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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!

Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page.  We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date.  We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”

Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours.  Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber.  Above all, have fun and dream big!

THE COMPLETION OF ANOTHER GREAT VINSON SEASON

By: Mountain Trip

Well, the last team is home, enjoying the comforts of home, and Jacob has completed packing up and sorting our equipment and supplies. It was a great season, and we would like to thank everyone who climbed with us this year and those of you following  your friends and family from home. We hope that everyone has lasting memories of the incredible landscape of Antarctica.

Here’s a few final shots:

BBQ at UG Pre summit meeting V2 chris Jentz V2 Lloyd V5 Summit ridge

January 5 Aconcagua Team is down from up high

By: Mountain Trip

The team descended to the bustling city-like atmosphere of Plaza de Mulas, the Base Camp for the western approach to Aconcagua.  Thousands of climbers pass through this camp, attempting the “normal Route” up the west side of the peak.

The team did well on the descent, dropping down over 5000′ in about four hours.  They were greeted by our good friend Pablo Fortunato, who runs the Grajales Base Camp services on this side of the mountain.  Pablo fed them and is arranging for some of the team to fly out the Horcones Valley via helicopter.  Weather permitting, this will occur tonight.  The remaining team members will hike out the valley tomorrow morning, and the team will regroup in Penitentes tomorrow afternoon.

J.Y. gave the mountain one heck of an effort yesterday, but turned back at about 22,000′, an impressive undertaking.  It is hard to emphasize how challenging summit day is on this peak.  It is a long, difficult day at an extreme altitude, where every action is a monumental effort.

Great job everyone!!

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team | Tagged | 1 Comment

January 5 Aconcagua – Johnathan calls from the SUMMIT!

By: Mountain Trip

Johnathan Sugarman just called in minutes ago from the summit of Aconcagua!  He, Allen and Fermin are all standing on the summit after a long climb up from High Camp.  Fermin and our guide Nick Shepherd are in radio contact with one another, so we’ll hear from the remaining climbers soon.

Summit day is a long, hard day, with almost 3,000′ of elevation gain, all of it above 20,000 feet.  The team started out in the dark, moving up by the light of each climber’s headlamp.  As the sun crested the eastern horizon, the mountain is often bathed in an orange/pink alpenglow, light that casts a pyramidal shadow of the peak over the nearby Pacific Ocean.

A bit higher, the team followed a long, rising traverse, known as the Grand Traverse, which climbs up to the final challenge of the route, the Canaleta.

Aconcagua

The view looking back along the Grand Traverse, from just shy of 22,000′ on Aconcagua.

The Canaleta is a rather infamous gully that can be loose and tricky.  It is often described as the hardest part of the entire route.  This leads to the summit ridge, and ultimately, the top of South America.

Congratulations Team!

Here’s Johnathan:

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | 4 Comments

Vinson Team back to Union Glacier Camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team woke up at Vinson Base Camp and spent a relaxing morning enjoying breakfast and several rounds of coffee in our base camp dome tent.  They got the call that the ski planes were scheduled to come from the main Union Glacier camp and pick up the climbers, so they packed up camp and prepared to start traveling back towards home.  They arrived in the relatively plush Union Glacier camp in time for lunch and will remain there until the plane comes to pick up all of the Antarctic adventurers for the flight back to Chile.  They should be on their way home any day now, at this point they are just waiting for a nice window of weather for the plane.

Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

Jan 5 Aconcagua Team Moved to High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Nick called in this evening from high camp on Aconcagua.  It was another beautiful day and they are settled in and resting up for their summit try tomorrow.  The forecast sounds good for the next few days, so they are in a great position to get a shot at the top of Aconcagua.   They’ll have an early dinner, and melt all the snow needed to fill up water bottles for everyone and then try to get a bit of sleep.  Summit day starts early, they’ll get a pre-dawn start and we’ll hope to hear from them from the summit tomorrow.

Here’s Nick calling in the evening dispatch from high camp.

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White rocks high camp

A Mountain Trip Aconcagua team camped at the White Rocks high camp, looking up at the route to the summit

 

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

VINSON TEAM BACK AT HIGH CAMP

By: Mountain Trip

The team is doing well, resting and rehydrating back at High Camp. Everyone is safe and sound, and relaxing before they enjoy dinner. They plan to savor their last few hours at 12,500 ft, then head down to Vinson Base Camp tomorrow. Great job, team!!

Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

VINSON TEAM ASCENDING

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob’s message is a bit garbled due to the vagaries of satellite phone connections, but it sounds like the team is doing really well and they are approximately three hours from the summit.

Here’s Jacob:

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Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

VINSON TEAM TO THE SUMMIT!

By: Mountain Trip

After three nights at High Camp, the team’s patience was rewarded when they woke to clear skies and zero wind this morning. They ate a good breakfast, donned their climbing gear and started the ascent. It’s approximately 6 – 8 hours from High Camp to the summit. Good luck, team!

We will update the trip report page as we hear from the team.

Vinson view

The view from High Camp is stunning!

