Category: Aconcagua

Aconcagua, December 7

The team left the Vacas valley trailhead on Dec 2 and had a beautiful 3 day hike into Aconcagua base camp at 13,747 feet

On Dec 5th we rested and acclimated and on Dec 6 we took our first acclimation day hike to 15300 feet.

Dec 7th we carried loads to camp 1 at 16,700 feet

Tomorrow our plan is to move up and sleep at camp 1.

Everybody on the team is doing great we miss everyone at home. Bill Fred and Ralph say hello to their spouses Cindy Olga and Danielle

Thanks you everybody for your thoughts and prayers

We will update again in a couple days.

The team will venture up the Vacas Valley for the next two days. The Vacas River is a glacier fed river that has its origins at 18,000+ feet on the flanks of Aconcagua.

Our trail sometimes goes right next to the river and sometimes climbs above it offering pretty views of the winding Vacas River below. The color of the river is made from silt that comes from the glacier where the river begins.

The lower part of the Vacas Valley is decorated with many pretty wildflowers along our trail.

The mules arriving at Camp 1.

Aconcagua, December 1

This morning the team had breakfast then packed up and drove from Mendoza to the resort village of Los Penitentes located at 8465’ / 2580m.  The drive took approximately three hours.  Upon arrival we spent the afternoon organizing all our food and equipment for the trek into Base Camp.  The trek will take three days to reach Base Camp at 13,747’/4200m.  Our equipment needed to be packed into loads to be carried by mules onto the mountain.

After finishing all our organization and packing we had some time to relax before having dinner.  The team enjoyed a nice pizza and salad dinner.

After all the planning and preparation leading up to this trip the time has come to start our climb.  We are all psyched and ready to start walking!!

Thanks to everybody for at home for your prayers and support.  We will try to update this blog when we can.

A couple pictures from today are below.

The team loaded up and ready for the drive from Mendoza to the resort village of Los Penitentes at the base of Aconcagua.

Los Penitentes

The team in Los Penitentes

Ralph, Bill, and April in the midst of organizing our gear for the mountain. All our equipment needs to be divided into loads that will be carried by mules for the 3-day trip to Base Camp

Bill and April discussing final load preparations.

Ralph loading barrels with our food and equipment that will be carried by mules into Base Camp.

All our loads are carefully packed so each piece weighs between 20-30 kilos.

The teams equipment and food for the next 2+ weeks on Aconcagua packed and ready to go!!

With all our gear packed the team enjoys a nice meal of pizza and salad.

Aconcagua November 30 – The team has arrived in Mendoza, Argentina!

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.

April, Ralph, and Fred at the permit office in Mendoza.

Ralph, Bill, and Fred checking out our route at the permit office in Mendoza.

With the permit process complete the team relaxes at an outdoor cafe in Mendoza.

Bill enjoying relaxation and good conversation in Mendoza.



A neon sign in La Plaza de Independencia in the heart of Mendoza welcomes us.

Dinnertime Mendoza style. Outdoors and enjoying the summertime evening we toasted to a nice trip with anticipation of many memorable adventures ahead.

April sampling a glass of famous Mendoza wine while enjoying good conversation at dinner in Mendoza.

Lit up fountains decorate La Plaza de Independencia at night in Mendoza.

The team enjoying an after dinner evening stroll through La Plaza de Independencia.

Aconcagua December 2010 – We’re on our way!!

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!!

The team having fun shopping for last minute items at Adventure 16 in West LA. From left to right: Ralph Drollinger, Kurt Wedberg, Alia Mohsenin (A16's stellar veteran salesman and expert boot fitter), Bill Simon, and Fred Simmons.

Ralph needed specially modified crampon to fit his size 17 boots. A metal expert designed extra long bars to give the crampons enough length. Kurt and Ralph used material purchased at Adventure 16 to manufacture straps that were long enough to fit around the boot.


Bill Simon doing his best Maxwell Smart agent 86 imitation with one of Ralph's crampons turned "crampon phone".

The team in Bill Simon's office organizing personal equipment for the climb.

Bill and Kurt in Bill Simon's conference room turned gear packing room discussing equipment selection for this expeditions

Kurt and Ralph with Denni Cohen. Denni is Bill's #1 administrative assistant and came in to double check that all final details were taken care of before we left. Thanks Denni!!

Ralph and Danielle Drollinger inspecting one of the expedition tents.

