RMI Expeditions Blog
January 12, 2018
I am thrilled to announce that yesterday at 6:45am, three members of our Ecuador climbing team successfully reached the Whymper summit of Ecuador’s highest peak, Chimborazo. Myself and our local guide Peter were the two guides leading the summit rope teams and I will say without question it was in the top five most difficult summit days of my guiding career. From our high camp at 17,300’, the route made a moderate traverse underneath a giant rock feature called el Castillo translated as “The Castle”. The team moved together with good style through the rocks to the exposed ridge above. It was here the route began to steepen. From the top of El Castillo at 18,000’ to the crest of the Ventimilla Summit at 20,450’, you could literally follow the line of ascent by holding a pencil out in front of you and the track would not deviate from its vertical alignment. No other mountain I have ever guided posses such a steep, unrelenting route as Chimbo. I’m not sure why the local guides down here have such a disdain for switch backs but on all the mountains, not just Chimborazo, the routes take the most direct line possible.
Unfortunately this type of route doesn’t bode well for tired legs which have seen two giant mountains in the last five days.
By 19,000’, half of the team had decided to return to camp, which secretly I was most jealous of. After waking up at 10:30, powering down some instant oatmeal while standing outside freezing, then preparing for a climb we know is going to hammer us, the thought of camp always sounds better than the alternative.
Back on the route, the snow conditions began to change for the worse. Thank God for Peter Piston Legs who, without complaint, post holed, kicked steps and blazed the trail though an old track that was literally blowing in with snow by the time each climber reached steps kicked in by the rope team in front.
Through freezing temps, difficult snow and growing fatigue, we all continued upward. Once we gained the Ventimilla Summit, we thought the kilometer traverse across the summit plateau was in the bag. But nope, not at all.
We had heard that climbing teams were reaching the lower summit but no one had been to the true summit in over two weeks! This left us breaking trail at 20,500 feet, which not even Peter found enjoyable. With the only complaints coming in the form of gasps, we marched on planting our ice axes on top just as the rising sun formed an outrageous pyramid shadow stretching for miles into the waking countryside. With hugs and high fives we all felt a great sense of accomplishment to have knocked off the hat trick of Ecuador’s three highest peaks. Something I have never done in one trip.
After a hard descent we made our way back to the Refugio and then onto a beautiful lodge where we eased the soreness away with good food, wine, beer and stories. It was a great closing to two incredible weeks of climbing together.
We all have now just gotten to our hotel rooms in Quito. The Internet is alive and well worrying some and pleasing others. Work for most is unfortunately never far around the next corner.
As we prepare for our final meal together I can’t help but feel a bit bummed. This group has been truly great. I would climb with any one of them again.
From Quito this is Adam Knoff and Jordan Cargill signing off.
Thanks to everyone who followed along.
Summit team and all congrats! I am in awe!
Posted by: Karen Norris on 1/12/2018 at 5:50 pm
Congrats to a great accomplishment in the beginning of 2018!! Wishing a restful few days before you start climbing again. Prayers for safety and success. MOM
Posted by: Jane Knoff on 1/12/2018 at 2:41 pm
January 12, 2018
Update from Mike King at 10:30 am PT:
If you haven’t listened to my hypoxic voicemail from today, you should know that we stood on top of Aconcagua, 22,841’ around 1pm local time. The climbers are back in camp trying to avoid these late afternoon snow/heat waves…ya doesn’t sound fun does it? The climb had wind, snow, heat, drifted snow in the trail and lots of other parties attempting the summit. I’ll leave the details from the summit day for your loved ones to tell…but the guides are in agreement, one of the harder days we’ve had in the mountains. Tomorrow we will start our downward retreat to the thick air of base camp.
Summit call transcription:
Hey, this is Mike with the RMI Aconcagua Team. We are standing on top of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya. The team did well, we had a really cold morning, probably about 25 mph winds in the face for the first several hours. Now we are sitting up here, we could be in jeans shorts and tank tops. The team did well and we’re going to hang out here and take some photos. Then we still have to descend. We will call in or send a dispatch once everyone is safe back at camp. Thanks for following along. Everyone sends their best.
RMI Guide Mike King calls from the summit of Aconcagua.
On The Map
Congratulations everyone!! Sounds like it was a tough final push to the summit. Can’t wait to hear all about it Katja! Be careful on the descent.
Posted by: Wilton Farmwald on 1/14/2018 at 5:35 pm
Congrats everyone!!! What an accomplishment.
Posted by: Adam and Candice on 1/14/2018 at 8:19 am
January 12, 2018
Posted by: Casey Grom
Hello, everybody. This is Casey Grom checking in from the Kilimanjaro Expedition. It is day four and finally we woke to a little bit of nice weather. There was a little bit of sunshine and some broken clouds. Before the clouds came back in, we finished our little camp luckily without having to wear Gore-tex today. That was super exciting for everybody. Today our first obstacle, which was the technical crux of this whole climb is the Barranco Wall and it was only about 20 minutes outside of camp where we start the ascent up the 1,000-foot rock wall. Luckily for us and everybody else, it is a nice broken pitch system that meanders and weaves it’s way up this wall. It’s still trekking but in a few places where we got to use our hands and baby steps through the trail. Today is a reasonably short day, only about four hours on the trail before we pulled into camp, which was once again fully set up and waiting on us. So we’re being spoiled here by our staff and and taken well care of. Currently the sky has cleared and I am looking up and seeing stars in all directions, so fingers crossed that it will stay this way and we have full sun tomorrow. On another note, we got to celebrate one of our team member’s birthdays up here. Happy birthday Scott! Everybody’s in good spirits and looking forward to moving up to high camp tomorrow. That’s all for tonight, and I will check in again tomorrow when we reach our high camp. Thanks a lot.
