group was luck to get some with much effort, Winslow was able to pull it away from Willi and share it with the rest of the team. Today's move to Camp II was also brilliant with blue skies and very little wind. They have a wonderful Camp, they are in between rock pinnacles and Winslow reports that the Team was feeling good up to this point, but is also looking forward to a good night's rest and carry on up to Camp III tomorrow. Stay tuned for further news as Team Inconceivable moves up the mountain.
January 21, 2004 Eckerd College, Camp III.
Hello again, this is our report from the Eckerd College Team, which was sent down as a note from Seth, Steven and Andy because this team has a radio with a shorter antenna and as they are moving higher on the mountain, I am having a little trouble hearing them.
"This is Seth Steven and Andy reporting for Team Final Countdown. Aka "The Eckerd College Team." Our group has been so renamed, because the intro synth notes to the 80's song Final Countdown has provided a boost to our strength and spirit whenever needed. Unfortunately most of our original group of ten climbers have dropped off the summit team. We are happy to report, however that each individual decided to descend in good health and word from Base Camp is that each group is safely en route to Mendoza. Those of us who continue to climb upward are somewhat jealous of those who have descended, what with their showers and phenomenal steaks and wine, and their media-based entertainment. Anyway, Andy is especially jealous of that last comfort as he cached his book at Base Camp and his iPod died of hypothermia at Camp II. Seth generated a lively debate on the merits of rock vs. snow as a toilet paper substitute. Steven felt somewhat crappy on arrival at Camp II, but was relieved when he had his own personal high-altitude evacuation, no word yet as to whether he chose snow or rock. This morning after a group pow wow, we decided we felt strong and opted to do both our carry and our move today to Camp III. We did this under blue skies and in three hours with a little hello from Excedrin, aka vitamin E. That's the headache medicine.
This jump to being one day ahead of schedule was also made possible by our lead guide, Cecelia doing a pre-carry yesterday. Today Cece gave us a lesson in ice axe technique and Vance, our other guide, spurred us on with Soviet marching songs he learned as an exchange student Today we all felt a palpable move onto the high mountain. We are now at 19,200 feet and above most of the surrounding peaks, which have provided an amazing panoramic backdrop for our climb. We are now camped at the base of the Polish Glacier and ready t enjoy a well-earned rest day before moving to Camp IV and beyond. Should the gods smile upon us with good health and reasonable weather, we will summit in about three days. We look forward to giving you further updates from Team Final Countdown.
P.S. From a different Team on the mountain JJ and Horst summited with crew and are heading home. This update was gladly given in exchange for delivering this message.
January 21, 2004 Team Inconceivable, Camp I.
Good morning, our next report comes in from Team Inconceivable led by Willi and Winslow. They are reporting in from Camp I, where they had a very nice carry from Camp II today at 17,300 feet at Amagino Col. They made the carry without any problems, although there were a few tired people, but that's to be expected, after all we are at high altitude. The upper mountain is starting to dry out a bit, they had very little snow to deal with which is always nice. They are also getting the stage where there are neve penitentes around, very sharp little snow pinnacles. We talked a little bit about sublimation in the snow pack yesterday, penitentes are formed by differential sublimation, where the entire snow pack is disappearing, but the bases of these towers are disappearing faster than the peaks of the pinnacles. So the pinnacles actually grow until the entire snow pack disappears. It doesn't have anything to do with wind, it does have everything to do with very strong high altitude sun and dry air. It makes for great pictures and very bizarre and interesting snow forms that take one's mind off the very heavy pack they are carrying.
So things went well and afterwards, there were no mishaps over dinner, at least yet. Even though Willi is the one doing the cooking tonight. Tonight's special message is from Kurt who says hello to family and friends at the Scottsdale Sidal Church and co-workers at Wells Fargo. So for today, that's all from Team Inconceivable as they head up the mountain.
January 21, 2004 Team Tortuga, Summit.
Hello in cyberland, today's big report comes from Team Tortuga, led by Traverse Zink, and Erik Barnes calling in from the summit of Aconcagua. Where I recorded the entire team saying a big 'Hi". It was Tuesday January 20th and the Team called in around 3pm. They all made it to the top and everyone is doing really well. Erik says everyone is strong but feeling tired. It's been a long day. The variable weather has been pretty amazing. When they got up early this morning, about 4:30, it was pretty heavy wind, but by noonish, the winds died down, and they had a perfect summit day. Sailor Erik estimates about 3knots of wind at the summit, with very sporadic cloud cover. Absolutely beautiful.
They will be heading down again soon, but they have one word of wisdom from Glen D.: Glen sends his love form the top of the Western Hemisphere to his mom and dad, Neil, Ashley, Emma, Larry and his family and friends around the world. It's been a remarkable, successful journey so far, and it's all down hill from here."
So as they say in mountaineering, this is the halfway point, so everyone is going to be really focused on the way down. And as they head out, a big congratulations to Traverse Erik, Ang Dorjee, Garrett, Doug, Rob, Ian, Ciaran, Alan, Glen, Dana, and Marshall. Quite the accomplishment and Omar you are with them in spirit. And as a post script, I also talked to the team later at the 6pm radio call and all were safe and sound back at Camp IV and planning on heading for Base Camp tomorrow. So congratulations to Team Tortuga.
January 21, 2004 Team Eckerd, Mendoza.
Hello from Mendoza. Tim and Kali joined us after descending from Camp 2 to BC then riding out 30 miles out on mules with Arrieros. After a night in Penitentes, they returned to the thick air of Mendoza, a pleasant change from the air at Camp 2, over 17000 ft! We celebrated their return from high altitude with a superb Argentinean dinner!
Team Eckerd still has three team members moving toward the summit: Andy, Steven, and Seth. We wish then the very best on their journey.
Both Peter (Faculty-professor) and Conan (guide) noted that on many of the larger mountains, the summit is not readily achieved. The value of the climb lies more in the journey, the challenge, the camaraderie and the education. Each of the students on this journey has met extraordinary challenges throughout the expedition, and should be proud of their teamwork and their accomplishments. At its core, this is what the Eckerd College Expedition is all about.
January 21, 2004 Climb for Lyme, Base Camp.
Hey everybody this is Dave Morton and it's 10:00pm on Wednesday, January 21st in Argentina on Aconcagua. Ken and I are just settling in for the night. Tomorrow we are going to carry our first load of gear up to camp I. Today we had a great day, we went on an acclimatization hike to 15,000 ft. and had a beautiful view of the mountain over there and got some great photographs and just had another spectacular day again, we have been really lucky with the weather so far. Another group just came down and I can hear them in the tent drinking beer and celebrating their summit success yesterday. They said they had a pretty windy morning and then got to the summit and it was nice and calm. So we are hoping for the same. We have had a favorable report about the conditions on the Polish Glacier so hopefully that becomes the case and it stays the same when we get up there in a few days from now. So any way we are going to make a carry tomorrow and we will be in touch. Ken and I are both doing great and we send our best wishes out to everyone and we'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.
January 20, 2004 Climb for Lyme, Base Camp.
Hi this is Ken Bacco with Climb for Lyme on 1/20. We have arrived at base camp at 13,600 ft. after a wonderful trek up the Rellenchos Valley. We were treated with spectacular views of Aconcagua and the route we plan to climb up the Polish Glacier. It was awesome. Thanks to all of you who have been supporting Climb for Lyme and helping to make a difference. Lyme disease is a horrible illness that so many people are facing each day. The demanding climb ahead of me is nothing compared with someone's struggle with Lyme disease each day. We need to make a difference. We are all at risk. Please make a pledge. Join me and "Time of Lyme" in raising the needed funds required. Let's do it for our children, please make a difference and pledge.
Hi to my lovely wife, Lisa and great kids Matt and Laura. Thanks for making this possible. Thanks to everyone for the support. Thank you. Bye you guys.
January 20, 2004. Teamo Supremo, Penitentes.