After finishing shopping and packing for the expedition Ralph Drollinger questioned the regulation height of Bill Simon's basketball court.

April Mayhew making sure we don't miss Ralph's arrival at the Mendoza airport!

First lunch in Mendoza!

Aconcagua Wrap Up

The entire team has returned home from Argentina. The last member to land home was Ben who met his family in Buenos Aires for a vacation before flying back to the United States. We returned having had many great new enriching experiences and carry the memories of a great experience with us back into our daily lives. The group molded together into an efficient and supportive mountaineering team. The insight gained each time we adventure into the mountain brings us closer to who we are and what we are meant to do, finding our calling, and helping others along the way.

Here are a few highlights. The entire photo album of Kurt’s pictures can be found here:

The team at the trailhead to the start of the Vacas Valley. From left to right: Ben, Kurt, Tina, Chris, Syd, Chuck.

We use mules to carry our gear on the 3-day trek to Base Camp.

Aconcagua on the 3rd day of our approach to Base Camp.

Syd arriving at Base Camp

Sunset at Base Camp

The team navigating through a “penitente” field on the way to Camp 1.

Chuck, Ben, and Syd settled in at Camp 1.

High Camp at the base of the Polish Glacier.

Sunrise on summit day.

Chuck crossing a snowfield on summit day.

High on summit day in the “Canaleta” with the summit on the skyline.

Ben on the summit of Aconcagua

Ben and Chris on the summit of Aconcagua

Chuck and Kurt on the summit of Aconcagua.

Aconcagua 2010 another successful year!

Our 2010 Aconcagua expedition was another success. In spite of an unusually windy climb we were never forced to sit out any extra days due to inclement weather. Team members did a great job helping and supporting each other and quickly emerged into an efficient climbing team. We began hiking on December 30 for the 3-day approach to Base Camp called Plaza Argentina at 13,779 feet (4200m). After arriving there we spent a few days doing acclimatization day hikes and carrying loads to Camp 1 at 16,600 feet (5059m). We spent three nights here before moving up to Camp 2 at 19,160 feet (5840m). Once we established Camp 2 the winds abated enough for summit bids on January 9-10. After reaching the summit the team returned to Base Camp and walked out. After arriving back to civilization the team spent a couple days in Mendoza soaking up the warm sun, going wine and olive oil tasting, and enjoying fine Argentine cuisine.

We’ll post a few highlights soon. The entire photo gallery of pictures are here:

Aconcagua, Argentina

Kurt Wedberg and Chuck Raper made the summit on Aconcagua yesterday afternoon under clear skies and slightly windy conditions. The whole team made it back to Base camp today and are currently experiencing high winds, but everyone is safe and looking forward to the trip back.

Updates will follow soon with pictures.

Summit! Aconcagua in Argentina

At 1:00 PM today, Chris Werner and Benjamin Thompson reached the highest point in the Western Hemisphere, the summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, at 22,841 ft. They battled their way through stiff winds and cold temps that turned around 80% of the climbers today. They returned this afternoon and are now happily in their sleeping bags.

Tomorrow, Kurt and Chuck will try for the summit again. The weather forecast calls for similar conditions as today, so they are hoping they can find a way through the weather to reach the summit and come back safely tomorrow.

Will have another update tomorrow.

High Camp on Aconcagua, Argentina

Kurt and team are at High Camp at 19,150 feet on Aconcagua in Argentina, Weather is good with a slight breeze and everyone is psyched for tomorrow’s summit attempt to 22,841 ft.
Chris and Ben are ready to go tomorrow, looking forward to a 12 – 14 hour round trip hike from High Camp to the summit and back and Kurt and another team member are planning on making a summit attempt on Sunday, January 10th.

Updates to follow…


Aconcagua, Argentina

Greetings from Aconcagua, Argentina!

The team arrived in Argentina with no problems, very smooth, no lost luggage, no late flights. On December 30th we started on 3 day trek to Base Camp at 13,700 feet.

We arrived in Base Camp on schedule on New Years Day under clear and windy conditions and spent the next couple of days taking acclimatization hikes.

On January 4th we carried loads to Camp 1 at 16600 feet and on January 5th we packed up Base Camp and moved to Camp 1 to spend our first night there.

Today, January 6th, is a rest day while we hydrate and acclimatize ourselves at camp 1 before moving higher.

Updates to follow…