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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back in civilization and ready to post updates about the past 3 weeks


Greetings,

I returned from a successful summit of Aconcagua with plenty of stories.  Over the next few days, I intend to document both climbs and provide you with sufficient details to either share the experience vicariously or follow from my good moves and avoid my bad moves to allow you to summit this mountain.  Thanks for following and expect more shortly.....

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.89157
Longitude:-68.83801
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 08:45:25 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kyztc/32.89157S/68.83801W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.89157,-68.83801&ll=-32.89157,-68.83801&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/30/2014 05:23:40 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kxzeu/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64841
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/29/2014 10:04:28 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KxDdH/32.64841S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64841,-70.05884&ll=-32.64841,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64848
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/28/2014 20:22:36 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KwrUy/32.64848S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64848,-70.05884&ll=-32.64848,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.63763
Longitude:-70.02869
GPS location Date/Time:12/28/2014 17:14:41 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KwjSQ/32.63763S/70.02869W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.63763,-70.02869&ll=-32.63763,-70.02869&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.65314
Longitude:-70.01196
GPS location Date/Time:12/28/2014 12:51:10 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KwV-c/32.65314S/70.01196W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.65314,-70.01196&ll=-32.65314,-70.01196&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.63765
Longitude:-70.02875
GPS location Date/Time:12/27/2014 11:45:43 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KveXb/32.63765S/70.02875W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.63765,-70.02875&ll=-32.63765,-70.02875&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64844
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/27/2014 05:37:59 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KvRrp/32.64844S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64844,-70.05884&ll=-32.64844,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/26/2014 06:48:03 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KugzP/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64845
Longitude:-70.05871
GPS location Date/Time:12/25/2014 15:50:12 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KuLra/32.64845S/70.05871W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64845,-70.05871&ll=-32.64845,-70.05871&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.63812
Longitude:-70.02844
GPS location Date/Time:12/25/2014 13:55:36 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KuIIr/32.63812S/70.02844W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.63812,-70.02844&ll=-32.63812,-70.02844&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/25/2014 05:11:04 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Ku4qp/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/24/2014 05:50:00 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KtQET/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05887
GPS location Date/Time:12/23/2014 06:55:00 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KscAu/32.64842S/70.05887W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05887&ll=-32.64842,-70.05887&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64845
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/22/2014 18:31:39 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KsGbE/32.64845S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64845,-70.05884&ll=-32.64845,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.75879
Longitude:-69.96756
GPS location Date/Time:12/22/2014 04:28:23 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KrhXq/32.75879S/69.96756W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.75879,-69.96756&ll=-32.75879,-69.96756&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Ready for Adventure
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.84059
Longitude:-69.84225
GPS location Date/Time:12/21/2014 08:02:36 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kq-Ku/32.84059S/69.84225W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.84059,-69.84225&ll=-32.84059,-69.84225&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Ready for Adventure
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Aconcagua Round 2 about to begin

Seasons greetings friends and family. We are ready to head off to the hill for round 2.  All is well.  Sorry no blog posts but it has been a crazy few days.  Expect a full update upon our return.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/16/2014 04:41:39 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KmIzv/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05884
GPS location Date/Time:12/15/2014 10:20:10 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KlYaF/32.64842S/70.05884W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05884&ll=-32.64842,-70.05884&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.63789
Longitude:-70.02898
GPS location Date/Time:12/15/2014 07:08:54 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KlQnn/32.63789S/70.02898W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.63789,-70.02898&ll=-32.63789,-70.02898&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64481
Longitude:-70.04309
GPS location Date/Time:12/13/2014 11:52:41 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KjzFh/32.64481S/70.04309W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64481,-70.04309&ll=-32.64481,-70.04309&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64845
Longitude:-70.05887
GPS location Date/Time:12/13/2014 06:39:28 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kjmyn/32.64845S/70.05887W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64845,-70.05887&ll=-32.64845,-70.05887&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64845
Longitude:-70.05875
GPS location Date/Time:12/12/2014 13:44:03 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kj9yz/32.64845S/70.05875W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64845,-70.05875&ll=-32.64845,-70.05875&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure
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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64482
Longitude:-70.04300
GPS location Date/Time:12/12/2014 12:02:19 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kj42b/32.64482S/70.04300W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64482,-70.04300&ll=-32.64482,-70.04300&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.64842
Longitude:-70.05878
GPS location Date/Time:12/11/2014 15:17:12 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KiHLn/32.64842S/70.05878W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.64842,-70.05878&ll=-32.64842,-70.05878&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.75865
Longitude:-69.96722
GPS location Date/Time:12/11/2014 04:27:34 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/KhmQ0/32.75865S/69.96722W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.75865,-69.96722&ll=-32.75865,-69.96722&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

PEM
Latitude:-32.75870
Longitude:-69.96725
GPS location Date/Time:12/10/2014 11:00:04 EST

Message:Climbing in Argentina right now. All is well with us. Please check the map to see our progress.

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/Kh0dD/32.75870S/69.96725W

If the above link does not work, try this link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=-32.75870,-69.96725&ll=-32.75870,-69.96725&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

PEM

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Made it to Mendoza and had a busy day

My Aconcagua climbing permit...wanna know how I got it?

