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Entries from Expedition Dispatches


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Paying Dues

Our summit has clearly angered the mountain gods.  We woke to a blizzard at 12,300 ft.  Not the worst blizzard though, winds are steady at about 25 mph, visibility is barely to the neighboring tents, the air is chock full of snow -at least some of which is “falling” from the cloud we are in.  Moving -even to lower and more comfortable climates and airplanes- was out of the question.  Besides, on the radio at midday it sounded heinous at Low Camp, with fifty-knot gusts and busted tents.  So we sat put.  Our tents are holding up well, although great quantities of snow and frost seem to find their way inside.  We recovered from yesterday’s climb with bed rest and hot meals and coffee and cocoa.  A small price to pay for a visit to the highest point on the continent. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good job Lindsay! Congrats! Keep hanging in there, we can’t wait to hear all about it!
-Emily, Grace, and the Henry crew

Posted by: Emily L on 12/12/2017 at 3:29 pm

People don’t climb mountains because it’s easy.  People climb mountains because it’s hard.  Beats the hell out of being stuck on the freeway.  I’m so proud of all you guys.  Mountain-forecast.com says things may calm down on Wednesday.  Hang in there and stay hunkered down until it’s right.  Love you girl. -  Pop

Posted by: Les Z on 12/12/2017 at 5:33 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Abort Cayambe Summit Attempt Due to High Avy Hazard

We spent most of the evening listening to thunder clouds and the battering of hail pound our shelter. That was until I woke the team up at 10:45pm. We woke to surprisingly calm skies with even a few stars shining. The team quickly got out of bed to prepare their things for our ascent. While eating breakfast the clouds snuck back in behind our backs and filled the mountain’s surroundings with a heavy mist that saturated everything that touched it. We decided to brave the mist and put on our rain shells to climb for an hour and “see how things went”. The team climbed right along, ignoring the inclement weather. At the end of that hour things weren’t looking much better, in fact you might have said they were worse. Taking good advantage of being able to retreat back to a warm hut if need be, we opted to continue and “see how things went” again. A few inches of wet snow had fallen over night and actually made the walking quite nice. Soon thereafter the mist lifted and we actually began to get warm and dry out! The team’s spirits lifted and we kept ascending. At about 18,000ft we finally met our maker- a large glacial bowl filled with recently deposited snow from high winds. The avalanche hazard was real and quite sensitive. We opted to turn around and descend back towards the hut. During our descent we were met with an Ecuadorian sunrise above a sea of clouds and neighboring volcanoes, Antisana and Cotopaxi, in the distance. At the time there certainly wasn’t much to be upset about. A quick descent gave way to another exciting 4x4 drive down to Otavalo where we would head south towards Chilcabamba on the northern flank of Cotopaxi. Tomorrow we rest and prepare for our next objective!

RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit and Storm

We made it to the summit of Vinson today!  In the nick of time as it turned out.  While our time of ascent was a blazing fast seven hours, the mountain was anything but easy today.  We started with blue skies, bright sun and a nagging 10 mph breeze when the stoves were fired shortly after seven this morning.  That breeze made things like fastening harnesses and crampons quite cold.  We roped up and got moving at 9:45 hoping to lose the wind as we got into the protection of the valley glacier that would take us to the summit.  That worked a little, things were reduced to occasional gusts.  Those gusts increased in frequency and force as we got up near 15,000 ft.  By the time we were scrambling onto the summit ridge, it was blowing a more or less steady 30 mph.  We worked pretty hard to keep each other’s faces frost free and to keep sunglasses and ultimately goggles from fogging up.  Hitting the top at 4:45 was a thrill, but not at all one we could linger over.  We squeezed off just a couple of photos (which we’ll post after getting back to the Wi-Fi world) but it really wasn’t the day for bare hands on the summit.  We set out to get off the ridge and down to high camp.  This was accomplished in about three hours, during which we watched winds increase and a storm move into the Ellsworth Mountains.  At 8:00 when we pulled into camp, the sun was in the clouds and winds were rock steady at about 20 mph, moving plenty of snow around.  The victory dinner was in tents as it is far from pleasant at High Camp tonight.  We snuck this one in… now to get down the mountain.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congrats Zimmerman!!Matt and I have enjoyed keeping up with your adventure!! Safe travels back down!!Can’t wait to catch up with you and hear your stories!!

