Posts for Ecuador

Ecuador: Nugent & Team Summit Cayambe!

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 18,997'

Hey everybody! It’s Billy here checking in for Garrett, Jaime and the rest of the crew. We are on the summit of Cayambe right now with clear skies and calm winds. Enjoying a perfect day. That’s all to report really. We will be headed down shortly here and wish us luck for us a safe descent. All is well, bye bye.

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Views from the Cayambe summit. Photo: Billy Nugent


RMI Guide Billy Nugent calls from the Cayambe summit!

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Ecuador: Nugent & Team Ready for Cayambe’s Summit Bid

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,300'

Woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies up here at the Cayambe hut with views of the mountain, Antisana in the distance, and a sea of clouds blanketing the lowlands. It was a bit of a rough night being our first evening sleeping at over 15,000’ but everyone took it in steed and felt much better once we were moving around and enjoying a not so rustic breakfast. After downing breakfast burritos and coffee we packed up for a day of training and set out from the hut for the glacier. After about an hour and change of scrambling up a buttress, we hit the glacier and geared up with helmets, harnesses, ice axes, and crampons refreshing up on some of our basic climbing skills. Clouds came in and out, we chilled and boiled… Then headed back to the Refugio to eat dinner and get to bed early for tomorrow’s alpine start. If the weather continues doing what it has been we should be poised for a good crack at the summit.

Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent and the gang

Cayambe Climber's Hut. Photo: Nick Hunt

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Ecuador: Nugent & Team Visit the Otavalo Market

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

We woke not so early today (this mountaineering gig is rough) had a nice breakfast from the kind folks at Casa Sol and jumped in the bus for the famous Otavalo open air market. We spent a few hours cruising the stalls with food, jewelry, meats, produce, grains, spices, and of course handicrafts for sale. There’s even a livestock market which is quite a sight (and smell). Clark and Garrett wanted to go looking for a live monkey to bring home but there was no such luck. I wonder what kind of papers a monkey needs to come back to the states. Anyway, we skipped Otavalo and finally headed for Cayambe where we are settling in up at the hut over 15,000’. The air is thin but everyone’s doing great so far. I’ll let y’all know how that notorious first night at really high altitude goes…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

The Otavalo Market. Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador: Nugent & Team Acclimatize on Cerro Fuya Fuya

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 13,986'

After one last night in Babylon (Quito) the gang packed up and hit the road for what will become our journey to Cayambe. We passed through several small towns on our way to the day’s acclimatization hike on Cerro Fuya Fuya. A small hand-cobbled country road led us up into a deep caldera filled with a beautiful lake. From there we began our march upward through tall grass meadows towards Fuya Fuya’s summit on the rim of the crater. A short couple hours of hiking and scrambling brought us to el cumbre at just above 4,100 m. Unfortunately, the views weren’t quite as spectacular as our jaunt on Pichincha because of clouds, but they’d occasionally part and give us glimpses of the green slopes and the lake below. After a quick descent we hustled back to the bus and headed back towards Otavalo where we posted up for the night at the beautiful Casa Sol guest house. We’re enjoying a last night in a real bed before heading for the big hill tomorrow. 

Ciao…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Road to Cerro Fuya Fuya. Photo: Jake Beren An RMI team's view on the Cerro Fuya Fuya hike. Photo: Billy Nugent

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Ecuador: Nugent &Team Hike to Top of Rucu Pichincha

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,696'

Ecuador Adventure - Day 2:

Today the gang got their first taste of real altitude with an acclimatization hike and scramble on slopes just above the western edge of the city. After a quick breakfast we hopped a few taxis over to the Teleférico, Spanish for gondola, and rode it up high out of town. Blue skies and clear views were an uncommon treat for us and the top of the gondola revealed Cayambe in the north, Antisana to the east, and Cotopaxi and Chimborazo to the south. From there we started moving up the slopes of Pichincha, the volcano closest to Quito. We even had a chance to spy a couple of condors gliding below us and then riding thermals high, high above. These are rarely seen birds with wingspans as large as 3 m, quite the treat. Anyway, after a few hours of hiking and a little scrambling here and there we found ourselves on the summit enjoying 360-degree views of Quito and the caldera. The mountain we climbed was called Rucu Pichincha meaning the old part of the volcano, and we were catching views of the Guagua Pichincha, the baby volcano. We snapped some photos from the peak (4,697 m) and then made short work of the descent. Our acclimatization hikes will continue tomorrow but we are gonna hit the road and leave Quito headed north.


