RMI Expeditions Blog
January 20, 2018
Hello to those following our Ecuador climbing adventure.
I will begin by saying we did not summit Cayambe yesterday because of difficult route conditions. The morning started as most climb mornings do. An eleven pm wake up call, a bathroom visit the body doesn’t ask for, hot liquid, cold bread and and the ever present feeling of “why the heck am I doing this?”
The weather outside was clear and the temps warm. As we ascended the clouds rolled in giving us light snow and a wet mist.
As we got higher the temps dropped and the snow became more difficult to walk in. The wind was blowing 10 mph and a light snow was falling. With only 400 feet to climb before gaining the summit ridge we turned around because of deep post holing and deteriorating weather.
The team was disappointed but understood the reason.
After the climb we regrouped, packed up and loaded the trucks ready to bounce our way back to civilization. The road to and from the Cayambe Refugio is the roughest I’ve ever been on. Usually a great way to start and end the adventure of climbing the highest point on the Equator.
Once the adventure ended we met our bus at a gas station where we loaded up on post climb necessities such as Pringles, coke and ice cream. This held us over until dinner.
Five hours after leaving the mountain we arrived at our hacienda called, Chilcabamba, tucked quietly away in the beautiful countryside under the shadow of Cotopaxi.
After a well deserved shower, beer and honest night’s sleep, we awoke to appreciate this lodge’s full beauty. Although we couldn’t see the mountain, the surroundings offered enough to observe. Hummingbirds floated outside the windows and flowered trees waived in the wind.
The rest of today will be spent resting, drying gear and preparing for the climb to come. There is nothing better than a full day’s rest after an exhausting day in the mountains.
Stay tuned for more mountain climbing.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff saying Buenas noches from Chilcabamba.
January 20, 2018
Good afternoon everyone!
The team woke today to a fresh dusting of snow. It looked as if the heavens above had sprinkled powder sugar on all the peaks. We packed up all our belonging and hit the trail to our new home, Camp One at 16,200 feet. After walking a handful of hours in an environment that looked like Mars we arrived at camp in some snow flurries. In no time our tents were up and we were enjoying some well deserved relaxation. The snow continues to lightly come down as we get ready for dinner. The team is doing fantastic and is climbing strong. We hope to carry to Camp Two tomorrow. Till then, enjoy your day everyone!
RMI Guides Hannah Smith, Avery Parrinello, and Mark Tucker
On The Map
January 19, 2018
Our rest day at Aconcagua Base Camp was just that. We slept late and then enjoyed some awesome omelets. We spent some time organizing our gear that will go up with the move to Camp 1. We may have taken some naps with the beautiful weather warming our tents. Lunch included some fresh potato salad and coleslaw not too bad for 13,800’ feet, right?. The group discussed the itinerary and expectations over the next few days. And we even enjoyed a few card games in the big tent. Things are looking good for a move up hill tomorrow, weather permitting. Our team is in good spirits and excited about our next steps.
On The Map
Happy Saturday to all!!! Sounds like you have a “BIG” day ahead of you.
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/20/2018 at 8:55 am
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
Appreciate the updates. Hope everyone is doing well. Stay safe and Happy Trails to everybody !!!
Posted by: Sue Romanick-Schmiedl on 1/19/2018 at 6:25 pm
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