Capstone adventures

Greetings from Ouray, Colorado! It’s been an eventful few days: we finished Spring 1 finals, flew to Colorado, had a great day skiing in Telluride on Friday to get our ski legs back, dealt with some weather-related itinerary changes, drove to Ouray and started avalanche training with Peak Mountain Tours.

The original plan for the trip was to do a backcountry hut trip on Saturday through Thursday. Of course our number one goal for the trip is to stay safe, and a perfect storm of snow and weather conditions made getting up in the mountains these next few days too risky because of avalanche danger. Luckily our guide recommended a great alternative while we wait out the storm: receiving avalanche training certification through a mixture of classroom and in-the-field learning and doing some backcountry touring on some lower risk terrain. We’ll most likely get to get out into the huts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Now for the fun part: what we’ve been up to the past couple of days!

Classroom learning: We’ve had approximately six hours of classroom instruction over the past couple of days where we have learned the basics of avalanche safety. What surprised me most is just how predictable avalanches are. In general, when there is an accident from an avalanche, it could have been avoided with a more comprehensive assessment of the risk. Experts in backcountry safety work hard to ensure their safety. Before skiing down, they do thorough checks of their surroundings. All skiers wear beacons and carry probes and shovels.

Getting into the backcountry and putting our knowledge into practice: We spent time in the classroom learning the basics of companion rescue using beacons, probes and shovels, but of course it’s always different once you try the techniques out for yourself. On Saturday we split into teams and practiced companion rescue using a buried backpack. In teams of three we used our beacons to locate a buried backpack and practiced finding exactly where the backpack was buried and digging it out quickly and efficiently. It felt great to get outside and have the opportunity to practice what we learned in the classroom. I think we all gained a better appreciation for the tremendous effort and strength that goes into avalanche rescue.

On Sunday we learned to conduct avalanche tests by digging a snow profile. This involved digging a 10 foot cave in the snow, shaving down walls and cutting into the walls to test the snow by examining each layer. Digging the profile was no easy feat- 2 hours with a group of seven. This exercise taught us a ton about the snow gained an even greater appreciation for avalanche safety.

Touring: At the end of the day Sunday we finally got a taste of backcountry touring at Red Mountain Pass. After building the snow profile we hiked a ways up the mountain and got to take a few turns down. It was my first taste of the backcountry and it was such a thrill (and a challenge!) Tomorrow we are set for a longer ski tour and then we take off for the huts Tuesday. Our team is excited to keep the skiing momentum going and enjoy the next few days in the backcountry. photo (11)-Heather Langerman, March 2, 2014


The Summit

January 2, 2014

Post Written by: Meir Kornfeld

In 30 hours we will begin our ascent to the top of the great Cotopaxi Mountain, better known as the “Neck of the Moon”. Since landing in Ecuador, we have been fortunate enough to see and appreciate Cotopaxi from multiple places in Quito, and it is truly beautiful from every angle. It is strange to think that in less than 48 hours we will have the opportunity to stand on the peak of Cotopaxi, and look down to Quito. I have never climbed such a tall mountain before, but I have a feeling that the view from Cotopaxi will be even more beautiful than Cotopaxi itself.

Our journey as a team has been long. It began not when we arrived in Ecuador, but months ago when we each decided to essentially spend our Winter Break with complete strangers in a foreign country (they don’t call this program BOLD for no reason). As I reflect on our journey, I recognize that it might not have always been smooth, but it has certainly been effective. We climbed together, worked out together, and supported each other physically. We also engaged in discussions about our aspirations and our goals, and were able to share our deepest feelings. We know each other well. Our transformation from a group of strangers who attend the same university, to a team many Ecuadorians confuse for a family, is what I personally believe, will get us all the way up to the top of the mountain.

That said, as we rapidly approach the final hours of preparation, we come to the realization that this climb will be anything but easy. In the past few days we learned that the climbers who have successfully summited Cotopaxi are few, and that a great amount of effort is needed to reach its top. Yet we remain confident. Our preparation has been thorough, our training rigorous, and our planning in-depth. Our level of passion and dedication not only to the climb, but also to ourselves as a team, is inspiring. We are united, we are committed, and we are intentional in our thoughts and actions.

I have been a part of many teams, in many different settings, but none as unique as this BOLD team. I find it rare when each member is able to contribute greatly in a team setting, yet this is the case. When one of us is missing from the room, we immediately notice it. When one of us encounters a challenge, the rest of us unite behind them no questions asked. If one of us calls out a number lower than 5 we all worry, because one of our own is struggling. Somewhere between meetings, reflections sessions, hikes, and Gear Talks, bonds were created. It is safe to say the summit is important, but not nearly as important as we are to each other.

Cotopaxi might present the greatest physical challenge any of us have encountered so far, but we are ready as we ever will be.

The truth is, this adventure is not at all about Cotopaxi.

It is about us growing as a team.

It is about us growing.

It is about us.

I believe we already grew more than we dared to imagine. Whether we reach the top of Cotopaxi or not, we have already summited our mountain.

Meir Kornfeld. Las Casitas.


