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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Summary of Alpine Ascents' Dispatches

For your reading pleasure I have collected and ordered the official dispatches of our trip from Alpine Ascents (

Team VII: 1/4/2010
Greetings! Team 7 has arrived in Mendoza with all gear and had a traditional Argentine dinner last night. Today we will get our permits, drive to Penitentes & spend the night at the hotel Ayelen, then begin our 3 day trek to Plaza Argentina base camp tomorrow. We look forward to beginning our hike up the Vacas Valley tomorrow, and hopefully will spot some condors and guanacos along the way!
- Garrett Madison & Kajsa Krieger

Team VII: 1/6/2010
Alpine Ascents cybercast for Team VII Aconcagua, this is Garrett Madison and Kajsa Krieger on January 6th. Today we have reached Casa de Piedra camp in the Vacas Valley, our second day on the trek. Everybody is doing great except for Chris who has decided to head back today, he back in Penitents tonight and will be headed on to Mendoza. Tomorrow we are going to head up the Relinchos Valley and arrive at Plaza Argentina base camp. We had a hamburger dinner tonight and we are looking forward to a nice day tomorrow, it has been hot and sunny. Everybody else is doing well here on Team VII, we will check in tomorrow.

Team VII: 1/7/2010
Hi Garrett Madison and Kajsa Krieger calling in from base camp with Team VII Aconcagua, everybody is doing great; that is Jason, Gosia, Kurt, James, Michael and Stephen. We are going to take a rest day tomorrow and we just had a great dinner, the weather is good, it is a little windy, a little breezy here. We will check in with you tomorrow, cheers.

Team VII: 1/8/2010
Hi this is Team VII checking in from base camp on Aconcagua. It is a beautiful sunny day, everyone is hanging outside and music is in the air. We had a morning hike to the headwaters of the Relinchos River and then a delicious pasta lunch with yet more steak. Our afternoon session of yoga and abdominal exercises will certainly prepare us for tomorrow’s carry up to camp I. All is well, until tomorrow ciao.

Team VII: 1/9/2010
Hi this Team VII, Aconcagua Garrett Madison and Kajsa Krieger calling in from Plaza Argentina base camp. Today we made our first foray up the mountain and carried a load to camp I and cached it there, tomorrow our plan is to move up to camp I and spend the night, looking forward to carry the following day to camp II. The weather is beautiful here and all team members are doing great.

Team VII: 1/11/2010
Hello today is Monday January 11th calling in for Aconcagua Team VII today we made a carry up to our camp II at Ameghino Col at 17,500 feet. It was a pretty windy day, probably reaching 50 mph up at the Col but we managed to get all of our loads up there to our camp and cached them. Now we are back in our tents at camp I relaxing about to enjoy some cheese and crackers and hot soup. Everyone is doing great here, we are acclimatizing well and it is sunny warm and we will just hope that the wind dies down here in the next couple of days. We will check in soon.

Team VII: 1/13/2010
Greetings today is January 13th this is Garrett Madison calling in with Aconcagua Team VII. Today we moved up to our second camp at Ameghino Col, we had a great day, not much wind and sunshine. We made it up to the Col in about five hours. We have now set up camp and had a snack of hot drinks and soup and now we are cooking dinner, we are going to have dinner and go to bed. Tomorrow we are going to carry up to camp III, tomorrow should be a big day for us. We are suppose to have a couple of really nice days coming up, low winds and lots of sunshine so we are looking forward to that. A message from Kurt Hunter he has a blog going at He is posting things from our team as well and he has some interesting information regarding our location and some tidbits from our days as well. Everybody is doing great. Check in with you soon bye.

Team VII: 1/14/2010
It is Thursday, January 14 this is Garrett Madison and Kajsa Krieger calling in for Team 7 Aconcagua, today we made a carry up to our camp III and then returned back to camp II. We are tucked in our tents now and it is snowing quite a bit, we are getting about six inches of accumulation. So tomorrow our plan is to move up to camp III and then take a rest day, we will check in with you soon.

Team VII: 1/15/2010
Its Friday January 15th this is Garrett and Kajsa calling in from camp III. Everyone made it here today, we set up the tents, had a snack and hot drinks and now we are getting ready for dinner and bed time. Tomorrow is a rest day and the following day we plan to move to high camp, camp IV at Black Rocks. Again everybody is doing well, the weather is good, we had a little bit of snow today which makes for a nice contrast in the mountains. One of our friends, and Alpine Ascents’ guides Lhawang Dhondup has made a guest appearance in our tent to bring us some hot Sherpa tea, thank you Lhawang.

Team VII: 1/17/2010
Hi this is Garrett Madison calling in for Team VII Aconcagua, we have arrived at high camp, camp IV. We have had dinner and we are now going to bed. Tomorrow the weather looks favorable so we are going to go for the summit tomorrow. The following day the winds are suppose to increase significantly so we are hoping to get in our summit tomorrow and then descend the following day. We will give you a call tomorrow, on Monday to let you know how our summit attempt has gone, talk to you soon.

Team VII: 1/18/2010
Greetings friends, family and loved ones this is Team VII Aconcagua calling to check in, Garrett Madison and Kajsa Krieger. Today was our summit day and we reached the top along with James, Mike and Gosia. It was a pretty windy day, cold temperatures, snow and white out conditions. It was very challenging conditions many teams on the mountain, many climbers ended up turning around today but we are all back in camp, safe. We just had a hot dinner and tomorrow we are going to go to bed and descend all the way down to Plaza de Mulas base camp and the following day hike out to Penitentes. Thanks for following along.

Team VII: 1/20/2010
Greetings today is January 20th this is Team VII Aconcagua, calling in for the final cybercast. We reached Plaza de Mulas last night and a wonderful dinner and a good night sleep. Today we are hiking out to the trailhead.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Flickr Now Has ALL of my Aconcagua110 Photos

My entire photo catalog for Aconcagua110 is now GEO coded and uploaded to Flickr.  Enjoy at

Call me The Entertainer,

Pardon My Dust

Excuse me while I adjust elements of the blog to incorporate all of my photos and other data.  Some links might break and be repaired in the processs.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Was Watching?

People from all over the World were tuning in to our climb.  That's pretty exciting.  Anybody know that guy in Fairbanks, AK?  Over 3,700 visits from 280 different cities in over 30 countries!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

And home...

The adventure, the journey, the quest is complete. More than the scenery, more than the challenge, more than the physical endurance, I will always remember and always cherish the deep friendships that I have made through this incredible shared experience.

The trip of a lifetime, but damn it's good to be home.

More photos, longer stories to come. Don't lose the URL.

