Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ecuador Volcanoes Jan 2011 - Pre Trip Prep!

Ecuador 2011 Prep Trips

Over the course of the last few months members of our upcoming Ecuador Volcanoes expedition have been training to be in shape and have good skills coming into the trip. Some have been ticking off steep water ice climbs in Ouray and others working on using crampons for the first time!

Kerr Adams has been getting some climbing done inbetween classes and exams and he dropped us this ridiculous shot of a great WI 4/5 climb in Ouray! Kerr will be using a SPOT during our trip and has set up a twitter account so you can follow us!!/FTAecuadorjan5

Sarah Hunter headed out with FTA Guide Matt Schonwald to get in some practice on Mount Baker and was treated to 3 feet of new snow to work with. Needless to say she got lots of practice plowing up steep slopes and learning how to dig out tent sites and self arrest! You can read the dispatch from their three day trip here

In early December Brad, Eric and Jeff managed to get out for some early ice climbing in NH in Crawford Notch and got Jeff immediately into WI 2 climbing on Lost in the Forrest. Eric had already gotten in a few other days soloing up moderate (but 2500ft long!) climbs like Shoestring gully.

On the 16th of December Brad, Eric, Kellie and I joined forces for a play day on Willey's Slide and enjoyed many hours of low angle crampon and ice axe practice along with going over roped team climbing. We finished our morning with an ascent to about the half way point using running belays on terrain steeper that our members will see on most of Cotopaxi.

At the end of the day Eric and I simply could not pass up a chance to use the fine points of our crampons and ice tools and ambled over to the base of Elephant Head Gully. The intention to simply "have a look"soon turned into a wonderful 2 pitch climb on mixed WI3 terrain that finished in the moonlight with big grins on our faces. We savored a fine ale at Faybyan's Station and rehashed the sketchy climb and made plans for more fun outings ahead!

Some of our team will already be in transit this weekend and we are excited to see the first pics and reports from Quito in just a few days. We hope you enjoy following along!

If you had thought to join us this year it is not too late as we have a few more departures this season! We are already accepting places for the 2011-2012 season! Check out Ecuador Volcanoes and all of our trips at our new and improved website:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aconcagua Dec 2010 Falso - Summit Report!

FTA Dec 2010 Aconcagua False Polish Climb

from Ben Kane in Mendoza

Dean, Saul and myself arrived back in Mendoza last night and celebrated our summit success in fine style with a great dinner at Facundo's restaurant and then on to the Irish pub for a few drinks. The past three weeks have been incredible, a really fun time with two great guys.

The expedition started out with a bit of drama, with both Saul and Dean struck don by a nasty gastro infection, but both soldiered on and pulled through to be very strong on the mountain. We encountered some very cold weather in the early part of the trip, especially the load carry days to Camp 1. I decided against moving to Camp 2 due to high winds, and we instead traversed to the more sheltered Camp Guanacos (Camp 3).

We moved up to Camp Colera on the 24th, deciding against a rest day at Guanacos due to a weather report indicating the 25th to be a potential summit day. This was to be a vital decision as the weather indeed turned out to be too good to be true. The morning of the 25th was as still as I've ever seen, not a breath of wind and incredibly warm. We started out in our down jackets and mitts, but 10 minutes later we were stripping down to fleece and shells. A large French group, an Alaskan Mountain Guide's group and some independent climbers made up the push, with about 30 or so people pushing for the top. We summited at 2:40pm, about 8 hours from Colera. We spent half an hour on the top, really enjoying the summit and just taking it all in. The descent was fine, and we made it back to Colera with plenty of daylight left to melt snow and rehydrate.

I have to comment on Dean and Saul - both were very strong, and we made a good team. I also have to thank Lanko, our Argentinian outfitters. Jose and Osvaldo are amazingly helpful. The staff at both Base Camps, Plaza Argentina and Plaza de Mulas were exceptional. Thank you to Carlos and Vanessa (Plaza de Mulas) for the great pizza feast post summit and a big thank you to Paula (Plaza Argentina) for the great food that made it possible for us to get up the hill.

Thanks for following along with us. Take care and hope to see you out in the mountains soon!



Sunday, December 26, 2010

FTA Aconcagua Dec Falso - Summits!

from stu in the usa office
Dec 26, 2010
We have just had word in from Ben at Plaza de Mulas that the team has returned successfully from the summit and a complete traverse of the mountain! We'll look forward to more news soon!!
here is Ben's note:

Hey Stu from Plaza de Mulas,

We summited yesterday, Christmas Day at 2:40pm. The weather was extrodinary, so warm and not a breath of air. We hike out to Horcones tomorrow, have a quick shower at Penitentes and then straight to Mendoza for a great meal at Facundos, which we've all been anticipating.

I'll send a more detailed disatch tommorrow including pictures. Totally amazing climb and everyone is stoked to have reached the top.

Talk soon.

Ben from Plaza de Mulas!

Baby Beef at Facundo's is not to be missed!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FTA Aconcagua Dec 11 Falso - In BC and heading to C1!

From Stu in the USA office
Nov 19. 2010

Ben has dropped a nice note in from Plaza Argentina base camp ( approx 4200m/13800 ft) to let us know that all is well and that they have been enjoying themselves on the trek and at base camp. The have had a great view to the Polish Glacier from the base camp and soon enough will be walking right past its base.

