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Entries from Expedition Dispatches


January 27, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Enjoy Relaxing Day

Hello again everyone
All is well here in Ecuador. Today the team spent the morning relaxing a bit and enjoying the beautiful surroundings and practicing some technical rope work that will hopefully come in handy tomorrow. Then a few folks went on a horseback ride while the rest of us relaxed around the hacienda. We wrapped the afternoon with a little more training and good conversations.

Our plan is to head to bed soon and get up around 5am to start our climb which is just a few miles down the road. If the weather continues we hope to summit and make our way back to Quito by mid to late afternoon.

It’s sad to think our adventure is nearly over, but I am sure everyone is excited to return to their loved ones.

We’ll check in again tomorrow. That’s all for today.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew


January 27, 2016

Aconcagua

Aconcagua: Nugent and Team Celebrate in Penitentes

Wow… All I can say is that it’s been a crazy ride. Two days ago we were sitting tight up at Camp 2 waiting for the weather to open up and now we are down in Penitentes celebrating our escape from the wrath Aconcagua. We had decided to hold on a day or two longer and see if maybe the forecasts were wrong but alas, they were not. We made the decision to pull the plug and head down when the lowest wind speed predicted over the next 7 days was over 50 mph with several pulses up in the 70’s. We woke on the morning we intended to descend to clear skies but moderate winds blowing snow and by the time we were able to pick up camp it had clouded over and the wind had intensified significantly. As we descended around and down the mountain the storm chased us all the way to Basecamp… There was no respite despite our descent into a portion of the mountain that is historically more protected. Our team was able to stick together and move well despite the challenging conditions.  We were greeted warmly by the Basecamp staff upon our arrival back at Plaza Argentina. We enjoyed real chairs and a real meal (chicken Vesuvius) for the first time in over a week and then crashed hard. The next couple days we made our way down the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys and spent our last night out on the trail after devouring an amazing asado prepared by our mule drivers. We ate (beef, beef, beef!) and drank (vino, and even a little wild turkey) and went to bed happy and tired after a long couple of days. This morning we rose and walked the last of the Vacas to the road where we checked out with the park rangers and were greeted by our shuttle driver with beer and Fanta. Not a bad way to finish a long and tough expedition.

Next stop, Mendoza!

RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Katrina Bloemsma and Team

home sweet home

Posted by: kat branchflower on 1/29/2016 at 2:28 pm

What a journey ! At least you all got back safe and sound. Blowing gales here today also!
Love Diane and Paul

Posted by: Paul and Diane on 1/29/2016 at 2:00 am


January 27, 2016

Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari

Kilimanjaro: Waterfall & Team Camp at the Shira Plateau

Rain, rain, rain that’s the name of the game on Kilimanjaro this month. The unseasonably wet weather has continued for another day. We only had it for the last 45 minutes on the trail though and we were eating lunch in camp for some heavier showers that came through.

Despite that the team is doing really well. We all came into camp together after a 4.5 hour hike today. The start of the hike was sunny and warm and the views were great for a couple hours. Before it got a chance to get too hot for us the clouds moved in and that kept the temps mild. That was perfect as today’s hike is up a fairly steep ridge formed by an old lava flow. The vegetation is pretty low to the ground too so if the sun is out you can really cook.

There’s a couple of scrambling sections that we did in the rain so that added a little challenge at the end of the day. Everyone handled those like the champs they are so no problem with slippery, steep terrain for these folks.

As I type this the sun is poking back out and warming our tents. Most of the team is relaxing and letting their bodies adjust to our altitude of 12,500’. Tomorrow we will head up again to 14,900’ before dropping to below 13,000’ to the next camp.

I’ll check in again there.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

On The Map


January 26, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team’s Decision on Next Climbing Objective

The team is well rested after our long climb on Cayambe. It took us about eight hours to reach the summit and another four to safely descend all the way back to the hut. Everyone was very happy, but also very tired from such a long day.
After descending from the mountain we had a wonderful lunch before arriving at Hacienda Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, which dates back to 1580. Everyone slept very well and enjoyed the hot showers to say the least.

Today we had a nice big breakfast and had a team meeting to discuss the upcoming climb on Chimborazo. Currently the climbing conditions here in Ecuador are less than ideal on several mountains including Chimbo. The local guides and I discussed the difficulty and hazardous conditions that awaited us there and decided it’s a little more than we are willing to risk.
The team was a little disappointed we weren’t going to climb to 20,000+ft, but everyone agreed it might be best to choose a safer option.
Our new plan is to climb another mountain that hasn’t been affected by the unusually dry weather, yet still gives us a challenging ascent.
We have relocated to a quaint little place in the countryside not too far from our next climb Rumiñahui. It’s not the big mountain we were hoping for, but I’m certain we will all enjoy the climb.

We’ll spend the day doing some training here tomorrow and getting prepared for our next adventure.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew


January 26, 2016

Aconcagua

Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Descend to Base Camp and Trek Out

The RMI Aconcagua Team led by RMI Guides Billy Nugent and Katrina Bloemsma were unable to make a summit attempt and are en route to Mendoza.  The team left Base Camp today and is camped at Pampa de Las Lenas where they will spend the night.  They will finish their trek to the trail head tomorrow and return to Mendoza.

Jake and Doug. ..amazing trip I’m sure. ..can’t wait to hear all about it but more anxious to get you back home!  Love you burly, hairy mountain men!!

Posted by: Marsha and jeremy on 1/27/2016 at 5:05 pm

To: Branchflower

Bummer…...