Here’s Jacob:

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Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

JANUARY 5TH ACONCAGUA TEAM CARRIES TO CAMP 2

By: Mountain Trip

The team enjoyed good weather today for their carry to Camp 2. They woke up, packed up a load of food, fuel and supplies, and ascended the broad bowl of scree at the uppermost portion of the Relinchos Valley. From this point, the team headed north to follow the Ameghino Valley, that separates Cerro Ameghino from Aconcagua. They left the supplies in a sheltered spot in Camp 2, then turned around and descended to Camp 1. J.Y. reports that the team is healthy and feeling good, and they are enjoying the beautiful views. The plan is to move to Camp 2 tomorrow, weather permitting.

Looking up the route from the site of our Camp 1.  The route is fairly easy to see above camp, as it climbs up from left to right.

Looking up the route from the site of our Camp 1. The route is fairly easy to see above camp, as it switchbacks up from left to right.

Camp 2 on Aconcagua

Camp 2 on our route is also known as “Camp 3 Guanacos,” after it’s sequence on the old, Guanacos Valley route that has been closed for several years. It is also known as “Chopper Camp,” as there used to be the remains of a crashed helicopter just above camp. Cerro Ameghino looms over camp to the East.

Here’s J.Y., with a special message for his lovely wife, Linda:

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | 5 Comments

Aconcagua Team Moved to Camp 1

By: Mountain Trip

Nick Shepherd called in from Camp 1 at about 16,400′ on the east side of Aconcagua.  The team moved up today and all the climbers did well.  The climb takes between 4-5 hours, and gains a lot of elevation, close to 3,000′.  This camp is nice, as it has some great views looking far, far down the Relinchos Valley, the same valley that the climbers ascended four days ago.  The steep walls above camp often form interesting ice features, a few of which have been climbed as long, high altitude ice routes.

Nick referenced the team getting to experience the use of WAG bags.  This is one of the less glorious, but absolutely necessary aspects of climbing on routes that see relatively high numbers of visitors.  These bags capture and provide a sound container for solid, human waste, in a manner that is not all that challenging or, well… I suppose one could say… gross.  We use this system to help minimize our impact and footprint on this beautiful mountain setting, and it is one of the principles of our Leave No Trace ethics, by which we lead every expedition.  Go ahead – YouTube it!

Here’s Nick:

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

JANUARY 6 TH VINSON TEAM AT HIGH CAMP

By: Mountain Trip

Yesterday was a big push up to High Camp, and today the team is enjoying a rest day in camp. The goal today is to rest, relax, hydrate, and take in the beautiful view of the Branscomb Glacier. If the weather cooperates, the team plans to ascend the remaining 3,500 ft to the summit tomorrow.

Jim called in the team report today, and he gives a nice shout out to lots of friends and colleagues back home. Here’s Jim:

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Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

Aconcagua Team celebrates a birthday!

By: Mountain Trip

The team took a rest and acclimatization day today, enjoying the amenities of Plaza Argentina, the Base Camp on the east side of Aconcagua.  This is an important extra day of acclimatization before the crew launches up to Camp 1 tomorrow.

Johnathan Called in two posts this afternoon, one with a nice description of the day and a second one, sharing his birthday!

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And the supplemental post with the BIG NEWS of the day!!

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Happy Birthday Johnathan!!!

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

Aconcagua Team Carries Up to Camp 1

By: Mountain Trip

Nick Shepherd called in a post, which was unfortunately a bit garbled, due to the challenges of satellite phones in the mountains.  The team took a rest day yesterday, allowing their bodies to acclimatize a bit from the big, 1000m climb up from the camp at Casa de Piedra.  Today they awoke refresh and rested, ate a nice breakfast in the comfort of their Base Camp dining tent and then shouldered their packs to carry loads up to 16,400′.

The route up from the Plaza Argentina Base Camp starts by climbing up a rather steep bit of moraine, the rocky debris pushed ahead by the last glacier that carved the valley above Base Camp.  As they climbed up, they snaked their way between the remnants of the old glacier, now barely discernible under meters of rock, and the steep side of the valley wall to their south.

After about an hour of hiking, they arrived in the base of the hanging valley above BC.  They weaved their way along the valley floor, most of the time hiking on the old glacier, with a few spots where they could actually see the old, glacial ice.  After another hour and a half or so, they commenced another steep climb up to the site of their Camp 1, located at roughly 5000m.  The deposited the loads of food, fuel and equipment and returned to Base Camp for the night.

This process of “climbing high and sleeping low” is a proven strategy for climbing big, cold mountains.  It enables the team to move all their equipment up the mountain and also eases their bodies into each successive altitude, by giving them a taste of the next elevation, while letting them sleep at their previous camp.

Tomorrow is planned to be another rest and acclimatization day, giving the team time to better acclimatize before launching up the mountain.

Here’s Nick!

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

Aconcagua Team arrive in Plaza Argentina Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team had beautiful weather today for their move up to the Plaza Argentina base camp.   It was a bit over 6 hours of trekking to reach what will be their home for the next several nights.  At base camp we have a big dining tent with tables and chairs and a cook providing great food, so they aren’t suffering too badly up there.   They’ll settle in tonight and plan to spend tomorrow resting and acclimating to the high altitudes before venturing higher on the mountain.

