Entries from Ecuador
We set out early this morning for our first acclimatization climb. The day started with a gondola ride from Quito to ~13,500’. Then the fun began. We headed west on a well-defined trail that followed a ridge on the shoulder of Rucu Pichincha. As the hiking continued, the trail got steeper and the air didn’t get any thicker. After a couple hundred feet of rock scrambling we arrived at the summit of Rucu Pichincha (~15,700’). Views were sporadic as clouds moved in and out. When the views were there, though, they were stunning, looking down on Quito almost 7,000’ below. The weather was pleasant and we spent a decent amount of time relaxing up top. Then we retraced our steps and rode the gondola back to town. Now, back at our hotel, we’re cleaning up, resting, and packing for an early departure tomorrow to head north towards the town of Otovalo where we’ll tackle our second acclimatization hike, this time to an ancient volcano called Fuya Fuya.
On The Map
Our Ecuador trip is up and running, and we spent our first day in country visiting the Equator and an ethnographic museum where we learned about the various diverse cultures of the country and were able to simultaneously stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Afterwards, we travelled to southern Quito to visit the old town, or colonial area. Here we toured Independence Plaza, the Compania de Jesus church, and walked the streets of old town, learning about Ecuador’s history. After a fun, educational, and jam-packed day, we’ve got some down time before dinner. Tomorrow we’ll get up early and go on our first acclimatization hike up Rucu Pichincha, a 15,700 ft. volcano that towers over Quito.
On The Map
May 20, 2017
We saw the sun on day one and haven’t really seen it since. The trend of southern flow pushing moisture our way continues, and it snowed off and on all day. While climbing on bright, bluebird days is nice, it really doesn’t get much better than conditions today. While we couldn’t see a lot, there was very little wind on a piece of the mountain that is known for wind, the clouds and snow kept the temps pleasantly cool, and the fresh snow has set up creating great cramponing conditions. We cruised out of camp a bit after the main rush, which kept us out of traffic all day. A few smooth stretches later, we rounded Windy Corner and reached our cache site. All told, the day was really smooth and pleasant, and we’re feeling really good about getting a big chunk of weight uphill. On the docket for tomorrow is done hard chilling time, nap competitions, and general self care before we look to move to 14.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Jenny Konway, Jess Matthews and Team
The daily blog and pictures are FABULOUS!
Sending Joel and the team some warm Arizona sunshine.
Posted by: Susie Okun on 5/20/2017 at 1:56 pm
Well, our luck had to run out eventually. We’ve had a good run so far this trip, but Chimborazo proved to be our match. Our teams turned this morning just under 19,000’ due to a variety of compounding issues, but the climb still provided us with over six hours of engaging terrain, from challenging rock steps to steep and firm snow slopes. Although we would have all loved to have reached the top, everyone agrees we made the right decision to turn around early and are all glad to be back down safely, celebrating the successful conclusion of our seminar down south.
From a guide’s perspective, not summiting this morning provided us all with one last valuable lesson: mountaineering isn’t always about standing on top. So much of climbing is learning to recognize when a summit just isn’t in the cards and being able to make the conservative call. Chimborazo will be here for a while. We didn’t make it this time, but I like to think of that as an open invitation to return again some day down the road.
Tomorrow morning we will return to Quito, say our final goodbyes, and fly home to our families. It has been an incredible two weeks, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know this wonderful group of people. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to hear all the stories that never made it to the blog directly from your loved ones.
It’s been a great adventure!
Signing off one last time,
RMI Guide Nick Hunt
Hello from 17,500’ above sea level! We moved to our High Camp on Chimborazo today, getting ready for our last summit attempt of our trip. At 20,800’, this peak promises to challenge us and we’re taking the rest of the afternoon to rest and prepare. We’ll be hitting the sack early tonight and getting up early. Wish us luck! The weather is looking promising at the moment, so the team is optimistic. We’ll let you know how it went tomorrow.
RMI Guide Nick Hunt and the rest of the Ecuador team!
February 3, 2017
After a late dinner last night the team enjoyed a good nights rest at our hotel, La Cienega. Our agenda for today was quite simple, gorge ourselves on burrito’s and drive to our climbing hut on Chimborazo.
After a simple breakfast of sliced fruit and eggs we hit the road at 10:30AM. We made a short stop at a grocery store to buy water and last minute items before heading to El Rey del Burrito and the biggest challenge of our day, surviving lunch. The small restaurant, located in the bustling city of Ambato is home to the infamous 50cm burrito. That is nearly two feet of tortilla, meat and cheese! Fortunate for us, Jason, was willing and turns out quite up to the challenge, finishing the burrito as if were an afternoon snack! The rest of us were content with spectating. With full bellies we loaded back onto our trusty tour bus and our driver Victor speed off to Chimborazo.
