Entries from Ecuador
June 1, 2022
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 6:39 pm PT
This day won’t be forgotten soon by our team. It was longer than most, to begin with. We were drinking coffee at 10:30 PM and loading the buses at 11. The rough road took us plenty high, but then we were out and trudging uphill by headlight for hours. It was cold and a little breezy, but we were looking at stars… and Jupiter and Neptune. We stopped in a hut long enough to put on helmets and harnesses and then marched up to the snow, where we donned crampons and ropes. The walking got easier on the snow, except it was all getting to the kind of heights that are just plain hard to climb and breathe in. We transitioned onto a glacier, still in pitch darkness. By daybreak the team had reached above 18,000 ft. All of the magnificent volcanoes of Ecuador were lined up for our viewing pleasure. There were plenty of clouds at different levels but it was evident that we were going to get lucky. Things steepened for the final 800 ft to make the team dig down deep for energy. But by 8:40 the gang was on the summit of Cotopaxi at 19,347 ft. 13 of our 18 climbers made the top, along with 6 of our excellent Ecuadorian guiding staff. The team was back at the lodge by midday and packing for departure. By 2 PM we were in our buses and headed for the jets. Now -at 6:30 PM- we’re high over Cuba, pointed toward Miami and a celebration on the water. A big day indeed, much of our team shattered personal altitude records and found inner strength they hadn’t imagined.
May 30, 2022
Today was nice and easy… a chance to sip coffee and stare at the big volcano out the window. It changed every few minutes, with clouds and light increasing, decreasing and doing just what clouds and light always do.
We took it easy to enhance our acclimatization and to prepare for tonight’s climb. There was a small and easy training and gear session out in the grass. But that was balanced by naps and meals.
We’re ready! Awake in just a few hours for our Alpine start.
May 30, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022 - 6:33 pm PT
Today we climbed Iliniza Norte to it’s quite pointy summit at 18,818 ft. The entire group made the top in a mere two and a half hours from the hut. We began at 6:30 AM in partly cloudy conditions. It was a little cold and windy at first, on icy and slippery rock and dirt, but things improved. We got amazing views of Cotopaxi and Iliniza Sur, but the rugged rock scrambling required to get up Iliniza Norte kept us well focused on the task at hand. We hit the top at 9 AM and spent 30 minutes before beginning a careful descent. The team moved well, with excellent help from our local guide staff, and we were at the base of the mountain by midday.
We enjoyed a celebratory steak lunch at a restaurant on the way to Cotopaxi National Park and then made our way uphill and into the park to the Tambopoxi Lodge. Clouds cleared from the mountain at sunset and we had amazing views of our big objective of the next few days.
May 29, 2022
May 28 5:15pm PT
Checking in from Nuevos Hortizantes Refugio!
The entire team, 20 of us plus 5 local guides, are in place for a summit attempt on Iliniza Norte. This is an important part of our preparation for Cotopaxi. Today we climbed three hours and 2700 ft under cloudy skies to reach the hut. We'll set out at 6 AM to go toward the 16,818' summit. Hoping for clear skies and grand views. Perhaps we'll get some good exercise.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and Team
May 28, 2022
Our team made it down to Ecuador yesterday and this morning. By midday we were together in Quito and ready to stretch out after travel. We need exercise and altitude to get prepared for our climb of Cotopaxi in a few days. We took a bus ride through the bustling and vibrant city to the tram onto the slopes of Rucu Pichincha. The teleferico got us way up to 13,500 ft in a hurry. It was cloudy, so we only had glimpses of the bases of the great volcanoes, but conditions were just fine for strolling along the trails. We enjoyed seeing Caracaras (colorful hawks) and went close to 14,000 ft in altitude. By then the hour was getting late and we decided to call it good for a big first day in Ecuador. We had an easy walk down, a few coffees and donuts for the tram ride, and then a trip back to the hotel. We finished with a fine dinner and a plan for setting out for further altitude training in the morning.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and Team
February 19, 2022
It was another breathless, warm morning on the Ecuadorian countryside. Our beautiful hacienda was situated perfectly in a giant valley which runs directly from our dining room window unabated for 7000’ vertical feet straight to the summit.
Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the earth and closest to the sun, was mostly displaying her majesty as we sipped coffee and ate our eggs. As the morning wore on, she hid herself from view and we loaded the magic bus ready to take us to the Chimborazo trailhead. By 1:30 all our packs were packed, and it was off to high camp at 17,500 feet.
At this altitude nothing feels perfect, unzipping your trousers just to take a pee can leave you winded. But our seemingly invincible team has again handled things with grace under pressure and is doing well up here. Once again, the Ecuadorians have done it right, providing a giant dome tent for our lounging pleasure.
But don’t get too comfy bloglandia, the alarm is set for a mere four hour from not. It is then we will have our final test?
The is rest well with a positive psych ! Wish us well!