Follow your dreams to higher places,

Still Enroute

ReLAXing through another 4 hour layover at LAX. At least I'm in the right time zone and back in the good old USA. Made it through Customs once again without any eyebrows going up. I think they knew better than to open those bags with climbing clothes carring three weeks of ode de Kurt on them. Leslie: get the gasoline and matches ready.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Longer Roughing It

My tentmate Steve maintains his Admiral's Club membership and now Mike  and I are his guests here in Santiago, Chile for our layovers that  range from 3 to 4.5 hours. Mine being the longest. Gosia is  somewhere in the airport sorting out her flights and will hopefully  join us soon. The four of us were all on the same, short flight from  Mendoza. Andes were socked in with clouds and we were unable to bid  Cerro Aconcagua farewell visually.

From here Steve goes to San Jose via Dallas. Mike goes to Boston via  Miami. Gosia goes to St. Louis via Atlanta. And I return to sunny  Seattle, Washington via Los Angeles. It's the true parting of the  fellowship. We were sad that we were unable to see James who rode a  bus across the Andes today to fly on to Torronto from Santiago. Our collective real-worlds are close now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photos from 3-Day Celebration Dance in Mendoza

I´ve posted sample photos from our 3-day celebration dance party in Mendoza.  Rare form by all.

Recap of Day 16 - The Long Walk Out

The morning of Day 16 you could not find a happier, more well-rested group of eight people. Sprits were soaring all around. I even broke into a little of my talent-show award-winning air drums as backed by The Foo Fighters.

A huge breakfast of pancakes topped with, the now group favorite, Dulche de Leche (a mucho deliciosos carmel spread) with loafs of toast on the side was quickly put down by the team in the deluxe dinning tent.

By the time we had all changed into our trekking clothes, which had been swung around the mountain on mules along with our day packs, trekking shoes, etc. during our climb, and we had repacked our loads, it was nearly 11 AM. It was a strategic advantage to be in relatively fresh clothes and carrying a super light pack once again as we faced the final obstacle of our adventure: the grueling one-day 18 mile endurance trek dropping 4,000 feet down the Horcones Valley to the trail head.

Once again we were blessed with prefect weather, perhaps not quite enough of a breeze. Although our feet were killing us and our quads were still burning from the previous day, we carried on though out the day. Everyone was feeling great and the conversations on the trail were joyful and full of laughs, smiles, and high fives.

Straight out of Plaza de Mulas, the trail drops down a serious, steep set of switchbacks that posed an unenviable challenge for the mules that were shuttling their heavy loads up into base camp. Cool pictures were snapped as we waited for them to pass. Photo ops were prevalent all day along the sometimes canyon-esque, sometimes wide open plain river side trail. Stopping for hero shots every so often was the rule of the day.

Around 4:30 PM, we reached Confluencia camp where our outfitter again has a sizable presence and we were are to enjoy an ice cold drink under shade before pressing on. Finally we crossed a small rope bridge that apparently was used in the filming of “Seven Years in Tibet” for our final river crossing and 30 minutes later at 7:10 PM our journey was complete as our feet touched the Horcones trail head.

A wash of joyful satisfaction rolled over the eight of us and we could almost taste the cold beer that would be filling our mouths after the 10 minute van ride to Los Pennitentes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recap of Day 15 - The Descent from Camp 4 to Plaza de Mulas

First, my apologies for the brief text-only post yesterday. But it has been two back-to-back days of hard core dawn to dusk painful endurance.

Yesterday we began the day at Camp 4 (20,500 ft.). Hard to believe! I just said to Steve, "We were at Camp 4 yesterday, do you believe that?" We had a collective "Wow!"

It was pure misery getting camp broken down and packed up for the descent. Cold and windy and cold and again cold. With our heavy packs and nearly all the clothes that we were carrying being worn, we set out on our descent to Plaza de Mulas at about 11 AM. To give you an idea, I was wearing a thin thermal top, a heavy thermal top, a fleece jacket, a fleece-lined soft shell jacket, and a Gore-Tex hard shell jacket. While we were waiting to leave, as usual, I had my big puffy down parka on top of all of this. Garrett said, "Okay, take off your parkas, let's move." And I actually said, "Are you sure, shouldn't I leave on the down?" Did I mention it was cold?

The trip down Camp 4 was a quad and foot pounding descent of 6,170 ft. on loose rock scree the entire way. You kind of have to "ride" the scree down by plunging one heel down without locking the knee and going with the slide until it begins to stop and then hop onto the other heel and repeat. Kind of fun when you are not completely exhausted with 50 pounds on our back or if your feet don't slide out from underneath you and you land hard on your bum. Not so much otherwise.

Again, as was the style I seemed to have been adopting for this trip, I quickly started to fall behind the others (three out of five of which had recently summited the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere). My faithful guide, Kajsa, and I continued down at our more civilized pace (at least in my humble opinion). On one break, we had a wonderful exchange with two Argentine porters who spoke about as much English as we spoke Spanish. More importantly neither had participated in a Jelly Belly tasting party, of which Kajsa had a large bag. My favorite part was when Kajsa said "try the white ones, they taste like buttered popcorn." Of course they didn't understand and I said, "don't give them the popcorn ones, they are universally known to be the worst!" Two seconds later, one of the porters spit it out and said, "don't like the white ones." Once again proving my theory - popcorn flavored Jelly Bellies suck. Secretly, I think Kajsa might actually like them.

Hours later and perhaps still about 90 minutes or so to Plaza de Mulas, I was beginning to feel that I had a house on my back and our progress began to slow a bit more. A few folks passed us on their way down and one stopped and kind of sized up Kajsa, with the enormous Gypsy pack (i.e. stuff strapped on all over) and me with the house on my back. He was clearly a porter and wasn't carrying anything himself. He asked if I would like a porter to Plaza de Mulas. I quickly said, "No thanks, I got it" Followed by, "How much?" He kind of looked down the mountain and said "$100." I gave that some thought and my pride said once again, "No thanks, I got it." He said okay and was gone down the hill.

About 10 minutes later as Kajsa and I continued down, I started to wonder, "What was I thinking? That would have been the best hundred bucks I ever spent." But opportunity missed and we continued to endure the descent.

Plaza de Mulas grew slowly closer. I'm a heads down hiker and don't usually know I've reached the destination until I hit it. That's the way I like it - I also cover the minutes remaining on the treadmill display with a towel. But on this descent, the tents of Plaza de Mulas are in view for a looong way and it feels like it is taking a lifetime to get there.

Suddenly Mike appears on the trail sans pack and and says he's come back up to help me with my pack. Assuming, of course, that I'm okay with that and don't need to finish it out myself. I was handing my pack to Mike (26) faster than you can say one, two, three. One: it would have been kind of insulting not to have allowed him to carry it down since he climbed all the back up to where we were, don't cha think? Two: Kajsa was definite looking like she would like to get to Plaza de Mulas at a bit faster pace. Three: why didn't I spend that $100 when I had the chance?