They arrived to find a great deal of damage done to base camp by a serious wind storm a week ago. Ben said that nearly every outfitter sustained damage from 100 kph winds and that the winds remain strong still on the mountain. For this reason Ben and his crew plan to take the lower traverse to Colera Camp and avoid the traditional but exposed C2.

Dean and Saul were hit by a GI illness they picked up in Mendoza but it seems not to have slowed them down and they have showed great strength on the trek in and on the carry to C1 so this is good news!

They are now working their way up the hill and are in C1 at this time and will be heading towards the higher camps in the next few days. If Ben gets a chance to drop back to BC before the summit bid we'll post any updates but the next news may well not be for 4-5 days more. They are still on target for a summit bid on the 25th or 26th if the weather cooperates!

The winds speeds have been in excess of 100kph on and off at the highest levels in the last week and look to be subsiding at the week goes on and summit winds are predicted to be in the 20-30kph level by the 25th and even lower for the 26th and 27th so this is great news!

In 2003 I took the image below during one of the 3 days we spent pinned down by high winds which can be strong enough on Aconcagua to shred tents and toss people.

When the winds subside one can enjoy the views and the climb and we'll hope our team sees these gentle days for the summit bid!

More news as we have it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FTA Aconcagua Dec 11 Falso - heading to BC!

Our December Falso trip under the leadership of Ben Kane is off and running! They will be pulling into the base camp shortly and preparing to begin the climbing phase of the trip. We look forward to hearing their news shortly and until then enjoy a note from Ben about the trip ahead!

Dec 13, 2010

Hello from Mendoza, Argentina!

Tomorrow Saul Willers and Dean Slawson and myself will be departing Mendoza, bound for Penitentes.
The drive takes between three to four hours, and passes through some amazing countryside, from the arid desert surrounding Mendoza, past the aqua marine lake at Porterillos,
winding through canyons before coming out onto the plain at Uspallata. We'll have a lunch stop here before continuing onto Penitentes, gaining height to an altitude of 2500m.

Saul and I did this earlier in the month and had the luxury of camping a few nights in the hills
surrounding Penitentes, just below the summit of Cruz de Cana peak. Below is a photo of our camp during a magnificent sunrise. An amazing vista to wake up to indeed!

We'll have an acclimatization hike, aiming to get up to around 3800m and hit the trailhead on the 14th. Over the next few days we'll go through the process of sorting personal
gear, tents, stoves, food etc and prepare our loads for the mules to carry. We'll be hiking for three days and arrive at Plaza Argentina on the 16th, our base camp for our attempt on the False Polish traverse.

Weather and acclimatization allowing, we'll be heading for a summit bid on around the 25th, so fingers crossed we'll be celebrating Christmas on the top of South America!

Stay tuned for more dispatches and pictures from the mountain!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Great articles at the American Alpine Journal

from stu in the usa office

The American Alpine Journal (AAJ) has a new section on their site which will help visitors to enjoy some of the very best articles, trips reports & club proceedings. They have a vast store of articles and for most people it is ard to know where to start!

Here is what the AAJ ays about the new section:

"The idea here will be to feature the most fun, best written, exceptionally exciting, historically interesting, inspiring, or just plain useful articles and reports that have been published in the roughly 25,000 pages of AAJs since 1929."

AAJ Online's new favorite-stories

One of the first and most impressive articles is by Charles Houston and a worthy read for anyone heading to the mountains about agonizing decisions and their consequences in the mountains.

Agonizing Decisions by Charles Houston

You can all help the AAJ with suggestions for good articles from past journals as you peruse their offerings.


Friday, November 26, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam 2010 – Summits!

from stu in the usa office
November 26th, 2010


Fabrizio called in from C2 to let us know that he and the team had just returned from a successful summit bid!

Summiters included Roger, Ruud, Michael, Siddhi and Fabrizio and they topped out on a clear day at noon and returned to C2 at 6:45pm. Fabrizio said they had fantastic views of all the peaks from Everest to Cholatse and that they made the top despite strong winds.

Special thanks goes to our sherpa guide "super" Siddhi who has worked tirelessly all expedition to ensure a safe and successful summit for the members. Between Siddhi and Fabrizio there have been a lot of extra loads, runs, carries and work that goes into guiding an expedition. Well done lads!

It sounds like Erika and Jack were not feeling strong on the way to C2 the previous day and decided to not join the push and left the hill for another day. With experience on Everest for Jack and the Polish Glacier on Aconcagua for Erika, they certainly have a good background for making wise choices and we applaud their decision!

We'll look forward to more reports and images in the days and weeks ahead!

Now on to upcoming trips to Aconcagua, Ecuador and even farther ahead to Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and K2! We have spaces on all of these trips ad more so check out the main site for trips and dates.

Here is Fabrizio's dispatch from c2 - enjoy!

View from the dablam on the descent with the world below!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam - Summit bid tomorrow!

from stu in the usa office
November 25, 2010

Ama Dablam Update

Fabrizio has left an audio dispatch from C1 with the latest on the team's efforts on Ama Dablam and the news is excellent! Fabrizio and Siddhi are in C1 with half the team and the other half is resting in C2. Tomorrow morning at 1am the group in C1 will leave, join the group in C2 and push for the summit!