RMI Guides Adam Knoff, Hannah Smith and Team
All the Best for Big Strong Lungs!!!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/20/2022 at 3:44 am
February 19, 2022
After another long deep sleep, its coffee that gets most of the team out of bed. One by one, we all wandered to the breakfast table. We are greeted with espresso, fruit, and toast. There is a mystery fruit on the table. Inside is a snot like texture with a sweet taste. The morning entertainment is watching everyone figure out how to eat it. Consesus is the texture might be a bit much. After breakfast its another round of duffle shuffle into the van. The driver has a real skill for stacking our jenga tower of bags. After a quick lesson on pickets and anchors, we load the van to head to the base of Chimborazo. Chimborazo is our final mountain. Fingers crossed we bat 3 for 3. A half way stop for burgers and fries fills our stomachs for the rest of the drive. As we get closer and closer to our destination we are graced with a tiny view of the bottom of Chimborazo and many vicunas. We are again in an adorable place for the night. We all rest up for the final climb. Tomorrow will bring us to High Camp and then hopfully the summit. For now we enjoy dinner and bid you goodnight.
“Snot like texture with a sweet taste” LMAO Love this blog!!! All the Best!!! Climb Strong & Best wishes for more Perfect weather!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/19/2022 at 8:27 am
February 17, 2022
Hannah and I are thrilled to announce to bloglandia that every RMI team member, all 13 of us, summited Cotopaxi this morning around 6:15 am. I gotta say, this team is batting the perfect game. Every climber has successfully reached the top of all four mountains without as much as a few blisters. Granted I taped those blisters up this morning at 12:03 am and I was happy they weren’t mine, but it goes to show that stamina and toughness go a long way up here.
Potentially assisting in the team’s great success is the unbelievable weather. I was awe struck at how beautiful Cayambe was but surprised even more at the perfection of today’s weather and route conditions. Whoever cashed in their karma chips certainly deserves a Pilsner Grande for their investment. We simply could not be blessed with better luck. Adding to the beauty this evening was a near full moon which lit up the glacier so brightly we were able to climb without headlamps. Usually one element, wind, rain, snow, fog or cold is waiting for you at the top. Today all we had was an intense rotten egg smell from the still active lava tube belching sulfurous gas but other than that nada mucho.
After a spectacular climb and full blown photo shoot extravaganza, we descended quickly to the hut for homemade pancakes. Again, this is how mountain climbing should be? (When do we get cooks again at camp Muir?)
A brief packing session and 600 vertical foot hike down to the bus landed our exhausted carcasses into our assigned seats and off to the Hacienda for a needed shower and big dinner. I think the average calorie burn on peoples watches indicated between 7 and 9 thousand calories for the day so some papas fritas and lots of meat shouldn’t tighten the belt too much.
We hope this trend continues tomorrow as we head further south to attempt the grand finale of Chimborazo. This mountain is notorious for its difficulty so stay tuned.
2022 is being wonderful! Keep it going! Congrats!
Posted by: Jane on 2/17/2022 at 7:02 pm
This is So Cool Adam , Hannah and Team!!! Enjoy dinner and live in this Awesome time you are all having!!!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/17/2022 at 3:21 pm
February 16, 2022
Today was a day we have all been hoping for. No alarm clocks, no rush to load the small mountain of duffles in the bus and internet all morning.
By the whipping crack of 1pm we had pacticed cravasse rescue, drank a gallon of coffee and packed our mountain bags.
A short bus ride up a road bumpy enough to make our seats feel like vibrating massage chairs, landed us at 15,200 feet. A 40 minute cruise took us to the Jose Ribas refugio on the flanks of Cotopaxi. We can definitely feel the 16,000 foot altitude. But after Cayambe we are all well prepared. We even have the privilege of waking up "tomorrow" because our alarm clocks won't ring until one minute past midnight. Wish us well as we are once again a full team with Maria's knee feeling much better.
With a body exhausted from little sleep and climbing a volcano the team enjoyed a great nights sleep. Sleep apps showed we all slept so well we were basically comatose. As we all rose from our slumber we casually allowed our bodies to wake while sipping coffee and basking in a beautiful morning.
Today is a rest day as we transfer to Tambopoxi and run through some skills. A three hour drive through more beautiful scenery brought us to the park entrance. Once again you can feel the excitement as we get ready for Cotopaxi. The mountain is being shy tonight, so no views of this beauty yet. Maybe in the morning she will reveal herself.
Before dinner the team gathered around a playground set where we pretended the monkey bars were the edge of a crevasse. In this scenario the team learned how to self rescue if they had fallen into a crevasse. Using the previous skills of learning about friction hitches, we all ascended the rope pretending we were climbing out of crevasse. Cookies and a glass of wine/beer wrapped up our skill session.
Many times on climbing trips you lose some weight, but on this trip we are all eating so well that who knows maybe we gain a pound. Dinner once again was delcious followed by a beautiful looking dessert. We are not sure exactly what it was but we can all agree it was delightful.
With heavy eyes, we all leave the table for bed. Showers and phone calls to loved ones wrappwd up our rest day. Tomorrow we go through some more skills before heading up to the hut on Cotopaxi. Round two here we come!
RMI Guides Adam, Hannah, and team