Hola this is Eric Remza, Alpine Ascents guide with my second group of the Aconcagua season. This is Alpine Ascents 5 and our name is Teamo Supremo. Working along side me again is Todd Passey from Salt Lake City, Utah. Our team members for Teamo Supremo are Michael G. from Morrison CO, Kevin M. from Morro Bay CA, Dennis T. from Austin TX, Rehn H. from Seattle WA, and Trevor M. from Ottawa Canada. Just to give you a little recap, yesterday, Monday January 19, 2004 we were all in Mendoza, Argentina, had our welcome dinner and Mendoza lies around 3,000ft above sea level. And our welcome dinner was at a nice restaurant, we had plenty of steak and had some nice wine. It was a very nice meal there. Today, this morning, the 20th, we did a 3-hour drive from Mendoza to the ski area at Penitentes and Penitentes is where we will spend the night at the hotel and Penitentes lies at about 8,600 ft.
So when we got here we had lunch up here at a pizza shop. Then we went over and started finalizing our gear for the mules and Todd and I had to finalize some last minute packing so that took about an hour or two. This evening we had another dinner at the Penitentes hotel. There are plenty of people here right now returning from the mountain. Everyone looks very sunburned and sounds like there has been some mixed weather for the past couple of weeks since Todd and I have been up there. So tomorrow we are going to be leaving Penitentes and will drive about 500 ft to the trailhead at the bottom of the Vacas Valley. The Vacas Valley, the Valley of the Cows and we will be heading up the Vacas Valley for next two days. Tomorrow we will be going from Punta de Vacas to Pampa de Lena, it's about 9 miles and takes about 7 hours. The day after tomorrow which will be Thursday, January 22nd we will be going from Pampa de Lena to Casa de Piedra and Casa de Piedra is our camp right at the head of the Rellenchos Valley. So the day after that we will be going up a second valley, the Rellenchos Valley and that's where the climb actually starts getting steep and it's a real narrow valley down the Rellenchos and then as you get higher it opens out to a nice mellow incline up to base camp. And that will be our third day, our day from Casa de Piedra to Plaza Argentina which will be our base camp and that is roughly at 13,800 ft. It's about 10 miles from Casa de Piedra to Plaza Argentina and it takes about 8 hours.
After dinner Todd, Trevor and myself played foosball while the rest of the group did some stretching to loosen up for the trek before retiring to bed. So that is about it. We probably won't have any phone coverage for the next three days. This is Eric Remza signing off and again, this is Teamo Supremo (by the way the name kind of came to us once it was brought to the attention of the group, everyone bonded to the name and it seemed very effortless for our decision). Take care and this is Eric Remza from Argentina. Bye.
January 19, 2004. Team Inconceivable, Camp I.
Our next Aconcagua report comes form Team Inconceivable, led by Willi and Winslow. And our report is for January 19th and comes to you from the team at Camp I at 15,400 feet, that's Willi's Camp I, not the normal Camp I. He claims it's much better because they have it to themselves, they have clean water etc etc. For their move to Camp I today they had very dry conditions. As opposed to the day they arrived at Base Camp in white-out conditions and about 6 inches of snow all over everything. But the process of sublimation here n the desert mountain is very strong and very fast. It basically evaporates the ices from a sold state directly into a gaseous state without passing through a liquid state first. So they've been happy for sublimation because they've had a nice dry warm move to Camp I and they're hoping that that process will continue and consolidate the snow up higher.
Tomorrow the team will be doing a carry up to Camp II and will be coming to grips with the upper mountain for the first time. Willi reports that his capable assistant Winslow 'bobblehead' Passey is preparing dinner tonight, but there was a slight mishap when the can of clams was opened. Willi says there must have been one still alive and kicking in the can, giving Winslow a double squirt of liquid, so everyone is expecting an interesting clammy smell for the rest of the expedition. So that's the news from Team Inconceivable from Camp I and we'll be bringing more as we follow them up the mountain.
January 19, 2004 Team Eckerd, Camp II.
Hello from Aconcagua. Our next report is from the Eckerd College Team and the report was written by Kali and Tim, who report that they reached the first camp on the mountain at 16,200 feet. It was a tough climb as just that morning the team split, and the remaining mountaineers Andy, Kali, Seth, Steven and Tim, led by Cece and Vance continued on up without theirr new friends who were on their way back to Mendoza for some rest and relaxation. The weather has held little other than snow and more snow, or as Kali and Winnie the Pooh like to say, the past few days have been "blustery." The climbers withdrew to their tents, cuddling with their smelly socks until it came time to carry their gear up to the second camp. The next day brought with it another 1,200 vertical feet of elevation gain, where they dumped their gear for the next night, when they're going to be moving up to Camp II. After the carry they returned to Camp I, where once again it began to snow. A
fter dinner they stuffed as many people as they could into one tent to play cards and to think about their friends heading into the city. They all are missing Caitlin's musical stylings, Tracy's colorful fashionable wardrobe, Peter's off-colored jokes, Matt's game of skip-bo, Mark's zipper troubles and Conan's cousin Cletus jokes. So far so good for the Eckerd College Team, we wish well to those in Mendoza and success to those still up on the mountain.
January 19, 2004 Team Tortuga, Camp III.
Good morning from Aconcagua, where we are catching up on the latest reports from our three climbing teams who are up on the mountain. We apologize for missing a day or so here, it's been pretty busy with everybody going up and down. Our first report is from Team Tortuga for January 19th. Team Tortuga is led by Erik and Traverse and they're catching up from their last exciting installment, tortuga style. Since we last talked to them they have now moved to Camp II at 17,600 feet and then in a single move they pushed on up to Camp III at 19.2 There's nothing like a nice easy jaunt up the mountain but alas mountain will be mountains and they've experienced some of Aconcagua's best and worst. They've been getting dumped on with snow, they have a deep snow pack with a couple of feet deep at Camp III and they've had dense cloud cover, obscuring their gorgeous views and they've had great sun in the morning which also produces sweltering heat. So they've had some pretty variable temperature gradients to deal with, this unusual weather has seen many impatient teams bail off the mountain.
As a note to our cybercast readers: although this seems like an unusual weather system, it's really quite normal for mountaineering in general. So it's nothing to be fretting about. The team is doing great and not to be repetitious, but they're all very strong and acclimatizing well. The snow has actually made the climb very aesthetically pleasing, Erik said it's beautiful up there. So with a rest day at Camp III, the team is taking short hikes, and the Tortugas agreed that moving slowly at this altitude is the key to acclimatizing. After the grueling loads from yesterday's move, today is a great recovery day. Garret, Dana and Glen are all sunbathing with only about an inch of heavily sunblocked skin exposed to the sun. The rest are napping and preparing for the move to Camp IV tomorrow, hoping the weather will cooperate. The team also wants to say a hug hi to Omar who left the team on the move to Camp I with a pulled muscle in his calf. They're all looking forward to meeting up with Omar in Mendoza and hearing about the multiple quests that the team assigned to him.
We also have a little reading from Ian, one of our Irish team members. Ian say: "Apart from headaches, I'm doing very well, This is a big mountain, and looking forward to going higher. This had been a life-changing experience, I can pee in a bottle in my sleeping bag. I'm discovering that my beard is grayish. I cannot complain about other people's body odor anymore. I'm thinking of my special friend every hour I am awake and I'm missing you like crazy. And of course a huge hello to Ann and Miranda."
So that's all from the Tortugas for today as they make their way to the summit. Our next report hopefully will be one of success as they move up the mountain.
January 19, 2004 Climb for Lyme, Casa de Piedra.
Hey everybody this is Dave Morton and Ken Bacco with the Climb for Lyme, we are at Casa de Piedra, our second night of Camp on the trek in to Base Camp. It was a scorcher today, beautiful weather no clouds in the sky a little bit of wind, made really good time getting up here. Had a nice walk. Right before we got here, we got the classic view of Aconcagua, which each time you see it, it's definitely breathtaking. It is a gorgeous view and we spent a little time taking some photos there, Ken was impressed, Aconcagua is definitely a beautiful mountain, even though it gets kind of a bad rap. But it's gorgeous up here, this Andean Valley is cool, with lots of green vegetation on the ground, in the hills lots of browns and reds, so anyway it's just been a gorgeous day.