First, I went to the Tourism office to register for my permit.   Just as I overlooked some details about my flight, I managed to overlook the paperwork details for my permit.  Yeah, those details are easy to find and readily available in most books.  I just forgot about them.  Between finishing up my semester teaching and getting a few manuscripts submitted before my departure, I just didn't have a ton of time or interest in remembering these details.  Glad I came early to learn the ropes before Kathy and Patrick arrive in a little over a week.

Tangent... I messed up my flight by not paying attention to the duty and customs requirements.  Yeah, sure I read about them before I left.  I just forgot.  When I checked into the gate in Miami to board the flight to Santiago, the gentleman working the counter informed me that I needed my reciprocity fee documentation - a payment that goes through some cryptic Argentinian site that pays for my visa.   I neglected to pay the fee so he rearranged my flight and bumped me from my scheduled flight to the one following my flight - following it by 30 minutes.  Boy was I luck!  Better to be lucky and stupid than just stupid I figure.  All was well.  We rushed through Miami International Airport to find a computer to print out the document.  I failed several times to even render the darn page.  The guy who helped me was sweating profusely - saying I was probably going to miss my next flight.  Needless to say, those words of encouragement made my fingers type all the wrong letters.  I made it to the plane as the last one to board.  You know the one....the person who looks totally disheveled and relieved to board as the doors close?   That was me.  I traveled business class on this flight so I snuggled into my chaise lounge chair as I peered back at the rabble - the place I always find myself on these flights - and felt a twinge of guilt.  I lost that twinge when I fell asleep lying down on my seat.  No, I wasn't lying on the floor in the aisle.  I had a fully reclining seat with all the latest movings on demand.  No wifi but who could complain about a fully reclining seat.  After a glass of wine and a nice shrimp meal, this grateful, lucky, and stupid traveler fell asleep.

Repacking after another gear sort

The permit fiasco took me all morning.  I arrived at my superb hotel at about 11am and quickly set out to figure out what I needed to do to get my permit.  Finding the tourism office was a piece of cake.  I intentionally chose the hotel because of its proximity to the office.  The fellow working at the office desk for permits looked at me when I asked about applying for a permit.  He thought I was actually attentive to the repeated instructions.  Well....he was wrong.  After he carefully explained to me that this was going to be a long affair, I reassured him that I was in no rush.  Boy!  Good thing I didn't plan to leave Mendoza to climb today.  It would not happen.  So, off I pressed on my mission to get my permit.  Stop one was at some office to hire a mule.  Yep, a mule.  I don't intend to climb with my newfound friend - or rather friend for hire - but could use a little assistance with my basecamp gear (mostly food and climbing gear not needed on the lower part of the approach).  The mule service turned out to be a smoking good deal because by hiring a mule, I got roughly the mule service cost as a discount to my permit fee.  Seems like a lot of hands holding out for climbers' cash but I hold no ill feelings.  Everyone I dealt with all morning was really pleasant and apologetic.

Tangent...you see, nobody here likes the paperwork necessary to do everything in life.  They grow tired of the long lines and endless bureaucracies encountered for much of their lives.  I get it.  Still, they all seemed very pleasant.  I think I might lose my patience after a short bit.

OK, back to my permit mission.  I managed to find the mule service office located way up in a building not far from the tourism office.  The lady managing the service was delightful.  She had me fill out multiple forms and after a few long waits for the computer interface to update my form submission, I was a client.  Mule service here I come!

Little did I know at the time, hiring the mule service was just the initial step in a long, drawn out process.  I paid the mule service fee in US dollars.  Step 2 required me to pay for the permit fee - now that I registered for the mule service and submitted my paperwork to the tourism office via an online form I thought I was set.  Nope.  Gotta pay for these things.  The tourism office does not take the payments directly.  I needed to first take my US currency and exchange it for pesos....leading to step 3

Step 3 was an odd journey.  I had to go back to the hotel to get more cash.  Once I had my cash in hand, I sought out one of the many black market cash exchange guys loitering on the streets.  Mendoza or rather Argentina in general has a cash crisis.  The inflation rate is so high and the government controls are so numerous on cash that the citizens created their own little market for currency exchange.  At a bank, I would get 7 pesos for each US dollar; my black market exchange guy gave me 12.2 pesos per buck.  Not a bad exchange rate.  Well, that little interim step took me 30 minutes to find the dude, 10 minutes to haggle with him, and then another 5 to count out the thousands of pesos I got for my US$450.  It all felt really sleazy but when in Rome...do as the Romans.  I was a willing participant in the black market.  We shook hands and then I was off to Step 4 - still have yet to get Step 2 done by this time so wait for it...

Step 4 required me to take my cash to a PayGo stand where they process government payments.  It seemed like a government run Western Union and probably was at one point.  I passed the nice woman my paperwork and she asked me something in Spanish.  For those of you who know me, you know I speak one language - English - and I don't speak that one very well.  So here I am standing in front of this bullet-proof cage that reminded me of a NYC subway token booth from the mid-1980's.  She patiently explained to me in English I could understand that I needed to pay the fee of $4,880 pesos and I handed her $5,000.  It seemed like a test of my Spanish language skills to point that out but her intent was merely to alert me that I was getting money back.  How gracious of her to point out the obvious.  At this point, I was so relieved that I had passed another test, I thanked her profusely and moved on to complete Step 2.