Some of the highlights of our trip so far:

Team Las Casitas taking in the view of Guagua Pichincha's summit Pato the badass mountain climber IMG_5322

Rucu Pichincha is visible in the upper right corner.

Rucu Pichincha is visible in the upper right corner.



IMG_5347 IMG_5336 IMG_5335

The team fights the wind In the final throes of the climb towards the 14,696 foot summit.

The team fights the wind In the final throes of the climb towards the 14,696 foot summit.


Building a Mountain of Patience

Las Casitas team members share a moment outside Guagua Pichincha's refugio.

Las Casitas team members share a moment outside Guagua Pichincha’s refugio.

December 29, 2013

Post Written by: Rebecca Schoonover, Travis Ferber, & a few stragglers

Hola de Quito, Ecuador!

Welcome to BOLD Keystone 2013-2014, Team Las Casitas edition. The first thing that Team Las Casitas found upon arriving in Quito was that our hostel, Chez Elena Guesthouse, is located in ‘the ‘burbs’. Just a short, 25 cent, armpit-to-armpit ride on the city bus! A pleasant surprise for us to be sure. Aside from the navigational challenges posed by the location, we feel very welcome here by our adoptive parents, Guesthouse Owners Elena and Paco, and have very comfortable accommodations including a hot tub and hammocks on the roof! But don’t worry, we’re definitely earning it..

After a light jog at Quito’s ~8,800 feet above sea level yesterday, we lugged 44 liters of water and food for 11 people on the city bus and had a delicious dinner cooked for us by the other team in Ecuador (let’s call them Cotopaxi 1 since they have multiple team names at last check). Today however, Team Las Casitas had our first acclimatization hike led by master mountain climber Pato the badass who runs up mountains (<–click this. srsly.).

From our first moments talking with him, it was clear Pato was more than a badass. Pato is a humble teacher. A true man of the mountain whose vast experience we were only able to scratch the surface of. Pato taught us that climbing a mountain is about patience. He instilled in us the necessity of ascending slowly–extremely slowly– and with an even pace to conserve energy.

For a man who runs up mountains for fun, this was a surprise. But after reflection, Pato’s insight rings true. A mountain is unforgiving. The altitude, the wind, the rocky scree that gives way underfoot – all require time (and sure footing) to overcome. Climbing a mountain isn’t something done quickly. It requires planning and time. Pato didn’t wake up one morning and decide to run up a mountain. It took years of training before he was able to accomplish his goal. For us to climb Cotopaxi, it has taken months of planning and training.

We learned this walking in Pato’s shadow (slowly, like we said) up Guagua Pichincha today–for a successful summit by all 11 team members together at 15,696 feet. As happy as the team was to have achieved this, we spent the evening reflecting on which lessons from the day we expect to find challenging on our next hikes without the guidance of our beloved Pato.

Our next acclimation hike will be on Rucu Pichincha on Dec 31st, we will report back on how that goes. For now, we are taking it easy in the hostel hot tub and our purveyors of fun will lead us on a city tour in the morning.

Hasta el ano nuevo! Mad love from Ecuador,

Team Las Casitas

BOLD Team Challenge

Are you looking for an outdoor challenge?

The BOLD Team Challenge is a team-based event that tests your grit, wit, and endurance on 7.5 miles of wild terrain in Eno River State Park. Teams race to complete the course in the shortest time possible and compete for $100 in REI gift cards.

Any Duke graduate student or partner is eligible to race. The event will be held from 10AM-2PM on Saturday December 7. Teams must register by Wednesday December 4th at midnight in order to compete.

Learn more and register your team at


Operation Blue Devil: How do you define yourself?

Post created by Jason Yan, MBA 2014

“The CIA and FBI turned down my applications for a summer internship. Operation Blue Devil (OBD) might be the only chance that I have in my life to experience Special Forces training,” I joked when asked why I applied to OBD. Inspired by my role model Jason Borne, I always admire those who have the physical competence, sharp mind, courage and leadership to do the right thing. Those are exactly the traits that I expected to improve through OBD, and my experience with OBD went beyond my expectation.

Physical competence. In one activity during OBD, our team of 12 moved a 55 gallon drum filled with water for nearly two miles. Though we used  a contraption built with 4 tires, 6 poles and rope to get the job done, it’s still physically demanding. What’s more, the point I want to highlight here is that we pushed ourselves to run for several times while moving the drum, even when we were nearly exhausted. The physical competence is built not only on the physical capacity, but more on your strong will over the physical challenge.

Sharp Mind. Everyone has skills, some of which can be explored only in certain conditions. One of these conditions is focusing, which can help to sharpen your mind. One activity during OBD was to assemble Legos in 45 seconds in a design after running a half of a mile. We saw the design before we ran. The key challenge here is to remember the design during the run and to think of the best way to assemble the Legos quickly. By focusing, you are able to do better than you expected. Focusing enables you to think fast and proactively, which makes a difference, especially in urgent and challenging situations.

Courage. You don’t know what you are afraid of until you face a problem. When you face it, you are half way to figuring out how to deal with it. The activities of OBD helped strengthen a “can-do” attitude, a courage to face a problem instead of escaping it.