We settled in our sleeping bags right now, had a great hamburger dinner tonight. Tomorrow we'll be going on up to Base Camp, we're going to try on getting up pretty early and we have a little bit of a river ford here right out of camp so we'll wait for the sun to hit us so it's not too cold when we get across and then it should take us another 6,7 hours up to Base Camp. and look forward to seeing Ellie up there, and settling into the comfort of Base Camp and get to our supplies that we haven't; been able to access on the trek. Anyway I hope you're all doing well and we'll talk to you tomorrow. Good bye.
January 18, 2004 Climb for Lyme, Pampa de Leña.
Hey everybody out there, it is Sunday January 18th and this is Dave Morton at Pampa de Leña with Ken and the Climb for Lyme. We had a great day moving up to Pampa de Leña from Penitentes. It was beautiful actually, we had a little bit of cloud cover which made it not so hot for most of the trip and since we've arrived here, it's cleared up beautifully and the sun is just going down, it's about 9:00 and we're getting a little bit of alpenglow in the far side of the valley, it's a real pretty night.
Ken and I have just settled down here, just finished dinner and we're going to get into bed a do a little reading. But we had a great day today. Last night we had our last toast and glass of wine down in Penitentes and a nice steak so it was a good treat to begin this journey. So we're hoping to move up to the next camp tomorrow, which is Casa de Piedra, it looks like we'll have good weather to do that as well, so we will talk to you tomorrow and we say hi to everybody out there, talk to you soon, bye.
January 18, 2004 Team Eckerd, Mendoza.
Hello from Mendoza from Peter, Matt, Tracy, Caitland and Mark. Why are we here so early, you ask? After a successful climb to Camp I (16,200 ft) to move gear, fuel and food in support of Team Eckerd's push toward the summit, it was determined by the guides in consultation with Peter, that Matt, Tracy, Caitland and Mark faced increasing challenges with the high altitude. Judgment was made in the interests of safety to have Peter (Professor Hammerschmidt) and Alpine Ascents guide Conan accompany these students on the trek back to Penitentes, then return to Mendoza where they will complete their course.
The other students: Kali, Seth, Steven, and Tim will continue their summit push with Dr. Andy Willis acting as their professor and with Alpine Ascents guide Cecelia and assistant Vance. We here in Mendoza (the Support Team) will be closely monitoring and hoping for the success of our colleagues on the summit team. It should be noted that already each and every student has done significant climbing, with everyone breaking their previous high altitude records, with many climbing higher than any point in the contiguous United States. Well done to all!!!
January 17, 2004 Team Climb for Lyme, Penitentes.
Hey there everybody, this is Dave Morton calling in from Penitentes in Argentina. It is the 17th of January, almost 10:00 o'clock at night. Ken Bacco and I are here with the Alpine Ascents private climb, called the "Climb for Lyme". We are part of a private fundraising climb. We just arrived in Penitentes this afternoon. It was a little cloudy when we arrived but we just walked outside and it's dark, we see some stars and it looks like the skies may be clearing. We are excited to get some good weather starting tomorrow. The last few days supposedly have been raining and snowing at various points on the mountain. So we are hoping to get some change in the weather and a little bit of luck here for our approach with some dry weather.
Ken got in yesterday, last night around 5pm. Last night we spent walking around the streets in Mendoza, had a couple drinks on the outdoor walking streets. We had a great dinner at an old ranch, winery that has been converted into a restaurant. The last couple nights we have some good Argentinean beef. We've had a couple last good meals
before we head up and eat a lot of pasta. We are going to try and call in everyday and get some messages out to folks who are watching.
We are looking forward to the climb; Ken and I are both really excited about it. We will call in tomorrow or the following day. Tomorrow night we will be at Pampa de Leña and the next day moving up to Casa de Piedra. We are looking forward to a nice, relaxing approach into these camps and we will be in touch. This is Dave Morton from the Climb for Lyme signing out. We will talk to you soon.
January 17, 2004. Team Inconceivable, Base Camp.
Greetings, this is Willi the weatherman reporting for Team Inconceivable. As unlikely as it may be we were able to avoid all off the traps, pitfalls, sirens and hoards of Europeans in the lower valley and we all arrived successfully at Base Camp yesterday. So Joe 'Max Headroom' G, and his trusty sidekick John H. would like to say hello to everybody. Coming to you from Italy, through Canada and through Argentina, Sam 'The Bald Carnivore' C. is here live and in person. And we have cameo performances from our token Brit, Dave 'Moonbeam' M. from none other than London and of course Kurt 'Gastronome' G. Last but not least we have Chuck 'The Hairy Professor' M. We are a bit suspicious of this man however, Charles McG. was assigned garbage bag #666 and we know that more is going to be said about this in the future. And we're going to be keeping a sharp eye on this gentleman, yes we are. Especially tomorrow while we do our carry to Camp I. Who knows? People sometimes disappear in crevasses up here, muhoohoowaahhhaha.
January 16, 2004 Team Tortuga, Camp II.
Hello this is Ellie calling in for Team Tortuga, led by Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes. Today is Friday, January 16th and the Tortugas are calling in from Camp I, where they're currently hiding in their shells to escape from the wind and the snow at 16,200 feet. Yesterday they carried loads up to Camp II and 17.6 and they were hoping to move camp today but due to the weather they ended up with an extra acclimatization day at Camp I. At 2:00 in the afternoon, it looked like the weather might be on the upswing so they packed up Camp and started to head up the mountain only to be turned around by the wind, snow and thunder. So they snuggled into their warm sleeping bags again.
Each tent group was trying different activities to fight off tent-bound boredom. Bob Doug and Garrett are counting the nylon squares inside their tent because they have no books to read. Glen, Marshall and Dana are busy reading and writing, and occasionally throwing snowballs at Traverse and Erik's tent. And Ian, Ciaran and Al are all playing cards. Word has it that they are playing Old Maid and Traverse and Erik are grooving to MP3's reading books and worshipping their Anna Miranda shrine. So until tomorrow that's all from the Tortugas and they are crossing their fingers for better weather for their move on up to Camp II, so stay tuned for more news from the Tortugas.
January 16, 2004 Eckerd College, Base Camp.
Hi this is Cecelia calling in for the Eckerd College Expedition. We awoke to beautiful sunny skies today, quite the contrast from the snowy day that we were experiencing yesterday. Fortunately yesterday was our scheduled second rest day in Base Camp, so we enjoyed French Toast and a leisurely day packing up for our move up the mountain. We are planning on heading up the moraine at about 10:30 this morning, and setting up our first camp, sleeping at our first camp at 16,000 feet. I have messages from all of the team members to their families and I will start with Peter:
What a great experience to be a part of this team meeting the very toughest physical mental and emotional challenges. Everybody did great on the carry to Camp I, the toughest challenge is being away from Jodi Eric and Christine. I love you all so much and can't wait to be with you again. Thanks for the mouse.
From Matt: This is the hardest I've worked in my entire life. It has been very educational, thinking of you all, and of course frapaccinos.
From Mark: Hey Mom and Dad and Champ I successfully made it Base Camp and am looking forward to trying to make it to Camp I. I've a good beard going and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon, love Mark.
From Tracy: I'm having a great time in Argentina. Love you mom and dad and Armand.
From Andy: Howdy to the family. Peace on and H-Bomb and all my peeps. Feeling great and looking forward to the high mountains. But please, schedule a massage fro February 1st.
From Caitlin: Caitlin sends much love to family, friends, Gatsby and Marws. I'll tap some snow and bring it home.
From Steven: I love you Mom, Dad Jamie John and Jen. All is going well.
From Kelly: I miss you guys, keep praying for us, knock, knock, knock.
From Seth: Spectacular scenery made the tough climb worthwhile two days ago. Especially the snow spikes which are called penitentes here. I send love to family and am doing great.