RMI Guide Casey Grom calls in from Karanga Camp on Kilimanjaro.
On The Map
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Comments from your Team at WhispeKool:
Christian Bromme: Thanks for the updates!
Amy Marquez: Awesome! Looks beautiful over there!
Derek Faul: That’s awesome, what an experience!
Cindi Bent: Wow what a fantastic opportunity, I bet the scenery is breathtaking!
Posted by: Lisa Leyva on 1/12/2018 at 11:15 am
Hey Tom, G, Alex, & Justin,
I been thinking about how amazing this trip must be for you all, I hope you are meditating and focusing on what your next journey will be. I am sending my love and pray for your safe return.
We cant wait to see you all soon! keep each other safe.
Love you all and sending a virtual hug!
Lisa Leyva aka “Mrs. Mialto” (Alex) hehe!
Posted by: Lisa Leyva on 1/12/2018 at 10:46 am
January 11, 2018
Well, we pulled the trigger and moved to Cholera located at 19,600’. We decided to skip a rest day in exchange for 2 ‘active’ rest days. The Team moved up with the bear necessities to establish camp and summit Aconcagua! We were on our feet for only three hours so the remainder of the day has been R&R. This morning was the coldest of the trip with beautiful clear skies and a 10-15 WNW wind that kept us cooler then yesterday’s sweat locker. Other teams have been coming down from the summit so the track is kicked in which will make for great climbing.
Everyone is doing great, some nervous energy but that is to be expected the day before attempting the highest mountain outside the Himalaya. We are about ready to feast on hot summer sausage cheese quesadillas and soup before doing a little pre-packing and talking summit day expectations and plan of action. Hopefully we will be calling in from the summit tomorrow. The Team is getting their final pep talk from your blog comments tonight, thanks for the encouraging words and being apart of this wonderful expedition with such a stellar crew!
On The Map
Wonderful news. Enjoy that summit viewing, Dave, I am so happy for you and for all the things you have accomplished and the new ones to come. Donna
Posted by: Donna Bernier on 1/12/2018 at 10:32 am
Amazing Virg - Amazing! We are anxiously awaiting your return. Mom is so excited to read the blog everyday. My stomach is in knots waiting for the summit. Love ya, Nora
Posted by: Nora Hall on 1/12/2018 at 4:17 am
January 11, 2018
Chimborazo Summit! RMI Guide Adam Knoff called in to report that the Ecuador Seminar Team reached the summit of Chimborazo early this morning. The weather was cold, and windy but climbing was good. Adam was also proud to report that they were the first team in two weeks to reach the true summit! They are back at the Chimborazo Lodge and will send a detailed report of their climb soon.
Nice work Team!! Not an easy summit. That final ridge is a never-ending slog at over 20,000’. I tried 3 times and only hit the true summit once.
Posted by: Peter Whittaker on 1/11/2018 at 8:50 pm
Very impressive team! Sooooooo pleased you were able to summit Chimborazo today.
Now it’s time for some well earned rest, relaxation, celebration…...
Posted by: Jacquie Byatt on 1/11/2018 at 7:48 pm
January 10, 2018
RMI Guide Adam Knoff checked in from High Camp on Chimborazo. The team ascended from the refugio this morning to 16,400’ and established their High Camp, setting up tents during a brief snow storm. Fortunately, the weather has passed, the skies are clear and things are looking good for the team’s summit attempt tonight. We look forward to hearing from them tomorrow, hopefully from the summit of Chimborazo at 20,564’.
We wish them a safe and successful summit day!
January 10, 2018
Wow! It’s was one of the hottest days above 18,000’! We had 4 inches of snow starting yesterday evening that tapered off by 9 pm. The 1,600 vertical feet to high camp took us up a snowy moraine and into a series of switchbacks that terminate below a complex of white rock towers. The camp is named after the fierce winds that plague this part of the mountain…Camp Cholera. We could have used a fraction of that wind today to cool down the Team and maybe prevent the roofs of our mouths from getting sunburned due to the heavy panting brought on by altitude and heat.
The Team got in a small cache and now comes the difficult decision of when to attempt the summit. The weather models are showing increasing winds on Saturday with Sunday winds being high enough that maintaining camp will be difficult. Our current plan is to move up Friday but a move tomorrow is not out of the question in favor of lighter winds and snow and hopefully higher summit success. It’s snowing again, we’ve been able to set out watches by the afternoon snow fall.
Regardless of what happens, the effort today has the guides feeling optimistic for the Team to boot up and meet the challenge. Thanks for following along.