Remember Step 2?  Yeah, get my permit.  Off I walked back to the tourism office with a fistful of paperwork.  Stamps and duplicate copies of all sorts of things that seemed like utter nonsense.  I didn't fuss at all; I was on a mission.  So I made it up the long, winding staircase to the tourism office where a very nice young lady helped me with my permit.  There we sat, filling out more paperwork and signing documents I had no clue what I was signing.  My son might now be the property of Argentina....who knows?

Finally, I got my permit and headed back to the hotel.  On my way back, I noticed that all the shops were closed.  That expedition to get my permit consumed two and a half hours.  I was relieved and somewhat exhausted.  Time for a siesta. 

I napped for about 90 minutes and then awoke to repack all my gear.  The mule service woman told me that the buses to Penitentes leave at 6am, 10:15am, and 3pm.  I want to get moving and up the hill right away so I intend to leave on the 6am bus for the 3-hour bus ride up to the ski area.  There - at the ski area - I will find my mule and mule service whereupon I will drop off my basecamp duffle and start climbing the hill.  Well, not exactly.  The mule service provides a free shuttle to the Horcones trailhead.  There, I intend to start my climb.  It should be about 1pm when I embark on my solo attempt of Aconcagua. 

I sit here in my hotel room typing out this blog post.  After my nap and repacking, I headed out to get fuel canisters for my stove and a lighter.  Now my packing is complete and I am ready to head out.  All electronics will be shut down until I return but I will keep posting these updates on my phone with pictures; they just won't be posted until I return to civilization. 

Thanks for following along.  Hope you find these updates entertaining.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Leaving soon....

Successful first leg on my way to Aconcagua





Kathy dropped me off at Dulles airport early this morning. We had a nice time chatting en route to the airport. I then had a very nice, relaxing, and uneventful flight to Miami. Now, I get to sit for 10 hours waiting for my next leg to Santiago, Chile.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fwd: Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM

working?  Just a test folks.  About to take off in about 27 hours.  


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <noreply@findmespot.com>
Date: Sat, Dec 6, 2014 at 5:28 PM
Subject: Check-in/OK message from SPOT PEM
To: pem725@gmail.com


 PEM
 Latitude:38.83118
 Longitude:-77.27292
 GPS location Date/Time:12/06/2014 17:28:42 EST

 Message:Climbing in Argentina right now.  All is well with us.  Please check the map to see our progress.

 Click the link below to see where I am located.
 http://fms.ws/Kdcvy/38.83118N/77.27292W

 If the above link does not work, try this link:
 http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.83118,-77.27292&ll=38.83118,-77.27292&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

 PEM

 You have received this message because PEM has added you to their SPOT contact list.

 Ready for Adventure
 FindMeSPOT.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2nd, 2014: Back from Portland and getting ready for Argentina

Had a great trip to Portland to see family and friends.  We got back yesterday afternoon to a pair of happy dogs.  They didn't wreck the house so we had little cleanup duty.  All in all, a wonderful trip!

I planned to climb two days but the weather was horrendous so I only have one climb to report.  One day - November 28th - I managed a solo trip up Rainier.  I left Portland at 5am where it started to rain lightly.  The closer I got to Rainier, the harder the rain came down and the colder it got.  Upon parking in the Paradise lot (5,400 feet according to the NPS but 5,280 feet on my GPS), I noticed the thermometer in the car read 37 degrees (F) and the rain was coming down in sheets.  Sheesh!  Fun ain't always fun but I was ready.  I donned my hard shell pants and top along with plenty of layers underneath to keep the cold out.  My aim was to climb as fast as possible for 3 hours and then turn around wherever that 3 hours left me.  Off I went.

The snow on the route was unconsolidated, wind-blown and crusty snow/ice about a foot or two deep - sometimes a bit deeper in areas where the snow drifted.  I had almost no visibility outside the tree-lined areas.  When I first pushed off, I saw this:


Nice blueish day with flat light.

Not much to see other than snow, rain, and hail.  It was pretty miserable at first but I was on a mission.  No rain would keep me from a good training climb.  Yep, climbing in the Cascades - a true experience.

On I went.  I climbed as quickly as I could and almost jogged up the hill.  The going was fast at times until I started post-holing in the drifted snow.  My patience ran thin a few times.  The snow conditions were nothing short of aggravating.  Instead of getting frustrated, I opted to turn up my tunes and focus on getting higher as fast as I could manage.  Never throughout the early climb was I out of breath.  By the time I took my first picture, I was already at 6,500 feet.  

The cold rain gave way to slightly warmer weather and no precipitation.  Finally!  I was out of the pouring rain.  Below, you can see what I looked like at about 30 minutes into my climb.


Happy dude at the beginning.  Rain?  What is a little rain?  I'm in the Cascades for crying out loud!

Yeah, I was wet but wet and warm was not too bad.  If I started to get cold, life would get much more miserable.  Time to press on!