Leadership. Many different types of leadership (lead by example, lead by coaching or lead by supporting, for example) were presented during OBD. I learned a lot about leadership from my peers during the two days of intensive teamwork. OBD is a real-time experience of leadership in a diverse team environment with people from different cultures and language backgrounds. Given the different context in each activity of OBD, it was clear that a single leadership style is not ideal for every situation; instead it is important to customize it to the specific context.

Overall, OBD was a lot of fun. Don’t be intimidated by its affiliation with Special Forces and toughness. The whole point throughout is to get out of your comfort zone and to go beyond how you define yourself.

Operation Blue Devil Teaches Leadership in New Way

Post from the Fuqua website


Soon to be MBA graduate Bee-Lian Quah likes a good challenge. But, Quah admits she had some fleeting doubts about her ability recently when faced with moving a 55 gallon drum filled with water nearly two miles. Her team of 12 was given only four tires, six poles, and 50 feet of rope to build a contraption to get the job done.

“As a petite person, I was concerned I would be the weak link on my team,”Quah said.

Instead, Quah walked away from that military drill and others with a new appreciation for how far she could push her physical ability and problem solving skills.

“My big takeaway was that as a leader, we should always be confident that we will have something to bring to the table. We should never underestimate the value of our unique experiences and knowledge,” she said.

Quah was one of 26 MBA students to participate in the first ever Operation Blue Devil. Members of the Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA) and Duke Building Outdoor Leaders and Doers (BOLD) hosted the event with officials this past March at Fort Bragg, a U.S. military training facility in North Carolina. For the better part of two days, non-military students went through a series of rigorous drills and team building exercises used by the Army.

“The goals were to provide a unique experience that allowed participants to demonstrate personal and collective leadership in an ambiguous, complex and changing environment,” said Mike Rybacki, one of the student organizers of Operation Blue Devil.

Student organizers say the event was such a success they are already making plans for next year.

“I’m extremely excited about the prospects of establishing this program as an annual Fuqua event,” Rybacki said.

Quah says she had no exposure to the military before the two day event.

“All of us who work in business can learn a lot from the military,” Quah said. “Similar to the ambiguous environments that the military is trained to operate in day-to-day, the uncertainty in the business world also requires leaders who can adapt quickly and communicate well to achieve a mission.”

Operation Blue Devil Application is LIVE!

BOLD is partnering with the Duke Armed Forces Association (DAFA) to bring you Operation Blue Devil. Execution day is March 27 (we’ll leave Durham on March 26th at 4 pm). Applications are due on Friday, February 8th. Teams will be notified on Monday, February 11th.

Apply here:

More information about what we’re doing here:

Complement your Fuqua leadership curriculum with a day of hands on training at Fort Bragg, NC with the US Army Special Forces. Conduct leadership exercises in a time constrained and ambiguous environment, leading a team through challenging missions.

Please contact with any questions.

Operation Blue Devil

Post created by Kirsten Hagfors

January 25, 2013

Although we’ve been back for more than two weeks in some cases, the BOLD spirit is still strong! Being able to share our stories with classmates, friends, faculty and staff has been a great way to relive the incredible moments of our journey. There may be some additional posts that come through about the final climb and key takeaways, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I wanted to share a new development with you!

Yesterday Jonathan, Michael and Kirsten road tripped with Chris and Mike to Camp Mackall near Fort Bragg. We are leveraging the network and resources of our friends, Chris and Mike, members of the Duke Armed Forces Association at Fuqua to create an exciting program for students.

This experience will involve physical exercise, decision making under uncertainty and team challenges. Here’s the official plug:

Complement your Fuqua leadership curriculum with a day of hands on military training at the Army Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, NC. In this inaugural event jointly hosted by BOLD and DAFA you will be offered the opportunity to conduct actual military leadership exercises in a time constrained and ambiguous environment, leading a team of your peers to accomplish a variety of challenging missions. Step outside of your comfort zone and apply today!

  • Conduct an Army Physical Fitness Test
  • Face the same challenges as those trying out for Special Forces
  • Acquire leadership lessons from active duty soldiers
  • Learn to approach problems from an unconventional perspective
  • Push yourself both mentally and physically

Below are the flyers that we’re posting around campus for the information sessions this week. Applications will be released soon and will be due on February 8th.

Let us know if you have any questions:

(Since this is a pilot program, we are only able to accommodate Fuqua students at this time, unfortunately. Given its success, we will roll it out to the entire graduate school population next year. Thanks for working with us under these constraints.)

Chachani on the Mind

Post created by Laurence Tseng

January 7, 2013

3 days after the climbing, my mind still stays at Chachani…

Sitting on the ground at 19200 feet, feeling my body shaking in strong wind, I was asked if I wanted to go up. Since the headache and dizziness were all gone, I felt I should be able to keep climbing, so I said yes. But was it a right decision? Even until our reflection the next day, I believed my decision was right. However, on my flight back to Durham, this question still lingered in my mind and I came to realize that I made a lot of mistakes at that critical moment.

