Entries By mike walter

Ecuador Volcanoes: Walter’s Team Enjoys some R&R at Chilcabamba Eco Lodge

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

We just enjoyed a much needed rest day at the Hacienda, Chilcabamba, a beautiful rural farmhouse/bed and breakfast situated just outside of Cotopaxi National Park. The serene location is perfect for relaxation and recuperation, in preparation for our summit attempt on Cotopaxi. We have enjoyed good views of Cotopaxi and our climbing route from Chilcabamba all day today.
Tomorrow, we’ll pack up and head to the climbers’ hut on Cotopaxi, at roughly 16,000’. An early alpine start on Thursday will see us ascending the steep, glaciated slopes of Cotopaxi, hopefully en route to a successful summit. We’ll keep you abreast of our progress. Stay tuned!

RMI Guide Mike Walter

View of Cotopaxi, 19,348'. Photo: Mike Walter Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Team Returns from Cayambe Climb

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

Hey, this is Mike Walter calling on Tuesday the 25th of June.  We are all at Chilcabamba Hacienda outside of Cotopaxi National Park.  We spent two days at Cayambe, sleeping up above 15,000’.  Yesterday we went out for our summit bid on Cayambe, we had a great day of climbing.  The winds turned us around above 18,000’.  We were within about 1,000’ of the summit maybe 700’  of the summit.  But the winds, a cloud cap and some riming ice on our clothing turned us around. We are back at Chilcabamba resting and we’ll head to Cotopaxi tomorrow to attempt that one.  We are all doing well and enjoying our climbing here in Ecuador.

Cayambe, Ecuador Volcano, 18,997 ft.  Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Mike Walter checks in from Ecuador after Cayambe climb.

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Mike Walter & Team Visit the Otavalo Market

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

After a relaxing night at the hotel Casa Sol, we headed to the world famous market in downtown Otavalo this morning. Here the indigenous Otavaleños display their artisan craft goods, including ponchos, blankets, and sweaters woven from the wool of sheep and alpaca, jewelry, paintings, wood carvings, and the like. We spent the morning exploring the market, and now we’re about to head out to the climbers’ hut on Cayambe, where we’ll spend two nights and hopefully get good weather for a shot at the summit. Cayambe sits at an elevation of 5,790 meters, with massive glaciers flowing from the summit. It is the 3rd highest peak in Ecuador, and also holds the distinction of the highest altitude on earth over which the equator passes.

The weather today is beautifully warm and sunny, and we are optimistic that the good weather will continue while we are up on our climb.

Hasta luego…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

A day at the Otavalo Market. Photo: RMI Collection Colorful jewelry at the Otavalo Market. Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Mike Walter & Team Ascend Fuya Fuya

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 21, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 14,000'

We packed up our luggage this morning, checked out of our hotel in Quito, and headed north, towards the town of Otavalo. As much as we enjoyed our time in Quito, I think we all are very excited to leave behind the hustle and bustle of car horns and traffic, get out into the mountains, and enjoy the views of the snow covered peaks of the Ecuadorian Andes. That is, after all, why we’re here.
We summited our second peak today on our final acclimatization hike. Fuya Fuya was the objective this time. At just over 14,000’, the old volcano is lower than yesterday’s climb of Rucu Pichincha but the climbing was consistently steep, from the trailhead to the summit. The trail gained elevation quickly as it climbed thru high Andean grasses, culminating in a short rocky scramble to the summit. Although the summit was in the clouds once again, the weather was terrific for the climb. We were treated to stunning views of the Laguna Mojanda below us, a large lake formed in an ancient volcanic crater. Our team also caught a brief glimpse of an Andean Condor soaring in and out of the clouds around Fuya Fuya.
Now we’re all settle in at our tranquil hacienda, Casa de Sol. We’ll have a relaxing morning tomorrow, visiting the Otavalo market, before heading up to the climbing hut on Cayambe for a couple of nights. We’ll keep you posted as always…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Mike Walter's team acclimatizing on Fuya Fuya. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Team Makes First Acclimatization Hike

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 20, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,413'

Well rested from our recent international flights, our team went for our first acclimatization climb today, summiting Rucu Pichincha. Rucu is a volcano that is located just outside of the city of Quito, and the gondola-assisted approach allowed us to enjoy some very high altitude today. The summit sits at 15,413’, and was a personal altitude record for many members of our climbing team; we should break that record a few more times during our stay here in Ecuador.

After riding the gondola, the climb consisted of a relatively moderate ascent on good trails to a small Col just shy of the true summit. From the Col, we scrambled for about 15 minutes up 3rd class volcanic rock to the summit. Clouds obscured our views from the top, but added to the ambiance of our team’s first Andean summit. Other than some high clouds, the weather was great for our climb today. The temperatures were quite comfortable for climbing, and we had great views of Quito from nearly 6,000’ above.