We should have news from the top or from when they are back in camp. Stay tuned for more!

Listen to the dispatch below!

please note: with some challenges in the website over the last month the automatic loading of the audio dispatches was disabled. To hear this and more dispatches please visit the
FTA audio dispatch center at Gabcast

A few images of the terrain the team is about to cover....

View from C1 on a beautiful afternoon!

The awesome traverse just below the Mushroom Ridge!

Heading up the fixed lines on the side of the dablam

View from the top to Everest on a clear day in 2005!

View from just below the summit down the Khumbu Valley

FTA member Merv Rowland Rappelling from the summit ridge in 2007

When they get back to BC they will hopefully have a great treat in store!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam - C2 established and summit bid ahead!

from stu in the usa office
November 24, 2010

Ama Dablam Update

Our team has established a high camp and we expect news of summit bids in the next few days!

The weather has been clear but windy and looks to remain so through the 27th. Winds in the 40-50km/hr level are expected at the 7000m level so they will have high winds for sure on the summit. The climb is often in the lee of the wind and on 2 of the 3 times i have been to the top we had little or now winds on the slopes from C3 to the summit but were buffeted by very strong winds on the top itself. The last 100 meters can be simply a fight to get the top when minutes before all was calm.

Audio Dispatch from Fabrizio
Fabrizio checks in from C1 to lets us know that the team is well positioned for a summit bid and they hope to move to C2 tomorrow and summit on the 26th!

As soon as we have any word on the summit attempts we'll post them here!

pic: summit panorama on Ama Dablam from 2007

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ecuador/Cotopaxi Prep - Alpine Training with Matt Schonwald!

Note from Stu in the USA office
FTA guide Matt Schonwald put together a great 2-day intensive prep course for one of our Ecuador Volcanoes Jan 5, 2011 members Sarah Hunter and his report on their snowy odyssey is below.

Matt offers single or multi-day intensive alpine training trips (in the Pacific Northwest) custom built for individuals or groups for any objective from Mont Blanc to 8000m peaks. With his background climbing and guiding the very coldest off peaks (Vinson, Denali and more) Matt is a perfect teacher for anyone interested in beefing up their skills and confidence before a big trip.

We offer similar prep trips on the east coast as well with so let us know how we can help you get ready for your next big adventure!

There are spaces still available for the Jan 5 Ecuador trip led by Brad Boehringer so let us know if you want to tromp up 4-5 volcanoes, east great food and practice your Spanish!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Going Deep in November with Sara Hunter

Hitting the 3rd week of November and my 'stache is taking on it's own personality, My competitive nature shines through as if I am actually training to win the best mo' in December when my friends get together check out each others 'stache. A few days ago, I had the pleasure to spend a few days on Mt Baker, aka Kulshan in November with Sara Hunter prepping for a climb on Cotopaxi in January. Our timing coordinated nicely with 3 feet of new snow that added 2 miles to the approach and some extra caloric boost to our hike in. After breaking trail for 4 1/2 hours, we camped at the historic Kulshan cabin site where Fred Beckey started his first ascent of the North Ridge many years ago. We hunkered down to a long, cold night with a quick skills session followed by Indian food and chocolate to put us to bed with full stomachs.

At sunrise, we enjoyed eggs, sausage and hash browns with fresh brewed coffee to warm ourselves up for the hike to the Coleman Glacier through thigh deep snow. 2 hours later we made it to Survey Rock and headed down to the ice to get our crampons dirty and hit something solid with our axes. This was harder then it sounds as 3+ feet of snow separated us from the glacier and all the visible blue was overhung ice.

Two hours later, we stomped some ice into enough cubes for a few cocktails and made good progress for Cotopaxi with Field Touring Alpine's Ecuador January trip. Sara revealed to me her hometown is in Maine and she loves cyclocross which made this overnight winter experience seem tropical in face of 5" of new snow overnight with temps in the teens. After breaking trail for a total 6 hours in 2 days, we roped up, self arrested and climbed enough ice to strike fear into Cotopaxi, good luck in January Sara!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam update 19 Nov

from stu in he usa office
nov 20, 2010

All is well at Ama Dablam and a summit bid is brewing!

On the 18th the entire team took a run to C1 and spent the night. On the 19th Siddhi and Michael went on to C2 to set up tents and then joined the rest of the team in descending to base camp. The plan for the teamis to eat, sleep and rest a few days and then make a summit bid!

Stay tuned for more new of a summit push!

Audio Dispatch
Fabrizio checks in to let us know that the team is headed to C1 after three days of rest from summiting Island Peak and that everyone is feeling well.

