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Entries from Ecuador

Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Reach Summit of Chimborazo

We woke at over 17,000 feet at Chimborazo High Camp for our final climb. Looking outside we were surprised to see heavy snowfall. Momentarily the guides debated if the weather would push back our start time or stop us in our tracks. After discussing, we optimistically decided to stick with the plan, start packing up and hope the snow would subside. After breakfast we looked outside elated to find a perfectly starry sky, the timing was perfect. As we climbed we encountered difficult firm route conditions and a steady 20 mile an hour breeze that wouldn’t quit. Even so, just before sunrise some of the team managed to summit. That only team to do so today. We descended a route completely empty of other climbers. Back at High Camp the team had a lovely second breakfast together and relaxed after the all night battle up Chimborazo. 

RMI Guide Avery Parrinello

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Wonderful journey!  (Sounds like Pippin..second breakfast, elevenses….!)

Posted by: Terri L. Jennings on 2/20/2023 at 6:47 am

Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello and Team Reflect on Antisana Climb

We awoke inside a thick cloud engulfing basecamp on Antisana. Optimistically we ate a quick breakfast, packed up and started the hike to the base of the glacier. After an hour we ascended through the thick cloud deck and emerged into a beautifully calm, starlight night. As we ascended, we quickly encountered complex and technical glacier travel. Many crevasses emerged that were not present two weeks ago on the last RMI climb. Also, we found many steep, firm slopes that had hardened to trap crust from recent snowfall. The team climbed excellently, overcoming one obstacle after another. Unfortunately, with the summit insight, we realized we had used up too much time to reach the top and defend safely. We were also concerned with snow and crevasse bridge conditions on the very unusually warm evening. We reached 18,100 feet on Antisana, a high point for many on the team. At sunrise we watched Cotopaxi erupting before descending.

We're now safely off the mountain and looking towards our final objective of our program, Chimborazo--the tallest volcano in Ecuador. We'll keep you posted as we continue to train and discover all that Ecuador has to offer.

RMI Guide Avery Parrinello and team

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Enjoy Relaxing Day, Now Head for Antisana

Good morning all,

After enjoying a relaxing day at Casa Ilayaku the team is ready to get back to business and start walking uphill. A two hour drive brought us to the basecamp for Antisana. A quick duffle shuffle and gear sort gets us psyched and ready for our early departure, hopefully to the top this time. It's early to bed to rest the eyes and body. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates this time. 

Happy belated Valentines Day to all our loved ones,

RMI Guides Avery, Hannah, and Team

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Climb to 17,000’ on Cayambe

We awoke at 11pm at the Cayambe hut to get an alpine start on our climb. Unfortunately, when we took a look outside we encountered sideways rain. We continued to monitor the weather throughout the night with hopes of getting a late start on the climb. Finally, around 5 am the wind and rain subsided enough for us to get out of the hut and do some climbing. By that time our we could not reasonably make it to the summit and back. We climbed up to 17,000 feet and did some training in the morning sun. That was a new high point for most of the team! Resting today in a beautiful hacienda outside Quito. Here we’ll learn crevasse rescue and set out sites on the next volcano, Antisana.

RMI Guide Avery Parrinello

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Visit Local Market, Travel to base of Cayambe

Good evening readers,

What is a great way to wake up you ask? Waking up to fresh mountain air and then you walk down a colorful spiral staircase to hot coffee that you sip on a porch looking out on the lush green hills towering all around you as birds tweet in the trees. They say mountain climbing is type 2 fun (fun once your done) but so far we are experiencing type 1 fun (fun as you do it). After our casual morning we loaded the bus to the Otavalo Market. Here is where you buy all the souvenirs for your loved ones back home, plus some for yourself. The big ticket items are blankets, art work, and chocolate. After all that bartering we had worked up an appetite and made our way to a lovely sandwich shop before ending at our final destination, a beautiful hostel at the base of Cayambe. We spent our afternoon learning knots, hitches, and Earnest anchors. These are our building blocks for further skills/training later. Tomorrow we head up to the Climbers Hut where we will continue our training and prepare for our early start Monday to, fingers crossed, the summit of Cayambe. Monday is not our only early start because the alarm clock goes off at 4am tomorrow. So it's early to bed for us as we rest up for many big days to come. 

Buenos noches,

RMI Guides Avery, Hannah, and Team

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Depart Quito, Acclimatize on Fuya Fuya

Friday, February 10, 2023 - 3:10 pm PT

Woke up today, packed up and headed out of Quito to start our travels throughout Ecuador's highlands. Our first stop is the town of Otavalo. To continue acclimatizing we drove up steep cobblestone roads to a peak Fuya fuya. We parked at a beautiful crater lake with the peak in the clouds above. Rain threatened throughout the day,  but after reaching the summit we returned to the bus without a drop. Looking forward to heading towards Cayambe tomorrow! 