Posted by: Deborah and Matt on 12/11/2017 at 5:50 pm

Congratulations!  Well done.  Stay safe on the descent.

Posted by: Dale on 12/11/2017 at 9:32 am


Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Gately & Team’s School Review on Cayambe

We awoke to a clear and chilly morning at the hut. The first half of the day provided views of the upper mountain and the summit of Cayambe before some snow showers moved in. Today’s goal was to climb another 1,000 feet to the base of the glacier to acclimatize and review some mountaineering skills. The steep climb up to our school site gave us a great preview of the beginning of our summit day. By the end of our school, the team was looking great and ready to climb Cayambe tomorrow. We are back at the hut resting and preparing our summit packs for the morning. Wish us clear conditions like we had this morning for our summit attempt!

RMI Guide Bryan Mazaika

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome experience for all of you! Dad & I are living vicariously! Our best to all of you for an awesome assent!

Posted by: Judy & dale collins on 12/10/2017 at 5:06 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Cruise into High Camp

Today was just right for moving.  We were up and getting ready shortly after the ten thirty sun hit the tents.  Launch time was 12:50 PM and with perfect conditions, we made steady and excellent progress.  Certainly the 2,000 vertical feet of the fixed lines were still difficult with heavy packs, but we had the benefit of being on familiar ground.  We cruised into High Camp at 6 PM, still feeling strong, but also noticing just how much colder it is up around 12,300 ft.  We dressed up and built camp, got stoves going and sat down out in the sunshine for dinner.  The views from here are other-worldly, with ice stretching beyond the visible horizon in any direction and mountains rising to ridiculously sharp summits all around.  The teams we waited with at Union Glacier all hit the summit today and we greeted them each with a “congratulations” and a fist bump when they rolled into camp on their return. 
Perhaps we’ll get as lucky tomorrow.  We will be ready. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Steve,

How cool is this that I get to write you a little note.  I have been thinking about you and what an amazing experience you must be having.  I’m looking forward to hearing about it when you get home.  Be Safe!!!  I’ll tell mom about this web sight.  We love you!!!  Joke: What do you call a cold ghost?
A: casp-burr!
Stay Warm!!!

Posted by: Allison Gibbons on 12/10/2017 at 9:08 pm

Steve,
We are praying for you and your team. We hope that today will be the day. Be safe and enjoy this special time. We will be anxious to see you upon your return.
Best to you. Jack and Camille

Posted by: Jack and Camille on 12/10/2017 at 5:32 am


Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Gately & Team Explore Local Market Then Drive to Cayambe

Despite some menacing afternoon clouds we woke up again to clear beautiful skies. A late breakfast and a short drive brought us to the Otovalo Market, a huge local market full of a wide variety of textiles and food. The team spent an hour and a half exploring the markets many corners, buying gifts for loved ones before meeting for lunch at Buena Vista. From there we headed back towards the town of Cayambe to meet our transfer vehicles that would carry us and our belongings to the Cayambe Climbers Hut at 15,300ft. An hour or so of exciting driving down primitive roads perched on the side of a volcano brought us to our final destination. The team is doing a great job getting readjusted to life without so much oxygen and are patiently awaiting what will no doubt be a wonderful dinner served by the huts cook staff. Thanks for following. Tune in tomorrow for more!

