Saturday, December 31, 2011


Haven't heard from Bob, but: No News is Good News. A couple random items that I forgot to add to previous post:

Bob had said that the weather was decent, high 20's during the day, dropping to the teens (degrees F) at night. Water bottles are not freezing overnight when left in the tent, so that's all good.

Bob also noted that a doc had checked them out at Base Camp, just to ascertain their medical viability to climb. At Base Camp, Bob had a SPO2 (Oxygen Saturation, also known as a "pulse ox") reading of 97%. This is out of 100. At sea level, a healthy person should get 96 or higher. The fact that Bob had a 97% at 13,000 feet is awesome. They checked again at Camp 1, and it was down to 85% - normal for that altitude.  It will be interesting to see what happens up higher. (I have seen climbers at altitude in the 50%'s, which at sea level would involve a trip with lights and sirens to the ER, but at altitude becomes just one of those things.)

Until Bob's next call...


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Camp 2

Bob called last night from Camp 2. It was 8:40 PM his time and they were settled into Camp 2 at 18,000 feet above sea level. He said that Camp 2 was actually pretty nice: protected, flat, cozy, nice views of the Polish Glacier up above them.

Bob said that he was doing well, his legs felt strong, his overall endurance was good. Nicky was doing well, too, he said. He said he had a headache rating about a 3 out of 10, annoying but not unexpected. He said most team members had a low-grade headache, but that's why they will sleep there the next couple nights and acclimatize. The good news was that his and most everyone's appetites remained strong, so the little bit of altitude illness experienced was not affecting their ability to stay fueled.

Dinner had been rice and chicken, not too exciting; but Bob said they have been eating well. He loved burger night at Base Camp (does anyone remember when Bob was a vegan?), and Martin made pizza from scratch at Camp 1 with pepperoni, herbs and 'shrooms.

Bob also sent props to Andrew, who descended earlier. He said he never saw anyone work so hard to take care of themselves and get down and out of harm's way. (For more details, see Andrew's comment to an earlier post on this blog.)

Today they are carrying a load up to Camp 3 at 19,800 feet and then returning to sleep at Camp 2. Tomorrow they will rest at Camp 2 and acclimatize some more, then Saturday they will move up and sleep at Camp 3. If all goes well and the weather gods cooperate they will hopefully ring in 2012 with a summit climb on Sunday January 1, 2012. Good luck, dude, and to the whole team!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Camp 1

Heard from Bob last night. He was calling from Camp 1, to which they had moved yesterday. Camp 1 is at 16, 140 feet above sea level (higher than anything in the continental United States.) They carried about 50 pound packs on Christmas Day from Base Camp up to Camp 1 and then returned to Base Camp to sleep. This carry included about 2,400 vertical feet, which is a lot of vertical in one day. Yesterday, the day after Christmas, they moved camp up to Camp 1, carrying another 50 pound pack, but then settling in and getting comfortable.

Bob reports that the temperature is surprisingly mild, about 30 degrees F with a light breeze. The team all seems to be doing well. Bob says he does not have a headache at this altitude and he has a strong appetite. He said that Nikki is doing equally well. They are sleeping ok, and Bob seemed in very good spirits.

The plan is for the team to make a carry up to Camp 2 today, another1,500 feet higher than Camp 1. Tomorrow (Wednesday) they will move camp up to Camp 2, on Thursday they will make a carry to Camp 3, and Friday will be a rest day. All dependent a little bit on the weather, of course, but for now all looks good.

Bob said that the team appreciates all your good wishes and thoughts. He'll call again when he can.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Nicky and me wanted to say Merry Christmas from Base Camp.  Nicky did an awesome job with props. There is an internet set up here at one of the camps, very slow but very handy.

Thanks for following.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Base Camp!

Heard from Bob just a few minutes ago. The team arrived safely at Base Camp this afternoon, altitude 13, 470 feet above sea level (ASL). They have walked 24 miles in the three days since they started at the trailhead, around 8,500 feet ASL. Today was the hardest day of vertical, Bob said, as they gained about 2,450 feet of elevation just today.

Temperature in Base Camp is about 30 degrees F, with constant breeze and winds gusting up to 20 MPH. Not too bad yet, Bob said, right before he said he needed to put his gloves to hold the phone.

Everyone is healthy, he said. He and Nikki have a very low grade headache, no big deal, and they expect that it will pass by tomorrow. Appetites are good, and everyone looks forward to a rest day tomorrow. I could hear Nikki laughing in the background of the phone call. Bob reports that the entire team is getting along and enjoying each other's company.

