Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Aconcagua tomorrow!!

Well, we made it to Argenina with only a slight delay in Santiago, Chile yesterday mid-day. That afternoon we attempted to get our permits, got breakfast, lunch, and additional dinner foods. After organizing the food last night and eating a delicious steak dinner we went to bed. This morning, Nicolas from Grajales Expeditions - our mule service rescued us and we got our permits, but not without additional hassle with the banks. We spent our morning today packing and organizing. This afternoon weŕe taking a bus to Los Penitentes where were staying at the Ayelen Hotel. And tomorrow weŕe hitting the trail!

The lastest we will be back is January 6th. I might be able to get internet access at Plaza de Mulas depending on the price. If not Ill be sure to give a more detailed description when Iḿ not using a keyboard in Argentina.

Until then, hasta luego!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Presenting at the 19th Annual Ouray Ice Festival

         Not only do I have the opportunity to present for the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston, but the day after I get back from Aconcagua I'm flying to Ouray, Colorado to give a presentation at their 19th Annual Ice Festival! On behalf of Asolo, I'm presenting about my ten year journey of climbing the tallest mountains in each of the 50 states.

         The Ouray Ice Festival is a four day event of presentations, ice climbing clinics, and of course a mixed ice and speed competition sponsored by Asolo and Rock and Ice Magazine. I've only ever been to one ice festival before, the Mount Washington Ice Festival, but there wasn't an ice climbing competition. I'm very excited to watch what I'm sure is going to be a fantastic demonstration of athleticism and skill.

         My presentation is the first night of the extravaganza and I'm honored to be asked to present. Other speakers include Adrian Ballinger one of 70 IFMGA/AMGA certified guide with multiple 8,000 meter peak ascents, Ueli Steck - famous Swiss mountaineer with his most recent accomplishment of a solo ascent up the south face of Annapurna, and Aaron Mulkey an adventurous ice climber and kayaker in Wyoming and surrounding areas. I'm so excited to meet Ueli Steck especially, but the line up of presenters looks awesome!

         Not only am I presenting at the ice festival, but I'm talking to the local high school Friday morning. Asolo offers a scholarship to a graduating senior who plans to continue their education in some sort of outdoor focused area. I'm not sure if I'm more excited to present to the athletes or the students. I feel like I could have a bigger impact on the students in getting them engaged in the outdoors whereas the athletes have already realized how special the mountains are.

          After the festival ends on Sunday, I'm flying back to Maine so that I can go to school the following Monday. Even though I'm missing the first week of classes, Aconcagua and the opportunity to present as an event as big as the Ouray Ice Fest are 100% worth it.

          Here's a link to the Schedule of Events for the ice festival:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Appalachian Mountain Club's 138th Annual Summit

One of my speaking engagements for this winter is as keynote speaker for the Appalachian Mountain Club's Annual Summit at the Norwood Hotel and Conference Center in Norwood, MA. This weekend event is taking place January 24th and 25th.

Here's a link to the AMC's website: http://www.outdoors.org/about/annualsummit/

Not only am I the keynote speaker for the dinner the night of the 25th, but I'm also giving a presentation that day in which I will talk in depth about my climb up Mt. McKinley. It's going to be a wonderful weekend, with great meetings and workshops to attend so make sure to book your tickets in advance!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tickets are Booked!

          Officially, I can now say that I'm going to attempt Aconcagua this winter. Tickets were booked last night before the prices could get any higher! I've been an avid follower of the price fluctuations on 6 major airline booking companies, and decided that it was time. We are flying out of Boston on December 15th with two connecting flights; one in Miami and one in Santiago, Chile before finally arriving in Mendoza, Argentina a mere 22 hours later...

          Now that the tickets have been purchased, the reality of my trip has completely hit me. I can't believe that this is actually happening! It still seemed like a cool idea, but an impossibility until I got the confirmation email. From a crazy idea to going to South America is amazing!

          I've set a picture of Aconcagua as my background on my computer so I have more some motivation to stay active and get psyched for this trip!

          A hora tengo que practicar mi español para comprender y hablar con los argentinos! (or is it por comprender...) Yikes, I'd better hit the books!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Update

So since my last post, a plethora of new and exciting things have developed!