More tomorrow!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Views from the top of Rucu Pichincha, Ecuador. Photo: Billy Nugent

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Ecuador: Billy Nugent &Team Begin with a Tour of Quito’s Old Town and the Equator

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | February 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 9,000'

Hi everybody back home… We just finished our first official day on our Cotopaxi and Cayambe program. The team met up this morning for a quick breakfast at our hotel in the Mariscal district of Quito before setting out on a tour of the city. At over 9,000’, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world behind only La Paz in Bolivia. Makes for great acclimatizing while still hanging out in town! We visited a bunch colonial churches, homes, and cathedrals in the colonial district of Quito known as the Old Town. Actually a UNESCO world heritage site, Quito’s Old Town has many buildings dating back to the early 1500’s. In the afternoon we lunched at a typical fritada restaurant and then headed out towards the geographical equator. At the “Mitad del Mundo” there’s a small museum where a local guide showed us experiments with Coriolis forces on and near the actual equator in addition to some taxidermy of exotic species from the Amazon. Almost a tiny natural history museum meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not, there were preserved specimens of terrifying spiders, boa constrictors, anacondas, barbed fish that will swim up your urethra (crazy), and a legit human shrunken head! After our city tour and a brief team meeting we capped off the day with the first of many team dinners to come.

Now we’re back at the hotel watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on late night TV. Awesome.

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens and their Ecuador team standing at the equator. Photo: Billy Nugent

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Ecuador Seminar: RMI Guide Nick Hunt Recounts Cotopaxi Summit Day

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt | January 19, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 19,348'

Cotopaxi summit!

We woke up at 11pm to a breakfast of coffee, tea, oatmeal and bread. We finished our packing in the dark with the rest of the hut’s inhabitants before beginning our 9-hour summit bid. We got off to a bit of a stressful start when we realized that someone from a different climbing group had accidentally taken Adam’s climbing helmet, but we weren’t going to let that get in the way of our climb. (The helmet was returned later in the afternoon, once we returned to the huts after the climb.)

It was windy and snowy as we stepped outside around midnight, and that continued for the first hour during the hike up to the toe of the glacier. But soon after donning our crampons and ice axes, the weather mellowed out and the good luck we’ve been having with the weather on this trip continued for the rest of our ascent: the clouds cleared, the winds died down, and for the next 5 hours to the summit, the weather could only be described as mild and pleasant. At one point, we could see an active lightening storm beyond the lights of Quito and were grateful that we weren’t experiencing the same.

The initial climbing on the glacier was steep, but not too difficult. These moderate angles soon gave way to steeper slopes that had us rest-stepping our way up. The dry snow made traction difficult (even with our crampons), so as the terrain became more exposed, we had to kick hard with our feet to really gain purchase. An exhausting endeavor at 19k feet!

In 6 hours and 15 minutes, we had made it to the top! The group’s previous high altitude climbing on Cayambe and Antisana had definitely gotten us into shape for this climb. We moved well and as a team the entire way up! As we pulled on to the summit, the sun was just beginning to rise and we got a quick look into the summit crater. We didn’t stay for long, though, since the winds picked up as we snapped our group photo. After 15 minutes up top, we began our descent.

Not only was our group strong on the ascent, but we rocked our descent, too! Despite some rather high winds at times, knocking us around a bit on narrow ridges, we continued to move well and made it back to the hut in just under three hours.

Back at the huts, we packed up our gear and descended to the parking lot, where we met up again with Victor and the magic bus. We were whisked away to La Cienega, a hotel that looks more “castle” than “hacienda”, and after taking showers, we met up over dinner and a couple of games of Wits and Wagers, reflecting on our trip as a whole.

Tomorrow we head back to Quito and begin our journey back home. See you soon!

RMI Guide Nick Hunt

The RMI team on the Cotopaxi summit! Photo: Nick Hunt The team's views from the Cotopaxi summit. Photo: Nick Hunt The Ecuador Seminar descending from the Cotopaxi summit. Photo: Nick Hunt Stopping on the Cotopaxi descent to take in the views. Photo: Nick Hunt

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Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Summit Cotopaxi!

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt | January 18, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 19,348'

This is Adam Knoff from the Ecuador Skills Seminar. I am happy to announce that we have successfully summitted Cotopaxi this morning on a glorious, calm day. People could say it was in great style. I am very proud of the team for their efforts as it took some fortitude to get up on a cold and windy day. The expedition seminar has concluded its climbing on the mountains and we are happy to be tucked in here at La Cienega and drinking cervezas and very comfortable. Everything is fabulous. We will touch base tomorrow. Gracias. Adios.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

An RMI Team ascending Cotopaxi. Photo: Casey Grom Cotopaxi summit views. Photo: Billy Nugent


RMI Guide Adam Knoff calls in after Cotopaxi summit.

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Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Feeling Strong for Cotopaxi Attempt

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt | January 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 16,000'

The great weather continued today as we left the comforts of the beautiful Chilcabamba Eco Lodge and ventured up to the Jose Ribas Refugio at 16,000’ on Cotopaxi were we are posed to make our third major summit attempt of the trip. Everyone is in great spirits, feeling strong and acclimatized, which is not an easy feat when at 16,000’!