I climbed for a steady hour more before taking a short water/snack break.  Along the way, I grabbed a few more pictures.  Here they are in the order I shot them.  Notice the fog rolling in during the picture sequence?  Yep, it started getting foggy before the real Cascade weather set in.  Keep reading and you'll see.


Postholing on the route.  Not fun.

Note the post-holes in the snow?  The picture above shows a rough few steps but the snowshoe imprints packed the snow enough to keep me from dropping down too far.  I managed to keep each post-hole step to no more than about 9 inches.  Still, a 9 inch drop makes for some pretty nasty climbing.  


The picture above shows you where I was and below is the same shot after the fog rolled in and altered the lighting.  I saw nothing but white after this point...well, apart from the trees and signs that I encountered along the route.
Looks like a moon scape.

The little sign in the lower center of the picture above was one of many that demarcated the "Skyline trail" or what lay beneath the 2 feet of snow.  That trail is the well-worn path by most hikers in the summer.  Today, it was just a route buried by snow and served as a "b-line" for my climb.  I was glad to encounter the signs just as a confirmation that my route finding abilities remained intact.

Cruising up the hill in a white-out.

Lousy visibility set in and I resorted to climbing by compass headings rather than landmarks.  The funny thing about the picture above is that I could see very little of what the camera resolved.  I recall a ton of white.  Yep, a white out.

Nice sign.  Very reassuring that my route finding abilities were still working.

My friendly reminders that my compass headings were pretty spot on with the trail.  See these guys above and below....very comforting.


And then there were the signs I didn't care to see well above me at the top of a steep pitch.  Instead of post-holing up that pitch, I took the easy way around.  

Yeah, I could get there by climbing up that snowy incline but why bother?  I took the easier route.

Now the fog rolled in without much warning.  The winds picked up and soon I found myself in a true white out; my face sandblasted by hail, snow, and frozen sleet.  Boy was that pleasant.

Uh oh...fog!  The true white-out was about to begin.

On occasion, I found some comfort from the rocks that contrasted the whited out terrain.  Still more to go....

Ugh!  Fog rolling in but rocks helped me resolve my route.

I stumbled across the sign below that gave me some pause.  At first, I could barely read the ice-encrusted sign.  Thanks to the NPS for pointing out some objective hazards.  Now I was warned.  Proceed with caution I did....

NPS sign that helped me make a better turn-around decision

Can't read the sign above?  Neither could I.  Here is the sign at my more comfortable viewing distance:

A better view of the NPS sign.

Unfortunately, at this point, my camera started resolving nothing but white.  I had huge snowball looking images close-up with a ton of white in the background - sometimes black and white backgrounds.  Not sure what happened but I did manage a few pictures on the way down.  Below is one sign on my return that I managed to chip off the ice just to read it.  You can see from the signpost that the ice accumulation was rather thick.  I knew at this point that I was about 1,800-2,000 vertical feet from my car.  No snowshoes (aka "slow" shoes) and non-waterproofed approach shoes were not keeping my feet terribly warm.  Oh well.  Almost home.

Last picture of any trail sign

Just before I pulled into the parking lot, I took one last selfie.  It was raining cats and dogs and I was soaked to the bone.  Notice, however, that I still managed a smile.  My climb was 3 hours up and 1 hour down - made it to the snow fields of Camp Muir where the crevasse were indeed open and ready for someone to take a long tumble.  I spared the National Park Service (NPS) the headache of a rescue on that lousy day.  

Last selfie before climbing into the car and heading home

After the 4-hour round trip climb, I drove the 3 hours back to Portland and set my climbing gear out in our hotel room to drip dry.  Moments after unpacking, I found my way to the hotel pub for a few malt pops and some greasy food.  What a day!

Drip drying in the hotel room
Beer!  A climbers best friend.  Well, perhaps second best friend to down.  I now have five more days to pack my gear for Argentina.  All my gear went through the wash so I am ready to get packing.  Kathy and Patrick are all set with their gear.  More on gear in the next day.  I promise to post the final gear shots.  

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the brief and somewhat curtailed trip report.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24th, 2014: Climbing begins soon, training over

Greetings,

So happy to report that I am fit and ready to climb.  I leave tomorrow for two climbs in the Cascades - Rainier and Hood.  Hopefully, I get up both in single-day pushes.  It should be a good test of my fitness and acclimatization.  If nothing else, I will get in some good mountain time.  
In the kitchen this morning enjoying my pot o' tea.  Note the bags under my eyes?  Early mornings are killers.
I still owe you two more posts on my gear.  One is almost done and ready to post before too long - expect it in a day or so.  The other will come right before I push off for Mendoza, Argentina.  I have pictures and explanations of all my gear so it should be reasonably informative and, perhaps, enlightening for some.  

I am done training for now until I return from Argentina in mid-January.  My fitness is excellent and I have plenty of energy left in the tank to climb fast and strong.  The past few weeks were really challenging for both training and work; hence, my silence on the blog.  Too many long days and really early (4am) mornings reduced my time to write my blog.  On the positive side, I did manage to get out 3 papers with my students and colleagues in the past month.  Hopefully they get published while I am away climbing.

Speaking of training, I managed to keep my weight up.  I awoke this morning at a robust 172 lbs. (78 kg) but a few pounds shy of my goal weight of 175.  Oh well.  I ate and ate but seem to shed weight quickly during the high altitude days of training.  

