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RMI Expeditions Blog


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Enjoy an Easy Day

Today was just plain easy.  The weather was fine, the flight to Chile is still on for tomorrow, the food was plentiful… stress was low, all around.  We played games, attended history lectures, rested and talked endlessly with adventurers, explorers and climbers.  The dining tent at Union Glacier is an international crossroads beyond compare.  It isn’t uncommon to hear a different language -or two-
at each table as one passes through with platefuls of fresh fruit and veggies flown onto the Ice from South America.  Life is way easier here than out at Vinson, but we’re still talking animatedly about summit day there… or about the storms that challenged us.  But now we’re also starting to talk about travel plans and what might be next… for climbing or visiting or just for living.  If all goes well, we could be back in Punta Arenas tomorrow night, which would require lots of switching gears and reconnecting with the world.  For tonight though, we’re still sleeping on snow in a world of our own. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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Congratulations to all ! Thanks for sharing your trip.

Posted by: David Clemmons on 12/15/2017 at 8:13 am


Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Gately & Team Summit Cotopaxi!

We did it! The team stood on top of 19,347ft Cotopaxi this morning at 7:30am. The team climbed brilliantly through bitterly cold temperatures and the ever-present lack of oxygen to check the active volcano off their bucket lists. We were treated to clear skies all day long and it wasn’t until we were finally driving away that the mountain fell back into it’s usual cloak of dark clouds. Oh and we had another birthday today! Happy Birthday to Kris Vargas! And what a way to spend it climbing one of Ecuador’s finest volcanoes on a truly spectacular day. We’re all back at Tambopaxi packing our things for the drive back to Quito where we will enjoy one last dinner as a team before most of us depart back to the States later this evening. Thanks to everyone for following along. This will be the last blog post of our trip! Until next time!

RMI Guide Steve Gately

On The Map

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Go from High Camp to Union Glacier

And just like that… everything started moving again.  The storm ended exactly on schedule.  By 6:30 AM High Camp was calm and sunny and we started brewing up.  We packed and dug our gear out of the snow.  We shook pounds of ice and frost out of the tents before stuffing them in their sacks.  With crampons on one last time, we departed at 10 AM.  After seeing virtually nothing for days, the scenery today was welcome and spectacular.  We made good time down the fixed ropes in the morning shadow.  Lindsay led the charge, pulling the lines free of the wind slabbed snow for a good chunk of the route.  At Low Camp, we re-tooled and set up for hauling sleds.  No more crampons and ice axes, it was time to switch back to ski poles.  By this point we’d been made aware that there were seats on an airplane out of Vinson Base just for us… provided that we got our tails down there in time.  We had the lower mountain pretty much to ourselves for the next few hours of trudging through the frozen beauty of the Branscomb Glacier.  There was just time enough on reaching base to hastily organize gear before the Twin Otter floated in to a perfect landing.  We said our goodbyes to the mountain and the ALE staff at Vinson Base Camp and climbed aboard.  Back at Union Glacier, we got out in early evening to a far easier environment… hard packed level snow, mild temps and walk-in tents with tables and chairs.  We caught up to the gang of Vinson climbers we’d originally gone to the mountain with.  It was a pleasant reunion with guests and staff and everybody trading notes on weather at the top of Antarctica, out at the penguins, back in the Alps or off in the Himalaya.  Word is that an Ilyushin flight may be inbound for us the day after tomorrow… on the 15th.  Better late than never.  In any case, my team is looking forward to a low altitude night without a storm tearing at the tents.  Union is certainly good enough for now. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Papa (Steve) I miss, miss, miss you, really bad papa! Glad you got to the top, hurry back - Sierra. I miss you and love you - Kira.  The Grandkids helped me make fudge tonight. They are very anxious to have you back. We love you and can’t wait to see you, soon. Vickie

Posted by: Vickie Butterfield on 12/14/2017 at 8:34 pm

Thank goodness I can stop feeling guilty every time I put another chunk in the wood stove or fry a real egg or go to the kitchen to top off my coffee cup.  You are probably all walking around Union Glacier in your flip flops and tank tops by now.  Linz, my birthday present will be you getting safely underway back to Indiana.  Congrats to all from 630’ altitude, 22 degrees F. and gentle breeze.  There are still colors besides blue and white. 

