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Entries from Ecuador


Ecuador Seminar: Billy Nugent & Team Meet in Quito

February 3, 2016
Welcome to a series of dispatches from our most recent expedition seminar in Ecuador! This morning we officially met for the first time as a team and enjoyed a nice breakfast at our hotel before heading out on a cultural tour of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. We started off our sightseeing with a visit to the geographic equator and an interesting sort of a natural history museum at the same site. We saw all sorts of cool stuff like enormous anaconda skins, crazy spiders, a spiny Amazonian fish that will swim up your urethra, and even a real human shrunken head from the jungles of eastern Ecuador. Crazy stuff. We spent the afternoon visiting the old town of Quito which is a Unesco World Heritage site with many buildings dating back to the 1500’s. Lots of cool churches were visited and we learned about Ecuador’s tumultuous political history as we saw the sights with our local cultural guide Angel. We’ve got a great group of guys and we are all excited to get out tomorrow and feel a little altitude. Although, it could be said we’re starting out acclimation process right here in Quito, hanging out at just over 9,000’.

Talk tomorrow…

February 4, 2016
We woke today to broken clouds and another lovely morning here in Quito. Jaime, our local man with a plan (he’s our coordinator for nearly everything we’ll do) decided to join us on our climb of Rucu Pichincha just for fun. After a quick taxi ride over to the Teleférico and a scenic ride up the gondola we began our approach towards Pichincha’s rocky summit through gentler, but beautiful green mountains. Our team moved well for the most part despite feeling the acute burn of our first serious dose of altitude. The summit block involved a bit of easy scrambling but before long the team found themselves on the summit, albeit in a sea of clouds. Still, we were able to catch a few glimpses of the active part of Pichincha’s caldera, la Pichincha Guagua and down to the buildings of Quito filling the valley far below. We celebrated our last night in Quito with a great pizza dinner and are all looking forward to getting outta town tomorrow on our way eventually to Cayambe in the north. 

Later!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

A photo posted by Billy Nugent (@carlhungus23) on


Ecuador: Grom & Team Enjoy Relaxing Day

Hello again everyone
All is well here in Ecuador. Today the team spent the morning relaxing a bit and enjoying the beautiful surroundings and practicing some technical rope work that will hopefully come in handy tomorrow. Then a few folks went on a horseback ride while the rest of us relaxed around the hacienda. We wrapped the afternoon with a little more training and good conversations.

Our plan is to head to bed soon and get up around 5am to start our climb which is just a few miles down the road. If the weather continues we hope to summit and make our way back to Quito by mid to late afternoon.

It’s sad to think our adventure is nearly over, but I am sure everyone is excited to return to their loved ones.

We’ll check in again tomorrow. That’s all for today.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew


Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team’s Decision on Next Climbing Objective

The team is well rested after our long climb on Cayambe. It took us about eight hours to reach the summit and another four to safely descend all the way back to the hut. Everyone was very happy, but also very tired from such a long day.
After descending from the mountain we had a wonderful lunch before arriving at Hacienda Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, which dates back to 1580. Everyone slept very well and enjoyed the hot showers to say the least.

Today we had a nice big breakfast and had a team meeting to discuss the upcoming climb on Chimborazo. Currently the climbing conditions here in Ecuador are less than ideal on several mountains including Chimbo. The local guides and I discussed the difficulty and hazardous conditions that awaited us there and decided it’s a little more than we are willing to risk.
The team was a little disappointed we weren’t going to climb to 20,000+ft, but everyone agreed it might be best to choose a safer option.
Our new plan is to climb another mountain that hasn’t been affected by the unusually dry weather, yet still gives us a challenging ascent.
We have relocated to a quaint little place in the countryside not too far from our next climb Rumiñahui. It’s not the big mountain we were hoping for, but I’m certain we will all enjoy the climb.

We’ll spend the day doing some training here tomorrow and getting prepared for our next adventure.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew


Ecuador: Grom & Team Summit Cayambe

The Ecuador’s Volcanoes January 19th trip reached the summit of Cayambe today at 18,977’, RMI Guide Casey Grom said it was a tough climb and the ascent was 8 hours.  The team descended safely back to camp and then packed up their gear and loaded vechicles toward their hacienda for the night.  They were looking forward to hot showers and a good night’s rest.

