- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Bridget Belliveau
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Nick Brown
- Adam Butterfield
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Lance Colley
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Mike Haugen
- Bryan Hendrick
- Andy Hildebrand
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Ben Liken
- Zach Lovell
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Robert Montague
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Tyler Reid
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Entries By adam knoff
Last week was RMI’s March Expedition Skills Seminar-Winter. Like every month from January to April, a team of intrepid climbers looking to learn the beauty of winter mountaineering, ventured up the slopes of Mt. Rainier on this, our classic six-day winter program. Guides Adam Knoff, Leah Fisher, Nick Hunt and myself, Elías de Andrés, enjoyed the company of a dozen folks, who initally were welcomed by a characteristic March day; rain in town, snow and wind up high. Our orientation day in Ashford would include a thorough evaluation of the forecast, a task that is, regardless, part of this program’s curriculum. But in this case, with a close look at a promising improving trend which would keep us excited for the remaining of the day.
The next morning, with packs ready and boots laced up, we headed into the park not without a delay due to the National Park’s snow plows hard work to keep the road to Paradise open to individuals like us. Upon arriving to Paradise we rigged our equipment for the hike to what would be our first camp. Atop Marmot Hill, we built a fortified settlement “Denali style” for the evening. A “posh house” tent was erected to socialize at dinner time, just like on any expedition, really. It was a new sight for many in the group, which by now were enjoying expedition life barely 500ft above the parking lot.
Our hike to Muir started as we waved good bye to a weatherfront that had wiped western Washington for a few days, but not without great team effort breaking trail for most of the remaining 4,000 vertical feet to Camp Muir. Enjoying the clearest skies possible, our climbers who’d arrived from all parts of the country could make out in the horizon the central Oregon volcanoes of Mt. Hood and Jefferson without even squinting. To the north, some avalanches, along with ice and rock fall from the Nisqually Ice Cliff, reminded us of the interactions between the new loaded glaciers the spring-like sun of this day. The next 36 hours would continue to add to the tool kit the climbers were building for future expeditions and also, in order to face, of course, a potential climb the following day as the high pressure system was supposed to last for at least three days. Muir Peak, the AAA Gully, the Cowlitz Glacier… all provided, in the vicinity of Camp Muir, a perfect training ground.
In the morning of Thursday, March 13th, we woke up to yet another incredible day; clear skies had been swiped of clouds by the same winds that windblasted some of the upper slopes… as well as loaded others. Careful evaluation by the guides on the go, determined a safe, wind-scoured route up the west side of the Ingraham Glacier, a seldom traveled route almost hugging Gibraltar Rock on its east side. Once at Camp Comfort, trail breaking efforts would begin again, and as the team team held it together, we were getting closer to the top in sometimes mid-calf deep snow on the now, more lower angled sections of the climb.
After 6 hours and 50 minutes of ascent, the team reached the crater rim to the now strengthening winds. But a new winter summit had been attained by another successful RMI Winter Skills Seminar team. Our careful preparation to detail, our philosophy in approaching the mountain, the guidance of the leaders and the great application of the skills learned by the climbers allowed the feat… the RMI way!
The next day, in a deja vu of what winter is truly like, we woke up to one-foot tall spindrifts and gusts of over 70mph at Camp Muir. Most of the guides, including myself, couldn’t remember such conditions on the snowfield. Far away from feeling accomplished by the previous day’s achievement, successfully navigating down to Paradise in such white-out conditions demanded now serious skill and perseverance. A team of now well-trained climbers, learned their last lesson of this winter seminar; the summit is only back at the car. Three hours later we’d bypass the remains of our camp on day 1, and as the winds decreased at 6,000ft and visibility came back to reasonable, we reached the Paradise parking lot. Celebratory drinks and a dinner over future climbing plans with the climbers was the perfect closure to a week on the frigid, yet amazing environment of winter on Mt. Rainier.
Come play, climb and learn with RMI! Satisfaction guaranteed.
Elías de Andrés
RMI Senior Guide
The morning of March 8th began like most others do when climbing a big mountain. A 1am wake up call, yummy instant oatmeal and coffee and the persistent interpersonal question of, “Why on earth do I do this?”
We lucked out again with the weather. A strong wind was blowing when we arrived at the hut and blew all through dinner. Much like it did on Ixta. By the time we pulled ourselves out of bed, most of us having not slept anyway, the wind was gone. Mommy nature was indeed in a good mood and happy with us, so both mornings on Ixta and Orizaba, were perfect. Also perfect was the teams readiness and psych. We began walking up hill at 2:15 a.m. and everyone was feeling solid and positive. After we got through the cruxy ice section called the labyrinth and onto the Jamapa Glacier, we knew we could make it. This Mexican glacier looks simple but once on it the darn thing seems like the twilight zone. You move but never go anywhere. After putting one foot in front of the other for three hours we did land somewhere, the summit! All eight of us, including Fozzi our local guide and myself, had made the tops of both Ixta and Orizaba. This team battled illnesses, mild AMS, anxiety and the stress of undertaking intimidating mountain climbs like champs. hey all made me proud!
We then returned to the comforts of our outfitters compound and prepared for the flights home. We are all thrilled to both have had a successful adventure and to come home today. Thanks to the entire team for a fantastic trip!