Dave, thanks for looking after our girl.  When I tried to teach our kids that taking a little risk adds spice to life, Lindsay took me seriously.

Posted by: Les Z on 12/14/2017 at 5:24 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Ready for Cotopaxi Climb

The skies cleared overnight and we were treated to the first truly blue bird morning of the trip. Cotopaxi was out in full glory. A leisurely morning lead to another fantastic breakfast served up by our Master Chef Josè. After breakfast we took a short stroll around the area to stretch the legs. It is climber Aaron D.‘s birthday today and upon our return from our walk we surprised him with a cake equipped with candles and all! Happy Birthday Aaron! After enjoying our Ecuadorian pastel we hopped onto the bus and took the short drive to Tambopaxi where we will stage for our summit climb. With the weather looking good the team is excited to tackle our last objective! Off to bed here shortly in preparation of an early wake up. Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Steve Gately

On The Map

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Enjoy Rest Day

A well deserved rest day at Chilcabamba Lodge at the base of Cotopaxi has been enjoyed with its views, food and short walks around the property. During breakfast, Cotopaxi revealed itself from behind the clouds and was covered with a dusting of fresh snow. With a pair of binoculars from the lodge, we were able to make out the beginning of the climbing route. The rest of the day was filled with drying out our gear from Cayambe, repacking, reading and naps. The food here has been our favorite so far. The steaks for dinner were thick and cooked to perfection, some pressure breathing was required to clean our plates! Tomorrow morning will be another relaxing start to the day before we transfer up the road to Tombopaxi Hut.

RMI Guide Bryan Mazaika

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Remain at High Camp

Still at High Camp.  True to the predictions, today was a lot like yesterday.  Windy, snowy, socked-in, cold and consistently poor for going places.  We passed the day in our sleeping bags, with a little more frost and snow building up in the tents each and every hour.  But we are still smiling.  We’re fed.  We’re hydrated.  Well-rested, tanned and ready for action.  This evening, although we are still in murk and a ground blizzard, the peaks are out.  Cloud free and shining in sunlight.  The forecasters back at Union Glacier tell us we are in store for rapid clearing and calming tomorrow. In which case we’ll shake off the frost and get moving again.
Best Regards

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Following your daily updates with high anticipation that today will be the day you are finally at lower camp…as a total mountain novice I stand at awe of your adventure and all that it brings!
Hurry home Sue…we can’t wait to hear all about it!! Yes…beers and burgers await! Or hot cocoa & soup…?!?
Love you my friend!

Posted by: Laura Thompson on 12/13/2017 at 11:13 am

Deja vu from 17 camp on Denali.  I hope today turns out to be a great day for a hike.  Cheeseburgers and beer on this end.  Pop

Posted by: Les Zimmerman on 12/13/2017 at 7:23 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Paying Dues

Our summit has clearly angered the mountain gods.  We woke to a blizzard at 12,300 ft.  Not the worst blizzard though, winds are steady at about 25 mph, visibility is barely to the neighboring tents, the air is chock full of snow -at least some of which is “falling” from the cloud we are in.  Moving -even to lower and more comfortable climates and airplanes- was out of the question.  Besides, on the radio at midday it sounded heinous at Low Camp, with fifty-knot gusts and busted tents.  So we sat put.  Our tents are holding up well, although great quantities of snow and frost seem to find their way inside.  We recovered from yesterday’s climb with bed rest and hot meals and coffee and cocoa.  A small price to pay for a visit to the highest point on the continent. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Good job Lindsay! Congrats! Keep hanging in there, we can’t wait to hear all about it!
-Emily, Grace, and the Henry crew

Posted by: Emily L on 12/12/2017 at 3:29 pm

People don’t climb mountains because it’s easy.  People climb mountains because it’s hard.  Beats the hell out of being stuck on the freeway.  I’m so proud of all you guys.  Mountain-forecast.com says things may calm down on Wednesday.  Hang in there and stay hunkered down until it’s right.  Love you girl. -  Pop