On Sunday (Christmas Day) the team will carry a load up to Camp 1 and cache it, then return to Base Camp. On Monday they will move camp up to Camp 1.

Next report when Bob next calls. (mjs)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The View above Penitentes

This is Bob and Nikki, admiring the views above the town of Penitentes, which was the last town they stayed at. From here, they left for the trailhead to start walking. So far, all systems are a go!    (mjs)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eben cooking our meal

Just kidding. The cooks let us come back with them at the grill!!!

The team photo

From left to right. Eben, lead guide, Me, Nicky, Chris,Dale, Andrew, Brandon,Dan, Nick, Kelly (guide), Stephanie, Laura.  We are all at dinner in town before our last meal.  Dan, a guide on another trip took the photo and Martinez is the last guide who was not able to make it tonight

Nicky and Argentinian Meat, last meal

Our last meal. Tomorrow we buy our permits and head to Penitentes to separate our gear for the mules. We will arrange our gear for base camp and the lower camps. Things like my parka and high altitude boots will go in one duffel and leave behind like street clothes in another.  The bags will meet us at the two camps, then base camp. We will have two lower camps before base camp.  At both of those camps we will get out our sleeping bags and mats along with a change of clothes where necessary every night.  Once we get to base camp our clothes that hiked in with will go into our duffelbags and make their way over to the other side of the mountain.

We did a gear check before dinner to make sure everyone had what they need. I loaned an extra pair of gloves to Andrew. Brandon and Nick did not get one of their bags. We shall see if it comes tomorrow, if not, they will have to buy some gear.

Tomorrow morning we will buy the permits for $800 dollars US then head out on a 4 hour drive to Penitentes.

A view of the Mountain from the Plane by Nicky

Nicky took this shot on the way in from the plane

Out Transportation

It will be a few trips but we will all make it to the mountain

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meat with a side of meat

Dan Talbert eating meat with a side of meat. Typical Argentina meal. We will eat as much as we can before the nuts and berries start up high. We go Tuesday to the mountain.

Putting food together

3 of the 4 guides putting together meals for 10 days and 13 people. Hugh work, all day long work

Made it to Argentina

All is well in Argentina.  It is going to 100 degrees down here today so that is a switch.  Night time it will be about 70 degrees.  I had to take a nap due to the travel hours and being shoehorned into an airplane seat for 13 hours total, now I am ready to hit town.  A few things I will pick up, deoderant, and toilet paper, those items did not make the trip. You can check out the gear list that is on the links to the side within full trip information.

Tonight we will start to congregate and get to know whoever is already here so we can begin to bond as a team.  It is always very interesting to see who gravitates to whom.  The worst thing to do is end up with a tent mate that is not like you, that is just another stress rock added to the pile.  Luckily I have Nikki so I am totally fine.

Off to the streets of Mendoza.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

LAN Airlines

This is it, on my plane 15 hour flight.

My last meal

When you leave for a few weeks and live on a mountain you always talk about what you will eat first when you get in the states. For me it is usually Pizza.  My choice's are limited at an airport but my last meal was a good old fashion US style hamburger. In argentina the beef is grass fed and in every restuarant so the flavor will put it to shame but happy about my last meal choice.  On the mountain it will be oat meal, power bars and noodles for weeks. The higher up you go the less of an appetite you get, hence the discussion about food familiar to you. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bags are packed

I might become a Mountaineer some day. My bags weigh in at 99.6 pounds, right underneath the 50 pound Max at the airport, as long as I did not forget anything.

Money isn't everything

Just pulled out the cash for the trip.  $800 dollars for the permit, and about another $800 for all the extra's that might happen.  Did you know that there are now conversion charges on your credit card when you buy something with your Visa.  I am not talking about the conversion cost, I am talking about an additional 3% charge on your card.  Amex charges 2.75% on top, just wanted to let you know.  This is the reason I am taking all the cash.  Thankfully for me I am a bit bigger than the typical South American so I am not too worried about being mugged.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Going away poster

My friends at work created a going away poster and had a bunch of people sign it. The day before they gave me a Chia party and today some walked the steps with me. In all my years climbing nobody has ever done this, it feels really nice. Thanks everyone!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Spirit

Nikki, my climbing partner, is choosing a hat for the trip. We will be in base camp on Christmas so we thought we would spread a little holiday spirit on the hill.. Sure hope it is not too cold that night.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

One week left

Nikki and I have one week left before we head to South America.  On this past Wednesday I pulled out all of my gear and it is all good to go.  I went and bought those little items like pepto tablets, cold medicine, and lip balm, pretty much the standard.  Every time I go on a trip I keep thinking about what items I do not really need.  My goal one day is to actually have a light pack, but I think the definition of a goal is that it needs to be attainable.