From Kim: Though the hikes get tougher, the team keeps on truckin' The group and I are doing great and functioning as the best team that I have ever been a part of. As for family and friends, I love you lots.
So that's our messages from the team, sounds like everyone is missing folks back home and having a great time here on the mountain. I'll be checking in in a day or two. Ciao.
January 15, 2004 Team Tortuga, Camp II.
Hello, this is Ellie calling in for Team Tortuga, brought to you by Traverse and Erik. Today is Thursday, January 15th, and Team Tortuga is gaining altitude on Aconcagua. Today they completed their carry to Camp II at Boureasa Col at a magnificent 17,800 feet. They woke up this morning to warm sun and a light dusting of snow. They were treated to Colin's artistic side, as he created crop circles in the snow as he paced around camp, somehow he just couldn't sleep in along with the rest of the team. Erik reports that they were very magnificent circles. Everyone thought the carry to Camp II was pretty mellow and the whole team was looking really strong, so after the carry the team crawled into their tents as once again the evening snow hits for the second night in a row. It was a little breezy but things are looking pretty good.
We also have a message from Marshall. Marshall says, "I love you Pam you are always in my heart, please don't worry, I always come home."
Also, for Miranda, Erik says he and Traverse have been working on the wedding plans, but he says the coms have been pretty poor, so he's going to have to work on his tan instead. But all joking aside he just wants to say thanks to the whole family in New Zealand who are putting this event together, he loves you and misses you. And to end it all in the words of our Irish friends, "We're going hiyar". So that's all from the snowman-building Team Tortuga.
January 14, 2004 Eckerd College, Base Camp.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in for the Eckerd College Group, led by Cece and Conan. Having arrived at Base Camp yesterday, they have all been enjoying a day of rest with great food, wonderful company, luxurious bathroom facilities and beautiful views. Since their last cybercast, they have crossed numerous miles of desert and gained over 6,000 feet in elevation. They all remain happy and healthy and excited for their adventures to come.
Base Camp is situated just Southeast of the summit at about 13,800 feet. This evening we actually had our first light snowfall, dusting our camp and all the surrounding areas, it was absolutely beautiful. The mountains are stunning and the snow has since made that even more so. But perhaps the greatest sight of all is the smiles on the faces of the team and their guides. The group has been gathered in the mess tent, bundled against the cold and are busily planning the upcoming ascent to Camp I tomorrow.
The group so far has enjoyed evening card games in camp and challenging each other to riddles on the trail. I'll have to get some examples of them to pass on. They've had several river crossings and on one of them the were assisted by mules which provided Caitlin with her very first mule ride, what a thrill. And Peter was very moved to discover the cat toy mouse that his family hid in his backpack. So more new from the Eckerd College group as they move on up the mountain, this is Ellie from Aconcagua Base Camp.
January 14, 2004 Team Tortuga, Camp I.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie calling in for Team Tortuga, led by Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes. Today is January 14th and the team has been calling in from Camp I at 16,200 feet. And when I talked to them, they were currently eating dinner in a snowstorm. According to Traverse, they were all sitting outside in the snow having hot drinks and awaiting the main course, so it sounds like everyone is doing well up there. Traverse says everyone is feeling strong after their big move up to Camp I today. The morning started out great with big bowls of oatmeal thanks to Erik and his wonderful 'chef-hood' as Traverse describes it. They made the trip up to Camp I in good shape and spirits are high and they are planning to call in tomorrow with news of their carry on up the mountain to Camp II.
In the meantime Garret is still the group garbage disposal, finishing off any meal leftovers that happen to be left around. And Dana is still showing remarkable restraint and has yet to plant her ice axe in any of her male companions for rude expedition behavior, so hang in there Dana, we're all cheering for you. So that's it from Team Tortuga from Camp I on Aconcagua.
January 13, 2004 Eckerd College, Base Camp.
Hello this is the Eckerd College Team checking in from Base Camp. All members of the expedition arrived at Base Camp yesterday and spent today resting and recuperating from the long climb up the Vacas Valley. Everybody is in good spirits, tomorrow we plan on carrying to Camp I, weather permitting, while we're facing a little bit of snow right now, but we anticipate good weather in the morning. We'll be checking back in with you tomorrow, until then good day.
January 12, 2004 Team Tortuga, Base Camp.
Hello all this is Erik and Traverse with Team Tortuga, calling from Base Camp here on Aconcagua. Today's activities are definitely in sharp contrast to with yesterday. We're spending the day resting and recuperating after a grueling carry to Camp I at 16.2 We brought up all our high camp gear and food and supplies, so we're nice and prepared to continue to ascend up the mountain in true Tortuga style, with our houses on our backs, we crept through 2m penitentes, large snow structures in the melting snow and we were astounded by the surrounding beauty when we took our gazes off our feet and lifted our heads up into the air. Everyone agrees that the rumors are true: carrying to Camp I is truly a humbling experience. It was so hard , that Garret even stopped talked about women, well at least for a minute or two.
Today we had a big pancake and egg brunch, we're relaxing and in the afternoon we followed that with a three-ring circus, complete with jugglers and pois (Maori tradition) flying in the air. Anyways I think the flame against our stoves was ixnayed as Ellie came running in and stopped us from juggling those in the tent. But she is letting us have a little bit of fun here. The order of the day was to relax figuratively and mentally and definitely try not to get sunburned as they are out bathing and washing their clothes.
Bob sends a little greeting to FOB, or what he calls Friends Of Bob, and Traverse and I want to say that Bob has definitely been designated as our team masseuse so he's working out pretty well as far as our team here. The rest of the team sends their love and hellos and tomorrow we are moving up to Camp I. So 'til then this is Team Tortuga signing out, bye.
January 12, 2004 Mules Voladoras, Mendoza.
Hola from beautiful Mendoza, Argentina. This is Eric Remza with team Mules Voladoras (the flying mules). I can bet that a lot of you out there are probably wondering what we have been up to since our transmission failure on Cerro Aconcagua on January 4th, roughly a week ago. Well we were able to get a total of seven to the summit of Aconcagua in good style. The lucky crew was Eric Remza, Todd Passey, Ang Dorji, Keith Norbutt, Will Draper, David Liaño Gonzalez, and Sam Plati. Lew Miller was able to reach a personal high point goal of 20,600ft and greeted us upon our return with post-summit photos at camp four. Those in spirit with us on that day were of course Ricardo Sr. Liaño, Ricky Jr. Liaño, Curtis Gong, and Henry Persons. We wish all of you could have been with us as we reached our goal of setting our feet upon the summit. Although, the mountain isn't going anywhere too soon and I can bet that this mountain hasn't seen the last of certain members of team Mules Voladoras in the future.
After our successful summit we spent another night at Camp IV, exhausted from our final siege on the mountains slopes. Nestled in our down sleeping bags, some of us tried to sleep, although it wasn't the altitude or wind that was keeping us awake. It was the consistent moaning of bubbles (Will) not a wind blowing in from the west. You always know when Will is sleeping well because he moans in his sleep and that evening he was in full swing. On the morning of January 5th we then woke up and made our way down to Camp III (19,200ft), where we loaded our backs with plenty of gear. We really did look like mules and our loads kept on getting bigger as we picked up more caches at Camps II and I on our way to base camp.
Base camp the evening of January 5th. Home sweet home after our time on the higher slopes of Aconcagua. Although you are at 13,800ft, the air already seems thicker down at this elevation after being so high up for so long. You think that we would have been tired, but we had plenty of celebrating to do, remember we had to make up for New Years, so Happy New Years! Ellie and I made up some pasta with fresh veggies and freshly grated cheese and everyone ate like wolves. Although when I asked the question to the group, "would you like a beer, some wine, or a hot drink?", the response from the group was not of the latter. We ended up drinking a total of 3 bottles of wine and roughly a case of beer as we laughed and played hearts well into the evening. We enjoyed the company of Ryan and Henri, two climbers who had finished climbing the Polish Direct route on the Polish Glacier and had been paralleling our expedition from the beginning.