They have been enjoying lounging in BC (enjoying the warmth of the new BC heater system!), taking trips to the monastery in Pangboche, and eating more meat than "we could fathom that an expedition could have"!
The team is loading up and readying for a slow walk to C1 today. The plan is spend the night in C1 and tomorrow establish C2 and potentially stay in C2. Most likely they will set up the tents in C2 and return to BC to prepare for a summit push.
Fabrizio notes that they are one of just 2 teams now in BC and it is as stroke of fortune to have Ama Dablam nearly to themselves! Just 2 weeks ago there were more than 100 climbers and now just the Fta team and one other small group. Yet another reason our Nov trips have been so great the last 3 years! We are already accepting applications for 2011 so let us know if you need a great trip to Ama Dablam with a highly experienced team!

pic: C2 from the Gray Tower in 2007 - quite a spot for a night!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam 2010 Autumn - Island Peak Summits!

from stu in the usa office
17th Nov, 2010

Our team has already topped out on Island Peak and is back safely at Ama Dablam BC! We are waiting on all the details and hope to have them shortly!

Our group arrived back in Ama Dablam BC yesterday and tomorrow plan to head up to C1. After a night in C1 they will either return to rest in BC a few days or make a move to C2 if everyone is feeling well.

More news soon!

Justify Full
Audio Dispatches #1 from high camp before the summit
Fabrizio calls in from high camp at 2:15am to let us know the team is about to set off for the summit! He reports that the weather is perfect - pretty warm and clear skies above. Fabrizio adds that this is what he loves about night see "headlamps dotted along the slope and lots of stars dance"!

Audio Dispatches #2 from BC after the summit!
Fabrizio checks back in from BC at 12:30pm on 14th to let us know the entire team had a successful summit day on Island Peak! The team arrived at the top around 8am in peefect conditions and enjoyed views of the north face of Ama Dablam and the south face of Lhotse! They will head back to Ama Dablam tomorrow for a few well deserved rest days!

Friday, November 12, 2010

FTA Ama Dabalam Update - En route to Island Peak!

from Fabrizio in Pangboche
Nov 11, 2010

Hello from Ama Dablam! Well actually Pangboche - I ran down to town as there is fast internet in a lodge there.
We made it to base camp in great condition, everyone is feeling fit in the group. Today was a much deserved rest day, and a bit of packing, as tomorrow we head off to Island peak for a few days to acclimatize before climbing Ama Dablam.
Many teams have been topping out the past few days and base camp is clearing out nicely, when we return from Island Peak there should only be a couple of teams remaining. There is talk of a bit of bad weather coming in but it should not derail any of our plans.

update 12 Nov from stu in the usa office
Team is now in Dinboche and everyone feeling great. They have had great views of Ama Dablam and are excited about heading to Island Peak!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam 2010 Under Way

from stu in the usa office
Nov 7, 2010

FTA Ama Dablam 2010 Update

Our expedition to Ama Dablam under the leadership of Fabrizio Zangrilli is under way and the team is now in Namche enjoying a good time acclimatizing.

We'll begin to have updates every 3-4 days over the course of the expedition here at our blogspot and also will update on twitter at

Our FTA Nov 4, 2010 Ama Dablam climbing team is the following:

Fabrizio Zangrilli (FTA Guide)
Siddhi Tamang (Sherpa Guide)
Erika Gustavsson
Roger Hedlund
Jack Gerstein
Michael Brandt
Ruud van Gassel

Fabrizio posted the following over the last two days:

"Hello from Namche Bazaar. All of the group are doing great, in fact they are some of the fastest members I have ever had. We have been sitting around at the bakery eating yummy baked delights when we hear that a helicopter crashed at Ama Dablam. I know no details at this point, but we are all fine. I know many people who are at base camp right now, I hope that they are all ok.

The latest news is the helicopter crashed on the north side of the mountain on the 6th while attempting to rescue climbers on that side of the mountain. News is still sketchy, and very much third hand, but wanted to put people at ease who new people on the Normal (SW Ridge) route."

Ama Dablam Helicopter Crash

Updates are now on the web and it looks as though the pilot who was flying the rescue was the pilot responsible for the highest rescue ever performed and he was on an attempted rescue on the north side of Ama Dablam.

Sabin Basnyat and an engineer were attempting to rescue two climbers from Mount Amadablam, a 6812-metre peak near Everest, when their helicopter crashed.

Witnesses reported seeing it burst into flames before smashing into the mountainside.

"We can confirm that one of our rescue helicopters has crashed in the Everest region. We have sent a helicopter to the scene," Fishtail Air executive Manoj Gurung said.

Earlier this year, Basnyat made history when he piloted the world's highest ever rescue mission, airlifting three sick Spanish climbers from Mount Annapurna.

Our thoughts are with the families of Captain Sabin Basnet and Engineer Purna Awale who lost their lives in the crash.

Upcoming trip notes

We have upcoming expeditions to Aconcagua and Ecuador during December, January and February and are already booking trips for Broad Peak, K2 and Nanga Parbat for summer 2011 as well as for Spantik, Satopanth and Ama Dablam for next autumn. We have loads of trips for every level climber and trekker and hope you'll join us for a trip in 2011!

Check out our full line-up at the main site ""

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cho Oyu Update and Upcoming Expeditions

from stu in the usa office
Oct 13, 2010

Our team from Cho Oyu has made their way back safely to Kathmandu and we now turn our attention to the upcoming November 4 expedition on Ama Dablam and the many trips to come in the year ahead!