RMI Guide Steve Gately

On The Map

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Start Out and Then Return to Low Camp

Still just a bit breezy up high.  The teams at High Camp reported steady 15 knot winds but thing looked a lot better from Low Camp today, the giant airwave lenticular cloud to the west of the mountains was gone and we had high hopes for going high if the snow streamers off the ridge died down.  They did, a little later than we would have liked but we decided to break camp and make the move.  We only got to the base of the fixed ropes before deciding to give it one more day.  The team wasn’t firing on all cylinders and the continuing cold winds above the fixed ropes could make the last hours into High Camp quite difficult.  We set up Low Camp again and set our sights on tomorrow. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hang tough Sue and team.  You will pull this off and if memory serves me this will be number 3 of the big 7!

Posted by: Russ Frederrickson on 12/9/2017 at 5:45 am

Hi Sue & crew! Praying for a break in the wind so you guys can make it all the way! Best of luck for tomorrow!! God Bless!
Your So Cal crew!!

Posted by: Laura on 12/8/2017 at 10:13 pm


Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Acclimate on Fuya Fuya

The team performed well today on our second acclimatization hike up Fuya Fuya. The beginning of the trail starts at a beautiful caldera which is now Laguna de Mojanda. With the view of the lake behind us we began ascending through knee high vegetation and in two hours we were standing on the summit! Although we were in the clouds, we were happy it stayed dry otherwise the soil would have had us sliding all the way back to the van. A short van ride brought us to Otovalo and our haciendas for the evening. The rest of the afternoon provided some time for us to organize our gear in preparation for our transfer up to the Cayambe Hut tomorrow!

RMI Guide Bryan Mazaika & Team

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Continue to Wait

Today was a lot like yesterday.  We were up at the crack of 10:30, and despite fine conditions where we were it was windy where we wanted to go.  Again, we ate breakfast and watched for some sign of calming.  We talked via radio to the three teams holding on at High Camp who confirmed that they were holding on.  We bided our time, buffed out our snow camp and chatted with the guides and climbers of the only other group at Low Camp.  We read, drank water, watched TV, napped, cut snow blocks and watched the sun collide with the stationary lenticular cloud in the western sky.  Just like yesterday, it made for a chilly afternoon and evening.  But a pretty one.  Each time we came out of the cook tent or one of the sleeping tents, there was the temptation to just stare, slack-jawed, at Vinson’s immense rock wall, or Shinn’s delicate summit, or Epperly’s rarely traveled vertical gullies. 
We’ll get our chance to go upstairs soon enough and we’ll be ready to make the most of it. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Following along! This is fascinating! Hi to Lindsay Z! You’re amazing, Woman! What an adventure!

Posted by: Jeanne Vrabel on 12/8/2017 at 6:26 am

Hang in there team!  Your day is coming.  As the old man said to his little girl, we didn’t come this far and work this hard to not climb the mountain.  Rock on!

Posted by: Les Z on 12/8/2017 at 5:25 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Acclimate on Rucu Pinchincha

A good nights rest brought us yet to another unseasonably sunny Ecuadorian morning and our first acclimatization hike up Rucu Pinchincha (15,700ft). The day started with a taxi ride from our hotel to the Teleferique de Quito, a gondola ride that would take us to 13,500ft on the eastern flanks of the active volcano. The hike starts by following a rolling ridge through high alpine meadows until we traverse to the peaks northern side where a different character is shown. We leave behind mild grassy slopes for volcanic rock and loose scree. The climb finishes with a challenging but fun Cass 3 scramble past several ledges to the mountains summit. The crew did great with the new altitude and the weather held clear and gave us panoramic views of the Ecuadorian Andes, including Cayambe (18,996ft) our first objective of the trip. We spent a few moments on top taking photos and hydrating before descending back to the Teleferique and the thicker air of Quito! Off to dinner in a short while to enjoy the traditional dishes of Ecuador. Tomorrow takes us to Fuya Fuya for more acclimatizing and the city of Otovalo! Thanks for following.

RMI Guide Steve Gately

On The Map

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