RMI Guide Avery Parrinello

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team knock Rucu Pichincha off their to-do list

Hola readers,

Today the team got to stretch their legs and expand their lungs hiking on El Rucu Pichincha. This peak stands at roughly 15k at the foothills of Quito. The nice thing about this hike is we get to take a gondola to 13k before we start walking. The team performed well and looked strong and ready for the volcanos to come.

The clouds rolled in and out through the day, creating some mystery on where we actually were. Were we in Lord of the Rings? Would a dinosaur appear? Who knows! You truly can't beat the beauty out here.

Next, we go to Fuya Fuya to continue to allow our bodies adjust and compensate for the decrease in pressure and less oxygen molecules to suck in. We say goodbye to Quito and hello to the rest of the journey!

Avery, Hannah, and Team

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Arrive Quito, Explore the city

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Hello readers,

Today officially kicked off our Ecuador Seminar! The team gathered in the hotel lobby to introduce their selves, say why they chose the Seminar, and where they are coming from. From first glance it appears we have a fine looking team, who is going to be a hoot to climb five peaks with. After running through the itinerary for the next twi weeks, we grabbed a quick day pack and loaded the vans to go on our city tour. First stop was the equator where we learned many fun facts about the region, the culture, and how to make delicious chocolate. We also learned who has steady hands and the patience to balance an egg on the head of a nail. After the Equator we drove to a magnificent view of the city and walked the streets of old Town. It felt good to stretch the legs and see Quito. A casual night out for dinner wrapped up our day. Today we hit our first acclimatizing hike where we get to hopefully hit 15k feet and get our bodies adjusting to the high altitudes. The team is psyched and ready to go high.


RMI Guides Avery Parrinello, Hannah Smith, and Team

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Reach Summit of Antisana

The dry weather held out for us and we summitted Antisana at 6:30am yesterday. Clouds threatened in the distance, with a fantastic lightning show in the direction of the Pichincha Volcano. However, it was mostly calm and clear at Antisana, until the summit where wind and rime ice conditions convinced us to not hang too long.

Antisana is well-liked by climbers for it's challenge and aesthetic beauty. The mountain is heavily-crevassed with numerous seracs. The largest snow bridge we crossed yesterday stretched nearly 20 meters! The use of steep snow climbing techniques and running belays are required, especially in the final 1500 vertical feet of the ascent.

Climbers on this trip have now summitted the fourth (Antisana) and third (Cayambe) highest peaks in Ecuador. If future trips bring them back here, they have Cotopaxi and Chimborazo to round out the top four. But for now, Cotopaxi continues to erupt, so those plans will need to be on hold.

After the 11-hour day of climbing, we descended to camp, ate one final Locro de Papas (potato soup), packed up camp and made one last trip in 4x4s down to the bus. We said our goodbyes to the Ecuadorian guides who have taken care of us along the way and we rejoined Victor on his bus for the two-hour ride back to Quito. The afternoon was spent relaxing in the hotel and I'll say the cold plunge felt better than ever. Today, most folks head back to the United States to regale their families with stories from another successful climbing trip.

Thank you all for following along and consider joining us next year!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Brings a smile to me…

Posted by: Terri L. Jennings on 2/4/2023 at 7:30 am

Awesome Dustin! Really enjoyed following along!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/3/2023 at 1:35 pm

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Enjoy Rest Day at Casa Ilayaku

Our rest day at Casa Ilayaku was just that, restful. For most people, reading was the main source of entertainment. We are also close enough to town that some folks made a trip into town to kill some time and do a little shopping. Avery and I went to a climbing gym and funny enough the only other two people there when we arrived were two of our local guides from Cayambe, Fatima and Fernando.

Casa Ilayaku is a wonderfully relaxing hacienda. It is modern, but built on what used to be the owner's grandfather's farmland. Due to this, much of the food served here is very local, sometimes even from the garden. Fresh avocados, tree tomatoes and a variety of other vegetables are grown right here on the property. The owner, Marco, comes from a family of farmers so even the coffee they serve is grown and roasted by his family, just outside of Cayambe. Mountaineering is hard, but the hacienda life is pretty easy. The contrast between the two activities really makes these trips special.

But hey, we can't just live at Marco's place forever. This morning we will head for Antisana basecamp, which is basically just us setting up tents in the paramo (the Spanish word for a high, treeless plateau). The camp is incredible, looking down there are long-reaching views through the grasslands and an about face reveals a huge, glaciated mountain. Antisana is broad, the glaciers are heavily crevassed and it is truly a wild place. For the last time on this trip, we hold out hope for one more night of good climbing weather!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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It sounds like Marco and I would have had a lot in common! That is so Awesome you have had such great weather! Sending best wishes for more clear sky and Strength and stamina for your next Summit!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/2/2023 at 3:28 am

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