January the 6th. Rest day at base camp. Tired from the evening's festivities we took our time getting up and had a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs. Todd had the fun endeavor of cracking open a total of 3 doz. eggs that had been sitting in the sun for the last 3 weeks awaiting our return. Although the eggs looked like something out of a "haunted house" display, they passed the three person quality control panel. The panel all "smelled" each egg to make sure it wasn't rotten, and much to our satisfaction, all eggs successfully passed the test! Latter that day Todd and I organized gear, food, etc. for our two day trek out of base camp, while folks in the group rested and relaxed in the afternoon sun of base camp.
Latter that evening myself and Ang Dorji made pizza for the group and what is a pizza party without more beer, wine and fun? We then drank the remainder of our beer and the two bottles of wine we had left. We then raided the boxed wine that Ellie gave us from Willi's last group and as Lew said, "this wine tastes like nectar from the gods!", well not quite in those words. Well on our way to another good evening the remaining few settled down for another battle of hearts. Then Bubbles brought our 3 Cohiba cigars from his (he is British) visit to Cuba and then the party really got going. Cohibas, Hearts and Friends. The following morning Ellie was not pleased with her base camp tent smelling like Castro´s Den from the previous nights endeavors... (Oh, we also had woman named Elle join our expedition at this point, she is a doctor from New Zealand and her husband is a mountain guide as well ! who was working on the mountain. She joined us for the trek out and then hung out with our group on various evenings in Mendoza before she took off for Bariloche.)
The following morning... January 7th. We began our 20 mile trek from Plaza Argentina to Pampa de Leña. We usually do this trek in one push and it goes pretty quick since we have the us of the mules to lessen our burden. Sad to see the mountain go, we were well on our way to getting back to Mendoza. At Pampa de Leña we ran into Team Tortuga guided by Traverse Zink and Eric Barnes. (Sam took pleasure in telling the team what misery laid ahead as the fellowship moved closer to Mordor and the pending Mount Doom). Most of us took the advantage of sleeping out under the wonderful Argentinean night sky and it is nice to see the southern cross and greater and lesser Magellenic clouds which dominate the sky down here at night.
January 8th. We finished our long awaited trek from Pampa de Leña to Punta de Vacas, the head of the Vacas Valley. Our ride picked us up and transported us back up to Penitentes where we had another pizza party, but instead of beer and wine, we drank water and cokes, this we found out is better for hydration and rebuilding muscle tissue that becomes damaged after taking on an endeavor like climbing Aconcagua. Our driver then took us about 5 km up the road to the the head of the Horcones Valley, this is the original trailhead for those who do the normal route on Aconcagua. But it is also a cool way to look up at the great south face of Aconcagua and get a final view of our mountain before we headed back to Mendoza. Upon reaching Mendoza we were greeted by Henry Persons, who rejoined our group and it was great to see Henry back feeling well and strong again.
January 8th in the evening. Mendoza. After we arrived in Mendoza and all had showers, we (Eric, Todd, Winslow (Todd´s wife), Will, Henry, Keith, Lew, Sam, and David) went out to have our celebration dinner at Francis Mallman, considered the nicest restaurant in all of Mendoza. After a wonderful dinner, which included fine wine, good meat and a rather impressive eating endeavor by Sam Plati (aka Mr. Pizza), Sam can really put down the food, I have never seen someone like him before, he is an eating machine. After dinner, we went to a local club called el Rancho, where we continued our celebration well into the morning, we ended up leaving in waves, with the final wave at around 8am. The Argentineans really know how to party down here.
So that is about it, there is plenty more, but as the saying goes...what happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain. All in all it was a wonderful group to guide and working with Todd Passey was a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoyed our experience, and I know we all had a great time living it! Till the next time, this is Eric Remza signing off for Alpine Ascents Aconcagua expedition number two, Mules Valadoras and Living la vida loca!!!
January 10, 2004 Eckerd College Group, Penitentes.
Hi this is Cecelia Mortensen from the Eckerd College Expedition we have arrived in Penitentes, the hotel where we begin our three-day trek into Base Camp. Everyone is doing great and we had a really good night last night we went for a hike in the afternoon, got to see some of the spectacular mountains of the Andes. Just about to hike into begin our 9-mile trek into our first Camp on the way in. Our expedition includes myself, Conan Bliss, Lance Colbert, Peter H, Steven S, Timothy W, Mark B, Caitlin D, Andrew W, Katy C, Matt T, Seth S, and Tracy P. And everyone here wants to send their big hellos to friends and family and are really looking forward to doing this trip, everything's going great, take care.
January 10, 2004 Team Tortuga, Base Camp.
Hello from Base Camp, this is Team Tortuga with Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes. We had a great three days hike in, a brilliant hike up the Vacas Valley led us to our camp at the head of the Rellenchos Valley, giving sight of Aconcagua. Arising early to take pictures at sunrise at the head, we crossed the Vacas valley on mule backs. We sang a hearty birthday song to Jared, January 7th as we hiked to Casa Piedra. After a bumpy ride across we wound our way into the Valley dodging the runaway mules, Ellie and Ang greeted our arrival with cold water and huge smiles at Base Camp.
Today we spent the day resting, eating and acclimatizing, filling ourselves up for the carry to Camp I tomorrow. After filling up with fresh spring water, mountain air and an impromptu yoga session, we are packing up and ready for a fine diner tonight. The team is looking strong having lots of fun, we are looking forward to our big day tomorrow when we carry to Camp I. This is Team Tortuga signing out.
January 8, 2004 Eckerd College Group, Mendoza, Argentina.
The Alpine Ascents/Eckerd College Aconcagua Ascent Team arrived in Mendoza yesterday (January 7) and made final preparations for leaving to climb Aconcagua, packing gear, hundreds of pounds of food and fuel. After a superb Argentinean welcome feast last night, a good night's rest, and a quick breakfast, we are headed out of Mendoza today into the Andes. Tonight we will be staying at Penitentes, a small ski area lodge along the International highway crossing the Andes to Chile. All of the team members are excited to get started! Conan
January 6, 2004 Team III, Mendoza, Argentina.
Hello from Team Tortuga guided by Traverse Zink and Erik Barnes. The expedition members - Ciaran O'D., Ian K., Doug H., Bob C., Al W., Glen D., Marshall W., Garrett E., Dana G., and Omar A. had a chance to get to know each other over a "juicy" steak dinner in Mendoza before heading out to Penitentes where were are staying this evening.
We will be heading out into the mountains tomorrow. our route will take us 30 miles up the Vacas Valley and Rellenchos Canyon where we will arrive at base camp 13,800. The trek in will take three days through a beautiful river valley and on day three we will get our first views of the "stone sentinel," Aconcagua looming above the Rellenchos canyon. We will send our next cybercast when we arrive at base camp so stay tuned and with the "luck of the Irish" (Ciaran and Ian) the Tortuga moves on...
January 5, 2004 Team I, Mendoza, Argentina.
Greetings everybody, this is Willi Prittie reporting from Mendoza, Argentina. I'm just reporting the final wrap-up of Team Christmas on Top. As already reported we did give the Polish Glacier our best shot and turned back about 21,300 feet with deep wind-slab snow, but it was a beautiful day to be climbing and we had a good day on that anyway. We came back and were reunited with the rest of the party at Base Camp and spent the next three days walking out. We had a very nice leisurely walk out, basically sleeping in every morning, taking it easy. One morning we even had a champagne breakfast with champagne and strawberry cheesecake, lounging around in the sleeping bags until almost 11:00 in the morning. So it was a very enjoyable trip out that we had. We felt very rested when we got to Mendoza and we've been satiated by enjoying the wonderful steaks and red wine that Mendoza has to offer. Most everybody on the expedition lost between 5 and 10 kilos of weight despite all the serious eating that we were attempting to do and that's pretty typical at altitude.
