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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!

Carstensz Team is Back in Nabire

By: Mountain Trip

Scott called in a very happy post from the warmth of Nabire!  This was Scott’s 7th ascent of the peak (and his 7th rotation of the SEVEN SUMMITS!), and his excitement about our new access to the mountain comes through in his post.

Reliable access to Carstensz has been the proverbial Holy Grail for climbers hoping to ascend the Seven Summits.  Mountain Trip is thrilled to have this new helicopter access to the mountain and we are looking forward to more Carstensz Pyramid expeditions in the near future.

Great job team!

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Posted in 2014 Carstensz - October 12 | Tagged | No Comments

CARSTENSZ SUMMIT!!!!

By: Mountain Trip

Our Carstensz Pyramid team reached the summit of the most elusive of the famed Seven Summits!

The route to the summit is a combination of rock climbing and exposed scrambling, with some higher forms of roped trickery required along the way.  From the team’s camp in the Yellow Valley, right at the base of the route, they ascended steep, bullet-hard limestone to a series of gravel covered benches.  A corner system of light grey stone leads up through much of the route, until the team reached a steep chimney section that took them to the long summit ridge.

Scrambling and traversing along more hard limestone led the team to the first of three “gaps,” the technical cruxes of the route.  The first gap is the largest and trickiest.  They employed a Tyrolean Traverse to cross this 100′ chasm.  The exposure of this maneuver is not for the faint of heart!

After the Tyrolean, they largely hiked along the ridge, with a bit of very exposed traversing that led to the second gap.  This one required the team to make a snort rappel down to a tricky move across a wedged rock and a balancy step backwards to regain the ridge proper.  More climbing, traversing and scrambling along the airy crest of the ridge (thousands of feet of air!!!) led to the last gap, which is the easiest of the three, requiring a short rappel down to a sandy ledge system, from where they climbed up the last bit to the summit of Carstensz Pyramid!

The descent takes almost as long as the ascent, and reversing the three gaps can be almost as tough.  Many, many rappels tool them back down to camp.

They plan to be back in Nabire in the morning and will make their way back to Bali in the next couple of days.

GREAT JOB TEAM!!!

Her’s Scott:

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Posted in 2014 Carstensz - October 12, Mountain Trip Blog, News | Tagged | No Comments

Training Day on Carstensz – Summit Bid TONIGHT!

By: Mountain Trip

Things are going great at the Carstensz Pyramid Base Camp in the Yellow Valley.  The team climbed about 300m up the route today as training for their summit bid.  Everyone did very well as they reviewed their systems for ascending fixed lines, using running belays and moving efficiently over moderately steep rock.

Tonight, the team will awaken around midnight, have breakfast and copious amounts of good coffee before they launch up the route for the summit.  The region has been experiencing an orographic weather pattern of clear mornings and afternoon rain, so their planned early start is designed to avoid the afternoon showers.

Here’s Scott!

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Our Carstensz Team is at Base Camp!

By: Mountain Trip

Our lead guide Scott Woolums called in from Carstensz Base Camp!

The team flew over hundreds of miles of jungle as they made their way from the north coast of Papua to the mountain.  Under sunny, clear skies, they are now nestled in their camp, located at the foot of the mountain.  They will spend some time acclimatizing before attempting the route to the summit.  The landscape it stunning in a lunar sort of way.  The limestone peaks that dominate their views to the north and south are wildly convoluted and sculpted blue/grey rock, with little to no vegetation on their flanks.  The camp is located near tall grasses and small shrubbery, but the Yellow Valley in which they are camped is a stark place.

Carstensz Google Earth

A Google Earth image of Carstensz from the north. The Yellow Valley is the one immediately at the base of the mountain.

 

Carstensz Yellow Valley

Looking down the Yellow Valley on a previous Carstensz expedition.

Here is Scott Woolums, calling in from Base Camp on his seventh trip on the mountain!

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Carstensz Team – Flight To Base Camp Take 2!

By: Mountain Trip

The team loaded up in their helicopter for another attempt to fly to base camp at Carstensz Pyramid!  It is early morning over on Papua and while the weather is not totally clear abd bluebird, it looks more favorable than when they tried to fly yesterday.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the mountain is clear and that they can land and start climbing!

