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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Best of luck on your next attempt. You guys can do it! Go team Ecuador.

Posted by: Greg Hunt on 1/17/2014 at 10:07 am

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