Our team climbed very strong today, without exception, and it is obvious that everyone has been dedicated to their training programs in the past few months. The climbers on this team have a ton of experience in the mountains, from Rainier to Aconcagua, and it definitely shows.
Tomorrow our crew will pack up in the morning and leave Quito, traveling north to our next acclimatization hike of Fuya Fuya, en route to our first major climbing objective, Cayambe.

At the risk of sounding redundant, these climbers are strong and well-prepared for this trip. Sure, we all feel the affects of altitude at this point, but that is expected. The team’s collective dedication to climbing and training is allowing us to fully enjoy our experience here in Ecuador.
Thanks for checking in, and we’ll provide an update after our next climb. But for now, the well-oiled climbing machine is on track.

Hasta la proxima cumbre,

RMI Guide Mike Walter & team

An RMI team ascending Rucu Pichincha on their acclimatization hike.  Photo: Jake Beren

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Mike Walter & Team Arrive in Quito

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 19, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 9,350'

The Ecuador Volcanoes climbing (and all of our luggage) has arrived in Ecuador! Everyone arrived in the country by early this morning and hit the ground running. We spent the bulk of the day on an interesting and educational tour of colonial Quito, visiting the Presidential Palace, the Basilica, and various other points of interest in southern Quito, also known as Old Town Quito. Our local city guide, Jorge, is extremely knowledgeable and happy to share the wealth of information he has about the history, culture, politics, and religion of Ecuador. As always, it’s a pleasure to work with Jorge.

After a typical Ecuadorian lunch of empanadas, locro de queso (potato soup with cheese & avocado), and fritada (fried pork with corn and plantains), we headed to the Equator. We visited an ethnographic museum and stood straddling the Equator, with a foot in each hemisphere (see photo).
We’re all still a little weary from a long travel day to get here, and I’m sure everyone will sleep well tonight. Tomorrow we had head out on our first acclimatization hike. We’ll be in touch tomorrow to let you know how it goes.

Cheers,

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Mike Walter and the Ecuador team visiting the Equator. Photo: Mike Walter

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Mt. McKinley: Walter and team begin descent

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall | May 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Sunday, May 26, 2013
Mike Walter & crew rolled into 11,200’ Camp tonight at dinner time looking surprisingly good for just having summited and descending from 17,200’ today. They’re planning on getting an alpine start tonight in order to descend the lower Kahiltna Glacier while it’s frozen.
They’ll be drinking beers and eating steak soon.
Our hats are off to the entire team. Congratulations all!

RMI Guide Brent Okita

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Summit!

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 20,320'

Saturday, May 25, 2013:

Hi All!

Our team is safely back at high camp after a successful summit bid today! Our entire team made it to the top and we enjoyed near perfect weather and route conditions! We left camp at 9:30 this morning and were standing on the roof of North America at 4:45 pm. After taking photos, exchanging high fives and hugs, and enjoying amazing views we descended towards camp in the evening glow of Alaska sunshine and with the anticipation of hot tea and a warm dinner.

We are all excited to begin our decent tomorrow and look forward to talking to all our friends and family in a few days!

Cheers!

RMI Guides Solveig, Mike, Ben, and the McKinley Team

An RMI Team climbs the summit ridge of Mt. McKinley a few years ago. Photo: Seth Waterfall

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team in Position for Summit Bid

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Ben Liken | May 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

We woke early this morning, hours before the sun came up and warmed up our camp. After packing up camp in the shade, we made our way up to the head wall towards high camp. The sun finally warmed us up as we started ascending the fixed ropes up to the the top of the West Buttress. Then we ascended the beautiful and exposed snow covered granite ridge into high camp. The weather was amazing, as were the views: 3000’ feet down to our last camp in Genet Basin to our south and the same relief down to the Peters Glacier to our north.

We arrived at high camp (17,200’) shortly after 3pm. We’re all well rested and we’re hoping for good weather tomorrow for a shot at the summit. We’ll let you know how it shakes out.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Looking down to 14,000' Camp on Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Rest at 14,200’ Camp

Posted by: Ben Liken, Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall | May 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Our team slept in this morning and got some much needed rest for our upcoming summit bid. Tomorrow we plan to wake early, pack up camp, and move to our high camp at 17,200’. The weather is perfect, and so is the forecast. We hope the meteorologists in Fairbanks are correct, as they are predicting good weather for the next few days. But, as always, we’re focusing on one day at a time. And if the weather is good tomorrow, that focus will be climbing efficiently from our current camp at 14,200’ up to high camp at 17,200’, and establishing ourselves up high for a summit bid. Stay tuned and wish us luck…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

The view from camp at 14,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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