Congratulations to all the climbers for their great effort today.

On The Map

Well done guys. It sounded like a tough climb so I hope you are all feeling good about your achievements so far!
Have fun on the rest of the trip! good luck and stay safe.

Posted by: Peter Williamson on 1/26/2016 at 8:22 am

Congratulations Dave, John & the rest of your team.  I was thinking about you when I was in PT yesterday.  Glad you are having a good trip.  Gambatte!

Posted by: Jean on 1/26/2016 at 4:25 am


Ecuador: Grom & Team Prepare for Cayambe Climb

Hey everybody, this is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador’s Volcanoes trip to let you know that we had another nice day down here on the equator. We woke up this morning at about 6 and had a quick breakfast and then tried to get out the door as close to 7 as we could. We hiked for about an hour and a half up to where the start of the glacier is here on Cayambe and took a nice break.  We spent the next couple hours reviewing some basic climbing techniques and trying to do a few advanced things and just getting ourselves prepared for tonight’s climb. The team is doing great, we just wrapped up dinner not too long ago.  We packed our backpacks and everybody’s off bed. If all goes well our plan is to wake up at about 11 p.m. and have another hot breakfast and hopefully be headed up hill about midnight. Currently it’s been pretty icy down here it’s been pretty dry and they haven’t had a lot of snow so I think the route might be a little more circuitous than normal. I am anticipating about a 7 hour ascent so if we are fortunate we might be able to reach the summit around 7 a.m.  Then we will take a handful of photos and then we’ll make our way back down. Regardless of how our climb goes tomorrow, our plan is to pack up and get out of here and head down to another hacienda so we will check in sometime tomorrow mid day and let everybody know how we’re doing.  All right you guys.

Thanks,
RMI Guide Casey Grom


RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from the climbers hut on Cayambe.

On The Map


Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Visit the Otavalo Market

Hey everybody. This is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador Volcanoes trip. We have a great day today. We started off with a nice leisurely breakfast at La Casa Sol. We departed there at about 10:30 and made our way, just about 10 minutes down the road, to the big open air market of Otavalo. Otavalo has one of the largest markets in South America. It just so happens that Saturday is the big market there. We spent a little more than an hour doing some shopping, a little bartering and just general sightseeing as we made our way around the the central square in the town of Otavalo. After we had our fill there, we hopped in our van and we go to the town of Cayambe, which sits just at the base of the mountain Cayambe where we had a nice lunch and then we loaded up the vans one more time and had a nice bumpy, but enjoyable, ride up to the hut that is right at the base of the glacier here on Cayambe. We’re currently relaxing up here at about 15,000 feet. In fact it is a little after 8:30 for us here, that’s east coast time, and the team is outside looking up at a beautiful full moon and a fantastic view of Cayambe. Everyone’s doing great. We’re going to head to bed here pretty soon and then hopefully head up to the glacier tomorrow to do a little training in preparation for our climb. Other than that everything is going great for us and we’ll check in again sometime tomorrow. Alright thank you guys.

RMI Guide Casey Grom


RMI Guide Casey Grom calls in from Cayambe Climber's Hut.

Thank you, Casey, for these wonderful updates and for this awesome expedition!  I loved my phone call from the top of Cayambe.

We are thinking of all of you, and can’t wait to hear the stories and see the photos! 

Group hug! 

Laura

Posted by: Laura Bryson on 1/25/2016 at 6:57 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Enjoy the Scenery from Fuya Fuya

Hello again everyone!

Today the team left behind the hustle and bustle of Quito and moved just north of the Equator to the comfortable and quiet rural countryside. Once outside the city limits the landscape quickly turned into rolling hills with farms pitched on steep slopes and dozens of small eucalyptus forest.

Our plan was to visit a smaller mountain called Fuya Fuya where we stretched our legs on a nice steep and short acclimatization hike. Thankfully the weather wasn’t too bad which allowed us to see some amazing views of the beautiful surrounding landscape. 