Cho Oyu 2010 Ends back in Kathmandu

Our Cho Oyu team did not manage any summit this trip but they gave it every chance possible! Even after many teams packed it up and went home we stuck around in the hopes of a good change in the weather which alas never came. The determination and persistence our team showed was amazing given the very difficult weather and conditions. Seems our crew continued to have fun the whole way and not lose sight of the fact that to climb an 8000m peak one must expect some lousy weather and down time in BC.

We look forward to heading back to Cho Oyu next spring and hope you'll join us!

Ama Dablam - our 6th straight year!

Our upcoming expedition to Ama Dablam is quite different with casual strolls along ancient trade routes and amid pungent rhododendron forests and autumn harvests. They'll be eating apple pie and pizza, sipping capuccinos and enjoying one of the great treks in the world from Lukla to Ama Dablam BC (and for most on to Everest BC after the climb). If the weather socks in a bit our team can pop into a tea house less than an hour from bc for popcorn and beers and recharge their cell phones. With shops all the way from Lukla to Chukung they can pick up fresh snacks and hot teas as they go and even grab a few hot showers along the way.

Our BC set up at Ama Dablam is on a grassy field with a stream running down the middle. While a bit bumpy for a game of football, it is nonetheless a far cry from the moving glacier BC of Broad Peak, or the very rocky and steep slope of the Cho Oyu base camp.

This will be our 6th year on the hill and we have a confirmed Nov 4 trip and are already taking signup for next spring and autumn!

Zangrilli - Busiest guide in 2010?

I am sure that Fabrizio will enjoy a change after nearly 6 months which have included Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu. I am sure it would be hard to find a guide who has strung together guiding 4 8000m peaks in less than 6 months and we are glad that he is off enjoying a well earned 3 week vacation! He'll come back to guide Ama Dablam and then head off to Aconcagua to guide the Polish Glacier (Dec 18 start) and then the False Polish Climb (Jan 10 start) before heading home for steep ice in Colorado!

Ahead later in the year will hopefully be a return for Fabrizio to Makalu, a summer on Nanga Parbat and possibly a return visit to K2!

Rematches with 8000 and 7000m peaks?

Chris has had abusy year as well with Cho Oyu, Broad Peak and K2 and still has Aconcagua ahead in February! He'll be back in Nepal in the spring likley for Cholatse or Ama Dablam and then back to Pakistan for Broad Peak & possibly Spantik. After that he'll be off to India for a second trip to Satopanth! He will also likley be leading a new trip to either Stok Kangri (august) or a High Peaks Traverse in the Khumbu (oct).
We are already taking signups for Broad Peak and Satopanth with Chris Szymiec and looking forward to a return to both peaks under his leadership!

2010 & 2011 Schedule
Join Ben, Brad, Chris, Fabrizio, Matt, Sean, Stu and all our FTA guides for upcoming trips in 2010 & 2011
  • Ama Dablam (Oct, Nov & May)
  • Aconcagua (Dec, Jan & Feb)
  • Broad Peak (June/July)
  • Cho Oyu (April/May & Sept/Oct
  • Cholatse (May, Oct)
  • Denali (May/June)
  • Ecuador Volcanoes (Jan & feb)
  • Elbrus (June, July & Aug)
  • Everest BC Trek (April, May, Sept, Oct & Nov)
  • G2 (June/July)
  • Island Peak (April, May, Sept, Oct & Nov)
  • K2 (June-Aug)
  • K2 BC Trek (June, Aug & Sept)
  • Kilimanjaro & Meru (March, Aug & Sept)
  • Makalu (April/May)
  • Nanga Parbat (June/July)
  • Pumori (Sept/Oct)
  • Satopanth (Sept)
  • Spantik (Aug)
  • Tharpu Chuli (April, Sept & Oct)
Many of our guides are already confirmed on upcoming trips so join your favorite guide - Ben is set for Aconcagua and Tharpu Chuli, Chris for Broad Peak and Satopanth, Fabrizio for Ama Dablam, Aconcagua and Nanga Parbat, Brad for Ecuador, Sean for Kili and G2, Stu & Matt for Denali and more trips confirming all the time!

We have an exciting year ahead and hope you'll join us!

Friday, October 8, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 – Team in BC and summit bid over

from stu in the usa office
8th Sept, 2010

Cho Oyu team calls it a day

Fabrizio called in from BC to let us know that all is well and that the conditions on the mountain were simply to dangerous to proceed. They advanced to C1 2 days ago and after beginning towards C2 yesterday the winds were very severe and it was a great effort just to come back down safely. Fabrizio did manage to make his way to C2 to clear the tents in 30km/hr winds and very cold temps. He said it took a good 45minutes to hack out the tents and he was pretty cold by the time he was done. He noted that Santiago was back from his first attempt and staying up for a second attempt and we wish Santiago safe passage!

Our team now all at BC and awaiting the arrival of the yaks on the 9th. We'll have updates on their progress out to Kathmandu and look forward to a full report on the climb and lots of good pics when they are back.