When I made such a decision, I considered only my own condition. Unlike Rebecca, I didn’t think of the potential risks my decision might bring to the leading group because apparently my fitness condition was not as good as those 3-4 leading guys’ at that time. And unlike Brian and Jack, I didn’t consider what constructive role I could play at that moment. I should have done something to help the team to make a quicker decision instead of sitting there and waiting for the team’s decision. So, apparently I failed in terms of teamwork and leadership. But do I think not being able to summit means that the whole climbing was a failure? I probably won’t put any label on that because I feel the climbing could be both a success and a failure for me depending on which perspective I look at. Even though I failed on teamwork and leadership, but reaching 19,200 feet really builds up my confidence to climb high mountains in the future because I didn’t know that I could have the ability to reach such a high altitude before this trip. And just like what Zach said, if we had decided to go up and reached the top, I might just have celebrated the victory and lost the opportunity to reflect my decision deeper. We might not make the best decision for everyone, but for most team members, I think we made a good decision because in retrospect we might have been stuck in the snow if we had decided to go up. And as Carolyn reminded me, if I had kept going up, I might still have had the gastric acid problem and would have had a much more difficult time to get down the Chachani.

To be frank, even though BOLD fellows kept saying that this trip would become a transformational experience for us and even though the word “leader” is embedded in BOLD, I didn’t take these seriously. I doubted how a mountain-climbing activity could transform me and I always thought leadership was such a vague idea. However, after the trip, I totally changed my mind not because of climbing Chachani per se, but because of the lessons that I have learned from my Barfeez teammates. They showed me how a good leader/team player should think and act, and how to learn from our decision making. Besides, just like what Greg said, a good leader will build up a framework for his/her team members to help each other, which I believe Kirsten and Jesse did very well. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have got so much unselfish help from every team member not just on the way down the Chachani but during the whole trip! Thank you, all of my Barfeez teammates. You guys gave me a transformational experience, which is and will still be one of the best experiences in my life!

Era un Tormento

Post created by Kirsten Hagfors

January 7, 2013

I will let our documentarians give you the full scoop of Team 2′s wild adventure on Chachani, but the key takeaway was: “Era un tormento.” It was a torment.

The winds were such that reaching the summit required an impromptu rope-up at 19,200 feet. While we had a number of individuals wanting to go to the summit (and very capable of reaching it), the conditions and the methods by which we would have to reach it was not within the risk profile of the institution that is Duke BOLD.

As you may expect, the decision was challenging. But this is what BOLD is all about. Taking a set of variables and making bold decisions. Putting the safety and well-being of the team first. Turning back when we could no longer meet our ultimate goal.

However, turning back as an entire team of 11 Barfeez at 19,200 feet was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced. We climbed together the entire way. We checked in with one another at every stop despite the extremely strong winds, cold temperatures and occasional snow flurries. We always had an awareness of where we all stood. Who was getting stronger and more confident with every step; who was managing a bit of light-headedness or frozen fingers; who was hungry and who was tired.

This full insight and group mentality was something I had only dreamed of in past expeditions. This was the moment I had always aspired to experience. This was it. This was what being BOLD had always been about. And the fact that it came on the final summit attempt of my final expedition was truly the capstone of the transformational experience that has been BOLD.

While I plan to continue to pursue great heights (Mount Rainier in July), I’m not sure that I will ever experience the unexpected bliss and pride that was leading and working with Team Barfeez.

I want to thank everyone for their commitment to the program and for allowing me to grow through this opportunity. Barfeez co-BOLD fellow, Jesse Johnson, was my perfect balance when I got frustrated with situations out of our control. BOLD fellows Jonathan and Michael led their team to great successes and shared important learnings with Team 2. Jack and Bernardo were essential for our planning purposes as we sorted out hostel, transportation and guide services; their willingness to spend hours on these logistics in preparation and their expertise in Peru was absolutely critical to the success of the program.

Further, the ownership that BOLDers took over their individual roles allowed the fellows to operate efficiently without worrying about other tasks. The work on the field guide and documenting our BOLD experience will help preserve it for future generations. The fun factors were high due to dance parties, secret Santa exchanges and cultural experiences. The training on Misti (or the backside of Chachani in the case of Team 2′s second hike) was well executed despite multiple challenges. We were always well-fed and hydrated thanks to the nutritionists, also working within a limited budget to provide the energy that we needed to be successful on the mountain.

Well, this post turned into being more than a brief update, but I couldn’t help myself. I am just so thankful for this program, founded three years ago by Andrew Dietrich, who was so passionate about the idea of combining extreme physical accomplishments with leadership development.

MUCHAS GRACIAS! Can’t wait to see where BOLD ends up next! And stay tuned for a full debrief of Team 2′s experience as well as more galleries of photos from both expeditions.

Chachani Team 1 2013

Summit Takeaways from the Llamas Valientes

January 4, 2013

“If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: We go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets nd plunge into the depths of the ocean. When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man.”

-Wilfrid Noyce

The attempt to summit was held over the span of two days. The first day consisted of crossing a rocky boulder field starting at 15,500 feet to base camp at 17,000 feet. Our team ate a delicious dinner provided by our guides of soup and pasta, went to sleep at 8pm and got up at midnight to start preparing for the climb.