We are just on the outskirts of a town call Otavalo, which is known for its massive market and we are currently relaxing at a wonderful Hacienda called “La Casa Sol”. The team is doing great and looking forward to nice quiet night here.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

Howard and Bill—-you guys look great!!!!!—continue being SAFE CAREFUL CAUTIOUS and enjoy this awesome experience. Best of luck to the whole team.  (Love you Howard —neehi :-). )

Posted by: Anita on 1/23/2016 at 5:58 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Acclimatize on Rucu Pichincha

Hello again everyone.
Today we had a very nice hike to help with our acclimatization on a nearby peak called Pichincha. It is one of the many local peaks that is situated above Quito and is used by many climbers to help adjust to the higher altitude here in Ecuador. We made use of the gondolas to help us gain access to around 13,000ft then hiked the additional 2,500ft to the summit. It took our team roughly three hours to gain the top after a little scrambling up the final bit to reach our high point thus far. It was a personal high point for a few of us, and the entire team did a fantastic job. After spending a bit of time on the summit and getting our photos we descended all the back to our hotel for a brief nap before dinner.
Everyone is in good spirits and looking forward to tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew


Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Explore Historical Quito

Hola from Ecuador!

After some very long flights and a little bit of sleep the team is doing well. We started our day with a team meeting where we did our usual round of introductions and discussed the game plan for our upcoming adventure.

After the meeting we headed out on the town to explore this beautiful historical city with our tour guide Angel. We first headed north to visit the Equator from which Ecuador gets its name, then headed to the older part of town where visited several old cathedrals, and the colonial town square. Next we headed up to a small hill called La Panacia that over looks this beautiful city before returning to the hotel for a little break.

We wrapped up the day with a quick gear check to make sure everyone has all the gear needed for our climbs. Then it was off to dinner at a nice restaurant where we were enjoyed getting to know each other better.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

This is for John Newland. Climb your butt off you can do it. Show those kids you can be on Medicare and still climb.

Posted by: Doug on 1/22/2016 at 10:18 am

Excited you have such a great team! Good luck honey. :)

Posted by: Sydney on 1/20/2016 at 9:16 pm


Ecuador Seminar: Summit Day on Chimborazo

Summit day on Chimborazo. Not only were our bodies still recovering from the two previous big climbs of Cayambe and Antisana, we saved the trickiest and tallest climb for last. Towering over the surrounding landscape at 20,700ft, Chimborazo was our final objective. And boy, did it deliver!

Even in the best conditions, this peak isn’t an easy target. But coupled with uncharacteristically dry season this year, this climb proved to be the most physically and mentally demanding of the trip.

We hiked up yesterday to our High Camp at around 17,500’, made some dinner, and hit the sack. Our climb this morning began with our 11pm alarms waking us from our sleep. After tidying up camp, slamming some calories, and chugging some coffee, we pointed our tired feet uphill towards the summit.

The climb began with about an hour and a half of walking on trail, exposed ridges, and a couple of 5th class climbing moves. As the trail steepened, we cramponed up and prepared to hit the glacier.

Because of the dry spell Ecuador has been experiencing, the glacier was a challenging beast! Steep, firm, icy, exposed. Perfect footwork was required for the entire ascent, but our team delivered! From challenging cramponing to sections of pitched-out steep ice, this team persevered and tackled everything that crossed their paths. After a grueling 7.5 hours, we reached the Veintemilla summit at 20,561’, 30 minutes later we had turned tail and began the descent.

The steep ice and exposure made the descent as difficult as the ascent, but the team kept their heads in the game and we made it safely back to high camp by 2pm. Our porters had already packed up camp for us, making it easy for us to continue on our final descent back to the bus.

The (thoroughly exhausted yet happy) team is now back at Estrella de Chimborazo, enjoying some much earned beverages, and reminiscing about these crazy last two weeks. It’s hard to believe we’re heading back to the big city tomorrow and flying home!

We will have one more update for you guys tomorrow, but we’ll all be home to tell you more stories firsthand before you know it!

Until tomorrow,
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Adam Knoff

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