RMI Guide Mike King & Team
Virg - talked to Dad, Nora & Joe and we are all cheering you and the team on. I hope things went well today. Joe went snowboarding, Nora printed out W’2s, Dad went to Harbor Freight and I read one of the books you got me for Christmas. Well l’m sure your day was more exciting. Love, Mom❤️
Posted by: Barbara(mom) on 1/11/2018 at 4:02 pm
So glad to hear you’ve made a carry to the high camp! I’m sure you’re anxious to keep moving higher. We can’t wait to hear the tales from the trail. Much love and stay safe!
Posted by: Beth Ludwig on 1/10/2018 at 5:25 pm
It is crazy to think our team has been together for over ten days now. We have accomplished much, seen a lot, bonded well and now seem more like family than strangers gathering in a hotel lobby meeting for the first time. This is the only time I can remember, on any trip, that all nine climbers arrived as individuals. There are no couples, no family groups, just adventurous souls coming to Ecuador to climb mountains and learn some skills. Until now I think things have gone quite well. Good climbing and good culture has defined the past ten days.
Now the plot thickens. Today we arrived at Chimborazo. This mountain is the highest point from the center of the earth and an overall giant of sheer prominence. Today though was great. After enjoying the latest wake up call of the journey, a nice late breakfast, a casual four hour bus ride and a home cooked meal in Chimborazo’s Refugio, this was as close to an honest rest day as we’ve had since leaving Quito. Which, after climbing two big mountains in the last four days is a good thing! This mountain is known for its challenging climbing, cold conditions and steep slopes. It will take every bit of energy to reach its 20,564 summit.
Currently the team is feeling mostly recovered from Cotopaxi and is excited to move to high camp tomorrow located at 16,400 feet high on Chimborazo’s western flanks. We will let you know how the move goes tomorrow.
Sending hugs to all those following along.
Wish us luck.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team
Whoa, Hugs received. Thank you!
It’s now 3pm in California on Jan 10. I expect you are all currently resting in preparation for the early start for summit day tomorrow. That being said I don’t anticipate this message will reach you before you return from the summit but I’m super hyped for the team and the challenge you are taking on. My thoughts are with you for an amazing day of climbing.
Ha ha, I not a poet, but…......I’ve written a short poem for the team describing how I envision Chimborazo summit day. Enjoy!
Heart pounding, Lungs starving, Step. Repeat.
Beauty unimagined -
Looking forward to the summit update and your safe return.
With love and hugs
Posted by: Jacquie Byatt on 1/10/2018 at 3:12 pm
January 10, 2018
Posted by: Casey Grom
Hey, Everybody! Casey Grom checking in again here on day 3 Kilimanjaro. Well, today was very similar to yesterday we started off and mostly clear skies we got about two 2 1/2 hours up the trail before the rains came back in. Luckily today’s rains were bit shorter than yesterday’s. We we’re able to get all of our Gore-Tex on and umbrellas out and expedite our selves here to camp, which was pretty necessary considering all our stuff was already a little bit damp. Things are going pretty well. I’m sitting in my tent right now, I’m not sure if you can hear the rain coming down? It’s still raining hard. Our crew has been fantastic, the porters that is. They have been able to get on the trail ahead of us, and get to our camp by the time we get there, and we’ve been able to have everything already set up and ready for us to dive into and get out of the rain! So a little bit like yesterday and we are hoping tomorrow will be dry. They are taking great care of it here, and we’re all doing well. We’re just a little tired of the rain right now, but we’re going to take a little break, we’re going to have some soup to warm ourselves up. It sounds like we’re going to have a little cribbage tournament here in a little bit.
That’s all for now.
RMI Guide Casey Grom & Team
Casey Grom Calling in from Shira Plateau on Kilimanjaro
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Wow! We looked at the blog for day 4! It does look like you will be at the top of the world. All is going Aok & no one is sick. We are having exceptional warm weather in the valley. Sumit or Bust! Ken, Kathy & Ayla.
Posted by: Ken and Kathy on 1/13/2018 at 6:27 am
January 9, 2018
Our rest day ended with three inches of snow falling on camp with little to no wind and some spectacular heat lightning across the Vacas Valley. It’s like one of those quiet winter nights where you wake to a yard filled with snow. We got underway by 9 am and moved camp to 18,000’. With all the new snow and still air we were roasting by the time we reached Amegino Col. The weather this trip has been atypical in that we have had three nights of snow, light to no wind and abnormally warm temperatures. The Team is currently in their tents riding out another snow fall and will hopefully have a good night’s rest at the new altitude. Tomorrow we will carry food and fuel to high camp to continue our acclimatization. The Team has appreciated the blog comments, and send their love to family and friends back home.
On The Map
Great job to all of you! I’m glad you’re making progress. We’re rooting you on from home. Dad (Craig), we miss you and can’t wait to hear all about your adventure!
Posted by: Samantha on 1/10/2018 at 8:07 am
Well done team! Enjoy following along on this adventure of yours and seeing all the pictures. I hope you continue to have good weather! Love and hugs to Nick from his Mom.
Posted by: Coeli Scott on 1/10/2018 at 7:15 am