          From where I left off last time, my family and I had a successful ascent of Mt. Katahdin  despite horrible rainy weather, but at least we got some fantastic pictures! Following our hike, we spent the evening in Millinocket, ME at the Highpointers' Konvention where, I was recognized with an official plaque of my high pointing accomplishment! There were a number of 50 state completers, but I was the only female of the group!

          The rest of my summer was spent working as much as I could and hitting the gym trying to get prepared for Aconcagua. I worked as a camp counselor, babysitter, house and alpaca sitter, ironer, painter, and customer service rep for my uncle's company! My summer culminated with a trip out west to Mt. Rainier with 2 other members of my Aconcagua expedition: my stepdad Bill and friend Jono. Since Jono had never been to altitude before, we thought Rainier would be the perfect place, especially since Bill still had to climb Rainier to get his 48th high point. The trip was wonderful and even though I forgot my liner socks, which led to horrible blisters, Bill and Jono were able to summit! I got to the crater rim and let them go to Columbia Crest - the true high point. We had planned to then attempt Mt. Adams, but my feet weren't up for it so we toured around Washington and Oregon until flying back home.

          After arriving back in Vermont, I had a filmmaker come to my house for the day and interview me and my family about our high pointing experience. Gary Wolff (former NatGeo filmmaker) and his wife Kathy are producing a movie about high pointing and they though that we would be good to highlight.

         Now, I'm back at school and still working just as hard this summer. I have four jobs at school because I still need to earn some more before our trip this winter. On top of that, I'm taking four rigorous classes, I've officially declared my major as Environmental Chemistry, and I'm still trying to stay active in clubs.

          In terms of my progress for Aconcagua, I have just recently finalized my team! There will be four of us, my stepdad, two friends from school: Jono and Jordan, and myself. We are departing from Boston on December 15th, just two days after finals end and flying to Mendoza. We've budgeted 21 days for our ascent including 6 or 7 extra days for weather or whatever else may arise. We should summit (hopefully) right around New Years and then be back home Wednesday January 8th.

          Then, the next day (Thursday), I'm flying out to Ouray, CO to give a presentation for Asolo at the Ouray Ice Festival. Ouray is an incredible outdoors ice climbing park and the festival is the biggest one in North America, I'm honored to be asked to speak! After giving a presentation at the festival, I'm also giving one to the Ouray high school, where I hope I can inspire kids, both male and female to learn about goal setting, self-discipline, persistence, and to love the outdoors as much as I do.

          That's all for now, but I encourage you to check out my new picture album covering my summer adventures!!!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Annual Highpointers Convention

Each year the location of the annual Highpointers Convention changes among the fifty states. Last year it was Oregon, the year before Ohio, both places that aren't too easy or inexpensive to get to. However, this year, the convention is in Maine, a breezy 7.5 hour drive away!

Tomorrow afternoon, my Mom, Bill, Billy, Danny, and I are piling into our minivan with the trunk packed with gear to make our way to Mt. Katahdin, the tallest point in Maine. We'll arrive late tomorrow night and Thursday morning begin the hike into Chimney Pond. We've given ourselves plenty of time if there's afternoon thunderstorms because as of right now things could get exciting in the afternoons later this week.

Last time I was at Mt. Katahdin was this February as a member of Wilderness Rescue, a Search and Rescue team based out of Grey, Maine. We spent a week going of winter skills and completing mock rescues scenarios. But the last time my family was at Baxter State Park was in July of 2005! That was before Billy and Danny were allowed above tree line (no one under 6 is allowed above tree line) so Ryan, Bill, Mom, and myself had to execute a "divide and conquer" technique. That was where Bill and I went to summit, while Mom and Ryan stayed at Chimney Pond with Billy and Danny. After we had reached the summit, we swapped with Mom and Ryan and let them summit too.

A very distinct memory of our trip in '05 was that there were tons of moose! Bill woke up one night and heard a strange munching sound a few feet away from the end of our lean-to. He shone his flashlight on the noise, and a giant moose was having a snack less than 10 feet away from us! Bill woke us all up so we could watch him and it was wildly exciting! I'm hoping we'll get to see some more interesting wildlife this weekend, but I won't mind if it's from more of a distance.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Update and Pictures

Be sure to check out the "Pictures" page in the orange nav bar to see my expedition up Denali last spring!!

So I've finally posted the pictures of my ascent of Denali last spring, it only took me a year. I've captioned most of the images so you can correlate where I was in relation to the mountain. The views were incredible and every time I look through them I long to head back. Maybe in a few years, but who knows...