I got a pretty good article from my good friends the Bennett's, it was written by Ed Viesturs talking about his Annapurna attempt in 2000.  The article talked about how Ed and his team were moving up the mountain but just could not get comfortable with what was going on with the mountain.  In the end they decided to bag it.  While they were putting snow on the badly bruised ego's, the largest Avalanche ripped down the mountain.  They all said what a great choice they made, they would all have certainly perished.

This reminded me of a climb I was on in 1998, Bolivia, Illimani.  It is not the same but similar in the fact that I just kept seeing a man falling in my mind the whole time I was sitting in the tent waiting for the clock to hit 11 p.m., the time we were going to head to the summit.  I was in the tent with the lead guide and when we were about to get out of our tent I said I am not going.  He said "why, you are a good climber you can do this" I just said this is not my time.  As it turned out, another guy on the team that was heading for the summit did take a fall on the rope.  The pitch was close to 70% on parts of that hill.  While nothing went wrong, I often replay that decision in my tent that night and I forever say, go with your gut when your gut is talking loudly.

When I was on Everest at 24,000 feet, feeling like death NOT warmed over I went through a different kind of thinking.  While everything in me was saying don't give up, give it all you got, I just could not see the outcome in my mind.  Since I could not clearly see the outcome, I turned as many of you probably know.

You can easily say that I have made good decisions but I will tell you the emotions that were tied to those decisions still swim around in my head.  Constantly I try to make myself feel better about turning or not moving on, but they still eat away at me.

That being said, you might have figured it out...I need to cap this mountain for it mocks my very soul.  I will not go lightly into the hill, I will fight with every step.

Climb High, Don't Die

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bob's Ghost Writer

This is Bob's ghost writer, Mike, handling blog posting duties while Bob is on the mountain. When he can't post directly (because he's in a tent in a snowstorm at 18,000 feet above sea level, or he's drinking pisco sours at the bar in Mendoza), then Bob will call me and I will post all news fit to print.

Dude, safe travels, and we look forward to hearing/reading all your stories.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Less than two weeks

Nikki and I are getting ready, check out her blog with the link that is My Links tab to the left of this post.  You can follow her blog to and see what we are both talking about, it should be from different perspectives.

Training has tapered off because I am just worried that I will do something stupid and hurt myself.  The stationary bike seems like the best bet right now.

More food just came in the mail, I will post up my list of items when I sort through all of my gear this week.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Volunteering with the National Wildlife Federation

If anyone has a few kids that want to learn about the outdoors, check out the National Wildlife Federation Hike and Seek Day at this LINK.  I will be there as a trail rover enjoying a day in the woods.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Training Days for Aconcagua

It is only 2 months to Aconcagua, I really want to get on a hill.  My good friend Nikki Messner is coming with me, she is a strong climber and a total blast to hang out with.

Mike Schiller and I did the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh last time I was home and this weekend I got a 30 mile ride in then a 3 hour hike with my fashionable 40 pound weight vest that everyone looks twice at.

Climb High Don't Die shirts are soon to be on the way.  I will let everyone know so they can get the first run of shirts.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Link to some Photos and the University

Here are some Pic's of the Great Kids and here is the CRUX Outdoor Adventure Group that put made it happen, Great job Matt and team.

I want to thank all of the staff and the kids for having me along.  That was a totally great hike.  Everyone is very impressive and showed a great deal of respect for the woods and each other.  All of them were great with each other, looking out for everyone, and totally respecting everyones ability.  Keep being the great people that you are and the future will be yours.


Mount 100

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Climbing in WV

Mike Schiller and I went climbing in Nelson's Rocks West Virginia this weekend.  Here is the LINK to the area.  It was 112 degrees at one part of the day but everyone's spirits in our group was positive.  Check out the pics and the video's.

It has been a long time since my buddy and I got a chance to do something outside and this was great.  I broke my toe about 4 weeks prior so that was killing me by the end, but nothing a cold beer could not make feel better.