RMI Expeditions Blog
Things continued to be exciting here on our final day in Africa. We started the day early with hopes of seeing a few more animals but the constant rain has most of them running for cover. We did manage to see a few more Lions, elephants, and giraffes, but those smaller cats never showed themselves.
Most of the roads were either a muddy mess or completely covered in water. It made for quite the exciting ride especially after finding our main route impassable due to a bridge being flooded. Thankfully our safari driver knew of another safe way out.
It’s been a memorable experience for everyone and it’s going to be sad to part ways with such a great bunch of folks. But now it’s time to head home and share the stories.
That’s all for this trip.
RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Kili/Safari crew
January 18, 2018
Hola from 15,000 feet on the southern flanks of Cayambe.
I would first like to apologize to anyone who was expecting a blog post yesterday. We had technical difficulties which we discovered too late in the evening, so today’s post will include yesterday and today.
I will begin at breakfast yesterday. Casa Sol, our beautiful hacienda high on the the hill overlooking the busy market town of Otavalo, treated all of us very well getting us energized to hit streets for our big shopping extravaganza.
After packing the bus we rolled into town ready to negotiate and spend. The textiles and indigenous goods made for great photos as well as gifts. A few of the guys couldn’t pass up the sexy alpaca sweaters for themselves so I’m anticipating a strong fashion outing when we get back to Quito.
After shopping we drove back south to the actual town of Cayambe where we transferred bags from the bus to the trucks and started up toward the Refugio.
If roads got as bad as these in the states, they would be considered more mountain bike tracks than 4x4 roads.
Nevertheless, our trucks got us all the way to the front door. The temps up here are cool and the mountain weather sporadic at best but we still managed a good hour hike up hill to scope the route and stretch the legs. We topped out at 15,700’ giving a number of climbers a personal high point which likely won’t last long.
After getting settled we had a nice dinner from the full service kitchen then learned the classic Midwest game of Uker from one of the three Iowans in the group. The sun down here rises at six and sets at six so by 8:30 the entire team was ready for bed.
Upon waking the next morning we knew something was different. Even with no beer on the mountain, everyone felt a bit hungover. A product of our first night’s sleep at a new altitude. We warded off the headaches with some active breathing, scrambled eggs and good old fashioned Excedrin.
After breakfast we retraced our steps going a bit higher to the toe of the Hermoso Glacier, starting at 16,000 feet. From here we reviewed the skills needed to climb the mountain safely. The weather continued its moodiness, first snowing, then scorching, then blowing, then back to snowing. It couldn’t make up its mind so by 12:00 we decided to head it down. Now, after a great lunch, some more hot cocoa and a quick debrief, it’s time for a nap. Dinner is at five and our wake up call is at 11 pm. We are all psyched to try our hand at Ecuador’s third highest peak starting tonight.
Stay tuned for a summit post tomorrow.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff saying buenas Noches for now
Euchre is the best!!
What a cool adventure, we need some Alpaca Fashion posed photos for sure!
Posted by: Ashley on 1/19/2018 at 7:04 am
After a bit of four-wheeling and stellar driving we made our way to Tarangire National Park, which is known for its abundant elephants, in fact, it has more per square mile than any place on earth. However, with all of the rain Tanzania has been receiving lately, there weren’t nearly as many gathered around the river that flows through Tarangire, but we still saw a few. Some as close as a few feet away.
There were plenty of other animals as usual, and we got really close to a few big and young giraffes, which was amazing. We ended our day at a remote and off-grid camp called Tarangire Balloon Camp. It’s a tented camp that lies inside the park with medium-size, screened-in rooms that allow the night sounds of Africa in.
Tomorrow we’ll have an early departure to increase our chances of seeing cheetahs and leopards, as they have still eluded us.
RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Safari crew!
January 17, 2018
It has been a nice leisurely day here at Aconcagua Base Camp. We started out the day by putting a good dent in the 72 eggs we brought in, yummy. The majority of our day was spent gearing up for a load carry to Camp 1 tomorrow. On these expedition style climbs we take a portion of our food and equipment up and cache it, then we return back to Base Camp. It is just too much to carry in one push since we stay for an extended period up high on the mountain it also helps our bodies to acclimatize. We took a short hike after lunch in big boots with light packs to fine tune our systems for a smooth ascent tomorrow. Our team is looking good. All is well here in the high country.
On The Map
I can only imagine how the excitement must be building for each and everyone of you.
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/18/2018 at 2:41 pm
Day 2 on Safari had us visiting the world famous Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is what remains of a once massive volcano that erupted and collapsed on itself, leaving behind a giant caldera that’s almost exactly 100 square miles. In the 2 million years since then, hundreds of animals have taken up residence and have created one of the best Safari options in Africa.
We hit the road early with hopes of catching a few more animals before the heat sent them in search for shade. Shortly after descending down into the crater we came upon several lions with 6 really cute cubs. We continued driving around trying not to stop at all the zebra, wildebeest, and Cape buffalo that were nearly in the way.
There were many sightings today of hyenas, jackals, ostrich, and countless other birds.
One of the highlights was seeing 3 Black Rhinos which have become very rare.
We wrapped up the day with a visit to a Maasai village not far from the craters rim. The Maasai people are a nomadic tribe that exist almost entirely off of their cattle. The team spent time asking questions and enjoyed being shown around their small and simple village.
We have just finished another wonderful meal here at the Plantation Lodge and are looking forward to what tomorrow may bring as we head to Tarangire National Park.
RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Safari crew
January 16, 2018
We were up early to catch the mule shuttle across the Vacas River. We could have waded across but that would have been a painfully cold start to our day. When do you get to be a cowboy in Argentina anyway? It made for some great photos. It took us a bit over six hours of climbing in beautiful weather to arrive here at Aconcagua Base Camp. We are settled in. All of our gear is here and in good shape. It resembles the team, good shape that is. Another fine meal and a warm sleeping bag; it just doesn’t get anymore basic or nice. All is well.