Fifteen minutes later, just after 6 PM, we reached the plush comforts of the camp. Once again with dining tents, food on plates, etc., etc. But the best part? A big communal sleeping tent with five bunk beds with real mattress. Everyone agreed: it was perhaps, the best night of sleep of our lives.

I want to tell you all about today's eight hour, 18 mile march to civilization, but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow (which is actually today because it's now 1:40 AM local time). I think you can understand that I'm a bit beat.


Update from Moderator Carl

Today Kurt and team cruized down hill, well cruized as much as you can cruise with a big ol' pack for 16 miles. I'm guessing Kurt needs a day to recover then we'll get a thorough summary of the descent. Cheers to all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 15 - Descent to Plaza de Mulas

It's late and I'm in a big communal tent so this is just a text-only post so no one can say I missed a day. I will post details of the long difficult descent tomorrow.

Kirk out..

Kurt descended about 6000 vertical feet today and he's still basically still at the altitude at the top of Mt. Rainier. Just to help out I'm (Carl) adding an unrelated picture, Kurt and our friend Mari nearing the summit of Mt Adams at sunrise a few years back.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Everyone Back at Camp 4

The ladies of our team, climber Gosia and guide Kajsa, triumphantly returned to camp at 5:30 PM after reaching the summit of Aconcagua at 2:53 PM.

Gosia was trilled to have now completed her third of the Seven Summits. But also said that some of the white-out conditions they hit on the route today were "scarier than s*#t!"

The whole team is now back in camp and I think all of us are looking forward to getting out of this wind and snow (hopefully) as we descend the 1880m tomorrow to Plaza de Mulas.

It has been a trilling adventure. In two days we will be in a hotel room with real toilets! I have no regrets, although I would have preferred to have not gotten sick. And I've been having the time of my life. Follow your dreams to higher places!

Summit Day Update

Climbers Mike and James just returned with guide Garrett after successfully tagging the summit in a round trip of just 7 hours (typical is about 10)!!

Both Mike and James had nothing but great things to say about Garrett's guiding skills. He was top notch especially considering the poor conditions of strong winds and snow. Mike described it as the hardest day of climbing in his life. James said their wasn't a moment the whole day where he didn't consider turning back. But they didn't and they are summit heroes.

Climber Gosia and guide Kajsa are still going at it, were about a hour behind the others and had hooked up with an climbing group in the deteriorating conditions.

Here at Camp 4 it has been super windy all day, in fact, one of my tent poles broke in two. Now that Garrett is back, he has a repair kit and we are going to see about fixing it as we batten down for tonight's last night at high camp. Snow has just started as well.

Another update when our female contingent returns to camp.

Congrats to Kurt and the teams effort!

Moderator Carl again. I know not of the remaining summit seekers but I'm sure we'll know within the next few hours of their final high point/summit success. The whole team should be commended and I was just emailed this poem I thought it approriate to share.

Nelson Mandela used The poem Invictus to help him be the person he wanted to be while in prison.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

With Highest Regard,
William Ernest Henley


Just a little while ago, climbers Jason and Steve returned from their summit attempt. They reached the first break at 21,000 ft. and when it was annouced that the next two segments were be trugging headfirst into 45 MPH winds with blowing ice and snow, they desided that they had reached their high point on Aconcagua.

Continuing on are both guides, Garrett and Kajsa and climbers James, Mike, and Gosia.

Day 14 - Summit Day! (for 7, Rest Day for 1)

Yes, you guessed it, your intrepid adventurer, yours truly, had to sit this one out. The reason: I've been battling a stomach virus for the past three days and it hasn't got much better. I'm on a regiment of Cipro, Promethazine, and Diamox. Check out my post "Drugs" far below for the symptoms that these drugs address as I have all of them in spades.

It's the way the world goes and likely explains why I've been slowing down over the past few days. That said I honestly feel that I am conditioned, strong enough and acclimatized well enough (perhaps with the help of the Diamox) to have made the summit. No regrets, spending two nights camp at an altitude of 20,500 ft. and higher than the summit of Denali has me welling with pride.

Plus, the concept of trying to use a Wag Bag at each rest break in 35-45 MPH winds with a gurgly stomach was not at all appealing and certainly not realistic (again see symptoms addressed by Cipro).

The rest of the team headed on their way up at 8:15am along with throngs of other climbing teams. They look good. And if the winds stay down, I bet they have a great shot of making it.

I'll spend the the day solo in camp in the tent and out of the very gusty wind. Last night was likely the windiest night of the expedition with gusts, I would guess, up to 60 to 70 MPH. Part of our tent got slightly mangled and my tent mate, Steve's backpack got blown down a little ravine, but was retrieved by one of the guides this morning. Overnnight low was 14 degrees.

When I crew returns, I'll post the happy news.

(photo: our team in the foreground, right to left: Garrett, James, Mike, Jason, Gosia, Steve, Kajsa).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kurt calls in post from 20,500 feet!

[Blog followers this is moderator Carl...just spoke with Kurt and he's feeling tired but I sensed a confidence that he'll make a strong effort for the summit tomorrow. Below is the transribed version of the link that you can also listen to directly from Kurt. I forgot the access site to this but luckily Kurt's sharp enough to remind me. I'll be posting one other phone message he left lower on the climb. I think I'll move this back so it's in the correct order within the climb. Sorry no pictures until tomorrow. After the summit attempt (which they take only minimal gear, leaving the rest at high camp) they head back down Camp 4.]

High Camp / Camp 4 / High Camp! Team rolled into Camp 4 a few hours ago. We've already had our dinner and tents are established. A couple of us were very thankful to have paid for the porter service to carry the bulk of our gear from 3 to 4, because we were making the push in one big push rather than the double carries that we're accustomed to. Today, I'm just gonna leave an audio blog because it's very cold and windy up here at Camp 4, and I'm a little bit tired. So, tomorrow's the big day, summit day... we'll see how everyone's feeling in the morning. We just had our quote, un-quote pep talk from one of the guides, which is really about safety and concerns for reaching the summit, so we're all feeling pretty good. The team is very strong. I was a bit slower than everyone once again today but but I'm feeling pretty good and definitely looking forward to tomorrow. I want to thank all of you for reading along and following my adventure here on Aconcagua. I'll talk to you tomorrow and hopefully get some great pictures we're able to post up on the blog. From High Camp on Aconcagua which is higher than the summit of Denali, this is Kurt Hunter and I will talk to you soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 12 - Rest Day at Camp 3

The title of this post explains exactly what I did today: rest. We all slept in, had a breakfast of reconstituted powered eggs and tortillas, and then after taking our photo ops of the spectacular morning, headed back to the tents for a little down time.

