January 9, 2013
Hi everybody and welcome to another series of dispatches from an RMI Expeditions’ Ecuador Volcanoes program! The majority of our team arrived scattered throughout the day yesterday with high spirits and great expectations despite being exhausted from a solid day of airline travel. We met up for the first time as a complete team this morning at Spicy, our hotel restaurant, and enjoyed a pretty good spread of food and decent coffee to boot. After breakfast we headed out on a very informative city tour with our veteran city guide Jorge. Jorge showed us around town while explaining much of the complex cultural past that made Ecuador the country it is today. Our crew climbed the towers of the Basilica, enjoyed sweeping views of the city from the top of the Panecillo, and got to experiment with different physical phenomena on the exact geographic equator. All of this while beginning our all-important acclimatization process. Cool! We plan on rounding out our first full day in Ecuador with a brief team meeting followed by a team dinner.
More to come as the adventure progresses!
On The Map
Hi Matt. This link is a great! We’re excited to follow your climb. Best of luck to you and your team.
Mom and Dad
Posted by: Polly and Ed Blum on 1/12/2013 at 5:19 pm
Take Lots of Pix Kendra and Mike! You know the usual exhange rate! Dinner for the slide show! Have a Blast!
Posted by: Deb on 1/11/2013 at 3:32 am
January 10, 2013
Another great day here (barely) south of the equator! We woke up this morning to slightly overcast skies that made me wonder if we were going to see anything at all today on our first acclimatization hike. Nevertheless, the team hopped a few taxis in front of the hotel and headed over to the Teleférico. A short gondola ride deposited us at an elevation just shy of 13,000’. Despite the cloud cover above we enjoyed clear and sweeping views of the metropolis below and even some occasional sun breaks came through to heat us up very quickly as we hiked along. After a little over three hours of hiking and a fun rock scramble we found ourselves standing on the summit of Rucu Pichincha! At an elevation above 15,000’ many personal altitude records were broken today. We took some photos, hung out a bit hoping the cloud would dissipate for a split second (no luck), and began our sandy descent. After a mildly adventurous ride back to the hotel the gang has been chilling out while Katie and I did a little grocery shopping. Another team dinner tonight should commemorate our last evening in Quito before we head for the hills.
January 11, 2013
Welcome to another installment of the Ecuador Volcanoes 2013 blog. After an early rise and a quick breakfast the team checked out of the hotel, loaded up the wagons, and headed north out of Quito for another acclimatization hike. A good bit of driving brought us through the town of Otovalo where we turned off the highway and headed up into the mountains on a cobblestone road. We were climbing towards the crater of Cerro Fuya Fuya; a large, extinct volcano whose crater is filled with an impressive and beautiful lake. We were able to drive into the crater and alongside the like. Starting from the shore, our hike took us up to the summit of the highest point of the surrounding crater. The team moved well and was in great spirits - we all thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular surroundings and wish it didn’t have to end so soon. Alas, we found ourselves piling back into the van headed for a local hacienda to spend the night. The rooms and grounds here at Hacienda San Luis are a bit more rustic than the Hotel Mercure in Quito but are still quite charming. I will say the setting and the views out here in the countryside beat Quito by a landslide. The crew is currently hanging out before dinner and hoping for some hot water so we can take a last shower before heading into the big mountains tomorrow afternoon.
On The Map
Dawn and Len: Hope you are having lots of fun. Good luck tomorrow on your climb. We are enjoying the postings.
Mom, dad, and Allan
Posted by: Mom, dad, and Allan on 1/13/2013 at 8:36 pm
Dawn and Len, we’re thinking of you, hope you are having fun, good luck with your climbs !!
Emily, Simone and John
Posted by: John Higa on 1/12/2013 at 12:56 pm
January 12, 2013
Finally, we headed for the hills! A quick breakfast at San Luis and an easy checkout (not necessarily the norm) made for a smooth start to another busy day cruising around Ecuador. Right off the bat we headed for the Otavalo marketplace, world famous for its street food and local handicrafts. It being Saturday, the market frenzy was at a climax and the gang enjoyed a unique opportunity to experience Ecuadorian and more specially Otavalan culture. Not wanting to risk a potential intestinal disruption, we decided to grab lunch at the Cafe de la Vaca on our way over to Cayambe. After hiking for about an hour we arrived at the Refugio high on Cayambe’s flank and settled in. Freshly baked pizzas for dinner were a welcome change to typical mountain food. Everybody is bracing for a rough first night above 15,000’. We’ll check in tomorrow and let you know how the first night went.
