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RMI Expeditions Blog

November 30, 2015

Cayambe Express

Cayambe Express: Grom & Team Tour Quito and Visit the Equator

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 Daniela. She first took us to the older part of town where we visited several old cathedrals, then to the colonial town square. Next we headed up to a small hill called La Panacia that over looks this beautiful city before heading north to visit the equator from which Ecuador gets its name.

We finished the day with a small break and then 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 Ecuadorian restaurant where we enjoyed getting to know each other better.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

It certainly looked like a spectacular day in Quito!
Can’t wait to hear more!
Love to Craig!

Posted by: Carol Clark on 11/30/2015 at 5:27 pm

November 24, 2015

The Top Five Reasons To Ice Climb In Ouray, CO

Ouray, CO is a small mountain town located near the ski resort of Telluride, CO and in the heart of the San Juan mountains. Ouray has become the preeminent destination in the U.S. for ice climbing, and is known throughout the world as well. RMI Guide Geoff Schellens has spent his last five winters climbing and guiding ice in Ouray, and gives his top five reasons to visit the small, exciting mountain town this winter.

1. The Ouray Ice Park:  Located two minutes from town, the Ouray ice park is the largest man-made ice park in the world.  With over 200 established routes ranging from beginner to difficult ice and mixed climbs and immediate in-town access, the park is the place for any climber to hone their skills. Managed by the Ouray Ice Park staff who turn on nearly 100 showerheads every afternoon to rebuild ice for the next day and keep the park in tip-top shape, this unique playground is free to the public, though donations are much appreciated.  The ice park is open seven days a week from mid December to late March.

2. Back Country Ice Climbing:  The San Juan Mountains surrounding Ouray are home to many of the best backcountry ice in the US.  From roadside multi-pitch climbs on Camp Bird Road to long alpine style ice in Eureka and Telluride, one can find amazing ice and beautiful Rocky Mountain solitude within an hour drive.  Famous backcountry routes including Stairway to Heaven, The Ribbon, Skylight, and Bridal Veil Falls are just a few of the sought after classics in the area.

3. The Town of Ouray:  This small mountain town has a rich climbing culture.  It is not uncommon to see world-class climbers grabbing a pint at the Ourale House or coffee and decadent treat at Mouse’s Chocolate and Coffee following a day on the ice.  With over 130 years of history, the town of Ouray is an eclectic blend of new and old.  There are a plethora of unique restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels where climbers reconvene with stories from the day’s escapades and plans for tomorrow’s adventure.

4. The Ouray Hot Springs:  Located in the heart of town, the Ouray Hot Springs is a public soaking spot not to be missed.  Hosting four pools ranging in temperatures from 88º to 106º, the hot springs provide a wonderful way to relax those sore muscles after a day of ice climbing.

5. The Ouray Ice Fest:  Typically falling on the second weekend in January, the Ouray Ice Fest is the event of the year.  During the day, clinics like ‘Intro to Ice’, ‘Steep Ice Techniques’ and ‘Speed and Efficiency on Ice’ are hosted by world-class athletes and guides.  In the evening, slideshows, presentations and events such as the Petzl party are held in town. Don’t be too engrossed to miss the highlight of the weekend: the ice climbing competition.  Top climbers from around the world come to test their skill on the difficult competition wall.

For anyone interested in learning to ice climb, or looking to take their skills further, Ouray is the perfect destination. The density of available routes, across the spectrum of difficulty, means that there is something for everyone in Ouray. Join one of our Ice Climbing programs this year, and let Geoff or another of our exceptional guides share the excitement of ice climbing with you!

Geoff Schellens is a senior guide at RMI. An AMGA certified rock guide, Geoff guides exciting mountain adventures around the world for RMI. Geoff will be guiding Ice programs in Ouray this winter, before starting off his summer season leading an expedition on the West Rib of Denali and then on to Alpamayo. Let Geoff share his wealth of ice climbing knowledge with you this winter!

November 19, 2015

Mt. Everest Southside


At their teacher’s request, the 7th grade class in Crystal River, FL, Skyped with RMI guides JJ Justman and Joe Horiskey for 60 minutes yesterday. We discussed mountain climbing in general, and fielded questions about Mt Everest in particular.

The class was doing a novel study of the book “Peak” by northwest author Roland Smith, which centers on a 14-year-old boy climbing Mt Everest.  Their teacher, Sarah, had inquired by email whether RMI would be willing to Skype with her class.  Of course the answer was a resounding “Yes!”

The students, obviously well-versed in their subject, asked pertinent questions on topics such as: the effects of altitude on the human body, requisites of food and gear for climbing Mt Everest, necessary climbing experience, and surviving for an extended period of time in potentially hostile terrain.

Being familiar with the tragedies which had befallen the mountain the past two consecutive years, the class was riveted to hear JJ’s first-hand account of actually being at Camp l last April 25 when the earthquake struck.  He also presented video of his evacuation by helicopter to Base Camp.

One student asked how climbers deal with being separated from loved ones, friends and family, for extended periods of time. Another inquired about our “scariest moments” as mountain guides.  But throughout, our message to the class emphasized safety, and while mountain climbing does involve accepting a certain amount of risk that is the case for many activities in life (sports, driving, etc). 

Sarah noted at the conclusion of our presentation the kids’ favorite photo was of the abbreviated ‘runway’ in Lukla (at Tenzing-Hillary Airport)!  JJ and I really enjoyed talking with Sarah’s class and look forward to similar presentations with hers and others in the future!