Here’s Nick from base camp:

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

JANUARY 6TH VINSON TEAM ON THE ICE!

By: Mountain Trip

Guide Jacob Schmitz called to report that the January 6th Vinson Team is on the ice! Jim, Chuck, and Ariana left Punta Arenas early this morning, flew to Union Glacier on a big Ilyushin cargo jet, unloaded, then hopped on a smaller airplane, a Twin Otter, that flew them to Vinson Base Camp. They’ve come a long way! The team is setting up camp, going over skills, and then taking a well deserved rest. The plan is to move to Low Camp tomorrow.

The Illushyn jet at the massive ice rink that is Union Glacier.

The Ilyushin jet at the massive ice rink that is Union Glacier.

Two of our Hilleberg tents at Vinson Base Camp, with the mountain in the background.

Two of our Hilleberg tents at Vinson Base Camp, with the mountain and Otters in the background.

Here’s Jacob:

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Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

JANUARY 5TH ACONCAGUA TEAM AT CASA PIEDRA

By: Mountain Trip

I spoke to both Allen and Nick yesterday, and they reported that the team made good time to Casa Piedra, “stone house,” the team’s second approach camp. Nick mentioned that it was a particularly windy day, but everyone is doing great and feeling good. Today the team plans to depart Casa Piedra, cross the Vacas River, and take a big westerly turn and continue up the Relinchos Valley. It’s a beautiful, interesting hike winding up the Relinchos Valley, and this afternoon the team will arrive at Plaza Argentina.

The team tried to call in a report yesterday, but the connection wasn’t strong enough and the call dropped. I’m sure we will hear from the team tonight.

Aconcagua

Looking up the Vacas Valley from the Casa de Piedra camp

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

DECEMBER 26TH VINSON TEAM BACK AT HIGH CAMP

By: Mountain Trip

Jacob called a little bit ago to let us know that everyone is back at High Camp, safe and sound. The team will rest, hydrate, and refuel for the journey back to Vinson Base Camp. Again, great work, team!

And another special congratulations, this time to climber Bill Cole, who has reached the summit of 6 of the 7 summits. Well done!

Posted in 2014 Vinson - Dec 26 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

MEET THE JAN 6TH VINSON TEAM

By: Mountain Trip

Our fourth and final Mount Vinson expedition of the season is assembling in Punta Arenas, Chile, finalizing their preparations for an attempt to climb the highest peak in Antarctica.

Jim Holliday has made the long journey from Pittsburgh, PA.

Ariana Myers and Chuck Nuzum are making their way from California.

Our good friend Dan Elsberg met Jim yesterday, and he plans to meet Ariana and Chuck later today, in Punta Arenas. Dan will help Jim, Ariana and Chuck with expedition logistics in Punta Arenas until they board the flight to the Ice.  Guide Jacob Schmitz will meet the climbers at the Union Glacier airstrip and lead them up Mount Vinson.

jim in PA Jim Holliday demonstrating good ice axe technique during the equipment check in Punta Arenas, Chile

The climbers will spend the next couple of days enjoying Punta Arenas and attending some meetings that are required of all climbers flying to Antarctica.  Their flight south is scheduled for the morning of January 9th.

We will post updates as we hear from the team, meaning that we hope to post daily.  Jacob will encourage each climber to call in audio posts, so that you can hear about the trip in the words of the climbers.  On occasion, the team could be too busy to call in or the terrain or weather might prevent them from connecting via satellite phone.  If there is no post for a day or two, please keep in mind the axiom, “No News Is Good News!”

Best of luck to the climbers and welcome to Punta Arenas!

 

Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team, International | Tagged | No Comments

JANUARY 5TH ACONCAGUA TEAM AT PAMPA DE LENAS

By: Mountain Trip

Today the team made its way up the Vacas Valley to camp at Pampa de Lenas, located at approximately 9,000 ft. The team followed the Vacas river for about four hours before reaching camp. Nick reports good weather (hot! 80 F) and good company! The team is in for a treat tonight for dinner. The arrieros, or mule drivers, are preparing the team an “asado”, a traditional Argentine barbecue. An asado dinner is not only tasty, but it will provide the team with energy for the coming weeks.

The plan is to eat well tonight, get a good night sleep, and continue heading up-valley to the next camp at Casa de Piedra.

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua - Jan 5 Team, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

SUMMIT!! DECEMBER 26TH VINSON TEAM

By: Mountain Trip

The team’s perseverance paid off, and just a few minutes ago they stood on top of Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.  It sounds like the weather is holding steady, clear with a bit of wind. It was an especially sweet moment for the team because they enjoyed the summit all to themselves. A special congratulations to Nick Logic, who has now summited the highest peak on all seven continents, the coveted “Seven Summits.” Great work, team!

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Posted in 2014 Vinson - Dec 26 Team, International | Tagged | 5 Comments

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