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  • Mt. Bierstadt Group Summit - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest before the summit push on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Broken Ankle + 6 Miles = Tired
  • The classic San Juan approach - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Overlooking Noname Basin from Twin Thumbs Pass - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Upper Noname Basin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing Noname Cabin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Twin Thumbs Twins - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing the summit of Pt. 13,736 - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Blustery day on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Morning snow at 15k, Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada
  • Artesonraju from the summit of Nevado Pisco - Cordillera Blanca, Peru
  • February crowds on Gray's Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • Kicking steps on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Final traverse to the summit of Wheeler Mountain - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • The long walk to Pachanta - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Afternoon at 17k on Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    The final ridge on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Summer summit on Longs Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest day at the Pachanta Hot Springs - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Mind over matter on Mt. Parnassas - Front Range, Colorado
  • Rest stop on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Post nap surprise on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Summit on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Ridge walking on Grizzly Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Enroute the summit via the West Ridge on Pacific Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Mule train bound for Chilca - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Taking in the view from Fletcher Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Hiking on Silverheels - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Traversing! Gladstone Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
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    The best of times at Willow Lake - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    High Altitude Cerebral Edema? - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Bound for Chilca - Vilcanota Range, Peru
  • Going alpine light, Holy Cross Ridge - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Cumbre! Campa I - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Roadside lunch with the best of company - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Long ridge walk to the summit of California Peak - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    Crossing el Rio Colorado . . . in the afternoon - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Dealing with Fall snows high on Casco Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Moonrise over Mercedario - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Still climbing at 20,900 on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Talus on Halo Ridge, Mt. of the Holy Cross - Sawatch Range, Colorado
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    Deteriorating conditions on Mt. Arkansas - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
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    After the climb - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Taking in the view from the summit of Crystal Peak - Tenmile Range, Colorado
  • Topping out on Mt. Arkansas' North Couloir - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Glissade on Mt. Arkansas - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Hard snow morning on Teakettle Mountain - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Spring snow announces the start of the climb on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Crossing the Eolus Catwalk - San Juan Range, Colorado

Argentina 2010

Training, New Gear, and a Game Plan


Our usual October through December climbing sabbatical was not on the schedule as we had to continue climbing in preparation for the trip. The name of the game was getting as much climbing above 13,000 feet as possible over the "Fall" months that preceeded our departure.

  • A wintry snow climb of Casco Peak in the Northern Sawatch Range;

  • A blue sky day on Mount Buckskin including an extra mile of up and down 13k ridge traverse;

  • A windy walk up Mount Silverheels from Hoosier Pass;

  • A failed attempt of Mt. Bierstadt due to windchill and fog;

  • A climb of North Star Mountain that provided 3 miles of 13,500 foot ridge under some of the coldest and windiest conditions we have experienced in years.

  • And a second shot at Mt. Bierstadt that included enough wind, snow and cold to give Bob a touch of frostbite on his nose. Perhaps, he should have chosen his climbing freinds better . . .

Add to the weekend climbs the usual personal efforts that for me include 30 to 50 miles per week to and from work on my bike, wintry sessions on the local high school stadium steps, some running, and other miscellaneous aerobic activities, all cooked up by G to further wear out my aging body.

The end result of our training program was that we trained in conditions far worse than we experienced in Argentina, but for the effect of the high altitude on the summit day. I think it fair to say that we were neither very cold nor very tired over the course of any climbing day, with one exception. We each found ourselves climbing with an extra layer or a bit more on the cold side on the summit day before sun-up. I very rarely climb with a down layer but following a stop at about 18,000 feet, I had to add the down layer for an hour or two until the sun was up and I was again warm. We attributed this to the effect of altitude rather than a particularly cold morning.

Gear Acquisitions:

This trip necessitated obtaining an additional high altitude tent as we would be using intermediate camps and we were one tent shy. G has a Bibler "Eldorado" tent on hand and we added a Black Diamond knock off of the Bibler. We have all the glacier gear we need as well as most all of the other miscellaneous gear needed for an expedition such as this.

We loaded up on GU energy gels and the miscellaneous comfort items that made the rest days and higher camps a bit more tolerable. I also purchased a pair of high altitude mitts to supplement the BD Guide gloves that I ordinarily take on a trip like this. I'll give Mountain Gear a gratuitous plug as they have a good selection of high quality gear, prompt shipping and good customer service.

An Expedition Plan:

Our goal was to climb a 6000 meter peak in the Valle de Colorado of the Argentinian High Andes, a part of the Andes that G and I had never visited before. Malbec had never been to South America so anything was good by him. The thought of Aconcagua rattled around our heads for a number of years but instead of taking the tourist trail, we decided to forego the highest point in the Western Hemisphere and instead climb off the beaten track. The Valle de Colorado with its multiple 6000 meter peaks, anchored on one side by Mercedario and on the other by Cerro de Ramada offered just what we were looking for. Experience taught us that if we were lucky we would get one 6000 meter peak. If we are very lucky, we might have enough time and ambition to score two 6000 meter summits but the odds were against us.

We each had but two weeks plus an extra weekday to pull this trip off. The plan was to fly from Denver to Santiago, Chile, and then fly to Mendoza, Argentina . . . a series of flights that would take the better part of 22 hours of travel. Once we arrived in Mendoza we would meet up with our logistics provider who was going to cover transportation to the trail head, mule transport to a base camp, as well as our food and cooking requirements. The morning after we arrived, we planned set off by truck to the Santa Ana trail head, a six hour journey, after which we will load the mules and set off up the valley of the Rio Colorado.

We planned to overnight after about 3 hours on the trail and then complete the 18+ mile approach to the base camp the next day. The following day would be a rest day, likely well deserved after the four total days of travel it would take to reach the base camp. We then planned a nine day climbing window before we would make the long trek back down the valley to the road and then onto the town of Barreal for the evening. The next day we planned to travel back to Mendoza for a final night, some rest and some Argentine beef, without which a trip like this would be incomplete. From there we would head home, completing a trip of 17 days.

That is the game plan . . . but like a shoot out, all bets were off after the first shot was fired . . .


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