Just before lunch we donned our crampons and ice axes for a little practice, as we need need this gear for tomorrow's traverse to Camp 4 (our high camp at 20,600 ft.) - higher than the top of Denali.

About this time, the weather turned to wind and clouds which seems to be the typical weather pattern. The guides once again delightfully served us lunch of Ramón in our tents. I spent the afternoon in the tent reading and dozing while some of the others continued their Hearts card tournament. Dinner of pasta was again served in our tents. And now as I type this some of the others are back at their cards.

Yesterday was a difficult climb for me personally as I believe I was starting to feel some of the symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness). This is pretty typical and as a precaution I started on some Diamox today. In the end I only rolled into camp about 15 minutes behind the others - all of whom are continuing to performing excellently.

We are all looking forward to tomorrow's move to high camp. The weather forecast is looking good for our shot at the summit on Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 11 - Move to Camp 3 (19,200 ft.!!)

Really tough day today moving from Camp 2 to Camp 3. The day dawned to bright blue skies and a two inch dusting of snow. The blue sky didn't last long and it has been snowing at a pretty good clip all today. Not like a bizzard, but more like the Seattle drizzle in the form of icy snow crystals.

Thank goodness we have a rest day tomorrow to get used to the high altitude.

Because of the snow, I didn't take any photos enroute or at camp. But attached is one I just snapped of my tent mate Steve and I so you can see our beards.

I'll give you the full details tomorrow during our rest day.

Over and out for tonight,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Analytics FUN pre summit attempt weekend-from Carl

My technical skills are somewhat limited but this is some of the interesting info we're able to view about this blog...crazy this information world.
Total hits: 1737
Absolute unique visitors: 596
Hits by country of origin...
  • USA 1649
  • Canada 19
  • South Africa 16
  • Germany 13
  • Argentina 12
  • UK 7
  • Croatia & Spain 3
  • Austrailia, Romania, Sweden 2
  • Japan, China, India, Cayman Islands, Tanzania, Ireland, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal 1
Enjoy the summit bid watching over the next few days!
-Moderator Carl

New PRO Sports Club Electronic Ad

Thanks to all the friends and family following Kurt and his other enthusiatic climbers. PRO Sports Club will update our electonic signage around the club to hopefully get more people sharing this fun climb. Thought I'd share that with all the other blog followers. I'll make a separate post to show the reach of this blog around the world...I'm going to reach out to the guide company to see if they will post this on their site too.

Oh yeah, the elevation graph is down and unfortunately Scott, Kurt's younger son is unable to work the magic he did to get the spot back up...oh well we're good with spot tracking and the blog postings from Kurt.

Day 10 - Carry to Camp 3

The last of our carries was completed today meaning from here on out it's all vertical movement up to the summit. Today we carried a cache up to Camp 3 located at the base of the Polish Glacier at 19,200 ft., the highest elevation ever for me and several other members of the team. Although only just over 3 hours of travel time, the 1,700 ft. gain was pretty tough starting at 17,500 ft. However, we zipped back down to Camp 2 in just 45 minutes.

The photo was taken at about 18,800 ft. and very light snow had started to fall. It followed us up to Camp 3 and all the way back to Camp 2. Last night was quite calm but the temperature dropped to 17 degrees and we experienced interior tent frost and some frozen water bottles for the first time. I had anticipated this and slept with all my electronics and water bottles inside my sleeping bag. Certainly not the most comfortable, but such is mountain life.

Tomorrow we will make that same climb again as we move to Camp 3. The following day is a rest day at Camp 3 and then we will be in the home stretch... A single move to Camp 4 and possible summit attempt and next day. We are close now.

Getting a little burned out on climbing food, tonight for dinner, I asked "How come we can't ever have just like a salad?" And I was told, "Be grateful Juan Pablo. Tonight is especially delicious."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 09 - Move to Camp 2 (17,500 ft.)

Today we made the move to Camp 2 and boy what a difference a couple of days makes. It was absolutely beautiful today and little to no wind. Guide Garrett said this is about the best day he has ever seen at Camp 2.

The trip up was uneventful, we did get to visit for a few minutes on a break with our friends from Base Camp as they were camped at the "normal" Camp 1. Our guide service, Alpine Ascents, uses four camps between Base Camp and the summit, where as most others use three camps. Our Camp 3 is the same as the others Camp 2. It makes it much easier, I think. It was one of the reasons I choose Alpine Ascents.

Some cloud cover rolled over the summit after we arrived which is typical for afternoons of nice sunny days. We hung around this moonscape for a while, had some snacks, and then retrieved to our tents.

Tonight will set personal records for high altitude sleeping for most of us. For me I believe high camp on Denali was just a hundred feet lower. Tomorrow we will hit 19,200 ft.! Just about 1,000 ft. short of Denali's summit. Wow.

I continue to feel great and all my parts are working perfectly! I feel like I'm in my element, where as Donny is way out of his element. The Dude abides.

Meet the Climbers: Jason

Hometown: Los Angeles via Edmonton

Age: 42

Climbing Experience: Avid hiker although fairly new to climbing. Have climbed many mountains in California inc. Baldy, San Gorgonio, White, Cucamonga etc.

Jason's Personal Message: From 4000 meters to nearly 7000 meters this will be a huge jump up in elevation for me. So far so good after a carry to 17,500 feet. This will hopefully be a great stepping stone to a 8000 meter peak in the Himalya in the future for me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Meet the Climbers: Kurt

Hometown: Sammamish, WA

Age: 46

Climbing Experience:
  • Mt. Rainier summit '04, '05, '06
  • Mt. Adams summit '05
  • Seattle Mountaineers Basic Climbing Course graduate '06
  • Mt. Shuksan summit '06
  • Guye Peak summit '06
  • South Early Winter Spire summit '06
  • Mt. Hood summit '07
  • Mt. Baker summit '07
  • Denali expedition '08 (reached high camp 17,400 ft.)
Kurt's Personal Message: I would like to send my love to Leslie, Stuart, and Scott (aka Seth) and the rest of my family. I would also like to send my thanks to everyone at PRO Sports Club and to Dr. Freidman at Virginia Mason. I'm feeling great and loving every minute (including last night's 70 mph wind storm)!! And to everyone: follow your dreams to higher places.

Meet the Climbers: James

Hometown: North Bay, Ontario

Age: 41

Climbing Experience:
  • Mt. Rainier summit '08
  • Mt. Washington '08
  • The Black Tusk 08-09
James' Personal Message: Very impressed with this team and our fantastic leaders. Lots of fun and lots of learning. Look forward to doing more climbs with members of this amazing team, friends and/or family from home!