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The Carstensz Team is Weather Delayed in Paupa

By: Mountain Trip

Scott Woolums called in from the town of Nabire on the north shore of the island of Papua.  The team traveled across Indonesia to reach the island.  Today, they loaded up in a helicopter to fly over the vast expanse of jungle between Nabire and their destination – Carstensz Pyramid.  Unfortunately, they had to stop short, as the weather did not permit them to make it all the way to Base Camp.  Rather than spending the night in the very small, very rural jungle village, they flew back to Nabire, in hopes of continuing their journey when the weather improves.

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Carstensz Team in Papua

By: Mountain Trip

The guys spent a day enjoying Bali yesterday, preparing their gear, relaxing and taking in some of the Balinese culture.   Then it was the long flight to the island of Papua where they arrived mid-day today.   They met with the helicopter pilot, and checked out the machine and hope to be flying into base camp as early as tomorrow morning weather permitting!

Posted in 2014 Carstensz - October 12, International | Tagged | No Comments

2014 – Carstensz Expedition!

By: Mountain Trip

Scott Woolums, our lead guide for our 2014 Carstensz Pyramid expedition called in the team’s first post.  The climbers are all in Bali and about to begin their journey to the island of West Papua.

At 16,023 feet, Puncak Jaya, as it is known locally, is the highest peak on the continent of Oceania.  Located in the southern part of the western half of the island that includes Papua New Guinea to the east.  It rises as a sharp ridge line above the world’s largest virgin rainforest, often shrouded in clouds, and despite it’s location at only 4 degrees south latitude, can often be snow covered.  The rock is hard, sharp limestone, which makes for very enjoyable climbing!

The iconic Tyrolean Traverse that spans one of the cruxes of the route up Carstensz Pyramid.

The iconic Tyrolean Traverse that spans one of the cruxes of the route up Carstensz Pyramid.

Scott will call in regularly as the team negotiates the challenges of getting to the peak, which includes many flights and a helicopter to transport the team to the base camp at the Yellow Valley.

Here’s Scott:

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Posted in 2014 Carstensz - October 12, International | Tagged | No Comments

New Carstensz Pyramid Helicopter Access!!

By: Mountain Trip

cropped-img_03651.jpgWe’ve had somewhat of a breakthrough in our ability to provide reliable helicopter access in and out of the range for our Carstensz Pyramid Expeditions!  As problems have mounted with the trekking trips into Carstensz Base Camp with local people and rebel groups extorting money and holding trekkers hostage, the helicopter access has become even more appealing and important.   There have been problems with helicopter access as well, but we finally have the ability to contract with a helicopter to provide us with priority flights when we need them in a good machine with an experienced pilot from New Zealand.

We’re really excited to be able to offer these trips the way they should be run.   We’re still going to be traveling to one of the most remote spots left on the planet, but we are going to be able to eliminate many of the variables that caused problems in the past.

Please call or email if you are interested in joining a team this Autumn or next Spring!

http://mountaintrip.com/international/carstensz-pyramid

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TODD TALKS: with Ben Adkison, Guide, Photographer, Instructor

By: Mountain Trip

It takes a bit of effort to track down some of our guides, and among the hardest to keep track of is Ben Adkison!  Ben has been guiding for Mountain Trip in 2011 and guided two teams up Denali for us this past summer.  Immediately before heading to Alaska, he had been in Africa and the Middle East.  He’s off to Peru this week, but I managed to pick his brain a bit in between adventures to ask him some questions in our ongoing series of TODD TALKS!

Ben Adkison

T: Why did you choose to become a Mountain Guide? 

B: I’ve spent most of my life in the mountains so I knew early on during college that I didn’t want to leave them anytime soon, so I decided to figure out how to make a living in the mountains and share my love for the outdoors with others.

T: What experience did you have when you started guiding? 

B: I started out guiding with a number of personal mountain summits under my belt and a lot of general outdoors experience.  A couple of jobs and a class on public speaking also helped me out a lot with the client communication aspects of the job.

T: What sort of courses, education or certifications have you taken along the way?

