SMI/BCM Aconcagua Climb DEC 2013

Image Aconcagua#100_sm

The SMI/BCM Team led by Kurt and April, has made it successfully to Base Camp and have been doing some acclimatization hikes the past two days. They are all doing well and are very excited to begin the actual climb tomorrow. They will be headed up to Camp 1 and will remain there for the day early in the morning. The weather has been stormy and windy. That has not deterred them what so ever. Onward they go. They all send their love to all the families and friends back here in CONUS.

Our New Web Site is Live!!

Mt. Whitney (14,508′/4422m) in morning alpenglow.

Greetings from Bishop, CA!  We hope this finds everybody well and enjoying the fall season.  After a busy summer and fall we have been hard at work planning for 2014.  We have also launched a new web site for your viewing pleasure.  We invite you to have a look and come with us on a trip!

As of this writing SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg are off to Argentina for an Aconcagua expedition.  Back home in the Sierra the weather is getting cold and we’ve seen some of our first significant snowfall.  We’re gearing up for winter time activities including ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and avalanche courses.

Basin Mountain and surrounding skyline on Sunday November 24, 2013 after our recent snowstorm.

Here is a brief listing of some of our upcoming offerings for 2014.  We hope to see you on a trip with us in 2014!

Aconcagua:  Trip #1:  November 29 – December 17, 2013,  Trip #2:  December 27 – January 17. We still have a couple openings on both of our upcoming expeditions to the highest mountain in South America.

Mt. Kenya:  February 1-10, 2014.  A technical rock climb up the second highest mountain in Africa.  The climbing ranges from low 5th class up to 5.7.  It’s in a beautiful, remote, and wild setting overlooking the beautiful East Africa jungles.

Kilimanjaro and Safari:  February 11-25, 2014.  A 7-day climb of the highest mountain in Africa combined with a game viewing safari where we see some of the most spectacular wildlife on our planet!

Mt. Whitney:  Winter/spring 4-day climbs and summer 3-day climbs of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Ice Climbing Courses:  Ice is forming now in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake.  Come up and discover the exhilaration of climbing ice in these premier destinations.

Avalanche Classes:  Learn essential skills to evaluate snow conditions in backcountry travel.  We also include rescue training using transceivers and probes.

 

SMI Founder Kurt Wedberg Featured in Wall Street Journal

This article appeared in the online and print versions on the Wall Street Journal on July 19, 2013.  It is about a climb SMI founder Kurt Wedberg led up the Mountaineer’s Route on Mt. Whitney August 20-22, 2013.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324879504578600143557527894.html

A complete photo gallery of the climb can be found here:

Mt. Whitney Mountaineer’s Route August 20-22, 2012

Carstensz Pyramid Expedition June 2013

They are off into the jungles of Indonesia.

After a couple days delay in Jakarta and Bali due to lost baggage, the SMI Team of Fred, James, Carolyn Simmons led by Kurt Wedberg, are now into their third day of trekking the soggy jungles of Indonesia onto their base camp below Carstensz Pyramid. So far the weather has been variable with sessions of continuous rain lending to evening dry spells. Rubber boots are the norm for this portion of  the expedition. Once situated at Base Camp, the Team will change into their Alpine climbing profiles for their summit attempt of one of the worlds Seven Summits.

Kurt is in contact with the SMI Office back here in Bishop via Sat Phone so we will be updating the blog as the expedition progresses with photos and verbal Sat Phone reports. Stay tuned for what will indeed be a momentous Team effort on this very obscure Seven Summit Peak.

 

The Plane that got the Team from civilization into the Jungle.

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The Jungle Landing Strip.

 

The Moni Tribe members that will assist/porter the Teams gear to Base Camp.

 

The Camp 2 of the Six Day Jungle Trek

 

 

 

 

SMI Mt. Whitney Climbs Raise $250,000+ for Big City Mountaineers

April 26, 2013: A beautiful day on the summit of Mt. Whitney with Team 5!!

