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Entries from Expedition Dispatches

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Enjoying Some R&R After Cayambe Summit

We did it!
The whole team managed to stand on the summit of Cayambe today, after a long, cold and windy uphill battle. We had hoped that the weather would remain calm, but unfortunately the wind picked up sometime in the night before we started our climb. The team did a great job of taking care of themselves and everyone dug deep to push through the challenging conditions.
The climb took just over 7 hours to reach the summit after starting out on relatively lower angle slopes that continued to steepen until the final last pitch, which was roughly 50 degrees. Once over this obstacle, it was an easy, but windy stroll to the top of Cayambe which sits at 18,997ft.
We didn’t stick around too long as it was pretty cold and the view was mostly obscured by the clouds blowing by.
We descended all the way back to our hut and took a brief break before heading further down into town for a well earned meal at a local cafe.
We then traveled south to a wonderful and peaceful hacienda tucked up near Cotopaxi where we have just finished another great meal. Now it’s time to enjoy some much deserved sleep after such a long day.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Cayambe summit crew

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back at High Camp After Summit

The team didn’t seem particularly tired today, considering that they’d been within 1,200 feet of the summit yesterday.  We had sunny skies and not much wind upon waking at high camp and so we were able to get going at 8:30 AM.  We traveled with our big parkas in the packs for much of the day, just putting them on and off at rest breaks.  That changed as we got near the final summit ridge.  Things got a bit more serious with a ten mph wind that let us know just how cold the air was.  We put on parkas, expedition mitts, goggles and face covers in a hurry.  Just then it seemed we’d be in a battle to get to the top, but as soon as we did a few of the steeper snow ramps to get on the ridge proper, we got above the wind.  It was a calm and even comfortable walk along the top of Antarctica.  We got to the true summit at 3:30 PM and stayed for 45 minutes because it was so nice.  We could see for hundreds of miles.  We shook hands and congratulated one another… and in particular we slapped Dale on the back for completing his seventh continental summit.  We took pics and made calls and then started walking carefully downward, mostly in dead calm and easy conditions.  We were back in camp at 7 PM.  Ironically, there was wind in camp so we served dinner in the sleeping tents.  We’ll get down to basecamp tomorrow assuming that the weather holds. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Reach Summit of Cayambe!

The December 4th Ecuador Volcanoes Team reached the summit of Cayambe (18,997’) today.  The entire team was able to top out and everyone is back down safely.
We expect to hear more from Casey later today.

Congratulations to the team!

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit!

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from the summit of Mount Vinson, highest point in Antarctica. Us four remaining climbers are up here. Our fifth climber is safe at high camp. All is well. We have really lucked out. We’re up here in windless conditions on top. Very comfortable even though it’s probably on the order of -35 degrees. So we’re doing very well. We’ve made good time coming up here. It’s 3:30 local time. We started at 8:30 local time. So we’re doing quite well and we’ll give you a dispatch from high camp when we get back there safely. All the best from Antarctica!

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls in from the Mount Vinson summit!

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Congrats, Matt!  Looking forward to celebrating when you return. Five down, only two more to go!  Scott Schlesner

Posted by: Scott Schlesner on 12/10/2018 at 8:36 pm

Congrats, Matt!  Looks no forward to celebrating when you return. Five down, only two more to go.

Posted by: Scott Schlesner on 12/10/2018 at 8:34 pm

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Close, Will Try Again Tomorrow

We got close to the top today and we’re trying again tomorrow.  A persistent 10 mph wind rattled the tents all night long and carried into the morning as well.  That -combined with the cold- made gearing up and getting ready difficult. We hit the trail by 10 AM. At first, it was something of a hassle to keep glasses and goggles from fogging and our faces from freezing, but within about 90 minutes we’d left the wind behind and could just concentrate on good walking.  The weather up on Vinson’s peak seemed perfect and we were growing steadily closer.  At 3 PM we’d reached 14,800 ft (Vinson is just over 16,000 ft) when one of our climbers made the difficult decision to go no higher.  Running the fuel tank dry anywhere is a hassle, but it can be life threatening on a high, cold, remote Antarctic peak.  We needed to turn around and get back to high camp.  We were down by five and the team immediately set to “work” resting and rehydrating.  Four of us will go for it tomorrow while our teammate rests in high camp.  The forecast is still looking good for tomorrow and of course we hope to get the job done. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Visit Otavalo Market and Settle in at the Cayambe Hut

Hello again Everyone
All is well here in Ecuador.
Yesterday we had a nice leisurely start to our day. We packed up for the move up onto the mountain and left the comfortable Lodge around 11am.
We first stopped by the massive market in Otavalo to take in the culture and we did our best at bartering for some local goods.
It was a little intimidating as Saturday is the big market day and it was jam packed with people and their goods. The team snaked our way through never ending streets of goods chatting with locals and then had a nice lunch overlooking the main square.
After lunch, we headed directly to the mountain with help from a few 4x4 vehicles to make it up the very rugged road that goes all the way to the mountain hut at 15,000ft. The team chose to hike the last hour to help with acclimatization, and allowed our vehicles to deliver the gear at the hut. It was extremely windy so we didn’t venture outdoors too much. We finished the evening with a nice warm meal then turned in early for a good night’s rest.