Our group garnered our crampons, ice axes, helmets, copious amounts of layers, water and snacks and started to hike at 1:30 am. It was completely dark, yet the golden glow of the moon, stars and our headlamps led us up the steep switchbacks.

The Sun Starting to Rise as Climb up Nevado Chachani


Adventure and the unwavering will to summit a mountain in extreme altitude held true as our team began our ascent up the 19,872 foot peak. During the numerous traverses in the dark night until the sun rose, our team´s encouragment was incredible. In moments of nausea, headaches, and muscle cramps, a teammate was always there to help, offering a sip of hot water and encouragement. Everyone in the team, despite the way that they felt, helped another team member through the “pain tunnel” to get them as close to the summit as possible.

When we ascended past 18,000 feet, we saw the summit. We asked the guide how close to the summit we were, and he stated three hours. Never has 400 meters seemed so far. Slowly but surely, the first group hit the summit at 8:15 am and the second group at 9:45 am.

First Summit at 8:15 am–19,872 feet (6,057 meters)

The second team summits at 9:45am–Go tortugas!!

The final climb down was long and painful, through crag ridgelines, scree fields and deep sand combined with volcanic ash. One of the most impressive aspects throughout the journey to the summit was the high morale and selflessness.

After our descent to basecamp, we packed our belongings and hiked two hours through the boulder field to the cars. Once we reached the cars, we had a three-hour bumpy ride to our hostel. Everyone´s first stop was a shower (although they were freezing cold) then a delicious plate of warm food–alpaca was on the mind. We went to a local restaurant and celebrated the success of strong and united teamwork and accomplishing the physical goal of climbing Nevado Chachani.



Barfeez: Anticipating our Final Ascent

Post written by Rebecca Schoonover

January 2, 2013!

It is our last day in Arequipa. Tomorrow we leave for base camp on Nevado Chachani and we will not return until after our final ascent. Yesterday we had our second training hike, again reaching 15,000 feet in elevation. This time, our picturesque panoramic featured El Misti center stage, her grooved channels majestically descending downwards to where she protrudes from the xeric sands of the highland Peruvian desert.

Last night we did a “Secret Santa: New Years Edition”, exchanging gag gifts from the markets of Arequipa. Adorned in our new gear, we hit the town for pisco sours and a good time. Let’s just say a raging dance party ensued, starring a jester, a man-fairy, a Taiwanese gnome, and various white-looking Incans.

Today is spent in preparation, with each Barfee having their own unique pre-game ritual.  Greg, Brian, Carolyn, Laurence, & Zach are go-karting. BOLD Fellows Kirsten & Jesse are ensuring last minute details and answering questions about gear. Molly & Lisa are fighting a hard battle against the noxious fumes in their room, coming from a place they cannot seem to find. I myself am clearing out the memories on our video & digital cameras, to have a fresh start for our trek.

As I go through the footage, I am reliving the earlier parts of our journey together, which began in the early fall months of 2012. El Misti’s ashen dunes remind me of the gray gothic stones that we ran around, lunged alongside, and squatted on back home on Duke’s campus. I remember our first run together, which we all did before we even knew one another’s names. It is daunting and daring to commit to a team before it has formed, and to do so with the goal of climbing a 6,075 meter mountain together seems sort of outrageous. In reflecting on where we started, how far we have come, and how much has changed–both within and among us– it seems that what has been guiding us on this journey is a harmonious unification. As we make our final preparations in anticipation of what is to come, we go forth knowing that in a way, we have already accomplished what we have set out to do.

Our bags are packed. We’re ready to go!

Oi Yen was singing that a few minutes ago, and it’s the truth. Los llamas are packed up and ready to head up to base camp tomorrow morning – departure time 8:30am!
We had our meeting with Gilf, our guide, and some of his team this evening, and we are all feeling comfortable with his plan of attacking Chachani.
Our tentative plan is to arrive at the base camp around 2pm after a 3 hour drive and a two hour hike with our gear for the night and for summit day. After a hearty meal from our porters, we’ll have some time to relax and reflect before turning in at about 7pm – just in time for us to try to get a few winks in before a 1am wake up call.
Summiting will take us about seven hours, and we should have enough time to rep our Duke gear at nearly 20,000 feet!
Needless to say we’re all very excited, and as Cordelia likes to say, morale is high.
Until our return, be BOLD!

The Second Training Hike up Misti Mountain

On New Year´s Eve, the Llama Valientes endured our second training hike up Misti Mountain. From our Hostel Santa Catalina, this hike was approximately 2.5 hours away. The drive was incredibly scenic, crossing many small villages built into the mountains and large expanses of wild, open land. Once we entered the gates of the National Reserve, there were several wild viscayas and guanacha; these area breed of feral llamas that roam the open space of the reseve. Our guide told us that the viscayas are aggressive and push the guanachas off their territory.

After our scenic drive, we reached the bottom of Misiti Mountain starting around 13,500 feet. We hiked a solid 2,000 feet up and hit our final elevation point of 15,500 feet. Misti Mountain is an active volcano therefore the mountian is composed of volcanic ash and igenous rock. The area is overwhelming beautiful, with low-lying shrubs, black ash and endless miles of beautiful mountain ridges.