The profession requires that I keep up on numerous certifications and I have elected to educate myself by taking some others.  Here is a brief run down:

  • Medical Certs: Wilderness First Responder with additional training specific to high altitude, extreme cold and rescue scenarios.
  • Avalanche Certs: American Avalanche Association Level 1 and 2
  • Mountain/Outdoor Certs: Leave No Trace Trainer, Outdoor Leadership and Education Seminar, Glacier Rescue, Short Rope Techniques, Roped Self Rescue, and various other technical rope trainings provided by AMGA instructors

T: Where have you guided?

I guess it might be easiest if I list the places I’ve had a chance to guide?  Here goes:

In the U.S.:

  • Alaska: Denali expeditions and mountaineering courses in different parts of the Alaska Range
  • California: Mount Shasta and the Sierra Nevada Range.
  • Montana: Numerous backpacking trips and rock climbing courses around Missoula
  • Utah: Backpacking trips in Capitol Reef National Park

Internationally, I’ve guided:

  • Antarctica: Mount Erebus and the High Altitude Polar Plateau and Dry Valleys Region
  • Argentina: Aconcagua
  • Chile: Northern Patagonia Ice Cap, as well as the volcanoes Osorno and Tronador
  • Ecuador: Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Chimborazo
  • Mexico: Popocatepetl, Ixtahuatl
  • Peru: Various peaks in the Cordillera Blanca

T: If guiding is not your only source of income, what else do you do to make ends meet?

B: When I happen to be back in the U.S. during the winter, I teach avalanche education classes for the West Central Montana Avalanche Center, but lately I’ve been in the Southern Hemisphere during the norther hemisphere’s ski season.

Nearly every second of my time off from guiding is consumed by photography.  Besides being a mountain guide, I am a nature and wildlife photographer.  I love being able to capture a moment of light and share it with the world.  You can view and purchase my photos at www.benadkisonphotography.com

Ben Adkison Photography

Ben Adkison Photography

T: What is the most rewarding part of the job?

B: Sharing the mountains with people, having the outdoors as my office, and the light glistening on a new blanket of snow after a storm.

T: What is one of the greatest challenges of the job?

B: There really isn’t much that is easy about mountain guiding: I’m always away from home, out in the cold carrying heavy loads and always seem to be digging in the snow.  But I would say the hardest part is leaving my warm(ish) sleeping bag when it is -40 out….or even when it is +5 out!

T: What are your goals in the profession?

B: I didn’t start out guiding with an agenda of specific mountains that I wanted to guide since I am usually pretty content wherever I happen to be.  But the more I explore the world the more places I find that I want to go.  Currently the Himalaya and Kilimanjaro are at the top of my list for places I want to guide.

T: How do you train / keep your skills fresh?

B: It is really hard for me to go more than a day or so without moving too much.  I have to get out and go for a run or hike or climb to keep myself sane.  I’m not very good at focused training so I just stay active so I don’t have to do that sort of training.  I also try to get as many of my friends into mountaineering as I can so I get to keep my instructing and technical skills fresh when I bring them into the mountains.

Ben Adkison

T: How do you return to the same venue over and over, yet still keep it fresh for your clients?

B: Luckily, I either have different people each time I return to the same place or the same people that I get to take to different places, so I thrive on any difference with each trip.  Every time one of my clients tells me how amazing the views or experience is I make sure to take a moment and look around and let everything sink in and remind myself how great it is to be out in the mountains.

T: How do you manage risk on big, cold mountains?  If this is too vague, maybe give me one instance of how you managed risk on a recent trip.

B: When things start to get rough in the mountains I think the best thing that I can do is to stay calm.  This helps me keep looking at the big picture and helps me avoid tunnel vision.

T: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are considering climbing a big, cold mountain?  Give us one specific thing that you do to take care of yourself in an unforgiving environment.

B: Get into better shape than you think you need to be in and be sure to bring something to keep you entertained on stormy days because those down days can be some of the toughest.

T: What do you do for fun in your spare time?

B: Buy plane tickets!  I can’t seem to stay in one place for very long so I’m always looking for new places to explore and photograph.   I’ve been getting more and more into trail running as a simple way to stay active wherever I happen to be.

T: Who is you favorite boss? ;-)

B: Myself….C’mon, Todd– There is no safe way to answer that…!

