Entries from Expedition Dispatches
January 16, 2018
We were up early to catch the mule shuttle across the Vacas River. We could have waded across but that would have been a painfully cold start to our day. When do you get to be a cowboy in Argentina anyway? It made for some great photos. It took us a bit over six hours of climbing in beautiful weather to arrive here at Aconcagua Base Camp. We are settled in. All of our gear is here and in good shape. It resembles the team, good shape that is. Another fine meal and a warm sleeping bag; it just doesn’t get anymore basic or nice. All is well.
On The Map
January 16, 2018
This morning we woke with the sun and glanced out the window of our hotel room expecting a continuation of yesterday’s deluge. We were pleasantly surprised to find the streets of Quito damp but no active precipitation. Optimistic for the day’s objective, Cerro Fuya Fuya (13,998), the team rallied in the lobby of Hotel Mercure at 7:30 ready to load the bus. Some severe rush-hour traffic delayed the bus about an hour and a half so the team took the unexpected opportunity to indulge in one to seven of Hotel Mercure’s incredible chocolate filled croissants.
By 9:00 the bus was loaded and we embarked on the three hour drive to Fuya Fuya. We arrived safe and sound at the azure blue Lake Mojanda, the trailhead for Fuya Fuya. We were pleasantly surprised to find the summit out of the clouds. Eager to take stretch their legs and take advantage of the weather window the team set out at a good clip.
About 20 minutes in we stopped to rest before initiating the patented Knoff acclimatization strategy, about 5 to 10 minutes of all-out effort up a steep section to raise the heart rate and let the body know it’s time to make some red blood cells. The team kick-started their engines with some pressure breaths then launched following the superhuman pace of our local guide, Peter. Panting and hearts pounding the team crested the hill and we gave them the exciting news that they wouldn’t have to do that again for the rest of the trip.
We cruised the rest of the way through the alpine meadows and up a short pick scramble to the summit at a casual pace. The team arrived in style and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the crater lake and surrounding ridge-line.
The descent to the bus was quite direct and steep through the muddy meadows and the team quickly learned that the summit is really only the halfway point. The team managed the slippery terrain in style only sustaining a few muddy backsides which the bus driver made sure we acknowledged and toweled off before embarking.
We are currently enjoying the day’s true summit of beers and good conversation as we settle in to the beautiful Casa La Sol for the evening.
Tomorrow will take us up the rugged mountain roads to the base of the equatorial behemoth, Cayambe and the start of our first big objective of the trip.
RMI Guide Jordan Cargill Signing off for the night.
éclair! Trichez-vous sur les barres de datte?
Posted by: Thunder Goat on 1/16/2018 at 8:44 pm
Prayers for a safe and successful trip! Let the sunshine continue!
Posted by: Jane Knoff on 1/16/2018 at 5:37 pm
Today was the first day of safari for us and we headed east to visit the beautiful Lake Manyara, which is know for its tree climbing lions, pink flamingos, and abundant species of birds. Unfortunately we missed those famous lions, but everyone enjoyed the day cruising around in our safari vehicles.
It’s pretty hot here in Africa, so I’m sure that kept many of the animals hiding in the shade. However we did manage to see a few wildebeest, zebras, Cape buffalo, giraffe, hippos, baboons, impalas and many birds. It was a pretty nice introduction to the incredible wildlife diversity that Africa has and the team is looking forward to seeing more tomorrow.
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January 15, 2018
We had a beautiful night and a gorgeous day here on our trek into Aconcagua. We bid farewell to RMI Guide Mike King and team this morning. Great work by all of them and what a job Mike and his crew did on their successful summit. Congratulations!
We had some scattered clouds and not much wind, which made for a very nice trek of eight miles to our new camp, Casa Piedra, at almost 11,000 feet. Fresh chicken over pasta and salad for dinner with a big bottle of Sprite to wash it all down. In the morning we will have an early river crossing with the help of our mule team. This will make for a nice start to the day. It will be a big day but no problem for this group of hearty souls as they all continue to do well. Basecamp here we come!
On The Map
Be Safe Justin Hersh. Love Clubbie!
Posted by: kathy guyette on 1/16/2018 at 11:22 am
Today we got wet!
The city tour is over, the team is gathered and the mountain was calling. On any other day a group of motivated hikers would look out the window, see falling rain and decide its not a good idea to stick with the plan. When that same team is on a schedule though, we gotta go when the bus arrives.
After a nice caffeine-laden breakfast, a short introduction to our local guide Peter, and some quick sneaking of the great chocolate croissants into our lunch sacks from the bakery, we were on our way to 15,700’ Rucu Pinchincha, a active volcano only ten minutes from our hotel in downtown Quito. Form the get go rain splattered the windows. We knew things could get interesting but we didn’t know how much.
After unloading from the van, a quick walk landed us at the ticket office of the gondola we planned to take form 10,000’ to 13,000’. The ride was uneventful with dense fog obscuring any views on the way up. Once at the top of the gondola we took refuge inside a building and put on our Gore-Tex for what looked like a rainy start. It was…...
Two minutes after beginning our initial walk, we turned around and headed back to shelter as the rain was too much. We decided to wait it out for twenty minutes which paid off because the rain let up and we made our move.
We got one good hour of walking in making it to the elevation of 14,700 feet before the rain and terrain turned us around.
Back at the shelter we all exchanged hard shell jacket performances reviews and admitted how nice it will be to get out of our wet, soggy clothes. On the ride down in the gondola lightning began flashing and thunder crashing, stopping the machine two or three times in a matter of minutes. Down at the station, the real downpour started.
So goes the unpredictable weather in the mountains.