Ama Dablam up next

Thanks for following along on Cho Oyu and please rejoin us in early November for our Island Peak and Ama Dablam expeditions. We do still have a few spaces available for trekkers to join us to go on to Everest BC and for climbers on island Peak and Ama Dablam! Drop a note to "" and let us know or visit the site at for more trip info!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 - Final summit push begins & Ecuador Update

from stu in the usa office
Oct 5, 2010

Cho Oyu Update

Fabrizio checked in from ABC to let us know that all is well and that the team will head up tomorrow to C1 with hopes of summiting on the 8th or 9th if the winds will allow!

Our team was having considerable snowfall during the day today and the winds, even at BC, were very strong. They had hoped to move up to C1 today but with such difficult conditions they opted to hold off a day.

The present plan is for our team will to C1 on the 6th, C2 on the 7th and then, depending on the wind at that time, to go for the top on the 8th from C2 or from C3 on the 9th. The reports are not very promising at this time for winds to be sufficiently low to make a bid but our team remains hopeful!

At least 2 other teams have a similar plan and we'll hope that working together they will be able to make a good summit bid. The yaks arrive soon so this will be our last effort for 2010 on Cho Oyu. Wish our team luck!

According to Fabrizio a few other climbers are high up now and are catching very heavy winds. These climbers there now are hoping for the calmer winds expected on the 6th to materialize. We'll know more in the next 24 hours about their progress and it will help our team to fine tune their plan.

Ecuadorian Connection on Cho Oyu

Included in the groups of climbers higher on the hill is Santiago Quintero from Ecuador. Last February one of our Ecuador Volcanoes groups enjoyed an evening with Santiago and he showed our members some amazing local food and music spots. He was a gracious host and piled 5 of us in his car to get us around the busy city of Quito! We enjoyed our time with him and wish him luck on his summit bid!

We had a fabulous dinner with Santiago (on L in pic above) at the restaurant "El Pobre Diablo" and not only was the food great and ambiance wonderful but they had a surprise int he back room. In this room they had every president of Ecuador on a wall with their times in office. Ecuador has a storied past when it comes to leaders remaining in office for brief periods of time and we scoured the wall for the shortest - a single day!

As well the plaque of the current president Correa has a digital clock under his name. When we were they it read more than 2 years which is a long time for an Ecuadorian president. In the last week there was a quasi-coup attempt in Quito and his clock was in peril of being stopped for a very serious few hours.

Correa's day began with confronting an angry group of police officers, progressed to being held captive for more than 10 hours and ended with his extraction by an elite special forces squad. When the day was done there were many hundreds injured in the protest and at least 5 people killed during the extraction. The situation has now settled down but the fallout may continue for some time as arrests are ongoing in connection with the uprising and standoff.

There is quite a lot on including the following about the start of th eday:
Mr. Correa had gone to the barracks to address the police complaints in person. A shouting match ensued, and at one point, he loosened his tie and opened his shirt as if to show that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest. "If you want to kill the president, here he is," he said. "Kill him, if you want to. Kill him if you are brave enough.”

We'll all be watching carefully to see how this standoff plays out in political power and the future of Ecuador. It certainly seems that the resolution has been unlike what might have happened a number of years ago when the military might have just taken over. In this case the military clearly supported the power of the elected president and the democratic system in general. As the NY Times noted: "Lessons for Ecuador's fragile democracy seem to be emerging, albeit haltingly."

When our teams arrive in Ecuador for the upcoming season of climbing on the volcanoes I am sure this will still be a topic of discussion with our local guides and staff and a very interesting time to be in Ecuador. Our lead guides for our confirmed Jan 5 trip, Brad Boehringer and Nacho Espinoza (from Ecuador), will be sure to help you understand more about how this standoff has impacted on life in Ecuador by the time another 3 months has come to pass.

Ama Dablam Upcoming

When Fabrizio has come off of Cho Oyu he will take a well deserved 2 week rest in Nepal and then head off to Ama Dablam to lead our team there. We still have a few spaces left for our 6th year in a row on the hill and 9th trip overall. He'll be joined by our lead Sherpa Siddhi (who is on Cho Oyu now!) and together they will lead the team to Island Peak and the Ama Dablam. We look forward to a great trip and hope you'll follow along when we start on the 4th of November!

Friday, October 1, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 – Team in C2 and all is well!

From stu in the usa office
Oc1 1, 2010

Fabrizio called in from C2 to let us know that all is well! He and Luis and Siddhi and Gordon are enjoying a zero wind afternoon at 7000m and enjoying a last acclimatization run. In the morning they will amble up the slopes a bit (wind permitting) and then drop back to bc to rest. There are reports of good windows possible in the Oct 6 to Oct 10 period and we'll hope one of those strengthens in the days ahead. They have yaks planned for the 11th so can consider a bid on the 9th and perhaps even the 10th.

Fabrizio reported that one german climber has returned from the top today and that another group is staged in c3 and going for the top tonight. The one summiteer did report continued dangerous conditions but the fact that he was able to go through to the plateau bodes well for out team in a few days!

In the next few days we'll be watching the weather carefully and making a summit bid plan. It is exciting to have the possibility of the summit open up again after a very difficult stretch. No doubt that patience remains a key in 8000m climbing and seems our team has a healthy dose of it in their systems!

Fabrizio has left an audio dispatch from 7000m - enjoy!