Here’s a bit of a “Shout Out” to Ben’s Photography, and one of my favorite images Ben has on his site:

Ben Adkison

 

Posted in Mountain Trip Blog | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 26th Team—Final Dispatch from Guide Jacob Schmitz

By: Mountain Trip

Hello everyone and thank you for following our expedition.
This was a special trip as everyone knew each other and the guys from Dallas Fort worth were raising money for Sons of the Flag, an American Burn Association program.
It was good to climb with such a strong, focused, motivated team. When weather delayed our flight onto the glacier, the team was undeterred, and we took advantage of this time in town to review crevasse skills, rope management and rigging packs and sleds. Once on the glacier, the teamwork was solid and everyday team members motivated each other to get the job done.
Because of the strength of the team, we were able to move up the mountain through tough conditions and stay on schedule.  At High Camp the conditions turned against us and quickly breeched the safety margin; high avalanche hazard above camp was multiplied as high winds and snow continued.
After five nights at High Camp and a forecast of more snow, we decided that we did not want to define our Alaska experience to be sitting in a tent counting squares in the fabric, or reading the labels of half eaten energy bars.  We pulled the plug and made the long hike down to Base Camp, stoping at 14,200 Camp to spend the night, 11,000 Camp for hot pastrami sandwiches and then enjoying the amazing twilight view of the Alaska range from the Kahiltna Glacier.
This was a classic Mountain Trip expedition; Safe and fun with new learning and teaching everyday.
I am really looking forward to climbing with this group again, next time to the SUMMIT!

Take care everyone, it’s a small world.
Jacob Schmitz

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 23rd Team – Final Trip Dispatch From Caitlin

By: Mountain Trip

What a trip! It started rough with heinous trail breaking in thigh deep snow with heavy sleds tipping over every 10 minutes. But we put in our dues and got a week of warm sunny high pressure that allowed us to move to 14k and then put a cache in at the base of Washburn’s thumb, as well as plenty of tanning time.

The move to 17k was followed by horrendous weather that had us pinned down in our tents by high winds and blowing snow for five days. Unfortunately, we did not get a summit window but did get the pleasure of again breaking trail, this time down the mountain!

Thank you to all the climbers for being so hilarious and having the best attitudes throughout the climb. I have never seen a group of strangers come together and work as a team like this crew did. There were many outrageous moments that I will never forget and I hope to have the privilege of climbing with you all again. So fun and so tan!

-Caitlin Hague, Girdwood, AK

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team | Tagged | 1 Comment

Everyone is back in Talkeetna!

By: Mountain Trip

The weather cleared after a snowy morning at the Kahiltna Glacier Base Camp Runway, and all of the climbers were able to get on a plane back to the relative civilization of Talkeetna.   Congratulations to all the teams for putting working hard and giving it their best shot!  It’s not an easy mountain to climb, and this season the weather was particularly challenging.   It’s not all about getting to the top, and we hope everyone had a rewarding and challenging experience.

We’ll ask the climbers to post a final dispatch with some pictures from their trip in the coming days, but everyone is back home safely for the 2014 Denali climbing season for Mountain Trip!

 

June 26th “Mr. Hugo” Team back to base camp awaiting some planes

By: Mountain Trip

The guys made it down to base camp this morning and once again the weather has the last word.    It’s snowing and white at the Kahiltna Base Camp runway right now, so they are waiting for the weather to clear enough for everyone to fly out to Talkeetna for the cold beers that await them.   Good work team, even if you don’t make the top, it’s a great adventure!

Here’s the call from base camp:

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 26th “Mr Hugo” Team Heading Down

By: Mountain Trip

The team headed down along with all of the other climbers at high camp today.  It was another stormy day, with more in the forecast, and they decided it was time to get out of there.  It sounded like a pretty exciting trip down the ridge from high camp with some pretty high wind on the exposed ridge.   They are all down tonight at the 14,000 ft camp where they’ll rest and regroup before beginning the descent to base camp tomorrow.