Just as a final closure, we did want to mention all together that we missed Mark Minter. Mark had actually not recovered form the 24-hour flu that everyone else had, we had not had that on the cybercast before because he had left a little early and generally we like people to go out and contact their families right away so they don't get that type of information on the webcast first. But Mark we wanted to tell you that you were with us in spirit at the summit, we really wished that it could have all been together as a group. Also Mark Duncan form Hong Kong, even though he turned around at 22,600 feet, it was a valiant effort on his part and he was turned back due to a very very cold summit day that we had and one of the guides was concerned that he was actually freezing his cheeks, so it was a very good team effort, we almost had 100%, I was pulling for it but we were certainly all there, 100% at the summit in spirit.
The three elements of a successful climb and expedition were fulfilled, which we always talk about as an expedition: #1 everybody comes back, #2 everybody comes back with all parts attached and fully functional, and #3 everybody comes back friends because life is too short for anything else. Team Christmas on Top is now history, we've had a wonderful time and we'll all be friends for many many years to come on this. So that's all from Team Christmas on Top from Mendoza for the Aconcagua Season this year.
January 4, 2004 Team II Summits!
Hello this is Ellie calling in from Aconcagua and it's Sunday January 4th. Today was a big day for Team Mules Voladoras led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey. Today they reached their goal and stood on the top of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. The team left Camp IV at about 6:30 this morning and had perfect climbing conditions, not too cold and no wind. Actually there was a strange band of cirrus clouds out to the east with wind from the east so the team was protected from the wind when they crossed over to the west side of the mountain. (transmission ends).
January 3, 2004 High Camp. Team II
Good evening, this is Ellie calling in for Team Mules Voladoras, led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey. It's Saturday night, the 3rd of January. and the team just called in from Camp IV at 20,600 feet. They just did the move up to Camp IV today and the team is feeling really good. They left Camp III around 7:30 this morning and were blessed to have Ang Dorjie and Todd to go ahead and start setting up tents. So by the time the rest of the group got there all they had to do was lay out their sleeping pads and bags and move right in to the tents! Pretty nice.
As we talked the winds were a bit gusty but not too bad and the team is hoping that they will taper off later in the evening. They would definitely appreciate a little less wind tomorrow when going for the summit. They plan to leave Camp IV at around 6:30 in the morning and everyone is praying for good conditions to allow them to reach the summit of this beautiful mountain. So stay tuned tomorrow as the team hopefully heads for the top. The is Ellie signing off from Aconcagua Base Camp.
January 2, 2004 Base Camp. Team I & Team II
Hello out there in cyberland. We apologize for the delays, but here's our most recent cybercast from January 2nd, coming from Aconcagua. Well the dust is finally starting to settle after a couple of very hectic days here on Aconcagua. I think when we left off, there were six members and three guides from Team Christmas on Top reaching the summit on December 29th. At the same time Los Mules Voladoras were carrying gear up to Camp II and returning to Camp I to sleep.
Well the next day December 30th, things started to get a little crazy form there. Willi, Winslow, Nigel Clark and Tom Halliday stayed at Camp III at 19,200 feet to rest for an attempt on the Polish Glacier that night. While Ang Dorjie headed to Base Camp with the other five members of them team. On the way past Camp I, he also picked up Curtis Gong and Ricky Liano Jr. who were having some congestion and cough problems and decided not to continue the climb. As well as picking up Ricardo Sr., Ricky's dad who wanted to accompany his son back to Base Camp.
Meanwhile when Team II reached the Camp II, Henry Persons, who had been one of the strongest climbers in the group, started having trouble coordinating and concentrating. So he and Todd Passey, packed up and headed down to Camp I hoping to be able to spend the night and come back and joining the rest of the team the next day. Well by the time they reached Camp I, Henry was showing full-blown cerebral edema, so they kept moving, they left their heavy packs at Camp I and headed on down to Base Camp as fast as possible. By that time Henry needed assistance walking. Thanks go out to Nate a climber from Camp I who generously assisted Todd with the rescue and to Ang Dorjie and Paolo, an Argentinean guide working for Aymara who left Base Camp as soon as we knew the problem, to go up to help. Thanks also go to the Plaza Argentina Park Rangers and Base Camp Doctor Mario Salassa who helped get Henry into Base Camp and into a Gamov Bag right away. Ricardo Liano Jr. and Sr. sat up with Henry well into the night while Ellie kept everyone fed and scrounged up extra sleeping bags and warm clothes for the rescuers who came down without them. The good news is that by morning, Henry was much improved and well enough to ride out on a mule to get checked out by a hospital to make sure he was really okay.
Meanwhile at 2am on December 31st, Willi and the Polish Team started their climb. Willi reported that the bottom part of the route was wonderful Styrofoam cramponing but the upper part turned to wind-slab over sugary snow, which was possibly an avalanche danger and was definitely a big challenge trail-breaking. So the team called it quits at a little over 21,000 feet and headed back to Camp III and then on back to Base Camp, tired but glad to be off the mountain.
So today is January 2nd and here's how we stand: Henry is back in Mendoza. Ricardo and Ricky Liano left yesterday, riding mules and should be back in Mendoza by now. Team Christmas on Top left yesterday afternoon to begin a three-day hike out to Punta de Vacas and from there on down to Mendoza and they were also joined by Curtis Gong from Team II. The remaining Mules Voladoras Eric, Todd, Will Draper, Lew Miller, Keith Norbutt, Sam Plati and David Liano are all having a rest day today at Camp II and are preparing to continue to Camp IV tomorrow and then afterwards on to the summit. Ang Dorjie left Base Camp this morning to go up to Camp III at 19,200 feet to join the team, and Ellie is catching her breath at Base Camp sending the Group I cargo out on mules and hoping that things don't get this exciting again for a long time to come. Our apologies again for the delays of the cybercasts but everything is now well and that's the news form Aconcagua. (Editor's Note: we received a message from Henry saying he was well and resting in Mendoza and appreciated all the assistance).
December 29, 2003 Team I Summits! Team II at Camp I.
Hello in cyberland, this is Ellie reporting from Aconcagua for Team Christmas On Top. It's Monday December 29th and Team C.O.T. was a little late for Christmas, but today they did stand on top of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. When they left Camp IV at 6:30 this morning it was extremely cold, and enough wind that it looked like they might not get above Independencia but conditions moderated enough to allow them to win through although it was so cold they had to keep moving, they couldn't even stop for rest breaks because of the cold. This made for an early arrival and by 1:30 in the afternoon they were standing on top. So congratulations go to Nigel Clark, Carolyn Appen, Colin Wright, Gary Nelson, Tim Nelson, and Tom Halliday. Marc Duncan made a valiant attempt but turned around midway and returned to Camp IV with Ang Dorjie who then sped back up to the summit to join the rest of the team. Our thoughts also go to Mark Minter form South Africa who had to leave the mountain a couple of days ago with a GI ailment which had been going around the group but had hit Mark particularly hard. I can also report that the team is safely back at Camp IV enjoying soup and hot drinks before crashing for the night.
Meanwhile Team II, Los Mules Voladoras, led by Eric and Todd had a successful carry to Camp II today and are planning to move up to stay tomorrow as they move closer to the summit as well. So stay tuned tomorrow for further news from Aconcagua.
December 28, 2003 Base Camp. Team Mules Voladoras.
Hello this is Ellie calling in for Team Mules Voladoras led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey. It's Sunday December 28th, and the team had a wonderful move up from Base Camp to Camp I at 16,200 feet. At this time Eric would like to introduce the team and some of their new nicknames: Beginning with Eric, who is now being known as "Mr. Hot Dog," Senor Ricardo is "Mr. Taco," Ricardo Jr. is now "Ricky 'Living la Vida Loca' Martin," David Liano is "Bizarro," Todd Passey is now "Sponge Pants," Henry Persons is "Mr. Wonderful" and his partner in crime, Will Draper is now "Bubbles." Then we have "Sweet" Lew Miller and "Santa's Helper" is Keith Norbutt. Sam Plati is "Mr. Pizza." I don't know, it sounds like the team is having entirely too much fun up there, or maybe it's just the lack of oxygen at Camp I. Anyway, it sounds like they are off to a wild start up there.