Field Touring Alpine Audio Dispatches

Thursday, September 30, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 - Lonely in C1!

from stu in the usa office
30 Sept, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu Team update
Our team is enjoying a nice evening in C1 where there remain just 15 tents in a place which only a few days ago was crowded with 100+ tents. In the morning they will move up to C2, complete their acclimatization, and descend to ABC on the 2nd. They are all feeling strong and hopeful that there will be some dramatic change in the snow conditions in the week ahead. A period of lower winds if being forecast for around the 6th or 7th of october and they will position themselves for summit bid at that time.

A few well respected and strong climbers have been higher on the hill (upwards of 7800m) and continue report conditions that do not allow for a safe summit bid at this time. One climber dug a snow pit near C3 revealing a 10cm crust over 30cm of unconsolidated snow along with several other shifting layers - not a pretty sight!

With the time running out for many other teams most have had to pack it up and head home. We still have 10 days until we need to leave the mountain and will hope that the winds and sun work on the snow pack to allow a possible summit bid. Stay tuned for more news ahead!

Audio Dispatch from C1
Fabrizio has left a dispatch from C1 with the latest news inlcuding the latest on the team, the conditions and the big BC party hosted by the TMA!

Field Touring Alpine Audio Dispatches #111

C1 on Cho Oyu in the busy season

Upcoming expedition update

• Nanga Parbat with Fabrizio Zangrilli
We are now confirmed for Nanga Parbat 2011 June/July expedition with Fabrizio Zangrilli and accepting applications for fully guided, full mountain support and bc support options.

• Broad Peak with Chris Szymiec
We are nearing confirmation for Broad Peak for 2011 June/July with Chris Szymiec and expect to confirm well ahead of the end of the year. This will be our 7th trip to Broad Peak (and Chris's 3rd!) and we invite you to join Chris and FTA for a great 8000m climb!

• K2 2011
We have had so much interest in K2 due to our great trips there in 2009 and 2010 that we are working out the details to offer it again for 2011. It will be as an extension to Broad Peak or Nanga Parbat. Interested climbers can contact us at

• Ama Dablam Nov 4
We still have a few spaces on our confirmed Nov 4 Ama Dablam Expedition!

• Aconcagua Summer trips - Confirmed with spaces available:
False Polish 11 Dec
Polish Glacier 18 Dec
False Polish 10 Jan

see our site for more!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cho Oyu 2010 - Summit push update

form Stu in the usa office
September 27, 2010

Cho Oyu Update

I have had a call from Fabrizio letting us know that all is well at BC for our team and that they will plan to make a summit bid on Oct 1. The winds look to be reasonable for the 30th and 1st and as there are large crowds (some 400 climbers) our team plans to let the larger wave go first and be part of a smaller second wave.

Due to the weather window constraints we will be launching our bid from C2 on the 1st very early (or perhaps ate on the 30th!) With so many days at BC, along with the runs to C1 and above, our team should have sufficient acclimatization for this. We have at least a week of time following this effort but the jet stream looks like it may be coming in for good and make summit attempts impossible. We will watch the weather carefully and hope for a later window as a back up.

At this time the conditions on the mountain remain poor with shifting slabs of snow and high avalanche risk in several places. A group of sherpas fixing the route in the last day were avalanched above the second rock band (in a similar situation as the TMA's crew was a week ago). The reports are that one sherpa was pretty shaken up but that they are all descending. I am sure that there will be more information once they are back down. They had been attempting to finish the route in time to rejoin their teams for the summit bids ahead. Below is a picture of the high slopes of Cho Oyu which show the rock bands and the area of the avalanche prone slopes:

Our team has been passing the days at BC eating, resting and socializing and are all in good sprits. Fabrizio said that they have been catching with lots of friends on the mountain including a hungarian group he's know for many years, chris klinke, some folks from kari kobler's group and more. With so many people BC bound the teams are getting to know each other well! Given that the entire community of climbers and sherpas look to be converging in the high camps at the same time, we hope that this bodes well for cooperation up high!

The weather has been much clearer and our group took advantage of the down day to amble over towards the Nangpa La and have a look about. There are several peaks that the BC looks out at and some day we'll have to get a permit for them and come back for a "Cho Oyu Neighborhood Tour"!

Fabrizio will post a gabcast audio dispatch tomorrow evening ahead of their departure on the 29th with all the latest. Stay tuned!

Upcoming expedition update

• Nanga Parbat with Fabrizio Zangrilli
We are now confirmed for Nanga Parbat 2011 June/July expedition with Fabrizio Zangrilli and accepting applications for fully guided, full mountain support and bc support options.

• Broad Peak with Chris Szymiec
We are nearing confirmation for Broad Peak for 2011 June/July with Chris Szymiec and expect to confirm well ahead of the end of the year. This will be our 7th trip to Broad Peak (and Chris's 3rd!) and we invite you to join Chris and FTA for a great 8000m climb!

• K2 2011
We have had so much interest in K2 due to our great trips there in 2009 and 2010 that we are working out the details to offer it again for 2011. It will be as an extension to Broad Peak or Nanga Parbat. Interested climbers can contact us at

• Ama Dablam Nov 4
We still have a few spaces on our confirmed Nov 4 Ama Dablam Expedition!