Posted by: Les Z on 12/12/2017 at 5:33 am


Ecuador Volcanoes: Gately & Team Abort Cayambe Summit Attempt Due to High Avy Hazard

We spent most of the evening listening to thunder clouds and the battering of hail pound our shelter. That was until I woke the team up at 10:45pm. We woke to surprisingly calm skies with even a few stars shining. The team quickly got out of bed to prepare their things for our ascent. While eating breakfast the clouds snuck back in behind our backs and filled the mountain’s surroundings with a heavy mist that saturated everything that touched it. We decided to brave the mist and put on our rain shells to climb for an hour and “see how things went”. The team climbed right along, ignoring the inclement weather. At the end of that hour things weren’t looking much better, in fact you might have said they were worse. Taking good advantage of being able to retreat back to a warm hut if need be, we opted to continue and “see how things went” again. A few inches of wet snow had fallen over night and actually made the walking quite nice. Soon thereafter the mist lifted and we actually began to get warm and dry out! The team’s spirits lifted and we kept ascending. At about 18,000ft we finally met our maker- a large glacial bowl filled with recently deposited snow from high winds. The avalanche hazard was real and quite sensitive. We opted to turn around and descend back towards the hut. During our descent we were met with an Ecuadorian sunrise above a sea of clouds and neighboring volcanoes, Antisana and Cotopaxi, in the distance. At the time there certainly wasn’t much to be upset about. A quick descent gave way to another exciting 4x4 drive down to Otavalo where we would head south towards Chilcabamba on the northern flank of Cotopaxi. Tomorrow we rest and prepare for our next objective!

RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit and Storm

We made it to the summit of Vinson today!  In the nick of time as it turned out.  While our time of ascent was a blazing fast seven hours, the mountain was anything but easy today.  We started with blue skies, bright sun and a nagging 10 mph breeze when the stoves were fired shortly after seven this morning.  That breeze made things like fastening harnesses and crampons quite cold.  We roped up and got moving at 9:45 hoping to lose the wind as we got into the protection of the valley glacier that would take us to the summit.  That worked a little, things were reduced to occasional gusts.  Those gusts increased in frequency and force as we got up near 15,000 ft.  By the time we were scrambling onto the summit ridge, it was blowing a more or less steady 30 mph.  We worked pretty hard to keep each other’s faces frost free and to keep sunglasses and ultimately goggles from fogging up.  Hitting the top at 4:45 was a thrill, but not at all one we could linger over.  We squeezed off just a couple of photos (which we’ll post after getting back to the Wi-Fi world) but it really wasn’t the day for bare hands on the summit.  We set out to get off the ridge and down to high camp.  This was accomplished in about three hours, during which we watched winds increase and a storm move into the Ellsworth Mountains.  At 8:00 when we pulled into camp, the sun was in the clouds and winds were rock steady at about 20 mph, moving plenty of snow around.  The victory dinner was in tents as it is far from pleasant at High Camp tonight.  We snuck this one in… now to get down the mountain.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congrats Zimmerman!!Matt and I have enjoyed keeping up with your adventure!! Safe travels back down!!Can’t wait to catch up with you and hear your stories!!

Posted by: Deborah and Matt on 12/11/2017 at 5:50 pm

Congratulations!  Well done.  Stay safe on the descent.

Posted by: Dale on 12/11/2017 at 9:32 am


Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Gately & Team’s School Review on Cayambe

We awoke to a clear and chilly morning at the hut. The first half of the day provided views of the upper mountain and the summit of Cayambe before some snow showers moved in. Today’s goal was to climb another 1,000 feet to the base of the glacier to acclimatize and review some mountaineering skills. The steep climb up to our school site gave us a great preview of the beginning of our summit day. By the end of our school, the team was looking great and ready to climb Cayambe tomorrow. We are back at the hut resting and preparing our summit packs for the morning. Wish us clear conditions like we had this morning for our summit attempt!

RMI Guide Bryan Mazaika

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome experience for all of you! Dad & I are living vicariously! Our best to all of you for an awesome assent!

Posted by: Judy & dale collins on 12/10/2017 at 5:06 pm

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