Entries By garrett stevens

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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Aconcagua: Stevens & Team Celebrate in Mendoza

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Nick Brown, Mike King | January 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

We got down off the mountain yesterday, after a fairly quick hike out from Pampa de Leñas in the cool shade of an early morning. The team moved well, quickly pushing through the last remaining miles towards internal combustion and cold beverages. After checking out with the guardaparques, we grabbed a bite to eat in Penitentes, hopped into our transport, and settled in for the trip back to Mendoza.

Once back in the city, a round of hot showers was in order. After that, we headed down to one of my favorite restaurants here, El Patio Azul de Jesus Maria, where the team feasted on various cuts of meat, enjoyed delicious Malbec, and reminisced about our excellent adventure. The camaraderie and friendship was abundant, and was the perfect complement to our meal.

You know, sometimes you have to step back from a thing to grasp its true measure…and this trip certainly qualifies. While we were fortunate enough to climb onto the summit of the mountain, the real value was not necessarily that point in time or space. Rather, it is the journey we shared over the last three weeks, the sunrises and sunsets witnessed, the in-the-moment focus required to cross rivers and snowy trails, the laughter and human connections made over grilled steak and pots of ramen. While we may part company in a few short days, these memories and shared experiences will continue to give us immeasurable satisfaction, and allow us to return to our lives with new vision and appreciation.

Thanks for following our journey. May it be food for the soul!

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens

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Aconcagua: Stevens & Team Heading Down the Mountain

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | January 14, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

Today was a big day for the team. Our 9 a.m. launch saw us cruising down the Relinchos Valley in good style and at a good pace, with a little bit of swagger in our step. The first river crossing was enough to wake up the feet, and by the time we hit the bottom and started across the Vacas River we were in full stride.

After a nice foot/leg bath in the cold and swift Vacas River, we were on the good track that runs down and out the valley. It was a long hike, and while the scenery helped occupy some of the time, by the 9th hour most folks were ready for the welcome sight of Pampa de Leñas, our campsite for the night.

We arrived and promptly set up tents. Good thing, too, as a rain squall passed up the valley and forced our crew into the small stone shelter next to the guardaparque hut. The rain couldn’t dampen our spirits or our appetites, though, and we feasted on fresh asado (beef grilled over wood coals) and vegetable salad, washed down with delicious red wine.

The expedition is almost over, and the laughter drifting out of the cramped little shelter told the tale of new friends made, challenging experiences shared, and a bond that has turned this group of strangers into a strong, cohesive team. We’ll finish the last little hike tomorrow, head into town, and rejoin the ranks of the civilized folks. Thanks for watching our progress, and keep it tuned in for the last of our updates.

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens

Looking down the Vacas Valley. Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Stevens and Team back at Plaza Argentina

Posted by: Garrett Stevens | January 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

We awoke in Campo Colera to clear blue skies and light winds this morning, ready for the big pack down back to Plaza Argentina. Within a few short hours we were packed up, ready to roll and heading downhill. There’s nothing like using gravity to ones advantage, and the crew did just that throughout the day.

Unfortunately we did have to recover all the gear we cached along the way, so our packs got heavier and heavier as we descended. By the time we got to Plaza Argentina, though, the weight didn’t matter, and we bellied right up to waiting juice, crackers, olives, and cake bites as soon as the packs hit the ground.

Despite being tired from the past couple of days of work, the crew is doing well and still has the energy for yet another spirited round of hearts. Everyone sends their love and thanks for following along! Until tomorrow.,,

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens

Aconcagu Basecamp in Evening Light. RMI Photo Collection

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Aconcagua: Stevens & Team Summit!

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | January 12, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 22,841'

Well hopefully you got the voice dispatch as well…today was a successful summit day for the crew here on Aconcagua! We woke to clear, dark skies and cool temperatures, for moving well before the sun was up, and were underway with a fairly large cadre of other summit hopefuls.

The sun cracked the horizon as we passed 20,000’, casting Aconcagua’s immense shadow towards the west and creating some sublime photo opportunities. Steady climbing up through cold winds gave way to still air and a soft-shell summit push, and the crew stepped onto the summit plateau around 1:30pm local time.  We sat on top for about an hour, then began the long descent back to camp.

Now the team is fed, has full water bottles, and is tucked into tents for good long night of sleep. Tomorrow we’ll start the long descent back into thick air, chasing down dreams of Malbec and beef. Thanks for all the positive wishes!

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens

Looking up towards the Canaleta, just below Aconcagua's summit. Photo: RMI Collection An RMI Team taking a break on Summit Day on Aconcagua. Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Garrett Stevens calls from the Aconcagua summit!

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16

Congrats Henry and to the rest of the group!!  Very exciting.

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Posted by: Scott Stevens on 1/12/2014 at 2:24 pm

Congratulations team!  Garrett- it’s so nice to hear your voice.  Stay safe on the way down.  I can’t wait to see you.  Much love.

Amy

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Posted by: Amy on 1/12/2014 at 1:56 pm


Aconcagua: Stevens & Team Ready for the Summit Push!

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | January 12, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 19,600'

Well here we are, settled into our camp at 19,600’. We arrived earlier today and spent the afternoon getting our tents anchored, water going, hots made and dinner into our bellies. Ben cranked out a huge pot of ramen and mashed potatoes, which should provide ample fuel for tomorrow’s push towards the summit.

The team is psyched and ready for the final leg of this incredible journey. We’ll be up early and out for our summit attempt well before the sun comes up, so it’s off to bed early. The patter of light snow on our tent walls is going to be tonight’s lullaby, and hopefully the winds remain light. Keep sending the good wishes and stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens

Views of the Andes while approaching High Camp on Aconcagua. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

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Aconcagua: Stevens and Team Rest at Camp 2

Posted by: Garrett Stevens, Ben Liken, Nick Brown | January 10, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 18,000'

We went to bed last night hoping for lighter winds than the previous night, and thankfully the weather gods delivered the goods. The team enjoyed uninterrupted slumber, and woke today to more blue skies.

The weather has definitely gotten a little colder than it was down below, so our morning was a slow roll through hot coffee and cereal. As the sun climbed higher, the temps warmed and the crew enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of cards and conversation in our tents.

We continued resting throughout the day, conserving energy for tomorrow’s move to Camp 3. If all goes well and the weather continues to hold, we’ll be checking in from the highest reaches of this beautiful mountain over the next couple of days. Keep it dialed in for more updates!

RMI Guide Garrett Stevens & Team

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