Meet the Climbers: Mike

Climbing Nickname: Mr. Nasty

Hometown: Boston, MA

Age: 26

Climbing Experience:
  • Mt. Elbrus summit '09
  • Mt. Washington multiple summits
Climbing Goals: The Seven Summits as a fund raiser for Save the Children. Donation website available soon.

Mike's Personal Message: Having a blast so far. Great climbing crew. Couldn't ask for anything more. This is what it is all about! My love to Mom, Dad, and Tom.

Meet the Climbers: Gosia

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Age: 32

Climbing Experience:
  • Kilimanjaro summit '07
  • Mt. Elbrus attempt '08, summit '09
  • Mt. Baker summit '09
Gosia's Personal Message: First of all, don't worry about me! I'm having a great time, I'm safe, healthy, surrounded by wonderful people and not doing anything stupid. :-) Big kiss to Andy, give Everest and Kitty Kat a pat from me! Love you all and miss you, can't wait to see you again to tell you all the great details!

Day 07 - Carry to Camp 2

Without a doubt, today was one of the hardest days I have spent mountaineering. Our objective today was to place a cache up at Camp 2 located at 17,500 ft. on the col between Aconcagua and it's satellite peak of Ameghino. That's an elevation gain of about 2,100 ft. Gaining 2,100 ft. is usually a pretty easy hike in the Cascades, but today we were starting at 15,400 ft. which is 1,000 ft. higher than the top of Mt. Rainier and we were carrying heavy packs once again.

That's all fine and nice, but today Aconcagua threw it's secret weapon at us: WIND. There was a forecast for high winds on the summit, but for us at Camp 1, the day started pretty mellow. About half way up to Camp 2, it started to blow a bit with some strong gusts. And by the time we reach the point on the traverse where we cut right towards the Camp, we were really getting blown around.

Just before reaching Camp on the ridge, the gusts were so strong it dropped me to my knees and at one point I was nearly prone and grabbing onto a flat rock with both hands just to hang on until the gust subsided. Kajsa, our guide yelled at me to move up to where she was, but my glasses were so fogged up from the pressure breathing that I couldn't see her about 15 feet above me. So I just made a break so it, staying low. She was positioning behind a big rock and from there we waited out the gust. The name of the game at that point was to climb fast in-between the gusts. It was the strongest wind I have ever been in in my life. They say that 50 mph wind will knock you over, so I would say the wind speed was about that or higher!

After placing our cache, we jetted back down to Camp 1 in just an hour and 15 minutes, skiing down a scree trail. Back in Camp the wind continues and I have been in my tent nearly the entire time. I shot a video of one of the strong gusts from within the tent. The guides asked everyone to stay in the tents and they brought dinner of rice around to each tent. These are two GREAT guides!

Forecast has the wind subsiding and thankfully tomorrow is our rest day at Camp 1. The day after we will make the move to Camp 2 and by then I think we all hope the wind is gone.

Everyone did great today and are well. Once we were back in the tents, we all thought it was great mountaineering fun!

Meet the Climbers: Steve

Hometown: Cupertino, CA

Age: 56

Climbing Experience:
  • Mt. Rainier summit '08
  • Mt. Shasta attempt '08, summit, '09
  • Mt. Whitney summit '09
Steve's Personal Message: Greetings to family and friends. Having a rest day here on the mountain at 15,400 feet. The experience has been great, the mountain awesome and the climbing team could not be better. Miss and love you all, I cannot wait to tell you about it in person.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 07 - Carry to Camp 2

Without a doubt, today was one of the hardest days I have spent mountaineering. Our objective today was to place a cache up at Camp 2 located at 17,500 ft. on the col between Aconcagua and it's satellite peak of Ameghino. That's an elevation gain of about 2,100 ft. Gaining 2,100 ft. is usually a pretty easy hike in the Cascades, but today we were starting at 15,400 ft. which is 1,000 ft. higher than the top of Mt. Rainier and we were carrying heavy packs once again.

That's all fine and nice, but today Aconcagua threw it's secret weapon at us: WIND. There was a forecast for high winds on the summit, but for us at Camp 1, the day started pretty mellow. About half way up to Camp 2, it started to blow a bit with some strong gusts. And by the time we reach the point on the traverse where we cut right towards the Camp, we were really getting blown around.

Just before reaching Camp on the ridge, the gusts were so strong it dropped me to my knees and at one point I was nearly prone and grabbing onto a flat rock with both hands just to hang on until the gust subsided. Kajsa, our guide yelled at me to move up to where she was, but my glasses were so fogged up from the pressure breathing that I couldn't see her about 15 feet above me. So I just made a break so it, staying low. She was positioning behind a big rock and from there we waited out the gust. The name of the game at that point was to climb fast in-between the gusts. It was the strongest wind I have ever been in in my life. They say that 50 mph wind will knock you over, so I would say the wind speed was about that or higher!

After placing our cache, we jetted back down to Camp 1 in just an hour and 15 minutes, skiing down a scree trail. Back in Camp the wind continues and I have been in my tent nearly the entire time. I shot a video of one of the strong gusts from within the tent. The guides asked everyone to stay in the tents and they brought dinner of rice around to each tent. These are two GREAT guides!

Forecast has the wind subsiding and thankfully tomorrow is our rest day at Camp 1. The day after we will make the move to Camp 2 and by then I think we all hope the wind is gone.

Everyone did great today and are well. Once we were back in the tents, we all thought it was great mountaineering fun

Jan 11 update from Carl the moderator

We're apparently having some transmission issues for the blog. Leslie, Kurt's amazing wife spoke with Kurt a few hours ago and despite Kurt saying he sent the most recent blog posting it hasn't posted yet as it should have.

But for all those daily readers here's the latest: Kurt has successfully made the trip to camp 2 dropped gear and then returned to camp 1. All of this with 60 mph winds! Kurt's hit his personal elevation record (~17700 feet) and is feeling good. The last few hundred feet below Camp 2 gusts forced Kurt to his hands and knees at times to make forward progress. This was the wildest weather he's ever experienced. Those climbing groups up higher on the mountain couldn't successfully summit today do to the high winds and blowing snow, wind chill about minus 40F. Kurt is still feeling great and looking forward to continuing up the mountain to camp 2 tomorrow. Winds are forecasted to decrease over the rest of the week so I'm crossing my fingers Kurt has mild winds for his summit push which will hopefully occur over this time next week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 06 - Move to Camp 1... Completed

Today we were all sad to say goodbye to the comforts of Base Camp: our own private dinning tent with tables and chairs and meals served to us (last night was steak and lasagna) on real plates, bowls, and glasses. And the outhouse will be missed as well. It's Wag Bags from here to Plaza de Mulas. We were issued four per person. And they are multiple use. I rather not talk about this any more. Curious? Bing "wag bag".