Sorry to hear you had to “turn-back”. At least you were’nt one in 1974!

Have a safe trip home!

Lozier sends

Posted by: Tom Lozier on 1/27/2016 at 10:12 am


January 26, 2016

Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari

Kilimanjaro: Waterfall & Team Reach Machame Camp

Jambo! All is well at Camp One, otherwise known as Machame Hut. We are already up at 10,000’ for our first night on the mountain. Interestingly 10,000’ here is still below tree line whereas back home on Mt. Rainier 10,000’ is way above the trees. That’s due to the fact that the atmosphere bulges around the equator so 10k here in Tanzania feels lower than 10k in Washington State.

The hiking today was great with just a few sprinkles of rain. My group from last week would have considered this a dry day.  We did pull out some rain gear briefly but the trail through the forest was mud free and the temperatures were very pleasant.

We have a real fun group and everyone was chatting away between themselves and with the African guides who will accompany us the whole time we are on the mountain.

We spent a total of 5 hours on the trail and combined with the jet lag should make for hungry appetites and good sleeping tonight. I’ll check in again tomorrow.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

On The Map


January 25, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Summit Cayambe

The Ecuador’s Volcanoes January 19th trip reached the summit of Cayambe today at 18,977’, RMI Guide Casey Grom said it was a tough climb and the ascent was 8 hours.  The team descended safely back to camp and then packed up their gear and loaded vechicles toward their hacienda for the night.  They were looking forward to hot showers and a good night’s rest.

Congratulations to all the climbers for their great effort today.

On The Map

Well done guys. It sounded like a tough climb so I hope you are all feeling good about your achievements so far!
Have fun on the rest of the trip! good luck and stay safe.

Posted by: Peter Williamson on 1/26/2016 at 8:22 am

Congratulations Dave, John & the rest of your team.  I was thinking about you when I was in PT yesterday.  Glad you are having a good trip.  Gambatte!

Posted by: Jean on 1/26/2016 at 4:25 am


January 25, 2016

Kilimanjaro Climb & Safari

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall & Team Ready to Tackle Kilimanjaro

Hello from the Dik Dik Hotel. The team is all assembled for dinner and we are packed and ready to go to Kilimanjaro tomorrow.
Everyone arrived late last night and after a few hours of sleep we met up for our first meeting and then a session on packing our gear for the next week on the mountain.
We spent the afternoon napping and finalizing the preparations. Tomorrow we will get up at 6 AM and depart at 7:00. We have a five-hour hike to get to camp so it’s nice to get an early start.
The weather reports from the mountain have been good for the past three days so we are hoping for that to continue.
I’ll check in again in about 24 hours.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall


January 24, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Prepare for Cayambe Climb

Hey everybody, this is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador’s Volcanoes trip to let you know that we had another nice day down here on the equator. We woke up this morning at about 6 and had a quick breakfast and then tried to get out the door as close to 7 as we could. We hiked for about an hour and a half up to where the start of the glacier is here on Cayambe and took a nice break.  We spent the next couple hours reviewing some basic climbing techniques and trying to do a few advanced things and just getting ourselves prepared for tonight’s climb. The team is doing great, we just wrapped up dinner not too long ago.  We packed our backpacks and everybody’s off bed. If all goes well our plan is to wake up at about 11 p.m. and have another hot breakfast and hopefully be headed up hill about midnight. Currently it’s been pretty icy down here it’s been pretty dry and they haven’t had a lot of snow so I think the route might be a little more circuitous than normal. I am anticipating about a 7 hour ascent so if we are fortunate we might be able to reach the summit around 7 a.m.  Then we will take a handful of photos and then we’ll make our way back down. Regardless of how our climb goes tomorrow, our plan is to pack up and get out of here and head down to another hacienda so we will check in sometime tomorrow mid day and let everybody know how we’re doing.  All right you guys.

Thanks,
RMI Guide Casey Grom


RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from the climbers hut on Cayambe.

On The Map


January 24, 2016

Aconcagua

Aconcagua: Nugent & Team Waiting out the Winds at Camp 2

Well, we are currently pinned down by high winds at Camp 2 and despite the sunny weather we are stuck alternating between chilling outside in camp or baking in the tents. Last night a pretty hefty storm thrashed camp with strong winds, new snow, and repeated thunder and lightning. Skies began to clear this morning and the wind began to abate in camp as it shifted more to the southwest putting us a bit more in the lee of the mountain. Unfortunately, it is still howling up at Camp 3 and the entire flank of Aconcagua is adorned with swirling clouds of spin drift and the summit is sporting a sizable contrail. Today is officially our first weather day as we have been knocked off our planned itinerary for the first time. Still, two days stuck in the tent feels like a lot and we are trying not to get saddled with cabin fever. The team is doing a great job staying positive despite the fact that nearly every other expedition on the mountain has bailed for Mendoza and we are eagerly awaiting the latest weather forecast for a potential summit window… 

Wish us luck!

Stuck in the tent for now anyway,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

I love you Daddy We all miss you so much.I hope you and Doug are having fun!!!  HI Daddy!                  Love,Bailey

Hey Babe- bails wanted to write you a message on her own!!  You guys are all in our prayers for a chance at the summit but we are all so proud of you even if you don’t get a chance at it!!  See you soon!!

Love you

Posted by: Bailey on 1/26/2016 at 8:28 am

Praying your team gets a break in the weather Jake.

We are following you from SAMCOM in Dallas

Good luck

Bob & the Crown gang

Posted by: Bob Fiedler on 1/26/2016 at 5:07 am

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