On the descent, our team decided to glissade the volcanic ash. We split into three groups, enjoying the pleasure of sliding down the mountain–saving time, our knees, and taking in the pure pleasure of blazing a trail.


Team Barfeez takes on El Misti

Post created by Zach Deines & Rebecca Schoonover

December 31, 2012

It was a day of firsts for Team Barfeez. We used a wag bag before 8 am, consummated our team name, and reached 15,000 feet as a unified team in preparation for our summit on Nevado Chachani later this week. Armed with ample rations and a zealous thirst for

glory, we began our ascent at 11,400 feet. The air was dry, mouths were chafed, boogers flowed freely, and every one of us felt our hearts and heads pounding. At 14,600 feet, we stopped to recognize that we had surpassed the highest point in the contiguous United States. When the last of us reached our goal of 15,000 feet, we rejoiced in our glorious victory and made an offering to Pachamama.

Our way down, we glided precariously down scree after scree of black igneous volcanic dust-ash. In fifteen minutes, we descended 1,000 feet in grand style.

Though we are worn & weary, we have all put on our yellow underwear and will sit down to a delicious home cooked dinner before hitting the town for Ano Nuevo libations. We wait in eager anticipation for a report from Team 1, Los Lammas Valientes, who went on their second team hike today. Until next time, Feliz Ano Nuevo. We’ll see you in 2013!

Los Llamas Valientes first training hike

Post created by Mark Kanarick, Team 1

December 30,2012

Los Llamas Valientes had their first training hike today at Misti Mountain, which neighbors Chachani. We went from 11,000 feet to 14,400, which was a record height for at least one of us (this guy). The hike was led by our very own International Man of Mystery, Carlos, a local expert from our tour service, who wore a t-shirt and pumas, carried not an ounce of water or food, yet managed to take a siesta while waiting for us at one point.

The trail was a great introduction to hiking in the area, complete with a giant area of scree (hope I’m spelling that right), which most of us ski-surfed down – a welcome change from the tundra of boulders and rocks most of the way up! Props to Wes, who looked like a pro snowboarder on his way down, and Jonathan, who lost a boot sole while coming down, which was amazingly found, tossed in the garbage when we didn’t know whose it was, was again recovered, and then reattached by a cobbler who happened to be at our hostel this evening. After the hike we heard the results of our daylong game of telephone – the final story involved a llama from Lima named Lomo who went on to become the first llama president of the USA. Go Lomo.

The other llamas – ie us – are back at the hostel about to enjoy a delicious meal of spaghetti thanks to our dedicated nutritionists, Cordelia and Whit, and then off to bed for our second training hike tomorrow; wake up time at approximately 5:30am. I’m off to get some spaghetti – we’ll check back in soon!


Lima mash-up and Arequipa meet-up

Post created by Kirsten Hagfors

December 29, 2012

Lima was a blast. Huge plug for The House Project, who served all of our rest (or lack thereof), gastronomic and travel needs within the city limits. Great to make new friends as we’re traveling through Peru.

Ceviche, cerveza and Inca kola exposed us to the joys of this metropolis. We surfed, we dined, we danced and we dashed to our early morning flight. Our first group is off to the hostels, and I’m gathering the next crew for our second airport pick-up. We’ve collected Michael and Oi Yen. Cordelia, Rebecca and Laurence will be here in the next hour. The final group of Nicole, Jonathan, Carolyn and Zach will fly in at noon. Ambitious travelers Wes, Lisa and Mark took the bus from Cuzco and were scheduled to beat us to the hostels.

We’ll settle into our new homes away from homes (Arequipa is our base aside from the summit attempt when we have one night on Chachani; Team 1 is staying here and Team 2 is staying here) before we head out for a jog around a favorite local park to get our lungs working. Team dinner is sure to be followed by a great reflection designed by Cordelia and co-led by Molly on a case about the leadership of Arlene Blum on her summit attempt of Annapurna in Nepal.

Team 1 will be off to Hike 1 tomorrow. Team 2 has our cultural day to explore town.

“It looks like the moon,” said Michael Bruno of the panoramic view flying in. The peaks are stunning. Our goal is in sight, literally. Looking forward to sharing insights from the field and handing over some blogging responsibilities to the documentarians. :)

Thanks for following our expeditions! Check back soon for more updates!

To Peru we go

Posted created by Kirsten Hagfors

December 28, 2012

I write to you from our charming hostel in the heart of the Miraflores district of Lima. I arrived late last night. Jack, Colin, Bernardo and Greg have joined me. Jesse, Rachael, Whitney, Brian and Molly should be here any minute. (Update: Just arrived!)

I walked around town and found the beach today. I also found UV rays through the cloud cover and managed to get a nasty burn, reminding me that we aren’t in Durham anymore. The Latin music is blasting and the pisco sours are flowing. We must be in Peru. Can’t wait to join the rest of the group in Arequipa, but for now I’m just happy to have the familiarity of our fantastic team shine through in a whole new world.