Today was just like yesterday except we didn't have to descent back to Base Camp. Yeah! Forward vertical progress. Camp 1, our home for three nights, sits at 15,300 ft. and it is noticeable cooler up here. That trend will continue as we head up. We just finished a fantastic dinner of pasta prepared by our guides. Everyone loved it.

The team is strong and performing well. Everyone is feeling great and really enjoying themselves.

Tomorrow we will make a carry up to Camp 2. Could be some snow travel and the possibility of using our crampons for the first time. Although an elevation gain of only about 800 ft. it will take 3-4 hours to reach Camp 2, but only 1 hour or so to come back down to Camp 1.

Some stats from today:
+low temp in tent: 31.6 degrees
+time of climb: 3:16:36
+distance: 1.8 miles
+total ascent: 1,502 ft.
+total descent: 59 ft.
+max alt: 15,300 ft.
+min alt: 13,800 ft.
+Powerbars consumed: 1

Until tomorrow, dear reader. Good night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 05 - Carry to Camp 1

Today the real climbing began with our first carry to Camp 1. My pack was loaded with personal gear that I will only need higher on the mountain as well my share of the group gear. I'm guessing my pack weighed about 45-50 lbs. We headed out at 11am and reached Camp 1 (somewhere between 15,200 and 15,400 ft. - there was a lot of discrepancy between everyone's wrist-top altimeters) at about 3:15pm. That's an elevation gain of about 1,600 ft.

Because we had an extra tent due to the early departure of our team mate on Day 02, the guides carried up the spare and pitched it at Camp 1 to hold our cache. Normally all of the cache would be piled together and covered with rocks. That would have been a massive pile! I think the guides were happy to have their tent all ready pitched up there at Camp 1 and all ready for tomorrow night.

Our trip down only took about 1.5 hours and was nice with empty packs! We arrived back at Base Camp for our final night at 5:15pm.

The other big event of the day was our required medical exams. If the doctor finds you unfit, sick, or not properly acclimatized they can stop you from climbing the mountain. Our guide, Garrett, explained that usually at least one of their clients per season gets bared from ascending. They asked us about how we are feeling, sleeping, and if we are taking any meds. Then they ran blood oxygen level, pulse, and blood pressure tests.

Typically at sea level your blood oxygen level is 100%. Here are 13,800 ft. mine was 81%. That's not bad and I feel great. They get concerned if it low, say like less than 70%. But that number is really much less of indicator than how you are looking and feeling.

Everyone on the team passed with flying colors and is feel strong. We keep telling the guides that we are their Dream Team. I think they are starting to believe it.

Tomorrow we bid farewell to the luxury trekking and the deluxe accommodations of Base Camp and move to Camp 1. I'm looking forward to that!

Kurt out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Voice Message from Plaza Argentina Base Camp

Hey everybody, this is Kurt calling from Plaza Argentina base camp. Just checking in. Made up here yesterday about 3:30 PM after a nice climb of 3,200 ft. and today we had a rest day and took things pretty easy: did a little hiking around, did a little stretching, a little Yoga. Getting ready to have dinner now and preparing for carry up to camp one tomorrow and I'll talk to y'all soon. Take care, everything is going great!

Attention PRO Sports Club!

I have opened an unauthorized satellite PRO Sports Club facility here at Aconcagua Plaza Argentina Base Camp and hired our first employee, our guide, Kajsa.

Today Kajsa taught the first Aconcagua Mountain Conditioning group fitness class. Attending class were climbers Mike, James, and Kurt. Not quite 90 minutes, but in an all core workout, we got in 11 different sets of core exercises with some yoga. A little intense at 13,800 ft.

Watch out Carl!

Day 04 - Rest Day at Base Camp

They call it a "rest day" and mostly it was. But we did manage an hour hike to keep our legs moving and our blood pumping to continue the acclimatization. We hiked up to the headwaters of the Relinchos River that we had followed all the way up from the Vacas Valley yesterday.

Our base camp, Plaza Argentina, actually sits atop a glacial moraine covering ice and just a little further up the valley the ice melt trickles to the surface and forms the headwaters of the Relinchos River. Walking up that valley was like walking on the moon.

On our return, I declined the $20 USD shower they offer here at base camp and instead opted for $1.29 worth of baby wipes to take care of business. With the real climbing starting tomorrow, I changed out the trekking clothes I had been wearing for four straight days and into my clean climbing gear. My tent mate, Steve, thanked me. I was pretty pleased myself.

After, I spent some time in the tent organizing my personal load for tomorrow's carry up to Camp 1. In addition we will each have an allocation of group gear (cookware, food, fuel, etc.) that we will use at Camp 1 and higher to carry up. We will leave these loads at Camp 1 buried in rocks and then we will return to base camp for the night.

The following day (Sunday), we will break camp and move it all up to Camp 1. All of our trekking clothes and gear that we don't need on the mountain will be packed into our mule bags. These will be carried out via mule and returned to us at the Plaza de Mulas base camp that we will descend into on the other side of the mountain at the end of climb and before our 16 mile trek out. I'm not ready looking forward to getting into those trekking clothes again but that's how we roll.

Round trip for our carry to Camp 1 tomorrow should be about 5 hours putting us back at base camp around 3pm.

Weather was again perfect today and it would have been an excellent summit day. Let's hope that holds.

Feeling good Louis. Looking good Billy Ray.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 03 - Base Camp!!

Once again a great weather day.

Our first real day of elevation gain was a long one and started with a crossing of the Vacas River. Your choice: with sandals on foot through the thigh deep water or on muleback. To give you an idea, the edges of the river had ice on them. I, being the Man of Wild that I am, choose the mule ride. I did take a wonderful video however and tipped the cowboy handler 5 pesos. Call me a tourist that didn't have to thaw his feet.

The trek in is now compete and tomorrow we rest. Well earned in my book, 8.5 miles gaining 3,241 ft. in a short 7 hours and 15 minutes. Heavy packs and double carries are next order of business.

Okay, Base Camp -- Unreal! Our guide service works with a local outfitter and the outfitter has amazing set up here. As soon as we rolled into camp, we were ushered into a big tent with tables and chairs that is our private dinning room and hang out space for the next two days. Fresh juice, ham, cheese, and other snacks were spread out on the table. Super plush!

After we set up our tents we all headed back over for a great three course dinner. We are talking dishes and utensils and the whole works. I-kid-you-not. Did I mention that we are 27 miles from civilization and at 13,800 ft.??

I am having the time of my life!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Moderator Carl makes notes for blog followers.