Finally, my family is getting geared up for the climb.  I did a gear sort for my wife and son.  They are all set with their climbing gear for Argentina.  I have some time to add/subtract gear before I take off in early December but I wanted to make sure they had all the essentials packed in time for me to get any last-second items.  They are all set!  We are ready.  

Patrick (son) is now acclimatized to 10,000 feet (3,050 m) and should be up to 19,000 feet (5,800 m) before he and my wife take off in mid-December.  That dude is a beast!  He quickly adapted to each hypoxic level in one day - advancing from 5K feet to 10K feet in less than a week with spO2 levels all above 90%.  Not bad.  I suspect he will fare well on the hill.  Kathy, meanwhile, is up to 16,500 feet (5,030 m) already and will progress to at least 22,000 feet (6,700m) before departing.  

The reason we have a disparity between the two stems from my son's swim season.  We all wanted him to qualify for some top meets and acclimatizing in the middle of his season might have adversely affected his performance.  Don't know if this is true but we moved forward with caution.  Now, we throw caution to the wind!  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 12th, 2014: Some more news on Everest permits

Alan Arnette posted a quick update on the Everest permit situation for 2015 for those of us who were barred from climbing in 2014.  The update came from the online paper "The Himalayan Times" and painted a grim picture of what is in store for us.  Click on the link in the previous sentence to read the full article.  The headline reads "Govt extends group permits by five years:  If any member of an expedition scales Mt Everest‚ permits of others automatically become invalid."  Ouch!  It seems as if the Nepal government is doing everything in their power to rescind those 2014 permits and force climbers to pay more for less service.  I don't know the real situation but I commented on Alan's blog saying...
Alan,
Thanks for posting this article. The way I read it is first-come, first-served. Those who delay in their return (with the same expedition) forfeit their permit fees. I see this is a ploy for them to cash in again on the climbers – nothing new for a corrupt government. Climbers who cannot or do not put Everest as their number one priority pay a steep fee. ‘Tis a shame it has come to this extreme stance but I can’t say I was surprised. I thought the situation sorted out too nicely to actually be believable. Perhaps the Tibet side offers us a more welcoming approach with fewer problems? I remain unsure but resolute to try the Nepal side if they honor my 2014 permit.

After posting the comment, I started feeling some pangs of doubt.  Are the Nepal Ministry and Tourism officials monitoring our discussions?  Would their monitoring affect our permit eligibility for next year?  Fortunately, I poured myself a glass of wine and relaxed.  Sure, they may be reading our posts and noting who is naughty or nice.  I tend to discount that effort.  Instead, I think there is more than meets the eye for these political decisions.  Here are some thoughts and conjectures.

1.  The Nepali government is desperate for climber revenue.  They do not want 2015 to fill up with non-paying climbers for the year and decrease their ever-so-important revenue stream.  By putting limitations on the climbers and expedition leaders, they assure themselves of some climbers forfeiting their permit fees.  How many will forfeit their fees remains to be determined but it seems likely that a large portion of the 300+ fees will go unclaimed given the extreme restrictions.

2.  The expedition leaders and Nepali organizers lose income if climbers come back and demand refunds for unused services.  Many of us doubt the intentions of most expedition services - not to point fingers but they seem to have dug themselves into a nice trench while waiting for the Nepali government to fire the first shot.  Well, that shot appears to be fired and the expedition leaders are in a unique spot to invoke Russian style negotiation tactics (i.e., we are powerless to make these decisions and are held to the ruling by the Nepali government).  What a perfect defense!  I don't blame these expedition leaders; quite the contrary.  They exist to help climbers and they can only exist if they either turn a profit or remain solvent.  If we place the burden on these folks to bear the costs of last year's debacle then we climbers might find fewer expedition options in the following years.  Still, if they end up profiting from the 2014 events then they are subject to well-deserved criticism.  

3.  The expedition leaders benefit from the decree.  So the Nepali government laid out the terms and the terms appear as if they favor the expedition leaders bottom line.  We climbers must reassemble with the same climbers from the same expedition and climb with the same company.  Convenient for the expedition leaders?  I should say so.  We have no choice but to return with our original teammates and original leaders.  Those climbers who cannot pony up the funds for 2015 lose their permit fees by fiat.  Shame it has come to this point.  Climbing these big peaks became a huge money-making show and climbers are expected to pay...pay...pay until it hurts.  The climbers who saved up in 2014 must hurt a bit to retain their investment.  Thankfully, I scrimped and saved for 2015 so I intend to go back but I feel for those who cannot afford the return.

4.  Climbers who wish to climb must jump aboard right away.  I wonder if the Nepali government employed some economists to forecast the return rate.  My suspicion is that a small proportion will return with many opting to skip Nepal by climbing Everest via Tibet.  The Chinese would welcome the extra income - perhaps not from Americans (NB:  we were excluded from permits for 2014 without much feedback as to why).  As I noted in my comment to Alan, the first-come, first-served rush will affect the expedition teams in some way.  How?  Not sure yet but I plan on keeping a keen eye on the team dynamics.  Some people may feel pressed into service - both financially and physically - and that pressure may lead to some serious problems on the hill. 

