Entries from Expedition Dispatches
December 7, 2019
We had a pleasant morning leaving the town of Otavalo with a quick walk to see a large waterfall and then an hour checking out one of the oldest markets in the Andes. The rich colors of locally grown crops and woven textiles were flanked by food vendors, jewelry booths and the occasional used hardware and home goods vendor.
The drive to Cayambe brought us through winding roads with green pastures that climbed up the lower flanks of the volcanic mountains. We met one of our local guides, Jamie, who has worked for RMI on many trips. The 4x4 ride up to the hut was without incident and we arrived to an welcoming hut for a light lunch. The clouds have been hanging low this whole trip and we have got a few views of the glaciers but none of the entire glaciated volcanoes that dominate this area. The Team is currently resting and hanging out after a short hike up to about 15,700’. Tomorrow we sleep in a bit since all we have to do is our climbing school and organize for the climb. Thanks for following along.
On The Map
December 6, 2019
We said goodbye to Quito this morning and made our way north out of the city. Patchwork buildings turned to patchwork farms and lush green at every turn. We eventually made our way up a cobblestone road to start with our day’s objective - an acclimatization hike on Fuya Fuya. Our arrival on the shores of Laguna de Mojanda had everyone excited to get out of the bus and get moving. We hiked for the next couple hours through the tall grass accompanied by our local Ecuadorian guide, Pablo, and found ourselves perched on the eastern summit of Fuya Fuya feeling strong at almost 14,000’. The clouds and rain were kind to us on our ascent as we took in some amazing views of the lake and surrounding hills. The rain finally caught up with us, but only briefly as we made it back to our shuttle only a little damp and headed downhill. We’re now enjoying hacienda life tucked into a eucalyptus grove in the hills above Otavalo. Tomorrow we’ll visit the most famous Indian market in Ecuador to explore and shop, then point our shuttle southeast in the direction of our first big objective. The team is feeling strong and excited to make the switch to climbing mode. We’ll check in again tomorrow from the lower slopes of Cayambe!
RMI Guides Mike, Jess and Team
On The Map
December 5, 2019
This is Mike checking in for the Ecuador Team. Apologies for missing yesterday, we just had to much fun getting to know each other and walking around Quito. We went to the equator and watched a bunch of parlor tricks relating to the Middle of the Earth. We also learned about the art of Amazonian head shrinking. We concluded the day walking through the beautiful streets and plazas of Old Town which was built in the mid 1500’s.
This morning we met up with one of our Ecuadorean guide,Pablo, for an acclimatization hike on Rucu Pichincha. We rallied up in taxis to the teleferico (gondola) which takes you to 13,500’. The views of the greater Quito valley were spectacular. From there we hiked to 15,700’ and got some views but we were mostly in the clouds with cool temperatures. The goal today was to stretch the legs and lungs a bit and just get out to see the beautiful Ecuadorean countryside. The trail wandered through grassy slopes and a lot of flowering shrubs.
Everyone is back at the hotel for some rest and packing. We will head out tomorrow for another day hike and travel towards Cayambe for our first climb of the trip. Thanks for following along
On The Map
Posted by: Bernie lanigan on 12/5/2019 at 4:09 pm
November 16, 2019
We had an amazing night to climb the highest peak in Mexico, 18,491’. The skies were clear, near full moon and warm air in the first 2 hours out of Piedra Grande Hut.
By the time we got done meandering through the labyrinth there was a cold breeze and the temps dropped as we neared the toe of the Jamapa Glacier that dominates Pico de Orizaba’s Northside. The Team got their crampons on and up we went for what seemed like forever. The climbing is similar to Rainier’s glaciers. There had been some new snow in the last 10 days and a rain event that was proceeded by a lot of wind and a cold front. The result was a thick ice crust on the lower glacier. The guides had begun talking about turning the climb due to the inability to arrest a fall in these conditions if they persisted in the steeper slopes. Fortunately the snow softened and the team reached the summit around 8:15 am.
During the descent the clouds came in and we descended to the hut. With wet clouds rolling through camp and temperatures dropping we loaded up and road down the bumpy road to Senior Reyes’ climbing hostel. Beers, showers, beers, food, packing and sleeping in that order gets us to the airport tomorrow afternoon. It’s been a fantastic Mexico Volcanoes trip with a great group of climbers.
RMI Guides Mike King & Dustin Wittmier
On The Map
November 15, 2019
We got an early start from Puebla after a fun and relaxing rest day. The drive to Tlachichuca takes us through agricultural communities and around a massive Audi/VW manufacturing plant that appears to have just sprung up in the middle of nowhere.