In the meantime I'm also reporting in for Team Christmas On Top led by Willi and Winslow. And for them after hearing the report form the other team, Willi waxes poetic. He begins: "The azure blue sky, the sharp bite of the crampons on ancient ice, the squeak of ice axes and ski poles used for balance. Heads in the clouds, feet on the rocks. This is Team C.O.T. on Aconcagua." He says yes, they are there at Camp IV and tomorrow is a big day, they are all looking forward to the summit. They had an awesome day's weather and climbing getting up to Camp IV today and everyone is in good spirits and good health. They actually have a couple of neighbors up there at Camp IV that they have been chatting with. And at this point everything is looking like a 'go' for a great summit day tomorrow. So that's it for Team C.O.T. form 20,600 feet on the slopes of Aconcagua. We'll be reporting back on their summit attempt tomorrow.
December 27, 2003 Base Camp. Team C.O.T.
Hello out there its Dec 27th and his is Ellie calling in for Team Christmas On Top led by Willie and Winslow. The team did quite a job yesterday to get up the mountain and get Camp III set up. Willi reports that the team was fighting 50-60mph winds all day long it took a lot of energy to do the move with that kind of dusty wind blowing. But everyone did very well and pulled together as a team to get their camp set up 19,200 feet in record time. All tents and wind walls were up in about an hour and a half and the team moved into the tents for wind-protected comfort. It was a very impressive display of teamwork.
Today is a rest and recovery day last night was the third night in a row of heavy winds with gusts up to 60-80 mph but Willi reports that people still managed to sleep reasonably well. But the windy weather seems to have finally blown through and the team tonight is enjoying a calm sunny evening at Camp III. Apparently they're enjoying soup and tea actually outside their tents and they've invited a couple of Swedish friends to join them. Generally they are enjoying the mountain tonight as much as they were not enjoying it yesterday evening. If the good weather continues they'll be heading up to High Camp tomorrow, and hopefully on to the summit the next day. So that's all for today from Team C.O.T.
December 27, 2003 Base Camp. Team Mules Voladoras.
This is Todd reporting in from Plaza Argentina Base Camp. yesterday we carried loads up to camp I and this day was one of the most strenuous days of the climb but the entire group did great, and we all arrived back here to Base Camp feeling tired but very optimistic about our chances.
We bid Lulu a farewell yesterday as she began her voyage down and back to Mexico. We will miss her, she was an inspiring personality to have along. We spent the day relaxing and getting prepared to move up the mountain. It's been nice to have a true down day before the climb really gets underway tomorrow. Eric and Sam want to send out a very happy birthday wish to their mothers. We will report to you from Camp I next time if all goes well, so wish us good luck and happy holidays to all from Team Mules Voladoras, good bye.
December 25, 2003 Base Camp. Team I & Team II.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie Henke reporting in for Team Christmas on Top led by Willi and Winslow. It's December 25th and Team C.O.T. actually spent Christmas at Camp II, where Willi reports that they had an evening of fairly strong winds last night, gusting 60 to 70 mph. But just about everyone was able to sleep through it anyway, at least until there was an overload in the air-traffic control pattern and the team got a little visit from Santa and his reindeer. Santa was temporarily grounded at Camp II until the skies were cleared for him. So at this point the team is full of vim, vigor and vitality for climbing this big hill. And they spent Christmas doing a carry up to Camp III, where they spent about two and a half hours clearing snow from the tent sites, and rebuilding the rock wind wall in preparation for moving up to Camp III tomorrow. Everyone is doing well and they are happy to be closing the gap on the summit. They are thankful to be blessed with blue skies and not terribly strong winds and warm sleeping bags on this chilly Christmas night, so we wish them well snuggling up there at Camp II.
Here at Base Camp the team known as Los Mules Voladoras, led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey, has a good rest day, at least the climbers did. The guides had a busy day organizing food and gear to be carried up to Camp I tomorrow. This is the team's first trip above Base Camp and they are all very excited for the climb to begin. So wishing everybody a merry Christmas from Aconcagua Base Camp, this is Ellie signing off for Team I and Team II.
December 24, 2003 Camp II, Argentina. Team C.O.T.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie Henke reporting in for Team Christmas on Top led by Willi Prittie and Winslow Passey. It's December 24th, Christmas Eve, and I know for sure that Team C.O.T. has just arrived safely at Camp II because I just talked to Willi on the radio. He confirmed that other than a few mild headaches, everyone was doing fine, but they had their hands a little bit full because it was fairly breezy when they were putting up the tents there at Camp II. There was a pretty good wind wall already at Camp II so I am sure they will be snuggled in their tents and doing just fine. After I talked to Willi we passed the radio over to Winslow to talk to her husband Todd, who is guiding the second Alpine Ascents expedition which just arrived in Base Camp. Well she must have been really excited to talk to him because she never came back on the radio to give me a real cybercast and or any other updates on how the team is doing.
But since it is Christmas Eve, we know the team sends Christmas wishes to all their family and friends and I even have a special message to send from Colin Wright. Colin and the Alpine Ascents Expedition would like to wish the Wright family and the Mylles family a Happy Christmas and a very special happy 50th birthday to Christine Lakie all from 18,000 feet. Colin says thank you for all the kind donations to the well deserving Williams Syndrome Foundation Charity. Colin is missing Laura like crazy and says that they are all working like crazy to get to the summit. So that's the word from Aconcagua Base Camp.
December 23, 2003 Camp I, Argentina. Team C.O.T.
Hello everyone, it's December 23rd and this is Ellie Henke, calling in for Team C.O.T. led by Willi Prittie and Winslow Passey who I just talked to on the radio from Aconcagua Camp I. We have a reunited team today. The stomach flu which seems to have affected half the group seems to have run its course, everyone has moved to Camp I at this point. The entire team made a carry up to 17,000 feet today and they are planning on moving on up to Camp II at 17,600 feet tomorrow. They are still enjoying wonderful weather and are appreciating the tranquility of their new site at Camp I, no one else is camping in that area, so it's a nice clean and pristine site that they have all to themselves. It's also a very quiet windless spot at night so everyone is getting a good sleep at that location. But the team is looking forward to moving on up to Camp II and then get up to the upper mountain.
The team would like to wish everyone out there a happy summer solstice from the southern hemisphere, although a day late. And in celebration of the solstice they are going to be having a solstice cake tonight. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the chocolate silk pie, despite the 1.5 kilos of pasta they have already consumed for dinner. So everyone is on the mend, they have healthy appetites, beautiful weather and the team is psyched to come to grips with the upper part of the mountain, which should start tomorrow. So that's the news for Team C.O.T. stay tuned for more news of them tomorrow. And hopefully tomorrow we will see the arrival of the second team here on Aconcagua, led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey., and we'll be looking for their mules and the team itself to come in tomorrow.
December 22, 2003 Camp I, Argentina. Team C.O.T.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie Henke reporting in for Team Christmas on Top led by Willi Prittie and Winslow Passey. Today is Monday December 22 and the good news for today is that Team C.O.T. is once again reunited at Camp I.
Willi and Ang Dorjie took the upper half of the team on a foray up to Camp II today. Word has it that they carried most of the food that they will need on the upper part of the mountain, all the way up to Camp II and they cached it there before returning to Camp I to sleep for the night. They arrived at Camp I shortly after the arrival of Winslow and Ellie and the lower part of the team coming up from Base Camp with the recovered ill people that are now on their feet and raring to go. When the evening shadows hit Camp I, Ellie and Dorjie bailed, and hightailed it back to Base Camp while the rest of the team snuggled in their tents with hot drinks and dinner.
The surprise for the day occurred when the team at Camp I was awakened by a loud clattering in the middle of the night. No it wasn't tiny reindeer hooves, it was a boulder rolling down from a nearby cliff. It didn't hit the camp but it was close enough to give everyone a good scare. With Team C.O.T. well on their way up the mountain, we are also awaiting the arrival of the next Alpine Assents Team led by Eric Remza and Todd Passey. We're expecting them to reach Base Camp sometime on Christmas Eve. So we're definitely looking forward to their arrival. For now, this is Ellie signing off from Aconcagua Base Camp.