On The Map
Hang tough Shannon Long and the team. You’ve got this. Can’t wait for pictures.
Posted by: Patty Fisher on 1/17/2018 at 7:35 pm
Safe climbing. Thinking of you. Have fun!!
Love—-M and D
Posted by: Vicki Hersh on 1/17/2018 at 3:58 pm
January 16, 2018
This morning we woke with the sun and glanced out the window of our hotel room expecting a continuation of yesterday’s deluge. We were pleasantly surprised to find the streets of Quito damp but no active precipitation. Optimistic for the day’s objective, Cerro Fuya Fuya (13,998), the team rallied in the lobby of Hotel Mercure at 7:30 ready to load the bus. Some severe rush-hour traffic delayed the bus about an hour and a half so the team took the unexpected opportunity to indulge in one to seven of Hotel Mercure’s incredible chocolate filled croissants.
By 9:00 the bus was loaded and we embarked on the three hour drive to Fuya Fuya. We arrived safe and sound at the azure blue Lake Mojanda, the trailhead for Fuya Fuya. We were pleasantly surprised to find the summit out of the clouds. Eager to take stretch their legs and take advantage of the weather window the team set out at a good clip.
About 20 minutes in we stopped to rest before initiating the patented Knoff acclimatization strategy, about 5 to 10 minutes of all-out effort up a steep section to raise the heart rate and let the body know it’s time to make some red blood cells. The team kick-started their engines with some pressure breaths then launched following the superhuman pace of our local guide, Peter. Panting and hearts pounding the team crested the hill and we gave them the exciting news that they wouldn’t have to do that again for the rest of the trip.
We cruised the rest of the way through the alpine meadows and up a short pick scramble to the summit at a casual pace. The team arrived in style and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the crater lake and surrounding ridge-line.
The descent to the bus was quite direct and steep through the muddy meadows and the team quickly learned that the summit is really only the halfway point. The team managed the slippery terrain in style only sustaining a few muddy backsides which the bus driver made sure we acknowledged and toweled off before embarking.
We are currently enjoying the day’s true summit of beers and good conversation as we settle in to the beautiful Casa La Sol for the evening.
Tomorrow will take us up the rugged mountain roads to the base of the equatorial behemoth, Cayambe and the start of our first big objective of the trip.
RMI Guide Jordan Cargill Signing off for the night.
Good luck to the whole crew for the Cayambe adventure!
Posted by: Kaki on 1/17/2018 at 7:31 pm
éclair! Trichez-vous sur les barres de datte?
Posted by: Thunder Goat on 1/16/2018 at 8:44 pm
Today was the first day of safari for us and we headed east to visit the beautiful Lake Manyara, which is know for its tree climbing lions, pink flamingos, and abundant species of birds. Unfortunately we missed those famous lions, but everyone enjoyed the day cruising around in our safari vehicles.
It’s pretty hot here in Africa, so I’m sure that kept many of the animals hiding in the shade. However we did manage to see a few wildebeest, zebras, Cape buffalo, giraffe, hippos, baboons, impalas and many birds. It was a pretty nice introduction to the incredible wildlife diversity that Africa has and the team is looking forward to seeing more tomorrow.
January 15, 2018
We had a beautiful night and a gorgeous day here on our trek into Aconcagua. We bid farewell to RMI Guide Mike King and team this morning. Great work by all of them and what a job Mike and his crew did on their successful summit. Congratulations!
We had some scattered clouds and not much wind, which made for a very nice trek of eight miles to our new camp, Casa Piedra, at almost 11,000 feet. Fresh chicken over pasta and salad for dinner with a big bottle of Sprite to wash it all down. In the morning we will have an early river crossing with the help of our mule team. This will make for a nice start to the day. It will be a big day but no problem for this group of hearty souls as they all continue to do well. Basecamp here we come!
On The Map
Be Safe Justin Hersh. Love Clubbie!
Posted by: kathy guyette on 1/16/2018 at 11:22 am
Today we got wet!
The city tour is over, the team is gathered and the mountain was calling. On any other day a group of motivated hikers would look out the window, see falling rain and decide its not a good idea to stick with the plan. When that same team is on a schedule though, we gotta go when the bus arrives.
After a nice caffeine-laden breakfast, a short introduction to our local guide Peter, and some quick sneaking of the great chocolate croissants into our lunch sacks from the bakery, we were on our way to 15,700’ Rucu Pinchincha, a active volcano only ten minutes from our hotel in downtown Quito. Form the get go rain splattered the windows. We knew things could get interesting but we didn’t know how much.
After unloading from the van, a quick walk landed us at the ticket office of the gondola we planned to take form 10,000’ to 13,000’. The ride was uneventful with dense fog obscuring any views on the way up. Once at the top of the gondola we took refuge inside a building and put on our Gore-Tex for what looked like a rainy start. It was…...
Two minutes after beginning our initial walk, we turned around and headed back to shelter as the rain was too much. We decided to wait it out for twenty minutes which paid off because the rain let up and we made our move.
We got one good hour of walking in making it to the elevation of 14,700 feet before the rain and terrain turned us around.
Back at the shelter we all exchanged hard shell jacket performances reviews and admitted how nice it will be to get out of our wet, soggy clothes. On the ride down in the gondola lightning began flashing and thunder crashing, stopping the machine two or three times in a matter of minutes. Down at the station, the real downpour started.
So goes the unpredictable weather in the mountains.
By 2:30 we were all back at the hotel ready for some lunch and relaxation.
Tomorrow we try again on another peak north of Quito.
Stay tuned for more reports.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff signing off.