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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!

January 27 Aconcagua Team – Lisa Calls from BC

By: Mountain Trip

Lisa called in a fun update from the Plaza Argentina Base Camp, located at 13,800′ on the east side of Aconcagua.  The team is doing great and enjoying some really nice weather.  Base Camp is an interesting place, as Lisa hints at in her post.  There are often climbers from all parts of the globe milling about, acclimatizing and an equally high number of local support staff, porters and guides.  In a nutshell- it’s a fun place!

Below are some images of the terrain they climbed through en route to camp today.  But first, here’s Lisa!

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aconcagua mules

The crossing of the chilly Rio Vacas is best done without getting wet!

aconcagua hiking to bc

The trail follows some steep slopes as it ascends into the Relinchos Valley.

aconcagua relinchos valley

Higher in the Relinchos valley, the views expand, with Aconcagua dominating the skyline in front of climbers to the left and the 1000m lower Cerro Ameghino appearing nearly as tall to the right (it’s closer!).

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | No Comments

Aconcagua Team Moving to Base Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Sophie and Dave called in to update us on the progress of the team.  They hiked another eight miles yesterday, arriving at the second camp on the approach in good time and with beautiful weather.

This morning, they crossed the Rio Vacas on horseback before the sun hit, which is a really good reason to use horses.  That water is chilly!!  Their route is taking a hard right turn today, heading west up the Relinchos Valley, which starts as a narrow defile deeply carved by the Relinchos River.  The trail follows steep side hills until it climbs up into the upper section of the valley, which is more of a “U” shaped, glacially carved valley and is much wider than its mouth.

About this point, the team will have spectacular views of Aconcagua and the neighboring Cerro Ameghino.  This view will dominate their western vista until they hike the past meters into the Plaza Argentina Base Camp.

Today is a tougher day than the first two on the trail.  The distance is similar, but they will climb up over 3,000′, and start to feel the altitude a bit more.  Fortunately, a comfortable dining tent, replete with table and chairs will await their arrival, and tomorrow is a planned rest and acclimatization day, which is generally welcomed after the tough hike up the Relinchos.

Sophie’s initial post is a bit garbled, a reminder that satellite communication in steep, mountainous terrain is not always perfect, but here’s the update:

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | No Comments

Jan. 27 Aconcagua Team Calls From The Trail

By: Mountain Trip

Lance called in from the first camp on the hike into Aconcagua.  The team spent about 5.5 hours on the trail today, hiking eight miles from the mouth of the Vacas Valley to a camp on the west side of the Rio Vacas called Pampas de Lenas.  This was the first sort of “shake down” hike on the route, and it was a relatively easy day of strolling in the high desert with light packs.

Aconcagua approach

A Mountain Trip team starting up the arid Vacas Valley.

Camp is at the base of a tall rock wall, near the bank of the swift Rio Vacas.  It has evolved into a well established campsite over the years, and now has a Park Service cabin, corrals for the horses and mules that carry the majority of the team’s loads up to Base Camp, and even toilet facilities.

Aconcagua approach

Pampas de Lenas (Fields of Wood) is a name that no longer really fits the camp, as there have not been any trees here for decades!

We hire a local outfitter to provide mule services to carry loads, meaning we can eat incredibly well for the hike into Base Camp.  Working in concert with the arrieros (mule drivers), the team feasted on asado (grilling meat) for their first meal on the trail.  Asado is a cultural phenomena in Argentina, a country world renowned for the quality and quantity of its steak and meat.  We bring plenty along and share our dinner with the arrieros, making for a fun, social evening.

aconcagua asado

Asado! It is something of an art form in Argentina.

Here’s Lance, with a report from 9,000′ on the trail to Aconcagua!

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Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27, International | Tagged | No Comments

MEET THE JANUARY 27TH ACONCAGUA TEAM

By: Mountain Trip

We would like to extend a hearty welcome to the members of our January 27th Aconcagua expedition!  The team members arrived in the small, vibrant city of Mendoza, Argentina over the past couple of days.  Located in the heart of the Argentine wine country, Mendoza is a fun place to spend some time, and the climbers have been exploring the sights, sounds and numerous verdant parks of the city.

The climbers are joining us from different parts of the US and abroad. Let’s meet the team!

Lisa Tessarowicz is joining us from the beautiful state of Colorado.  Lance Shaw is from the sunny state of California and Sophie Johnston joins us from Australia.

Our guides are Fermin Avila from El Bolson, Argentina and David Nesis from Telluride, Colorado.