December 21, 2003 Mendoza, Argentina. Team II.
Hi this is Eric Remza with Alpine Ascents' Aconcagua Expedition II. Our expedition name is "Mules Voladoras" which translates to "Flying Mules." Guiding along with me is Todd Passey from SLC UT. Our expedition members are Will Draper from the UK, Henry Persons from Atlanta, Curtis Gong from Phoenix, Lew Miller from Richland WA, Sam Plati from Toronto, Keith Norbutt from Chicago, David Liano from Mexico City, Ricardo Liano Jr. from Mexico City, Ricardo Liano Sr. from Mexico City and Lulu Liano. Lulu is Ricardo Sr.'s wife and will be accompanying us on the 30-mile trek into Base Camp. Tomorrow we will be leaving from Los Penitentes and heading up the Vacas Valley and heading to our first camp which will be at Pampa de Lena. The second day of our trek we'll be continuing up the Vacas Valley to our second camp at Casa de Piedra. Our third day of the trek will be spent going up the steep and narrow Rellenchos Valley to our 3rd camp, which will be our Base Camp for the next 5 days at Plaza Argentina, and that's at 13,200 feet.
So everyone is bonding really well. We actually have four of our members shaving their heads into Mohawks right now and we will keep you updated on that when we have our second cybercast at Base Camp. The next 3 days we will not be sending cybercasts. So look forward to hearing from us in about three days and we're looking forward to letting you know how our trip is going. This is Mules Voladoras and Eric Remza saying ciao form Argentina.
December 21, 2003 Camp I, Argentina. Team C.O.T.
Hello out there in cyberland, this is Ellie Henke reporting in for Team Christmas on Top led by Willi Prittie and Winslow Passey climbing on Aconcagua. The team moved up today, Sunday December 21 so I'll be reporting when they call down by radio. Most of the team mad it up to camp today and moved into the tents that we put up the day before yesterday. So it was very nice having the camp already prepared for them.
This camp is part of a new experiment to use an area below the horrendous scree slope that goes up to the traditional Camp I. We're hoping that by putting the Camp in a little lower, that we'll be able to climb that horrendous slope early in the morning when everyone is fresh, rather than last thing in the afternoon when everybody is really tired. It also looks good up there in that there seems to be a trail going up through the snow rather than on the loose scree. So that will definitely make things easier when folks start to go higher tomorrow. Moving this camp a little lower also makes for a little bit longer climb up to Camp II, but it makes the elevation a little bit more equal between Base Camp and Camp I and between Camp I and Camp II, so we're hoping that this experiment will work.
In the meantime, Colin, Tom and Marc, our final intestinal flu stragglers, are ready to move up from Base Camp to Camp I tomorrow to catch up with the rest of the team. They're through all the stomach gurgles and they seem to be doing very well at this point so they're ready to head on up. Team C.O.T. seems to be on the mend and are ready to tackle the upper slopes of Aconcagua. This is Ellie wishing everyone a Happy Solstice from Aconcagua.
December 20, 2003 Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I.
Greeting this is Willi Prittie with Alpine Ascents International calling from Aconcagua Base Camp. We had a very excellent carry up to Camp I, camping in a new location this year so we had a fair amount of work to do to build camp. Had excellent teamwork, got a pretty strong team here this year and came back down and unfortunately we've been stricken, almost half the team members, by some kind of very short duration, intestinal flu. So we took another unplanned rest day here at Base Camp today and everyone is coming around and getting over this pretty rapidly. So part of us today actually did a second carry up to camp I to bring the rest of our supplies up and consolidate things a bit.
We've been enjoying continued perfect weather here on Aconcagua with generally very mild winds and blue sky in front, very much enjoying that. Today we got back and we had a birthday boy, Nigel, who is celebrating his birthday today so we had a nice spaghetti feed and we had a birthday strawberry cheesecake complete with birthday candles on it.
A couple of quick messages also: Nigel's birthday wish to Ingrid his wife is: he send his love and he misses her and hopes that her wrist is on the mend. One more message from Colin to Laura "I love you and am missing you and looking forward to seeing you in January".
Everyone is in high spirits, even those that are on the recovery list from the intestinal flu that we've had, and were hoping to be pretty much back on track within a couple of days and very close to our climbing schedule here.
So that's the latest here from our team at Aconcagua Base Camp. It's pretty quiet here at this point, it generally doesn't get too busy until after Christmas, and there's maybe only two or three other expeditions here at this point. A nice Dutch group that we're socializing with nearby and a scattering of American climbers and Argentinean climbers. So pretty quiet and beautiful weather on Aconcagua as we speak ,we're hoping for more to come, and it would hurt my feeling not a bit if the weather maintains it currently mild state. So that's all on this day before the Summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.
December 19, 2003 Aconcagua Base Camp, Argentina. Team I.
Hello everybody out there, how's it going in computer land? This is Team Christmas On Top reporting from Aconcagua Base Camp. We had a couple of technical difficulties but everything is online and doing fine now. We had wonderful trek in, after weeks of bad weather, high winds and persistent snowfall on the mountain, the day that we started our trek, the weather changed. And we have beautiful blue skies, slightly cooler than average conditions with gentle light breezes, which is absolutely perfect walking in conditions.
Until we got to base camp, we had a wonderful rest day yesterday, everybody arrived in good shape/ we had a couple of headaches and a minor stomach upset, but this is probably the healthiest group I've seen in two years down here. We're psyched to do our first carry up to Camp I today and there is of course an interesting rivalry going on between the British ex-patriot contingent and also the American contingent. They haven't yet converted the American contingent over to vegemite or marmite, but we will keep you posted on how that is going.
Christmas on top is looking forward to our carry to camp I today, it looks like our perfect weather is continuing today we have windless blue sky conditions on the mountain with no clouds in sight, so we're psyched to get our teeth into the climb and get going. Not very many people on that mountain at this point but that will of course change in January at the height of the high season We've had interesting encounters with some locals and some other climbers who are on the same schedule as we are. It's always fun on a expedition to meet the other climbers and be able chit chat and see what everyone else's program is doing. So that's all form Aconcagua Base Camp and we'll keep you updated hopefully on a more regular basis and we'll talk to you soon.
December 15, 2003 Penitentes, Argentina. Team I.
Greetings to everybody our there to everyone following us on the internet on AlpineAscents.com. This is Willi Prittie opening up our 2003-2004 Aconcagua season. We're getting started on our first trip, bringing base camp in, bringing our first expedition in, we've got a good group, we're having fun already. We've got Tim and Gary Nelson, Carolyn Appen, Tom Halliday, Mark Minter, Nigel Clark, Mark Duncan, and last but certainly not least, Colin Wright. And then of course Ellie Henke going into Base Camp and we have Ang Dorji who is going to be our higher altitude guide, and Winslow Passey and myself doing the actual guiding work, day to day on this first expedition of the season.
So far it sounds like we're perhaps going to be paying the piper for the the past three seasons of better than average weather. It's some of the worst weather in memory early season here on Aconcagua, continuous high winds and continuous snowfall high on the mountain. Apparently there has been no one that has summited in the last week and a half and many parties are pretty much tied down in their camps and unable to move, by wind on the mountain at this point. So it looks like a pretty challenging early season, we're hoping it's going to blow all that out of it's system so we'll enjoy better conditions when we get up there. We shall see. Certainly this mountain is big and it's windy and it's always a challenge and we'll be accepting those challenges and having a good time doing it, because hey that's what life's about. So that's all for today, we're beginning our trek in today, it will be about 30 miles in three days up the Valley of the Vacas River and we'll let you know more over the next couple of days as the trip begins to unfold. So cross your fingers for us, wish us some good weather and we'll be talking to you later. This is Willi Prittie.