All of these points lead me to question why the heck I am pressing forward with my objective.  I guess I am crazy - seems like a reasonable explanation at this point.  

Thanks for following my weekly ramblings.  Next post:  more gear!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 8th, 2014: Part 2 of my gear sort (climbing gear)

Greetings.  I am sitting down in my kitchen this morning typing away on this blog post with a horrible sinus headache (update:  I began this post on the 6th and finished it on the 8th and my headache is gone!!!).  The darn sinus infection returned with a vengeance!  

As promised, I continue with my gear sorting and accounting.  Today's post focuses on my climbing gear for Aconcagua.  I mentioned previously that the climb is fairly non-technical but I intend to solo up the Polish glacier so I include a few other climbing essentials for that effort.  Here goes....

1.  Footwear:  Broken down by elevation

Mendoza (2,450 ft or 750m) and Trek to BC (14,300 feet or 4,360m):  Flip-flops (OluKai Ohana - 8 oz./pair - are my current favorites) tend to treat me the best for approach shoes.  
My feet hate closed-toed shoes.  I have odd shaped feet that were designed for a bare footin' life but mountaineering requires foot covering to protect them from the elements.  Many of you may recall that I used my trusty flip-flops as my sole approach shoes on the trek to Everest base camp.  Unfortunately, I had an incident at the latest Annapolis Boat Show where I took my Everest approach flip-flops off, placed them by the rest of the footwear people ditched before boarding the boat, and then returned to a nicer looking pair (see photo above).  Apparently some clueless soul took my nasty flip-flops that I intended to retire that week and left me with his (assuming it was a guy with size US 11 mens feet) almost new and barely broken in flops.  Needless to say, I was a bit bummed to lose my trusted friends but accepted the gift without much fuss.

BC to Camp 2 (18,400 feet / 5608 meters):  I intend to use my new GoLite XT90 (30 oz. per pair) approach shoes.  These puppies are really comfortable and allow my feet to swell enough so they don't become too cramped.  Additionally, I love the wide size and roomy toe box that gives me just that extra bit of movement just in case my feet get cold - a very rare occasion.  Here is a picture of these from Amazon because the GoLite website no longer lists shoes for some reason:


Summit Day or from snow-line (possibly above 16,200 feet to summit and back down to scree or where my feet start screaming at me):  I intend to use my trusty La Sportiva Baruntse (83 oz. per pair) boots and pack my crampons just in case the snow/ice require greater traction than the boots afford.  The Baruntse boots are awesome; they fit my feet, allow me to move quickly in them, and offer foot swell room.  In short, I love these boots.  In fact, I intended to climb Everest in them with 40 Below overboots.  They are a bit heavy and I might replace them with lighter full-gaiter boots for this spring's climb but for now, these boots will suffice for Aconcagua (and most other climbs).  Here is a nice new picture of my beaten up boots (not pictured):




3.  Harness (not required for the Normal route but necessary for the Polish Glacier Direct):  I typically climb with the classic Black Diamond Alpine Bod (14 oz.)
BD Alpine Bod
but this time around, I decided to switch to the Black Diamond Couloir (8 oz.) for weight savings and a more convenient belay loop.  The Couloir offers a substantial weight savings at some marginal costs.  First, the Alpine bod has 4 reinforced gear loops that makes it easy to access gear from any of the four locations.  These gear loops also have some tubing around the gear loop webbing that keeps them rigid and non-collapsible.   In contrast, the Couloir
BD Couloir
only has two non-reinforced gear loops BUT it has a belay loop (the greyish/whitish web loop on the front) that makes for tying into the rope team much easier.  My replacement is much lighter (by 6 oz.) but the weight savings comes at the costs of fewer gear loops and a little less comfort in the leg loops.  These weight savings and slight costs in functionality easily offset one another.  



4.  Protection (generally not required for normal route but required for Polish Glacier):  I intend to bring two pickets (2 x 24" with runners and non-locking 'biners - 20 oz. total for each setup for 40 oz. total), five ice screws (3 x 13 cm - 4.7 oz. each - and 2 x 22 cm - 5.9 oz. each), and one 30m x 8mm double-dry climbing rope (45 oz.).  These forms of protection allow me to climb the glacier with some protection, however, I do not intend to climb with a running belay; instead, I just want to have the protection necessary to complete some of the tough parts of the climb.  These pieces give me more than enough and probably too much protection.  I do intend to whittle the gear down on the mountain but the extra gear should not weigh me down too much on the approach.  Rather, it should not weigh down the mules.  Once in BC, I will sort my gear and only take the required gear higher.