 

One of the highlights of a very busy spring season in the Sierra here at SMI was hosting six climbs on Mt. Whitney designed to raise money and awareness for Big City Mountaineers.  Big City Mountaineers is a very well respected organization with the mission is to transform the lives of under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills.  They partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential.  Their curriculum improves integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in close to 1000 youth annually.  BCM has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with:
• Increased likeliness to stay in school
• Reduction in violence
• Reduction in drug use

Since the inception of SMI we have had a goal of guiding at least two climbs each year that help out a cause.  On most years we exceed this number by 3x or more.  In planning this year’s climbs with Big City Mountaineer’s the editor in chief of Backpacker magazine Jon Dorn invited readers to come join a Mt. Whitney climb to raise money for Big City Mountaineers.  Each participant was required to raise a minimum of $4000.  They could either get sponsorship by friends and family or write a check.  The response was overwhelming.  What started as one climb ended up being six groups of energetic climbers eager to climb Mt. Whitney and raise money and awareness for BCM.

Participants were given a training program to undertake many months in advance in preparation for this 4-day trip to the highest point in the contiguous United States.  Each person maintained a regular schedule of hiking up and down hills carrying a 40+ pound pack to simulate the weight they would be carrying on the mountain.  They also did exercises to assure their legs and cardiovascular system was conditioned.  During the climb SMI guides offered lots of techniques for acclimating to the high altitude and also spent time at camp teaching and reviewing mountaineering skills including using an ice axe, and climbing with crampons while roped in with other climbers.  The first day of the climb had groups ascending from the trail head at Whitney Portal (8365′/2550m) to Lower Boy Scout Lake (10,350′/3155m).  On day 2 the groups packed up and moved higher to at camp at 12,000′/3658m putting them in position for a summit bid the following morning.  On day 3 the teams rose early for the summit push.  They were treated to spectacular sunrises as the morning sun cast its orange glow on the East Face of Mt. Whitney and teams learned why the Sierra is nicknamed the Range of Light.

Climbing the Mountaineers Route requires climbers to ascend a snow filled chute ranging from 25-35 degrees steep to a “notch” at approximately 14,000′/4267m.  From here the angle steepens and climbers use their hands in places to scramble up some rocky sections with the security of a rope.  This section of the route tops out onto the summit plateau of Mt. Whitney and it’s a short distance to the highest point in the lower 48 states.

Groups took time to admire the spectacular view while taking pictures and snacking before retracing their path back to camp.  On Day 4 they packed up and returned to the trail head and down to Lone Pine where celebrations of their climbs took place.

While climbing a spectacular and classic route in the Sierra participants helped raise over $260,000 to help underprivileged youth experience the magic of the wilderness while learning critical life skills.  They’ve also spread a lot of good will that reaches farther than any of use will ever see.  Thanks to everybody who took part in this historic event!

Photo galleries from these climbs can be viewed here:  http://www.kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra-Trips/2013-Sierra-Trips

Team #1 sets out from the trail head at Whitney Portal. A spring snowstorm would dump 12" of new snow that day but that wasn't enough to stop this determined crew! The weather turned sunny by summit day.

Team 1 crossing the outlet creek below Lower Boy Scout Lake several hours after leaving Whitney Portal. It snowed all day and most of the evening.

Team 1 waking up from camp at Lower Boy Scout Lake to over 12" of new snow.

SMI guide Kurt Wedberg teaching Team 1 proper ice axe self arrest techniques at high camp.

SMI guide April Mayhew leads a team into a rest break near Iceberg Lake. The team witnessed first hand why we nickname the Sierra The Range of Light as the morning sun cast its morning rays bathing the East Face of Mt. Whitney in a bright orange glow.

Team 5 at 13,300'/4054m in the Mountaineers Chute of Mt. Whitney with Iceberg Lake below.

Team 5 climbing the final section of rock scrambling leading to the summit of Mt. Whitney.

Team 1 poses for a well earned summit photo.

April 22, 2013: Team 3 psyched to be at the highest point in the contiguous United States.