Here’s the evening dispatch:

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 5 Comments

June 23rd Team Descends from high camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team headed down along with all of the other climbers at high camp today.  It was another stormy day, with more in the forecast, and they decided it was time to get out of there.  It sounded like a pretty exciting trip down the ridge from high camp with some pretty high wind on the exposed ridge.   They are all down tonight at the 14,000 ft camp where they’ll rest and regroup before beginning the descent to base camp tomorrow.   They worked hard, but ultimately the unrelentingly bad weather just never gave them a break.

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 23 Team – Waiting and Watching at High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team did not call in yesterday, but we did hear from the guides, who reported that they spent the day keeping warm in their tents, eating, hydrating and doing repairs to the snow walls that they constructed to protect their tents.  Wednesday night was a rough one, and the team had to get out to do some wall repairs in order to stave off the wind’s attempts at sweeping their snow blocks off the mountain.

Each block of snow that the climbers cut from the firm surface of camp and stacked to build their walls weighs anywhere from 10 – 30 lbs.  From the comfort of home, it is hard to fathom a wind that might move such a chunk, but it has been howling pretty fierce up high and blocks began to tumble off and slide away during the night.  In a windchill somewhere below -20F, it takes a good reason to get out of your sleeping bag at 2 a.m., bundle up in four to five layers of clothing and go outside!

Today, they will awaken and start looking for any signs that the conditions might be improving.  If they see sufficiently encouraging signs, they will give the summit a go!

Let’s think warm, calm thoughts and hope that the winds start to abate.  We’ll keep you posted on what happens!

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team | Tagged | No Comments

June 26 Mr Hugo Denali Team – Hanging Tight Up High

By: Mountain Trip

Clint Brewer called in a post that was, as expected, full of energy and good spirits, as befits the Mr. Hugo team!  The guys spent another day in really foul weather, with snow and high winds buffeting their tents.  We heard from guides at High Camp that last night was not all that restful, due to the need to get up and rebuild the thick snow walls that were being constantly disassembled by the high winds.

At High Camp, the team stacked large blocks of snow so as to construct double or even triple thick walls around all their tents.  Each block weighs 10 – 30 lbs, and a single thickness, ten foot wall might have up to 50+ blocks.  These are rather substantial structures!  When the wind is blowing hard enough to require middle-of-the-night attention, you know it is honking up there!  The forecast has called for 40 mph winds, which the guides stated sounded pretty conservative, based on what they were actually experiencing!  If the low temperature last night was the forecasted 5 F, and the winds 40 mph, the windchill outside the tents would have been in excess of -20 F.  Brrrrr…..

The plan for tomorrow will be to hope that the forecast for winds is wrong, which they often are.  The team will continue to watch for any change in the weather pattern and will eat, hydrate and keep cajoling each other to keep their spirits and motivation levels high.  It is something like a different planet up at High Camp after four or five days of tough weather, and we need to keep sending the team or good thoughts and best wishes, as the days tick past.

Hang in there guys and thanks for the fun post Clint.  We hope your bollocks come through in fine order!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 7 Comments

June 26 Mr. Hugo Team – Jacob Calls From 17,200′

By: Mountain Trip

Lead guide Jacob Schmitz called in a message from High Camp, which was unfortunately cut short, when the signal was dropped.  Today was the team’s fourth day at High Camp, and they are just waiting for the wind to diminish so the team can better assess the steep slopes above them for avalanche hazard, and then, hopefully, make a shot for the summit.

High Camp is a tough place to live, as the altitude makes it hard to eat sufficient calories to not embark on what we (only half jokingly) refer to as “The High Altitude Weight Loss Program.”  Minor tasks leave you winded, and bending over to tie your bootlaces can leave you panting and dizzy.  That being said, it is also a remarkable place, with stunning views when the clouds part.   The team has plenty of time, food and fuel, so they just need to remain motivated, which shouldn’t be too tough for this crew.

Here is Jacob!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 4 Comments

June 23 Denali Team – Rest Day at High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Cody called in from High Camp on Denali, after the team spent the day recuperating from their big day climbing to 17,200′ yesterday.  Most climbers really benefit from spending a day resting and acclimatizing at this camp before even considering attempting to go to the summit, so today was a planned day to hang out in their tents.

From tomorrow morning on, the team ill follow a practice of “hurry up and wait,” preparing themselves for a summit bid each morning, and watching the weather for their shot at the top.

Here’s Cody!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 2 Comments

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