Today the team got up around 6:30am to have breakfast and get ready for our hike up to the glacier that’s about an hour uphill. We spent a few hours refreshing our mountaineering skills on the glacier and taking in the views when the clouds allowed.
Everyone is doing very well and the whole team is in good spirits up here since the weather has mellowed out.
Our plan is to have an early dinner then head to bed as tomorrow we’ll be making our first summit attempt. We’ll shoot for getting up around 11:30pm and hopefully be out the door in an hour’s time. If things go well I expect it will take somewhere around 6-8 hours to reach the summit. Then we’ll descend via the route back to the hut.
Keep your fingers crossed and wish us luck.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and the mountain crew!

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Good luck Jim & Dave!  Hope you summit safely!  We’ll be following you two.  Can’t wait to hear all about it.

Posted by: Kristi Nottingham on 12/10/2018 at 9:53 am

Good luck everyone!!! We’re all rooting for y’all from Colorado!!!! Matt, the girls are loving hearing of all your adventures! We can’t wait to hear how the summit goes.-April

Posted by: April Leverone on 12/10/2018 at 5:33 am

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Move to High Camp

One of the days we were waiting for.  It was obvious from the start (10 AM) that this was our day to move up to High Camp.  Skies were brilliant blue, peaks were clear of cloud caps, and little wind could be detected off the High Camp ridge three thousand feet above us.  By midday we’d spoken to Vinson base and learned we had the forecast in our favor as well -conditions improving on each of the next two days.  That could work out well.  It wasn’t actually so nice down at Vinson Base Camp… they were in fog and murk and couldn’t get airplanes in or out.  We left Low Camp -which had been our home for six nights- at 12:42 PM.  Having the fixed ropes to ourselves was pleasant in a lot of ways, but it was still uphill forever and our packs were heavier than when we’d gone up for our carry.  As we neared High Camp at 6:20 PM, the “wind” was about three miles per hour… but that little bit of movement reminded us quickly just how cold the air was (likely 10 or 15 F below zero).  We built our tents and ate dinner while strategizing over a summit bid tomorrow.  It would be tempting to stay out in the late night sunshine looking over “the edge” for hours (one hundred feet from our tents is the upper rim of the great western escarpment of Vinson)  the peaks are jagged and vivid, the backdrop is an endless sea of clouds and ice… but we’ll stare at it all some other time.  Gotta get our sleep.  Big day coming up. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Posted by: Bill Osten on 12/9/2018 at 12:58 pm

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Acclimatize on Fuya Fuya

Hola Amigos!

We had an early departure today leaving behind the busy and celebrating city of Quito. The team drove north, passing by the Equator and made our way to another acclimatization hike. Just outside Quito the landscape quickly turned from a giant valley into rolling hills with farms pitched on steep slopes, and small forest of eucalyptus trees as far as the eye could see.

We visited a smaller mountain called Fuya Fuya where we got to stretch our legs on the steepest grassy hillside I’ve ever seen. Thankfully the weather was decent which allowed us to see some amazing views of the surrounding landscape that included a beautiful lake in the background.

We are just on the outskirts of a town call Otavalo, which is known for its massive market and we are currently relaxing at the wonderful Hacienda called “La Casa Sol Lodge” http://www.lacasasol.com
The team is doing great after hot showers, a wonderful meal, and celebrating an Anniversary of some of our teammates.
Everyone is in good spirits and looking forward to a nice tranquil night.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Ecuadorian crew

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Dave looks like you are carrying Jim, always the mentor. Looks like you all are having a blast. Hope it is 1/2 the fun as it looks. Sure is beautiful. Take lots of pictures but no wooden nickels. Safe travels.

Posted by: Pete Palmgren on 12/10/2018 at 2:26 pm

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait for Better Weather

There was improvement all around when we checked weather this morning, but not enough to permit moving up yet.  The clouds were almost gone, which seemed to fit with the forecast that high pressure was building, but there was still wind up high blowing big streamers of snow off the ridge overhead.  In the below zero temps we work in down here, one just can’t get a whole lot safely done while walking into wind.  But today’s winds were nothing like yesterday’s.  We followed our familiar Low Camp rest day routine of alternating naps reading and feeding.  We didn’t cut blocks or add to our snow walls today though… we’re finally feeling temporary, like we’ll leave this camp tomorrow.  We checked in with Base Camp a couple of times today, as usual.  Their weather was actually worse than ours and the climbers were still waiting for clearing to be able to fly back to Union Glacier. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Acclimate on Rucu Pichincha

After a fun filled day touring around Quito yesterday, today was our first acclimatization hike.  Our target Rucu Pichincha, a 15,696’ extinct volcano.  With sun breaks and patchy clouds the hike was a success, getting back to the hotel by 3 in the afternoon. 
There was plenty of time for more exploring and shopping around Quito before the team had a good dinner at a local brewery.

RMI Guide Chad Gaffigan

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