Carl the blog moderator here. Spoke to Kurt today briefly via sat phone this afternoon, amazingly clear connection. Kurt sounded like he's having a blast with the nice weather and I'm guessing good company. Just to address a few blog comments:
  • Kurt isn't seeing the blog, he's only sending in the posts, but he'll read all these comments of well wishes etc. upon his return to civilization. Keep them coming! There's also a weather link on the right side of the blog if you want to monitor mountain/trail conditions.
  • The map automatically resets after X amount of time based on Kurt's programing design. As he hikes the view is set up to "follow" their track. It's not a ghost moving the view.
  • Keep spreading the word about this great blog, its quick and fun to read I've found and I'm one who always thought "how do people have time to read a $%^@(%^$ blog?" Post the comments on Facebook send it to friends whoever you think might get a kick out of it...let's have an ego feast for Kurt to celebrate his return.

Day 02 - Pamas de Lenas to Casa de Piedra

Today we finished our 18.5 mile trek up with Vacas Valley with 10.2 mile day that we completed in 6 hours and 18 minutes. Another great trail lunch and boy am I feeling good!

Carbon-copy day from yesterday weather-wise, with bright blue skies, warm temperatures, and the ever present wind. I'm thankful for that wind however as it kept temps nice and pleasant.

After breakfast of tortillas and scrambled eggs (this is seriously plush) and then breaking camp, we learned that one of our group of climbers decided to call it quits as he was dealing with some health issues. He took a mule ride back to the trailhead today as we headed up. I felt really bad for him. That's a lot of training and quite an expense for a two day adventure. We are now a team of six climbers and two guides.

Dinner tonight was more Argentine beef in the form of the most tasty hamburgers I've had in a long while. Between tonight and last night I've had more beef than I've had in six years. It is sitting quite well with me but I'm hoping I don't have a heart attack. Ha!

Tomorrow we take a turn to the west and head up the Relinchos Valley to climb up to base camp. I want to go to there. It will be our first real elevation gain but we will be rewarded with a rest day. The day starts with a foot crossing of the icy Vacas River. Yahoo!

[photo of the team getting our first look at Cerro Aconcagua]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 01 - Punta de Vacas to Pampa de Lenas

Just finished an incredible BBQ Argentina steak dinner prepared over a wood fire by the cowboys that manage the mules that carry our gear to base camp. This is living!

Beautiful day as we trekked up the Vacas valley. Covered 8.33 miles gaining about 1300 ft. elevation. Two rest breaks plus a long lunch making the time 5hrs. 15mins. Very causal and enjoyable.
Sitting in the tent typing this our on my mobile computing setup: Windows Pocket PC with a fold-up full size bluetooth keyboard. My gear and my body are working GREAT.

Tomorrow will be a very similar day capped by our first view of Aconcagua just as we reach our camp. Breakfast at 7:30am, hiking by 9am should put us into camp about 3pm.
Kurt out.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Arrived a couple of hours ago to Penitentes a small ski resort area in the winter and the staging area for Aconcagua climbs in the summer. Beautiful warm day with a little breeze.

Everything went great this morning doing some last minute shopping for gear in the four of the Mendoza mountaineering stores. Super expensive. I didn't need anything and was just along to watch. But I did end up buying a buff - never had one before but I did enjoy that first season of Survivor. Getting the permits was a lot of waiting around, but in the end we left Mendoza nearly on schedule.

The 3 hour bus ride up to Penitentes was very scenic. We dumped our gear at the outfitters and headed in for lunch. That's when the tragedy struck.

I had just walked into the restaurant with the group and suddenly I realized that I had left the SPOT GPS tracking device on the dashboard of the bus. I ran out of the restaurant, but the bus driver had already headed back to Mendoza!!!

I pictured everyone back at home watching the real-time tracking and going, well it looks like took one look at the mountain and said "no way, take me back to my hotel with the pool, excellent restaurant and the free Internet in Mendoza."

Crestfallen, I headed back in the restaurant and told the team my story. Our lead guide jumped up and said maybe I can talk to the outfitter and see if we can get the driver to come back or bring it out again in the morning and he dashed out.

Back at the table, I was heartbroken and began to just deal with it. A few minutes later our guide came back in and after a dramatic pause, he flashed a smile and held out the SPOT. First thought, so that's the kind of trip it's gonna be. Second thought, and the actual fact: the bus driver noticed the SPOT on the dash just after departing and turned around and dropped it off!!

As the astronauts were found of saying, "looks like we've had our glitch for this mission." Meaning there's always that one thing. Good news: the rest of the expedition will be prefect.

Day 00 - Morning in Mendoza

Tomorrow is Day 01, the beginning of the trek.  After we get our business taken care of this morning in Mendoza, we will bus up to our last "hotel" in Penitentes before 19 days of camping.  Most of the rest of the day will be just hanging out and adjusting our loads.  In the morning a short drive will take us to the trailhead of Punta de Vacas at 7,900 ft. and away we go.

Might get some WiFi coverage at Penitentes, if not, the next dispatch will be via satellite phone tomorrow night after we complete our first day of treking.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...

Aconcagua110 out.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Second Best Dinner of the Trip

The Aconcagua110 team assembled in Mendoza this evening for the pre-expedition team dinner.  It was what I'm sure will be the second best dinner of the entire trip.  The best, of course, will be the one we have to toast our success when we return.  Everything in the middle is sure to suck.  Such is mountain climbing fuel.

Seems like a really great group of folks.  Several of them are gunning for the 7, but no one is farther than 2 (Elbus the most common).  Guides are very cool.  I'm getting good climbing vibes!

Tomorrow we get together at 9:30 am (it's 1:20 am right now) for some last minute shopping, then we will get our permits only 1,800 Argentine Pesos (don't tell Leslie that's about $550), and jump on a bus up to Penitentes where we will stay the night before hitting the trail on Tuesday.

A few more photos on Flickr:

More Photos

Posted some more photos of my walk around Mendoza and the pool deck!  Dinner and meeting time in 5 minutes.  Later.

Andes Pictures!

I've posted a bunch of photos from the trip so far to Flickr this includes some first looks of Aconcagua and cools shots of the Andes crossing from Santiago to Mendoza.

Kurt Out.  (pool time)

Mendoza is Nice!

Been checked into the Sheraton Mendoza Hotel for a few hours now.  Just found my way down to the business center to make use of their free internet on Windows computers.  I arrived Mendoza with one other climber and we were met by Garrett from Alpine Ascents, our lead guide.  A quick taxi from the airport found us at the hotel.  I haven't been back outside to grab a location with the SPOT tracking device so just in case you are wondering, I'm not still in Santiago.