RMI Guide Joe Horiskey

Thank you for taking the time to extend our students’ learning. It was great hearing their excitement and discussions after you signed off. You did a great job connecting with them.

Posted by: Lori Casalvieri on 11/19/2015 at 3:15 pm

November 14, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Weathered Off of Orizaba

Well folks…I had my best weather day on Ixta. And yesterday and today, I had my worst weather day on Orizaba. The team is great but we were unable to summit Orizaba. High winds and a constant rain prevented us from going higher. However, that is not preventing us from having a great experience. As for me, this was a phenomenal team and we had I think, too much fun. Mike and I hope to climb with everyone again. We are now back at Sr. Reyes and are drying all our soggy gear.

This is the last blog for Team Mexico. Thank you all for following along.

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

November 13, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Check In from Piedra Grande Hut

Hi everyone. This is JJ Justman and Mike King and Team Mexico. This morning we parted the beautiful colonial city of Puebla.  We had a great rest day yesterday in Puebla enjoying a little bit of the good life.  This morning we took off and headed to Orizaba, which is where we are right now. We set up camp. We are actually going expedition style, so the tents are up and the stoves are going for some hot drinks. The weather right now is a little little bit cloudy, little bit foggy and a light mist.  The weather actually isn’t too bad; nice and calm so that’s good. Everyone’s doing really, really well. We’re looking forward to a great summit day tomorrow. Our plan is to have an early dinner, and then wake up and start climbing just after midnight, give or take. It should be a full day for us tomorrow, so stay tuned. We’ll give a call, keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully will call you from the summit of the third highest mountain in North America, Orizaba. Thanks for following along. We’ll touch base again tomorrow. Bye.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls in from Piedra Grande Hut in Mexico.

On The Map

November 12, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: RMI Guide JJ Justman Shares Ixta Summit Photos and Video

The RMI Mexico team is in Puebla.  While at their hotel, RMI Guide, JJ Justman, was able to send us photos and a video of his team’s successful Ixta summit. Check it out below!

November 11, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Summit Ixtaccihuatl

Hey, everyone, this is JJ and Mike and Team Mexico. I’m going to give everyone 3 seconds to guess, that’s right, three seconds to guess where we are. You don’t need that much time you guessed it, we are all 100%, the entire team, is on the summit of Ixta as we speak.  I’ll tell you what, it was a beautiful day climbing, actually probably my best day on Ixta of all my years, over a decade of coming here. Just a beautiful day climbing and a great strong team, we worked hard but everyone did well. We are taking a few summit photos, have a little bit of water and food and then we are going to throw the rucksacks back on and head down hill. Don’t go too far away we are going to go all the way down to Puebla later this afternoon.  And I’m going to hopefully make a summit video as well as post a few photos. Thanks for following along. We are really excited to be up here and we really appreciate your support. So stay tuned a little later and you’ll see how beautiful today was climbing.  Take care everyone, chao from the summit of Ixta.

RMI Guide JJ Justman

RMI Guide JJ Justman calls from the summit of Ixtaccihuatl, 17,340', Mexico.

On The Map

Congrats to Rhonda and the rest of the team.  Stay strong and be safe.

Posted by: Judy on 11/11/2015 at 10:13 am

Awesome!!  Congratulations on summiting Ixta!  We love the blog and hearing how the expedition is progressing.  Can’t wait to see the photos and videos!  Hello to our son, Nick:-)!! Good luck with the rest of the week.

Posted by: Julie Beres on 11/11/2015 at 7:35 am

November 10, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team at Ixta High Camp

Hello RMI Blog followers. Team Mexico is coming at you live from high camp on Ixta. It was a beautiful day. It was a tough day; however, the team did awesome getting to 15,400 feet.

We are busy setting up camp and the name of the game is recovering with a good meal and some hot drinks. We will depart tomorrow at 3 a.m. for the summit so wish us well!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

Great photos. Praying for all to have a safe climb. Enjoying the blog.

Posted by: Linda Manley on 11/11/2015 at 7:53 am

November 9, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team at Ixta’s Altzomoni Hut

Today was a fantastic day for Team Mexico! We left our cabins at La Malinche and continued on our adventure. After a hearty buffet breakfast and a few team members saying “I can’t believe I ate 3 breakfasts!” we hit the road and headed to our first objective, Ixta.

We made a quick pit stop to buy a few last items and we also acquired our park entrance permits. We are now settling in the Altzomoni Hut at 12,000’. The team went for another hike to get the blood flowing and everyone is feeling great.

We are now packing and sorting gear for our move to high camp tomorrow. Stay tuned, the team is getting pumped as we get closer to making our summit attempt!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

November 8, 2015

Mexico’s Volcanoes

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Justman & Team Hike La Malinche in Inclement Weather

The team left the bustling Zona Rosa District in Mexico City and headed for the hills. We arrived in La Malinche at noon and we quickly settled into our private cabanas and dinned our trekking shoes.

The weather was less than ideal with steady rain; however, our team made the best of marginal conditions not to mention rain gear! The park police actually were not going to let us up because of the weather.

You see, the park sees a lot of tourists…locals from the city dressed in sandals and sweatpants. Which, is nice on a beautiful day. For us, the weather wasn’t actually that bad so with my best Spanish I sweet-talked our way to trek up to 13,000 feet.

The team did great! We had a fun time and did our bodies good adjusting to higher altitudes. We are now settled back in our cabanas and we are getting ready for another great dinner here in Mexico.

Heh! After a wet day at altitude this team deserves a little pampering!

RMI Guides JJ Justman and Mike King

On The Map

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