We are all now safely nestled in at 15,000’ on the side of the tallest peak in Ecuador. We will get another well needed full nights rest before moving to our high camp tomorrow in preparation for our summit attempt. From everybody on the team, thanks for following along!
February 2, 2017
Another great day in the mountains and another summit! Today the Ecuador Skills Seminar team stood on top of Antisana, the second large objective for this trip.
Although the weather was windy and wet when we woke up this morning, we waited it out and were able to leave in decent conditions. The climbing on Antisana is quite a bit more technical than our previous peak of Cayambe, but all the training over the last few days paid off. Everyone was able to tackle the route finding, steep climbing, and exposure in good style.
We did end up climbing in to a cap on the summit, however, and everyone was covered in rime ice by the time we reached the top. Most folks had all their layers on to combat the chilly wind, but it was still fun for everyone!
Twelve hours after leaving camp we returned, and immediately got around to packing up our things and tearing down all of the tents. We traveled to a beautiful hacienda for the evening and are all looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.
Sorry for the short post, but even the guides get tired on long climbs like today!
We’ll be moving to Chimborazo Base Camp tomorrow to prepare for our third and final peak of the trip.
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Steve Gately and the rest of the Ecuador team!
February 1, 2017
Training day on Antisana. After a good dinner last night and plenty of rest, the team was up and in good spirits this morning. After a relaxing breakfast with coffee, hot cereal, and chill out music, we geared up and headed uphill to the training site for the day.
The lower flanks of Antisana’s glaciers are a rolling field of hard blue ice, making an excellent site to practice some of the more advanced mountaineering skills. We covered steep fixed line travel with ascenders, rappelling, and vertical ice climbing. Everyone had a good time today!
We wrapped the day up in the early afternoon, getting back to our base camp just after 1pm. This gave us plenty of time to crush some quesadillas for lunch and prepare for our summit attempt tonight.
We are going to have an early night tonight, and go for the top of Antisana this evening. Wish us luck!
We’ll check in tomorrow when we’re back down.
January 31, 2017
Greetings once more from Ecuador!
Today was what climbers like to call an “active rest day”. After our successful summit of Cayambe yesterday, our bodies need some time to recover and prepare for our next objective. But rather than just napping all day, we took the opportunity to exercise our minds and learn a few new technical skills.
We moved this morning from the hacienda to our Base Camp for Antisana, where we pitched a bunch of tents in the rolling meadows at the base of the peak. After a little bit of afternoon napping, we donned our thinking caps and filled the evening hours refreshing our knowledge on knots and practiced a crevasse rescue scenario around camp. This was followed by an incredible pasta dinner cooked by fellow guide Steve Gately. If he wasn’t such a good guide, he’d make a pretty good chef!
With full bellies, we crawled in to our sleeping bags to get another good night of rest. Tomorrow morning we’ll head out to the toe of Antisana’s glaciers for more training in the field.
Stay tuned for updates tomorrow as we prepare for our second summit attempt!
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Steve Gately, and the rest of the Ecuador Team
January 30, 2017
Cumbre! Today we successfully summited Cayambe, our first big objective of this seminar.
We woke up this morning (last night?) at 11PM and were greeted with the closest thing to ideal climbing conditions: clear skies, no wind, and cool temperatures. Whatever sacrifices were made to the weather gods last night clearly worked out for us!
After a quick breakfast in the hut, we geared up, turned on the headlamps, and began our long day of climbing. We started our climb with about an hour of scrambling over rocky terrain, making our way to the toe of the glacier. Once there, we donned our crampons, ice axes and climbing ropes to begin the technical climbing. Unlike most mountaineering routes in the United States that utilize many switchbacks to ease the pain of ascending steep slopes, the route on Cayambe is fairly direct, cutting straight up “the gut” of the slopes. You gain altitude quicker, but the climbing is bit more strenuous.
Our team persevered, however, and as we neared the summit ridge, we were ready to tackle the crux of this climb: a steep, exposed traverse through a maze of seracs and crevasses. Although the traverse is relatively short, gaining roughly 200 feet of vertical elevation, managing that type of terrain at 18,800’ above sea level is never easy. This team handled it in good style, though, and we gained the summit ridge just after sunrise this morning, giving us stunning views of Antisana, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo as we walked the final 15 minutes along the ridge to the summit of Cayambe.
We successfully made our way down, and we are now relaxing at the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, giving our bodies a chance to recover as we prepare to move tomorrow to the base camp of Antisana, our second objective of this trip. I’m sure the entire team is looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight!
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Steve Gately, and the rest of the Ecuador team
On The Map
I am ecstatic to read this news this morning! Congrats to everyone, and sincere thank yo to the weather gods!
Posted by: Denise reynolds on 1/31/2017 at 8:20 am
Nice work ! Congrats Nick and team !
Posted by: Jim Nixon on 1/30/2017 at 8:26 pm