Garrett came up to my room and ran the standard gear check.  To use Leslie's line:  "it looks like a Mountain Hardwear store exploded in my hotel room."  Everything is a go and most of the gear is now packed away again.  Now that that is completed, I have the next five hours free before we met up with the two guides and the rest of the climbers.  Two people had to bail out so we will be a team of 7 climbers and 2 guides.  I pretty happy about that.  Another side benefit was that one of the guys who couldn't make it was going to be a roommate at the hotel so now I've got my own room for the night.

As soon as I get my latest pictures uploaded, I'm going for a swim in the super nice hotel pool.  Life is good.

I'll try to get another post off tonight and/or tomorrow before we head to the hill!

Hello Argentina!

Cleared thru customs, just met up with one of our guides and now waiting for posibily one other team member.  Awesome photos I will post later of the Andres from the flight over.

Arrival en Chile

Good flight down from LA. Now waiting for the last flight of the day: a short 55 minute hop over the Andes into Mendoza, Agentina. Beautiful sunrise here in Santiago. Thank you free airport WiFi. I received a text from AT&T on the iPhone letting me know that cellular data roaming would be a mere $19.95 per MB. Are they joking?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

LAX to SCL Ready for Takeoff

10 minutes to boarding. Last post from the USA for a while! Not really looking forward to 12 hours in coach, but what the heck. I'll make my way thru some of the entire first season of Fringe that I have on the iPod.

It's Sunny and Warm in LA

How do those Californians live like that?

Well Wishers

Issaquah's finest gave us a short police escort before pulling Leslie over to issue a "warning", appearently for me to be careful, have a good time and "slow down" to acclimitize properly. Now sitting at the gate after having interesting conversations with the TSA about my bundle of communications and entertainment devices. Scheduled for a 7 AM departure to Los Angeles.

Enroute to the Airport

Whole family in the car to see me off as we head to the airport. Leslie is driving. Don't text and drive kids.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Gear is Packed!

After 3 hours and 45 minutes of carefull list checking, gear sorting, packing, weighing, unpacking, re-sorting, and re-weighing, and list double checking, Leslie and I finally finished all the packing.  Check out all of gear photos at

Thank you PRO Sports Club!

My friends at the PRO Sports Club are promoting my climb by running this image on their club sign boards, providing links on their and websites, and a blurb in the January edition of the club's PRO Pulse magazine.

More than an amazing facility, the PRO Sports Club has the world's greatest set of employees. They saved my life and have provided me with the tools and resources to train for world class mountain climbing. Their passion for their clients goes way, way beyond the job.

Thank you to all my friends and every member of the staff at PRO. Because of you, I am ready to not only take on the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere but continue to live my life in the healthiest possible manner.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to Use the Map

Once you install the plug-in, the Google Earth map at the top of this blog will automaticaly keep my currently reported postion in view.  You can just leave the page open and let it do it's thing if you like.  When I am moving, my position will be updated about every 10 minutes.

However, the 3D map is fully interactive and tons of fun to play with!!  Explore!  You can click and drag the map left and right or in and out with your mouse or use the navigation controls that appear on the upper right side of the map:

From top to bottom, these controls allow you to:
  • (circle with the 'eye' icon) change the view from the 'camera' including spinning about the compass.  My favorite is to click on the 'N' which will cause the map to orient North up.
  • (circle with the 'hand' icon) move the camera around - left, right, in, out (same is click and draging on the map).
  • (+ - slider) zoom in and zoom out of the map
You can also click on the placemarks for the camp (such as "Camp I (15,500 ft.)") and the camera will fly to a pre-defined view for that placemark.  It will also display information about that camp in a balloon window.  Clicking a a route segment (the line between the camps) will display information about the segement of the route, such as distance and the amount of elevation gained.  My track marks can also be clicked on for more information too.

Become a navigation expert (and impress your friends) by checking out the full user documentation on Navigating in Google Earth.  It's worth a look!!

If you really want to get the full 3D map experience, install the Google Earth application on your PC, download the KMZ file for my expedition, save it as a .kmz file and then run this file in Google Earth.  Have fun!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What a difference a Pro makes!

There's nothing like having a professional photographer with you to both make you look good and make you feel that you have no skills as a photographer yourself:  check out there amazing shots from Sunday's conditioning hike on Mt. Rainier by Brandon Sawaya:  Whoa!

Full Test over Sat Phone

This is a full dispatch with photo test with CONTACT 5 software over the sat phone connection.

I Feel Like an Astronaut

T-3 days: I spent the morning at the gym having my last pre-trip
sessions with my personal trainer and my dietitian. Hard to believe
that I've been with this team for a year training for this trip! Now
I'm spending the afternoon at the hospital getting final check ups
from my doctors. Roger, Houston. All systems go!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Great training day on Mt. Rainier

Not enough daylight in December. Had fantastic weather and GREAT
company! Super nice day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Final Conditioning Hike

Camp Muir tomorrow with nearly full pack. Full shake down on
expedition electronics. Weather is forecast to be perfect!

Friday, December 25, 2009


When you go deep into the field for an extended period of time, it is a matter of proper safety to carry emergency medications to cover the time before a proper rescue should an issue arise. My standard field med kit contains the following prescription drugs:


It wouldn't be me if I didn't have my gadgets and a 24-day trek into the field and up to nearly 23,000 ft. is not an exception. I think this is a complete list, but I'm sure I'm missing something!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Complete Gear List

Not counting the electronics (I will deadicate a special post or two just to them), here is the complete list of gear, clothing, and food that I will carry on the expedition. Added to this will be shared group gear (things like stoves, fuel, tents, ropes, food, etc.).

Climbing Equipment
Technical Clothing
Personal Equipment
  • Large duffel bag w/ lock:  Wild Things Mule Bag
  • Smaller Duffel w/ travel lock:
  • Travel clothes
    • In Mendoza: 
    • Trek: 

  • Camera Gear:  see electronics list
First Aid
  • Small Personal First-Aid Kit:

  • Drugs/Prescriptions/Medications:
    • Pepto Bismol
    • Acetazolamide (Diamox) 125 or 250mg tabs
    • Ibuprofen 200mg tabs
    • Acetaminophen 325mg tabs

Personal Supplementary Food Items
  • Electrolyte Replacement (mix for 24L):  Nuun Active Hydration
  • Energy Gel (6 paks):  Clif Shot
  • Trail Mix (3 cups): Kurt's custom Trader Joe's mix-a-lot
  • Energy Bars (8): 
  • Beef Jerky (2 - 4 oz bags)Trader Joe's original and teriyaki
  • Hard Candy (1/2 qt. bag): 
  • Mixed Dried Fruit (1 qt. bag): 
  • String cheese (10):