5.  Standard mountaineering gear:  There are two things most mountaineers take on any climb - an ice axe
BD Raven as an example
and crampons.  I intend to take both as usual because the ice axe allows me a form of protection to self-arrest should I fall.  Crampons provide better traction than the typical Vibram sole of a mountaineering boot.  Thus, I will bring these two things.  The actual model and style matter little to me.  I have many ice axes - some standard straight handle mountaineering models and other ice axes.  The latter might be overkill but I do intend to bring my Vipers (i.e., ice axes; 45 oz. for both) for the Polish glacier just in case it is an ice climb rather than a steep snow ascent.  I will probably bring my BD Raven Pro (11 oz.) because it is light and shorter than my Raven (16 oz.).  The crampons I use are the Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro (34 oz. per pair) step ins; they work and stay relatively sharp even after climbing mixed terrain.
BD Sabretooth Pro
 One problem I encountered while doing some day climbs in Nepal is that my approach shoes are not really well-suited for icy areas.  I was thinking about throwing in a pair of the hiking studs or trail crampons that fit all shoes.  Below is a picture of one kind of stretch on trail crampon from REI.  Many varieties are pretty cheap and they tend to fall apart easily.  I do not intend to spend more than about $30 on a pair so if you have any suggestions, I am all ears (or eyes).  

These stretch-on spikes (shown to the right; 15.7 oz. from REI) are light and can easily be packed away for quick retrieval and saves me from changing footwear constantly.  Doubt they would work well with my flip-flops.  Perhaps I should give it a go at home before trying them out.  Lastly, I intend to bring my helmet (BD Half Dome; 12 oz.).  
BD Half Dome
There are many instances where a helmet is overkill but the potential for rock slides on Aconcagua and my long-term investment in my brain gets me to live a bit on the cautious side.  On the plus side, my helmet weighs practically nothing and fits into the top of my pack to protect anything directly beneath it (like my brain).  Thus, there is little downside to packing it for most trips.  


So nothing fancy for this equipment list.  I use what I trust and what fits my weird body.  Everything I take on a climb has been used by me many times and I can take on/off without looking - a good plan for any gear used on adventures.

Total weight

How much does all this gear weigh?  Good question.  I never really accounted for it until now so here is the grand total for all the gear listed above: 357.6 oz. or 22.35 lbs (10.1 kg)!!!!!  Perhaps time to shed some weight here.  The normal route only requires 193.7 oz. or 12.1 lbs. (5.5 kg).  Adding in the Polish direct to my climbing objectives increases my load by 10 lbs (4.6 kg).  Sheesh!  I might need to rethink my objectives if weight is a concern.

Thanks for following along.  My next post details a bit more of the mundane but essential gear to keep me warm.  Stay tuned for Part 3 in the gear sort series.  I intend to post Part 3 sometime either on Sunday or Monday.  Now, I head toward the simulated mountain for an 8-hour climb to 21,000 feet (6,400 m).  See you soon....

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3rd, 2014: Getting my gear sorted and packed for Argentina (Part 1 - the non-essentials)

In a little over a month, I take off for Argentina and I wanted to post about my gear sort.  My Rainier trip is so short that I intend to take the bare minimum so there is no need to post much about that trip preparation.  Aconcagua, however, requires a bit more gear and there are some complications in our plans so I decided I would lay out what I intend to bring.  Here goes...the non-essentials first.

1.  Communications:  I spoke with Verizon and they assured me I could bring my Samsung Galaxy S4 (4.6 oz.) to Argentina, pop in a local sim card, and have full data and cell service (3G at least) for local prices.  They also offered their international plan for a mere US$3.99/min calling where I would be fortunate enough to keep my current number.  Needless to say, I declined their generous offer.  


So, I intend to go with my cell phone and my Spot locator (4 oz.) to send off updates with locations posted directly to the blog automagically.  You'll be able to follow us up the hill so be on the lookout for posts from Aconcagua.  Total weight:  8.6 oz.

Sherpa 50
2.  Power:  My phone, spot locator, camera, tunes, headlamp and Kindle require power so I need to either bring a ton of batteries or generate power from the sun and store it to some battery.  The latter is the best option for mountaineering; thus, I intend to bring my solar panel (Goal Zero 14 W) and goal zero sherpa 50 (total weight:  34 oz).  
Solar Panel
I also bring about 12 AAA batteries (Lithium Ion: 3.3 oz. for 12) for my headlamp because a ton of night climbing drains those batteries quickly.  My headlamp requires 3 AAA so I get 4 total battery changes with 12 AAA batteries.  Total weight:  37.3 oz.



3.  Photography:  For now, I think I might just use my phone.  It takes great pictures and I can store them to the device I intend to communicate with the rest of the world.  One thing I learned from my last trip was that taking pictures with my Canon Powershot S10 and then transferring pictures to my Nexus 7 just wasted battery power.  To save power and weight, I think I might try my phone as a camera replacement.  When I go to Nepal, I am contemplating a nicer pocket camera like the Sony DSC-RX100M III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera (10.2 oz.).  Here is that beauty:
Christmas present?  Perhaps next year.

Any thoughts from those out there that know anything (i.e., anything = substantially more than I know) about cameras?  Total weight:  0 oz.

4.  Tunes:  Music is key to sanity in the hills.  I always take two Sandisk Sansa Clip+ 4 GB players and two pairs of cheap headphones.  
The Sansa Clip weighs nothing (0.8 oz. including headphones) and by bringing two, I can always have one charging and the other ready to play.  Additionally, these players are inexpensive (US$35) and take a microSD card (32 GB) so I can fill 'em up with music that easily lasts an entire expedition.  Cheap headphones weigh next to nothing but bringing additional ones eases the pain of my headphones failing for some odd reason - a reason that always happens on the mountain.  Total weight:  1.6 oz.

