Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador: Training at Altitude

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Casey Grom | January 06, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,300'

Buenos Dias from the Cayambe hut.  Today was the first “real” day spent training on our first “real” mountain.  It always amazes me how a simple acclimatizing hike ten minutes from our hotel in Quito puts us well over 15,000 feet in a matter of hours accomplished in simple hiking boots and a day pack.  So when I say “real” it must refer to something big.  Our first mountain, Cayambe seems to fill those shoes.  Sitting at 18,997’, even the shortest climbers on the team will have the privilege of saying their throbbing noggins broke the respectable altitude of 19,000 feet.  Breaking this psychological barrier should make climbing Cotopaxi, a whopping 400 feet higher, a walk in the park. 

This morning the group woke slowly having slept surprisingly well for the large jump in altitude.  Our luxurious hut sits at 15,200’, a casual one hour hike below the tongue of the glacier.  Regardless of our groups strong résumé, we began hiking from the hut revisiting breathing techniques, rest stepping and minor drooling.  After an hour hiking upward, we chose our high camp location and cached some tents, stoves and climbing headwear.  After a brief rest we moved to the start of the glacier where we revisited self arrest, cramponing and rope travel.  This three-hour exercise proved more taxing than expected so upon our return to the hut, eyes were closing sitting at the table so our next training skill was napping at altitude.  So far the groups favorite skill to practice.  We then practiced knots and hitches before sitting down for dinner.  The altitude and full day caught up with all of us so we are looking forward to hitting the sack early.  Tomorrow we move to high camp.

RMI Guides Adam Knoff and Casey Grom

Approaching the Climber's Hut on Cayambe. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

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We are so excited to read your blog! Thank you for keeping us posted on your adventure. Like Kris says, you never cease to amaze me, Adam. I have been searching for ice skates the last 2 days, with no success, as our little lake is frozen glass right now. Can’t wait to get out on it.
All of our Love and Prayers. Aunt, Ginni

Posted by: Aunt Ginni on 1/7/2013 at 9:44 am

Adam and crew, finally got on the blog to see how the trip is progressing.  Looks like a great group and you are enjoying the “pain” of altitude!  I’ll pray for safety for your group.  It amazes me what you can do!  Stillwater is warming up to a balmy 35 today and xc skiing has been good.  I’ll keep reading your blog and keep typing it up Adam.  Love ya, Aunt Kris

Posted by: Kris Bowditch on 1/7/2013 at 8:18 am

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