• Aconcagua Summer trips!

see our site for more!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 - BC waiting!

from Stu in the USA Office
September 25, 2010

Our team has been sitting out the last few day at BC after trying to make a run to C1 and being turned back due to heavy snow and no reasonable prospect of being able to advance above C1. With the snow now subsiding and the winds picking our team will return to the hill for an acclimatization run and possibly a summit bid.

All of our members are safe and sound and we'll let you know when we have more news!

In 2008 the winds were quite heavy during an acclimatizing run to camp 2 and you can get a sense of how inhospitable the place can be in the high winds!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 - Back in C1 due to heavy snow fall

from Stu in the USA office
22 September, 2010

Fabrizio called in today to let us know that there had been a significant snow fall, perhaps a foot or more, and that our team (along with most teams) have abandoned the mountain and returned to BC to await better conditions. With the slopes on the steeper sections, between C1 and C2 and above C2, now heavily loaded with fresh snow, there was little reason to climb up from C1 into dangerous territory.

With this in mind Fabrizio, Siddhi, Luis and Gordon came back down to BC to await the upcoming window of clearer weather predicted to begin on the 24th & 25th. We still hope they can get in a night at C2 and return to BC before the winds are expected to rise on the 26th/27th. Farther down the road it looks like the wind will calm down again in early October so we'll be looking for a summit bid at that time.

It sounds like the constant snowfall is taking its toll on the spirit of some of the climbers and Fabrizio said that quite a few people have called it quits and are heading out. To date our group remains in good spirits and is being well fed and entertained by the world's best disco dancer and cook, Ratna Gurung! Expeditions are hard no doubt and one of the most important skills to succeed is the ability to do very little for many days at a time while waiting for weather or conditions to permit you to head higher. Cards, reading, talking, practicing knots, writing in a journal, listening to music and more all have their place but often its the ability to just be content by yourself that can get you through these spells!

With than in mind here are a few quotes of the day for tent bound climbers:

"Slug mode is when you lay in your tent with nothin' to do, maybe not even a book to read, maybe not even nothin' to eat. I can do it pretty well." Kitty Calhoun

"When it's getting dark, you're miserable and the task at hand seems endless, then this is the time to dig your sense of humour out from the bottom of your pack, wear it on your spirit and lighten your load."
Carolyn Birmingham

"In my daily task I draw on my Antarctic experience. If the work is important enough I do not knock off because I feel tired; one’s exhaustion point is a very long way past fatigue point. I think I have developed a greater capacity for thoroughness and I am more appreciative of the value of proper planning. Possibly the two most valuable things my expedition years gave me were self-confidence and persistence. Persistence allied with patience will overcome most difficulties."
Dr. Phillip Law, a former member of the Australian Antarctic Team, speaking about the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme

"The trick is what one emphasizes
We either make ourselves miserable
Or we make ourselves strong
The amount of work is the same"
Carlos Castaneda

why we wait - to feel this way at sunset on a beautiful evening in the high mountains....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 – Team in C1 and all is well!

from Stu in the USA office
September 21, 2010

Latest news on Cho Oyu

Our team is up in C1 the night on their second round of acclimatization and looking forward to spending the night in C2 at 7100m tomorrow! They have been enjoying the acclimatization period over the last 4-5 days and are ready to make a more serious push high on the hill. The past days have been filled with a run to C1 for a night, a 42nd birthday party for our cook Ratna, socializing with the many climbers on the hill (Fabrizio estimates more than 450), and surviving the daily snow fall which seems finally to be coming to an end.

During this time a group of TMA (Tibet Mountaineering Association) climbers who were fixing the route above C3, were avalanched and a number of them were severely injured. Thanks to many climbers on the mountain they were helped down or carried down to BC. There is a full report on including some very dramatic images and links to more reports of people involved first hand. Fortunately it sounds like all of the climbers will recover fully and the one climber needing a full evacuation was already out to the road head by early morning after he returned to BC.

The constant snowfall on the mountain has made for avalanche prone slopes and it appears that this spell of snowy weather is coming to an end and will give way to clearer days and high winds. We hope that our team will be able to get acclimatization runs completed in the next 2 days and be ready for a good period of weather. We have still quite a few days as we are not due back into Kathmandu until the 12th of October but a number of teams are beginning to run out of days and are hopeful this upcoming window is a good one for being on the summit slopes!

FTA Audio Dispatches

Fabrizio plans to call in gabcasts daily during this acclimatization run so visit the Field Touring Gabcast page to listen in to all of the past dispatches and check in daily to catch the new ones!

Field Touring Alpine Audio Dispatches #108

Field Touring Alpine Audio Dispatches #109

Upcoming trip news

• We have just added more climbers to our January 5, 2010 Ecuador Volcanoes trip and spots are becoming limited so let us know if you are interested!

• We have also added an Aconcagua Polish Glacier trip starting on Dec 18 so come and celebrate the holidays on the highest peak in the Americas!

• Places still on Ama Dablam Nov 4 start and Aconcagua False Polish Dec 11 start

See our expedition and trek and training pages for all the trips!

FTA cook Ratna celebrating at BC in 2008 © stu remensnyder

Moonlit night at Cho Oyu BC © stu remensnyder

Cho Oyu on a windy day © stu remensnyder