By 2:30 we were all back at the hotel ready for some lunch and relaxation.
Tomorrow we try again on another peak north of Quito.
Stay tuned for more reports.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff signing off.
Yesterday we had a wonderful albeit long day climbing to the summit of Kilimanjaro.
The team woke at the enjoyable hour of 11:30 to thankfully clear skies after a very cloudy evening that had us wondering what lay ahead. We had a quick midnight breakfast of porridge, tea and coffee before hitting the trail at 12:30.
We climbed in hour increments with 10-15 breaks in between, which we’ve been doing every day thus far. The weather was very calm allowing us to take our time and not feel too cold which we were very thankful for. The climb took about 7 1/2 hours to reach the top, and thankfully the sun had risen shortly before reaching the top to help warm us and boost morale after climbing through the night. Once there, we hugged each other, enjoyed the view and took plenty of pictures while we waited in line to get our photos of the sign that adorns the summit.
It was a true test of endurance for most of the crew, and I’m really proud of everyone. We descended back to high camp, had a quick lunch, repacked and continued further down the mountain to our final camp on the mountain, where we had dinner and then headed to bed for some well deserved sleep.
Today we woke at 7:00 feeling good, had breakfast, then enjoyed a goodbye song and dance from our gracious crew of porters, cooks, and local guides numbering 50. We finished the little celebration by handing out their well deserved tips and then hit the trail one last time.
It took a little over three hours to reach the park gate where the team had lunch then hopped aboard our awaiting bus for the ride back to the lodge.
Finally we are all safe and sound, and a little cleaner after an amazing seven-day journey up and down Kilimanjaro.
The team is currently relaxing and looking forward to Safari which starts tomorrow!
RMI Guide Casey Grom and a happy Kilimanjaro crew
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January 14, 2018
We rallied the troops this morning at 8:30 in the lobby of Hotel Mercure for Day 1. After a quick round of intros and several cups of coffee to stave off the jet-lag we met with our tour guide, Pepe to go and explore the world heritage city of Quito. Our first stop was a visit to the equator. With Pepe’s help we were able to conduct a number of experiments and confirm that the equator monument is in fact in the right location. Some of these tests included a demonstration of the Coriolis Effect where the water in a pan drains counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere then clockwise when moved across to the southern hemisphere. After a tour of several exhibits showcasing the indigenous history of Ecuador we moved on to investigate “old town” the hub of colonial Quito.
Parched from the intense equatorial sun, our first stop was a local brewery where the team slaked their thirst before checking out some of the exquisite colonial architecture. The highlight was Compania de Jesus, a church completed after over 150 years of construction from the 17th to 18th century. The entire interior is coated with gold leaf and exquisite wood carvings. After Compania de Jesus we continued to wonder the narrow streets of “old town” eventually arriving back at Hotel Mercure.
The afternoon allowed for some much needed rest and gear-checks before dinner at 7. We found some local cuisine that also happened to be playing the Vikings - Saints game. What a finish! We are back at Hotel Mercure now all fueled up and ready for our first acclimatization hike tomorrow. Stay Tuned!
Hope your first hike was great!
Posted by: Kaki on 1/15/2018 at 6:51 pm
Posted by: Thunder Goat on 1/15/2018 at 8:13 am
January 14, 2018
Our departure went as planed today from Los Penitentes. There was a bit of final packing, then a quick transfer to the park gate of Aconcagua National Park. With our permits in hand we hit the trail. Today did not provide a lot of altitude gain but we did travel about eight miles to our first trek camp, Pampa de Las Lenas. Some high clouds throughout the day kept the heat down and upon arrival at camp it started to rain intermittently.
Tonight we are excited to share camp with the RMI Team led by Mike King who reached the summit on Friday and is now on their descent. Both teams were treated to a local barbecue, asado, by our mule team drivers. They do a very nice grill of various meats and treats. We are all doing well and enjoying camp life.
On The Map
January 13, 2018
The team woke to cold and snowy conditions at High Camp…normal Aconcagua conditions, just not what we experienced this expedition. We had some gear to pick up at our previous camps, but finally got down to base camp for some much earned beverages and a delicious dinner. We will walk to Leñas, our first trek campsite for the infamous asado…Chapstick application is key to enjoying the grilled carne after being in the Alta Montana for the last two weeks. The moon is newer then our trek in so the stars/Milky Way dust will be in full effect, my favorite place to sleep under the stars. This is our final dispatch of the trip, thanks for the comments.
Get down to Leñas next climbing season for the best steak this side of the Galaxy and a bid at the highest peak in South America!
RMI Guides Mike King, Jess Matthews & Nick Scott
Thank you Mike, Jess and Nick, for all the post. It really is a comfort to hear about the group and daily postings. I must admit hearing about high temperatures and snow was hard to grasp at first.
Great to hear they had reached the top and now to hear they will be on their way home. Thank you for leading this group to safety.
Posted by: Donna Bernier on 1/14/2018 at 8:44 am
Congratulations team! You have so much to be proud of. Enjoy the well deserved showers and food. Safe travels home brother Dave love Jul
Posted by: Julie Beckner on 1/14/2018 at 8:29 am
January 13, 2018
Great news! The team has now received all of our bags and we are ready to hit the trail… tomorrow!
We checked in with the Aconcagua National Park Service to secure our climbing permits before leaving Mendoza. After gathering one more delayed bag, we made the three hour drive to Los Penitentes. We had plenty of time to re-arrange our gear and get it ready for the mule loads. Now after a great dinner, we are ready for our comfortable hotel and really looking forward to that pillow. Jet lag sucks. The team is doing great and we are having a good time.