I also want to recognize the awesome prep work that has been done to get us here. From creating the educational field guide to get us up to speed on Peruvian cuisine, mountain history and nightlife and sorting out 4×4 travel needs to planning a cultural day itinerary and designing a nutrition plan, this trip could not happen without the dedication of each team member. Thank you to an amazing group of people. Pumped to get BOLD!

(Posted by Kirsten Hagfors)

Ready to launch: Nevado Chachani 2013

Post created by Kirsten Hagfors

December 12, 2012

Hi old friends and new followers!

We are just about ready to launch out of here. Tonight is our last team meeting before we reunite in country. While there are still some questions left to be answered (What’s the best transportation method to get to our acclimatization hikes on Misti? Will we consume more than tres mole?), we are confident and energized about the upcoming life-changing experience.

We will have two teams of 11 Duke University graduate students: 14 Fuqua MBAs, 3 Nicholas MEMs, 1 Pratt PhD and 4 MEM/MBAs. We represent Malaysia, Taiwan, Venezuela and literally the four corners of the continental United States (and places in between).

We will arrive in country on the morning of December 29th. From there, our teams will divide and embark on our journeys. Team 2 (endearingly named Barfeez) will follow in Team 1 (Los Llamas Valientes), staggering the trip itinerary by one day.

Our summit attempts are January 3rd and January 4th, respectively. The beauty we are hoping to “nail” this year is Nevado Chachani. She stands 6,057 meters, and we’ll tackle that in the realm of 6 to 9 hours with a quick descent that takes less than half of the time.

We’re coming back to the US at different times, but I’ll be one of the first to return on January 6th. Other good ways to keep up-to-speed with what we’re doing in country: Facebook and Twitter.

As the solo trifecta representative (Pico de Orizaba 2012; Cotopaxi 2011), it is with mixed feelings that I frantically prepare for this adventure. BOLD has grown from a small but mighty team we called WILD to a university-wide movement. I am confident that we’ve set the foundation for these trips to continue. We’ve established a rotation of great walk-up high ascent volcanoes (and one mountain) in accessible locations that are within the budget of grad students. We’ve also developed a robust physical training and leadership development component that is helping us ensure high returns on investment (of primary importance for business students, in particular).

Team 1 and 2 will potentially post independently in the tabs on the ribbon at the top, so don’t forget to check those out.

In the spirit of the way that we close every gathering, and what I leave you with now: “Be BOLD!”

R&R a la mexicana

January 8, 2012

With Pico de Orizaba in our rear view mirror, the collectively exhausted Team MexDream shared a final day of recovery and exploration in Mexico.  Team Cultural Czar Stephanie led us, from the back alleys of Puebla to the surrounding hillsides, in our pursuit of traditional Mexican culinary delights.  We first visited a pulquería to sample pulque, a beverage fermented from the sap of agave plants that dates from the Mesoamerican period.  While we had several fans of the original, the fruit and nut infused versions, called curado, were unanimous winners.  We then left town to find traditional barbacoa tacos, consisting of lamb slow roasted in an open pit under agave leaves, as well as traditional Mexican hospitality at a family run roadside cafe.  And what better side dish than mixote, barbequed cubes of rabbit meat and venison seasoned with peppers, cumin, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, cloves and garlic.  It was a feast that left everyone anticipating a return trip to Mexico.

After eating more than our fill, we headed back to Puebla to treat our aching muscles and exhausted willpower to an afternoon of massages, jacuzzi and cerveza at a nearby spa.   Then, with our bodies rejuvenated, we headed out on the town to bid adieu to this charming and beautiful city.  Several rounds of Patrón toasts to our team accomplishments, our individual contributions and our new friendships, segued to the dance floor of a local tavern.   As it was Sunday, we ended up with a semi-private party where everyone got to show off their best dance moves to the few amused locals.  After the exhaustion of descending Pico just 36 hours earlier, who knows where all our energy came from.  I’m betting on the pulque.

(Posted by Lannas)

Summit Day: The slow and steady climb up Pico de Orizaba’s north face

January 6 &7, 2012

Summit Day started early for Team Mexdream with a midnight wakeup call from our guides. After gulping quick cups of soup and coffee, we began the day’s first challenge: figuring out how to put on our alpine boots, gaiters, harnesses, and other paraphernalia. The other climbers in the Refugio must have been shaking their heads at all the chatter: “I think that goes on like this” and “I meant backwards the other way.” Eventually we sorted ourselves out and stomped outside for roll call and our first look at the mountain under the stars.

Our route took us up an abandoned aqueduct and into the snow and scree on the mountain’s north face. The nearly-full moon lit up the snow so well that we barely needed our headlamps at first. This portion of the ascent wasn’t particularly challenging, although a biting wind blew up that chilled us thoroughly as soon as we stopped, providing excellent motivation for keeping our breaks short. The slope kept increasing, however, and our guides soon instructed us to put on our crampons and rope in together – we had entered “the labyrinth,” a section of large rocks and loose snow in the col directly beneath the glacier.

