Posted on November 30th, 2010 4 comments
The team arrived in Mendoza, Argentina today after leaving on flights that originated in the United States yesterday. The flights took us to Santiago, Chile where we changed planes for a quick flight over the Andes to Mendoza. April and Kurt arrived yesterday and spent the day taking care of last minute logistics and purchased food for the expedition. Today they finished up logistics then went to the airport to meet Bill, Fred, and Ralph for their arrivals. After getting settled in the hotel we payed a visit to the Ministry of Tourism where we secured our climbing permits. It is now required for every team member to be present to receive your climbing permit.
With permits secured we had time to relax in this laid back South American city that strictly observes such rituals as “siesta”. Virtually all merchants are closed between 1:30 – 5:30 PM. Siesta provided a nice time for the team to relax at an outdoor cafe and enjoy appetizers and a drink while soaking in the afternoon sun. Temperatures are pleasant this time of year allowing us to comfortably wear shorts and t-shirts even in the evening.
We ate dinner across from La Plaza de Independencia and took a stroll through the park before retiring to bed.
Tomorrow we will drive to Los Penitentes, which is a resort village located at the base of Aconcagua. Here we will unpack our luggage and prepare our food and equipment for the climb.
A couple pictures from the day are below.
Posted on November 29th, 2010 2 comments
Our first Aconcagua expedition for the 2010/2011 season is on its way! Ralph Drollinger, Fred Simmons, and Bill Simon will be joined by April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg.
The team will fly from the United States and meet as a group in Mendoza, Argentina on November 30. After securing climbing permits we will drive to Los Penitentes where we will organize our gear to be carried by mules for the 3-day trek into Base Camp.
The team spent the last couple of days organizing last minute details in Los Angeles before flying.
A couple pictures are below. Stay tuned for updates to our expedition!!
Posted on November 18th, 2010 No comments
Our yearly trip to Mexico’s Volcanoes was another huge success. We climbed two volcanoes in a 10 day period, visited the pyramids at Teotihuacan, and got to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Mexican people.
This trip was also used as a fundraiser for Big City Mountaineers. This organization takes underprivileged urban teens on seven and eight day backpacking trips during the summer months. They hold a series of climb each summer the call Summit For Someone which raises money for Big City Mountaineers. SMI has worked with Big City Mountaineers since they began doing fundraising climbs. We lead several trips each year for this worthy organization. Besides Mexico’s Volcanoes we also lead climbs to Mt. Whitney, North Palisade Peak, and Mt. Langley each year for BCM. In February 2011 we will also be leading one to Kilimanjaro!!
After meeting up in Mexico City we drove to the town of Amecameca which sits at the base of our first mountain Iztaccíhuatl (17,158’/5230m). A couple days of acclimatization hikes would put us in to position for a summit attempt on “Ixta”. Iztaccíhuatl is the name the Aztec’s gave this mountain, which translated means “white woman”. This mountain resembles a women laying on her back when viewed from a distance. “White” refers to snow that covers the upper reaches during certain parts of the year.
We ascended “The Knees Route” which climbs past Ixta’s knees onto her belly where the summit is located. On summit day we were treated to a clear crisp morning. Snow conditions were excellent. We got a predawn start and found ourselves high on the peak as the sun rose giving us a beautiful backdrop as we ascended the partly snowy and rocky terrain that leads to the summit.
After successfully reaching the summit we descended back the same way with views of neighboring volcano Popocatepetl in front of us and our next objective Orizaba visible to the east.
Orizaba is the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in all of North America at 18,410’/5611m. Only Mt. McKinley in Alaska (20,320’/6194m) and Mt. Logan in Canada (19,550’/5959m) are higher than Orizaba on this continent. It is a classic cone shaped volcano flanked by glaciers on all sides.
Our team drove south and east to the small town of Tlachichuca near the base of El Pico de Orizaba.
Here we geared up and took a 4-wheel adventure drive through the rural Mexican countryside then ascended through pine tree forests before emerging above timberline to the Pierdra Grande Hut at 14,000’/4267m. Our route was the Jamapa Glacier that ascends the cone’s north side to the crater rim. We traverses a short distance west to the highest point on the rim.
After our climbs the team drove back to Mexico City by way of the Teotihuacan pyramids. Teotihuacan is located 25 miles north of Mexico City and contains some of the largest pyramidal structures in the Pre-Columbian era. The pyramids are thought to have been completed between 200 BC and 100 AD and this city is believed to have had up to 200,000 inhabitants at its height in the 7th to 8th centuries. We took some time to climb the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, see some of the paintings that are still preserved here, tour some of the archeological sites, and walk the Avenue of the Dead.
We then returned to Mexico City for dinner. We happened to be there during Mexico’s bicentennial celebration. The center of the city was filled with an elaborate well done light show and music. Seeing the celebration was icing on the cake to a wonderful and very memorable trip!
The entire photo gallery can be found here: Mexico’s Volcanoes November 5-14, 2010