In other news, my flight is set to head out to the Cascades this August. I'm planning 8 days to finally get Bill to the top of Mt. Rainier so he can finish his 48 high points. With the extra time we're thinking about climbing other peaks such as Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Saint Helens if weather and time allows.

In order to say on budget for my trip to South America this winter I've been busily working a my town's Recreation Department running a summer camp, babysitting, painting my house, ironing, house sitting, and working in my dad's office. It's been tough for me juggling so many jobs and the rainy weather to get out and go hiking or climbing, especially since I just got my wisdom teeth out but I've been good at going to the gym.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back in Action

After quite the hiatus from blogging, I've realized that quite a few things have happened since last August and I'd like to share them. I've recently revamped my web page as well as my climbing ambitions, check it out!

Last June, after I reached the summit of Mt. McKinley, and while my high school constituants were preparing for graduation, my ten year saga drew to a close. I was tired, frostbitten, and sore. Initially I had no intentions of climbing anything in the near future, sure I'd accompany my step dad up Rainier so he could complete the 48 contiguous high points, but that was it. Well, we went to Washington and stayed with a former guide of mine, whom I now know not only as a mentor, leader, and role model, but as a friend. Over dinner I again confided in him that it would be dream come true for me to guide for RMI on Rainier, and to work with him. He helped me realize that I need more experience doing unguided climbing before both he and I would be confident in my abilities. I wondered how I'd be able to prove myself, to go above and beyond the unexpected. The initial thought about doing more mountaineering and ice climbing in the winters in New England was appealing, but hardly inspiration; until he uttered the word Aconcagua.

Some of you may recognize that name, as a mountain included in the Seven Summits. For those of you who don't, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in South America, rising 23,841 feet. It is the tallest mountain outside of the Himalayas.

I knew I'd have a way better shot at getting hired next year if I was able to say that I organized, funded, and lead an expedition up one of the Seven Summits. But how would I be able to pull off a stunt like that? I got lucky with McKinley, but I couldn't take a semester off of college...

Throughout my first year at college in order to continue to hone my potential guiding skills, I joined a Search and Rescue Team (http://wildernessrescue.org/newwebsite/), became an active member of the Bates Outing Club, took an AIARE level 1 class, became a certified Wilderness First Responder, and threw myself into academia.

But throughout the year I felt something was missing. There was no big high pointing adventure to plan and I began to think about what came next in terms of mountains and I felt lost. I had done the highest mountains in the fifty states and everyone I talked to kept asking, "so what's next." Each time I heard that question I never had a suitable answer, I might jokingly respond, "survive college" or "replenish my bank account." But, the more I heard that question I realized that I needed to have answer more for myself than for them.

Immediately I turned to Nepal. I had read Ed Veistur's No Shortcuts to the Top about him climbing the fourteen 8,000 m peaks; the infamous mountains and like any climber, I too was drawn to them. Realistically I knew that I was no where near experienced enough to even begin to consider it. So, instead I began to look all over the world, from the Alps, to the Himalayas, the Mexican Volcanos and every where in between. Until I stumbled on something closer to home, Canada.

The tallest mountains in each of the thirteen provinces and territories that make up Canada and not dissimilar to some of the ones in the US. However, many of them are more remote or more technically difficult but there were fewer of them. For instance, Mt. Logan in the Yukon Territory is not unlike Mt. McKinley in Alaska. It is the second highest mountain in North America with the same dangers of crevasses, avalanches, and altitude. However, due to it's remoteness, its proximity to the Pacific ocean, and its lack of climbers it can be a much more dangerous mountain. Now, not all the Canadian high points are like that. On the other extreme, the highest point in Prince Edward Island is in a potato field, much like Indiana, or Iowa.

The only way that I would be capable and confident to begin to lead some of the bigger Canadian mountains would be if I had previous experience leading an expedition of my own. And this is where Aconcagua came into play. If I can successfully lead a group of people to and on the tallest mountain in South America, then I am confident that with planning and increased knowledge and practice I too will be able Canada.

The fun fact about that Canadian high points is that only one other person has completed the highest peaks in both the US and Canada, and he was male. If I were to complete my challenge then I would be the first female and the youngest to do so.

And so, even though I haven't been blogging, I've still been plotting my next adventure...

More updates to come!