We are waiting for our local, in-house (or should I say in-hut) chef to complete our dinner feast of soup, chicken, crackers, and rice; the wafting smell is oh so enticing right now. This sustenance will get us through until the alarm beckons us to rise and climb. 

Tomorrow is our summit day on Cotopaxi.  Wish us luck! 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Sunset over the Jose Ribas Refugio on Cotopaxi.  Photo: RMI Collection Cotopaxi as seen from a distance.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team’s Antisana Climb

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt | January 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 16,000'

Today is a tough one to put into words.  Amazingly bitter sweet is the only honest way I can aptly describe the team’s fruit basket of emotions after the outcome of today’s Antisana summit attempt.

When the alarm again went off at 10:30 pm, this time in a grassy pasture three miles removed from the base of the mountain, I couldn’t help but cringe.  It was only when I flopped out of the tent that my spirits lifted.  It was perfect out!  A full moon illuminated Ecuador’s most elusive glaciated summit and from what we saw the day before, things looked promising.  To lay it out, our climbing team was comprised of four team members and three guides.  Two of our team members went back to the states early due to illness and three more decided to forego the climb to focus more on the skills side of this program.  Don’t forget, we have the highest mountain yet to come.
 
We ate a small breakfast and did our best to make sure those still sleeping were adequately bothered by the climbers heading off with no sleep.  A 30-minute jeep ride brought us to the start of the moraine and 60 minutes later we were putting crampons on to begin heading up the glacier.  I had to put moon screen on so not to burn my cheeks, it was that bright.

Six hours of the most beautiful, engaging and aesthetic mountain climbing I’ve ever done in Ecuador landed us on a nice flat spot just as the sun was rising.  The moon was still full and the alpenglow was incredible.  The bitter was about to balance the sweet.  Five-hundred feet below what we thought was an inevitable successful summit was a crevasse running the entire width of the glacier.  Farit asked if we could jump across and I told him we didn’t practice that skill yet.  He shrugged and said “ok”.  Our sweet hopes for a proud summit were instantly dashed.  So goes the unpredictable nature of mountain climbing. 

After returning to camp where the rest of the team was practicing skills, a rapid pack up ensued and it was into the magic bus and off to a beautiful hacienda resting almost on the foothills of Cotopaxi itself.  Hot showers, cervesas and clean beds were a welcomed reward to get us psyched for what’s to come.  Our third and final mountain awaits tomorrow.  No matter the outcome, knowing the trip is coming to a close will also be bitter sweet.  Shaun and Nichole, we miss you.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

The Ecuador Seminar on Antisana in the morning alpenglow. Photo: Adam Knoff Antisana's Basecamp as seen from the descent of the mountain. Photo: Adam Knoff

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Recent Images From Ecuador

  • An RMI climber on a Cotopaxi rest break. Photo: Mike Walter
  • RMI Guide Mike Walter and climber on Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Photo: Mike Walter
  • RMI Climbers ascending the toe of a glacier on Cotopaxi in Ecuador. Photo: Mike Walter
  • The view of Illiniza Sur and Illiniza Norte from Cotopaxi yesterday. Photo: Mike Walter
  • The view from the summit of Cotopaxi (19,348 ft), Ecuador.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • Cotopaxi from the Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. Photo: Zeb Blais
  • The Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. RMI Photo Collection
  • The RMI team with the summit of Rucu Pichincha in the background.  Photo: Mike Walter
  • Cotopaxi Express team visits the equator. Photo: Mike Walter
  • A Cotopaxi team member walks the equator line. Photo: Mike Walter
  • View of Cotopaxi, 19,348'. Photo: MikeWalter
  • The view from the summit of Cotopaxi in Ecuador. Photo: RMI Collection
  • The Jose Ribas Refugio on Cotopaxi. RMI Photo Collection
  • An RMI team descending towards the Cayambe Climber's Hut in Ecuador. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Cayambe Climber's Hut. Photo: Nick Hunt
  • Approaching the Climber's Hut on Cayambe, Ecuador. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Road to Cerro Fuya Fuya, Ecuador. Photo: Jake Beren
  • An RMI Team acclimatizing on Fuya Fuya in Ecuador. Photo: Casey Grom
  • Views from the top of Rucu Pichincha, Ecuador. Photo: Billy Nugent
  • Team Mike Walter at the Equator in Ecuador. Photo: Mike Walter
  • Visiting Quito's Basilica on the Ecuador Volcanoes expedition. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Visiting the government buildings of Quito, Ecuador. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Panoramic view of Quito. RMI Photo Collection
  • Sunrise on Cotopaxi. RMI Photo Collection
  • Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. RMI Photo Collection
  • Climbers Hut on Cayambe. RMI Photo Collection