The labyrinth gave us an opportunity to try out our mountaineering techniques on actual snow and ice. Had we had more energy and oxygen, I’m sure we would have started a debate on the relative merits (energy efficiency, anyone?) of the duck step versus the German step. As it was, we concentrated on following the foot placement of our guides and sucking down as much of the thin air as we could. By this point, the moon had sunk below the mountainside and the stars had started glittering.

Our first rope team reached the base of the glacier around 6 AM local time, four hours after starting, with the other teams in hot pursuit. Oxygen deprivation must have kicked in, because we showed symptoms of delusional thinking and mild euphoria as we contemplated the climb ahead: “That’s the glacier? We’ll be at the top of that in thirty minutes!” And so we began the final ascent, hacking our way up a 40-degree incline with ice-axe and crampon.

Apparently, judging distances in the mountains is harder than it appears. An hour into the glacier climb, when the sun first appeared on the horizon, the summit looked about the same size as at the bottom. Two hours into the climb, when we had to hack seats out of the icy slope just to sit down for rest, the summit looked just as far away. Three hours into the climb, our guide had to resort to trickery by telling us that the crater was only fifteen minutes away. Finally, at 10 AM, the first team climbed one last switchback to the summit. For all the months of planning and training that led up to the moment, the summit was almost anticlimactic. We posed for the cameras, surveyed the scenery (La Malinche, Popocatepetl, and Iztaccihuatl were all visible in the west, and Orizaba’s crater was a few feet below us), and then flopped down on the snow to eat and drink. Any attempt to think of something profound was replaced by a single thought: “How am I supposed to get down off this thing?”

A layer of sheet ice had formed on the surface of the glacier by the time we started our descent, but we made it down safely despite aching legs and minor slips and slides. One rope team practiced self-arresting with ice axes, while another learned how to do controlled slides down the glacier. Most of our slips came in the labyrinth, where the snow had melted into slush during the day. By the late afternoon we were back in the truck, winding our way through the pine forest on our way back to Tlachichuca. A few last glimpses of the mountain glowing red in the late-afternoon sun reminded us of how much we’d accomplished in the past few hours, before we turned our attention to more pressing matters: food, showers, and sleep.

(Posted by Jesse)

Movin’ on up

January 5, 2012

After two days of running up steps and volcanoes, we packed up our things and traveled to Tlachichuca, a small town near the base of Pico de Orizaba, for a day of rest and preparation before the big climb.

In Tlachichuca, we stayed in a beautiful old soap factory called Servimont that had been restored by the original owner’s grandchildren and is now used to prepare climbers for Pico de Orizaba.  Inside the factory, the walls were covered with signed posters and souvenirs from previous travelers who had climbed Everest, K2, and other similar mountains were an inspiring (but intimidating) backdrop for our climbing lesson.  Throughout the day, we learned all about the safety and technical skills we would need on the mountain, including tying lots of knots, learning about the effects of high altitude, learning some history about the mountain, and seeing the route we would be climbing.  The highlight of the lesson took place outdoors, where we geared up with mountain boots, crampons, and ice axes to simulate climbing up (and falling down) the volcano, with lots of practice dropping to the ground with our ice axes in “self arrest” position.  By the end of the night, we all felt prepared to climb and were able to tie many of the knots wearing ski gloves with our eyes closed.

After our lessons, we sat down to a delicious traditional dinner of Mexican style chicken prepared by the Servimont family, and spend the rest of the evening sitting around a fire chatting.  Overall, it was a great day and we felt much more prepared and informed for the upcoming climb.

(Posted by Brittany)

Team MexDream takes on Puebla!

January 3, 2012

Hola amigos,

Team Mexdream literally hit the ground running on our first full day
of training in Mexico. We traveled to Cholula, a town on the outskirts
of Puebla, for a training run at the ancient pre-Columbian pyramid of
Tlachihualtepetl. After some dynamic stretching led by Sangeeta, we
hit the stairs for the climb to the colonial-era church built on top
of the pyramid. The run was similar to our training sessions at the
Duke stadium, except for the 7000 feet of elevation, the mounted
Federal Police armed with rifles, and the stunning views of
Popocatepetl and Itza, the 2nd and 3rd tallest mountains in Mexico. We accidentally offended both the Aztec gods and the Mexican Parks Service by stretching near the ruins, but we had fun mugging for the camera on the pyramid steps and experimenting with the acoustics of the amphitheater.

In the afternoon, the group split up into teams for a scavenger hunt through Puebla. Here’s what we found:

Stephanie and Lannas found a pink tiger-stripe quinciñera gown and the most amazing flor de calabaza quesadilla ever.

Sangeeta and Mark tried to recreate the pose of a statue in the park, but couldn’t figure out who was going to mimic the monkey.

Tom and Brittney ate some crazy spicy meat and loved it.

Jahnvi, Nikki, and Jesse sampled salsa in a Mexican Walmart and reviewed a local restaurant (two tacos out of five).

Andrew and Kat organized the travel, money, guides, and accommodations for the next few days. They have done an amazing job organizing the trip and have made the logistics super easy for the rest of us. A big thanks to the trip leaders!

Our day ended with a roof party with Team Diablos Locos, a pasta dinner in the hostel, and an assembly line to make lunches for our big hike the following day. On to La Malinche!

(posted by Jesse)