We will pack our bags for the Orizaba climb before enjoying a light lunch at Sr. Reyes' 100+ year old soap factory turned climber’s hostel. From there we load up in some 4x4 trucks that crawl their way through sprawling corn fields and dense pine forests until we get to Piedra Grande Hut where we will spend the night. Aside from the packing, the only other objective today is to go for a hike into the lower portion of Orizaba’s labyrinth section to stretch the legs and lungs a bit. This gives the Team a chance to see what the first 3+ hours of the climb will be like. Hopefully we are checking in next from the summit of Orizaba tomorrow morning. Thanks for following along.
Trust today’s climb went well. I see a lot of nasty weather around Mexico City.
Posted by: Roger Coffey on 11/16/2019 at 11:43 am
November 14, 2019
The guides got up at 11:30 pm to head up onto the ridge where you can see any approaching storms for the East and West. There was a low lying blanket of clouds and west wind of 5-10 mph. Hoping not to get into a similar lightning and thunder storm from previous years we waited 45 minutes before waking up the climbers. The approaching cold front kept the clouds low through the night which afforded us a great temperature to go climbing. The first stretch takes you through the “knees” of Ixta and is a steep scree slope with some scrambling straight out of high camp.
Once on the ridge we began the up and down of what seems like 7 false summits. As we crossed the rapidly receding Ayoloco Glacier, the trail begins to narrow and we were close to the summit crater. At 17,160’ it was still dark and the teams began their descent with increasing winds and cold/damp clouds started rolling over from the West. The descent back to high camp was smooth and we enjoyed an amazing sunrise with the dark silhouette of Pico de Orizaba in the East.
The Team is in Puebla now for a rest day and tomorrow we will head for our last climb of the trip on North America’s third highest mountain, Orizaba.
On The Map
Good luck tomorrow
Posted by: Roger Coffey on 11/14/2019 at 11:41 am
November 13, 2019
The RMI Mexico's Volcanoes Team reached the summit of Ixtaccihuatl at 5:30 am local time. They left High Camp in warm conditions but the weather changed to cold and windy by the time they reached the summit. The team is making their way to the trailhead and will check in later with more details.
Congratulations to the team!
Congratulations!!! Have a safe trip down and cannot wait to hear about your adventures John! Love ya- Jen and JD
Posted by: Jen Brown on 11/13/2019 at 11:08 am
November 12, 2019
This morning we had a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit and a locals take on huevos mexicana. The Team got packed up and organized their gear to begin the 3.5 mile hike to our High Camp. The route consists of a series of ascending traverses that gain approximately 2,500’. During this time we looked out upon the farming communities of Amecameca and Puebla. After our second break we were overtaken by some thin clouds. Thankfully they were dry and didn’t carry any lightening. More times then not we experience some thunder and electrical activity at this High Camp due to similar weather patterns that many of you have experienced in the US Rocky Mountains. If the weather gets bad we do have a hut to hide out in since it is grounded and has a few lightening rods.
The Team did well today considering the high altitude and heavy overnight packs. This camp is at 15,500’ which is a new high point for many in the group. We will make a summit attempt early tomorrow morning and we have our fingers crossed the weather cooperates.
RMI Guide Mike King
On The Map
November 11, 2019
Today was a logistics day with a hike to continue our acclimatization. We left La Malinche around 8 am and had a delicious breakfast enroute to the town of Amecameca where we bought our water and remaining supplies for the Ixta climb. From there we drove up a winding road to Paso de Cortes which lies between the 2 volcanoes Popo and Ixta that dominate this area of Mexico. With rain lightly bouncing off our jackets, we walked the 4.5 miles from the park entrance to the hut located at 13,000’. We are packing and enjoying the new dusting of snow on the surrounding peaks. Dinner and a good night's sleep will have us prepared to head up to high camp tomorrow morning.
On The Map
Best of Luck to you and your team Mike!!! I’ll be following along!
Posted by: Farmer Dave on 11/12/2019 at 3:05 am
November 10, 2019
Today we attempted to hike up the 14,600’ peak of La Malinche. The drive to the park entrance goes through a nice pine forest. We got to tree line around 1:45pm at 12,800’ and storm clouds had been sitting on the summit all day. There was thunder and billowing clouds for the next hour. The guides decided that being on an exposed ridge line with a building electrical storm on the horizon wasn't the best scenario. We started the descent with views of the surrounding countryside coming and going between dark clouds. We are back at the cabins having had a delicious meal and eager to get started on the Ixta portion of our trip.
RMI Guide Mike King