On The Map
Hello to all those following the Mexico Volcanoes trip. Our team woke up this morning in Puebla feeling rested, happy and possibly a touch hungover. Of course partaking in two or three celebratory cervesas last night was highly discouraged by the guide on the trip but I caved into massive peer pressure and had my share.
After breakfast we loaded our van and headed out. 90 minutes later we were pulling into the beautiful compound of our Mexican outfitter and again fed like kings. The biggest surprise for the group so far isn’t how hard the climbing is, although that is a very close second, but more how delicious the food is. This isn’t classic texmex but truly authentic comida.
After the gear perpetration and lunch, we piled into the big 4 x4 truck and grinded our way for an hour and a half up a road so dusty we all looked like bandits covering our faces in the back. Now camp is made here at the Orizaba hut and the mountain js in full view. There are other teams here as well so the climb tonight into tomorrow will not be a lonely one. The more the merrier I guess. Dinner is in 30 and bedtime in 90. I feel like quite the father tucking my team in at 630 pm. It is something adults don’t do too often.
Wish us luck tonight and stay tuned for tomorrow’s climbing dispatch. Everyone is psyched to be heading up North America’s third highest peak but also to come home.
To all our friends and family, now we miss you!
RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team
Hola from Puebla, Mexico. I am writing this from the comforts of Hotel Colonial which sits near the center of one of Mexico’s most beautiful city. It will still be a few hours or so before we go sight seeing because the team is a bit tired after our long but successful summit of North America’s seventh highest mountain.
At camp while in our tents waiting for the alarm to rattle us out of our fitful sleeps, the wind was doing that work already. It was one of the most amazing shut offs I have ever seen. At 11:30 the wind was blowing 20 mph and by midnight the skies were clear and the night was as calm as our bedrooms. Taking full advantage of this great gift we rallied out of camp at 3:30 and pushed strongly upward to where the steep rock section of the route meets the long, winding ridge towards the summit. The beautiful lights of Mexico City shown down to our left and the same amazing view of Puebla shown down to our right. As the sun came up, we could see Orizaba poking through the haze to the south. All around it was a glorious morning. When the entire team arrived at the summit, we were all relieved to have the uphill finished.
Two and a half hours later we were at camp packing up and getting ready for the long walk back to the van where beers and snacks were waiting. We were lucky to have two porters there to help carry down tents and stoves, lightening our loads. Three hours later we were celebrating with margaritas and world-class Mexican dishes. A great day all around.
This is Adam Knoff calling. We the entire team and our local guide Fozzie as in “Fozzie” the Muppet from the great Muppet Show are established here at High Camp just over 15,000’ feet. Everyone is definitely noticing the altitude, but did great coming up here. We feel strong, healthy and psyched to be heading towards the top of our first big mountain. The clouds are closing in at the moment and things are pretty windy and chilly, so we are crawling into our bags for a quick nap. We will have an early dinner and then hopefully at 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock a wakeup call.
Everyone is doing great, we’re happy and will call tomorrow when the summit is under our belt. Alright? We look forward to talking to you tomorrow.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff and Team
Adam Knoff Calling in from High Camp on Ixta
Day two is coming to a close. Last night we were sleeping at 10,000 feet and tonight is a whopping 2,500 feet above that. For you math buffs that means the comfy Altzomoni Hut sits at 12,500 feet above the sea. It is amazing the power of acclimating. Last night some of us felt a bit tired and short of breath. Right now after a fantastic homemade dinner by a team of local guides, drivers and porters doubling as gourmet chefs, we all feel strong, relaxed and ready for our big push to Ixta’s high camp sitting higher than any mountain in the lower 48.
We also feel prepared. Today we had a mellow morning which transitioned wonderfully into Mexico’s best breakfast at a hotel 25 minutes down the road from the resort of La Malinche. Breakfast is the day’s most important meal you know! Afterwards the soothing 1.5 hour van ride helped digest the massive buffet in our guts and landed us in Amecameca where we finalized our food list and met out local staff. By 2:30 we were running through our gear and getting squared away packing and tomorrow’s program at the Altzomoni Hut. A nice hour walk brought us to the trail head and back where our chef crew was waiting. The locals really know how to treat their guests. We are very lucky to have them.
In closing the team has reminded me to mention that they all miss their loved ones. I reminded them it is only day two. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We will touch base from high camp tomorrow.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff
On The Map
Buenos Dias from Team Mexico,
We are all tucked in safe and sound at La Malintzi resort a few hours down the road from this planet’s second largest metropolis, Mexico City. Of course half the time getting here is spent literally getting the 20 kilometers out of town but witnessing the traffic of Mexico City is a great adventure in and of itself.
Our morning started as most mornings do. Coffee, breakfast and lots of Europeans. Well the European thing probably more so in Europe but the hotel did feel very international. After food and packing it was off to our first mountain, La Malinche. At a height just higher than Mt. Rainier, reaching the summit was not our primary objective. Starting our at 10,000 feet and cranking out 4500 vertical feet on our first go seemed a touch ambitious. Although we did crest the 14k height, we left the summit in peace because of tired legs and threatening storm clouds. The hike was beautiful nonetheless. Everyone did great and are bonding well as a team. Now we are ready for bed and the move to bigger mountains tomorrow.
Until Then, this is team Mexico saying good night.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team
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!
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 calls in after Cotopaxi summit.
On The Map
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!
On The Map