5.  Reading:  I love my Kindle (2nd Edition circa 2009) but I think I might trade up to a newer, nicer one.  
Every night, I crawl into bed and read for a few hours.  Reading makes those long nights speed by and when we get trapped in the tent for days on end to wait out weather fronts, I enjoy every one of my 50 or so books that I downloaded onto my kindle.  Plus, I even get to read my usual magazines (e.g., The Atlantic, New Yorker, Science Times, etc.) because I download them before I leave the airport for the wilderness.  My 2nd generation Kindle endured many adventures.  It simply works and lasts for weeks on end without recharging.  Unfortunately, the old Kindle requires a case for a reading light or I end up using my headlamp batteries that need replacing about every 4 days.  
A newer, backlit Kindle lasts far longer on a single charge, weighs a fraction of what my current Kindle weighs (6 oz. due to the case requirements for my current Kindle), and stores more books. Additionally, the newer Kindle seems to have more features compared to my old tired pal.  Maybe I will consider getting a newer one but the cost needs to be considered with respect to the weight savings. Total weight (2nd Edition with leather case):  19.6 oz.


6.  Internet (in civilization):  I bring my Nexus 7 (10.6 oz.) with me so I can write, read, check email, and surf the web for any climbing/local information.  The Nexus 7 is great for all of these activities and can last for a few days on a single charge.  Rarely do I bring it with me on the mountain but I did have it with me on Everest last year.  I might bring it with me to Mendoza but it will remain in my bag for the few weeks I am in the mountains.  

Total weight for non-essential gear taken onto the mountain:  67.1 oz. (4.2 lbs. or 1.9 kg)  

Sheesh!  Time to start shedding some weight for these non-essentials.  A new Kindle (US$79) would help me lose almost a full pound.  Perhaps a good bang for my buck.

Next post (Part 2) covers my climbing gear (essential).


Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1st, 2014: A slight glitch in my previous post left me more optimistic than ever....

Typically, scientific discovery comes after "hmmm, that's funny" rather than "Eureka!"; my previous post left me wondering what was going wrong with my hypoxic training.  Recall that my new training routine looks as if I am NOT improving with each simulated climb.  That discovery left me wondering if I were overtraining or perhaps the new routine was working against me.   I sought answers to those possible outcomes and here is what I discovered.....

1.  My hypoxic units are working better than I expected.  I calibrated the settings on each unit when I started this round of training but apparently - much to my surprise - the calibration seems to change over time.  Here (below) is my calibration from July 2014 where I changed the setting on the unit (in .5 increments) and recorded the oxygen percent with my handy dandy oxygen sensor.  I put on the high altitude adapter and open the valve to "max out" the flow - thus giving me the full effect of the adapter.  
Each incremental change on the unit's interface should result in a decrease in oxygen percent.  The figure above shows that decrease rather clearly.  When I recalibrated the unit, I discovered the oxygen percentages change substantially - perhaps by as much as full percentage point.  What does this change mean?  Well, a full percentage point change means that when I thought I was working out at 11.2% (16,250 feet or 4950m), I was actually training at 10.2% (18,750 feet or 5715m).  That difference may not seem like much but it represents a huge difference in cardio-pulmonary functioning and efficiency.  I don't have a calibration curve yet for my latest values but I will update this post once I enter them and plot them in google docs. 

2.  I overlooked my training objective when reporting the previous results.  Something seemed odd that I would decrease my intensity and my spO2 would remain low but then I went back over my training log entries and noted that I intentionally increased my normoxia training intensity.  That increase in intensity when I was not using the hypoxic unit lead me to deliberately decrease my training intensity on my simulated climbs.  Instead of pushing hard on the simulated climb, I tried to keep my spO2 at or above 80% - perhaps an unrealistic goal for real climbs but I wanted to recover from the training rather than tire myself out for weeks on end.

3.  Higher intensity workouts before my simulated climbs appear to jump start my aerobic metabolism better than jumping right into the climb. Like a good detective, I started back to my first simulated climbs to see what I was doing before and during those climbs that helped me maintain relatively high spO2 values for each incremental gain in altitude.  The one glaring difference between my current workouts and previous workouts was the positioning of more intense activity before the simulated climbs.  I would run to swim practice at a nice, tempo pace and then swim for 1.5 hours at a high intensity (for a good portion of that time) and then run home after eating donuts with my swim mates.  Those workouts really primed my pump for the lower intensity simulated climbs.  Since late September, I was not swimming on Saturday mornings for some reason or another and opted to run more toward the beginning of the week and save my legs for the simulated climb.  Thus, I would jump into my simulated climbs right away with just a brief set of warm-up exercises.  Perhaps those warm-ups are not enough for me.  I noted that for me to swim well in my typical endurance events, I needed at least 2000 yards of warm-up and some higher intensity swims to get me going.  Warming up might be more important for me compared to others and the changes in my warm-up routine may affect my reaction to hypoxia.  I guess I need to test this question out in the upcoming weeks.

Thanks for following along with my adventure.  Hope you find my detective work interesting.  Off to my son's swim meet and then I  have a 6 hour simulated climb today while watching college football.  See you next week....