Jan 27 Aconcagua team

Welcome to Argentina! Lance, Fermin, Lisa, Sophie and Dave

foodArgentina is known for wonderful food and delicious, locally produced red wine

The team spent yesterday finalizing their preparations, reviewing their equipment, securing their climbing permits, and going out for a nice welcome dinner.  This morning the team will head to the small ski resort of Penitentes, located near the trailhead for the Vacas Valley, which they will follow for the first two days of their approach to the mountain.  Penitentes is a couple hours drive from Mendoza, and along the way, the team will stop and have lunch at the high desert town of Ushpallata, which is somewhat famous as the area in which the film Seven Years In Tibet was filmed.

We will post updates as we hear from the team, meaning that we hope to post daily.  The guides 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!”

Posted in 2015 Aconcagua Jan 27 | Tagged | 1 Comment

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

Vinson Team is waiting in the wind for a flight

By: Mountain Trip

The team is back at Union Glacier, hunkered down in high winds.  The Russian cargo jet that will fly them back to South America lands on a blue ice runway (think the world’s biggest hockey rink!).  It can land in mild winds, but not the big gusts that have been buffeting camp.

The team is sheltered for the night in their tents and will await a weather call in the morning.  The forecast does not look great for flying tomorrow, but the forecast is not always correct.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for slackening winds and send warm wishes southward to our chilly friends.

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

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 is Back at Base Camp!

By: Mountain Trip

The Mount Vinson climbers are all back at the Vinson base Camp, on the Branscomb Glacier.  Jacob sent us a message that they are all back, safe, sound and eating hamburgers and french fries in Antarctica at the moment.  Nothing adds to flavor like southern latitudes!!!

The plan is to fly to Union Glacier tomorrow, if the weather allows the flight.  For now, the team is cozy in our huge dome tent, enjoying being down off the cold, windswept heights of the mountain.  I’m sure that all the team is looking forward to a nice long shower!

We will post an update after they arrive at Union Glacier, so stay tuned!

Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team | 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 Summit!!

By: Mountain Trip

The team called in from the top of Antarctica!  Ariana, Chuck, Jim and Jacob climbed up on a clear, but cold day, with expansive views from the best view on the continent.

Vinson summit day

A Mountain Trip team headed to the summit.

The team started out of High Camp and climbed a long stretch of gradually sloping glacier up to the base of the summit ridge.  From this point, they climbed up through a large bowl and then up steeper slopes to gain the ridge itself.  There are a couple of tricky moves to get onto the ridge and then spectacular climbing to the summit.

Vinson summit route

The route up the long glacier to the top of Mount Vinson

Congratulations to all the climbers!!   Here is the team:

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Posted in 2015 Vinson - Jan 6 Team | Tagged | 10 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

Vinson Team waiting and watching the wind

By: Mountain Trip

The team awoke early this morning to find light winds, so they began their preparations to head for the summit.  Everything takes a lot more time at altitude, near the Antarctic Circle, and before they were ready to break out of their tents, the winds had increased to about 25 mph, which creates much too cold of a windchill factor to warrant making an attempt.  Using the new method of conversion, they would have faced a wind chill of about -60F!

The team sat tight and continued to monitor the wind, which did not start to lessen until about 10:00 am.  The weather is a bit too unsettled, and the team needed to start well before 10:00 to have a reasonable shot today, so they have decided to sit tight and see how the weather looks tomorrow.

One of the more challenging aspects of expedition climbing is having the discipline and patience to wait for suitable weather.  Teams who push the weather occasionally get lucky, but often do not, and the risk of frostbite in -60F windchill is high.  The team has plenty of time and will wait for a more suitable day to move to the top of Antarctica.

Stay tuned!!

Vinson winds

A Mountain Trip team fortifying their camp during weather similar to what the team experienced this morning.

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

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

Mount Vinson team is at High camp!

By: Mountain Trip

The team made the long, physically demanding ascent up to High Camp today.  Everyone did great, but this is one of the hardest days of the entire expedition, and they are looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow.

Vinson

A Mountain Trip team approaching High Camp, with Mount Shinn in the background.

High Camp is a tough place, with a bit of shelter from the intense winds that can hammer the upper part of Mount Vinson, but just a bit…  The team is nestled in Hilleberg tents, specifically designed for arctic and antarctic use.  The views from this height of about 12,500 feet of elevation.  One of the more special sights is to see the ice below stretch off until it meets the blue of the horizon!

Vinson view

The view from High Camp is stunning!

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

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