All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent
On The Map
January 13, 2013
After a difficult night of sleep, we woke to mostly clear skies and enjoyed our first views of Cayambe up close and most of the other major volcanoes poking out of the clouds in the distance. It was the perfect mood elevator after a rough first night at altitude and very loud bunkmates in the refugio who treated us to a nice and prolonged wake up in the middle of the night. Well, tonight it will be our turn because after today’s training on the glacier we are prepared to take a crack at summiting Cayambe VERY early tomorrow morning. The team is anxious but ready! Wish us luck!
On The Map
“May the trail rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the snow fall soft after your decent.
And until we meet again may the mountain spirits hold you in the palm of their hand.”
-Slightly modified Irish Blessing
Carpe Diem Montañeros :)
Posted by: Saint Patrick on 1/14/2013 at 12:29 pm
Isn’t Morning a Great Thing?!! Have Fun!!!! Our spirits are with you All!
Posted by: Deb on 1/14/2013 at 9:02 am
January 14, 2013
Our preparations for high altitude complete, the team awoke a few minutes after midnight on Monday morning for our summit bid on Cayambe. The sky was cloudy, but calm- a hopeful sign given the hail and rain the afternoon prior. The first hour of climbing found us negotiating a long rocky stretch in big mountain boots. We transitioned to snowy slopes and the group moved steadily uphill in high spirits as the clouds gave way to a clear and starry night. At a break at ~17k, we caught the sunrise, as well as a glimpse of three climbers high up on the mountain. Several of us were amazed at the steepness of the slope they were ascending, only to discover shortly thereafter that that would be our route, as well! However, our group was more than up to the task, and everyone summitted after 7.5 hours en route. The weather on top was flawless(!), so we lounged around and took hero shots for an hour before heading down. The steep section was just as exciting on the descent, but the remainder of the route was easily accomplished by our crew.
After arriving at the refugio, we quickly packed up our gear and hightailed it down the mountain to get to some food! Unfortunately, hightailing it only works so well when you have 36k of rough road and 6000’ to descend! After eating, everyone was looking forward to seeing our lodging at Chilcabama. However, the travel gods felt differently, and the expected transit time stretched out longer and longer, as first rain (on our duffels on top of the van), then traffic, the construction, and finally dark, unmarked roads had their way with us. Finally, we arrived to Chilcabama, where hot showers, freshly-made soup, and fires in our in-room fireplaces awaited us. It was the perfect end to a very long day.
Pictures to come pending wifi access!
RMI Guides Billy Nugent, Katie Bono and Team
On The Map
Wow, I can’t even imagine these adventures. Hope all is well. Kendra, I can’t wait to hear about your experiences. Mike, I hope it is all you have dreamed it would be and then some.We cant wait to see pictures! Be safe,Debbie
Posted by: Debbie on 1/16/2013 at 4:24 pm
January 15, 2013
Whew! After several strenuous days, the team has been relaxing at Chilcabama, a traditional Ecuadorian farmhouse. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, with a knockout view of Cotopaxi. Our day has been spent on exploratory walks, extensive eating, pestering the resident llama, and gazing at Cotopaxi through the hotel’s spyglass. Tomorrow we head up to the Cotopaxi hut for our next summit bid. Wish us luck!
Hi Mike and Kendra! Can’t wait to see all your pics and hear about your adventures. Be careful and enjoy! Aunt Linda
Posted by: Linda Grimes on 1/16/2013 at 2:30 pm
I also am glad to know you’re all safe and that you had a successful summit. Can’t wait to see the pictures. Have fun and come home safely.
Posted by: Cheryl on 1/16/2013 at 6:00 am
January 16, 2013
The time spent relaxing at Chilcabamba was wonderful but like all good things came to an end. Fortunately for us, there will be more excitement to come as our adventure continues. We are about to make our move up to the Jose Ribas Refugio on Cotopaxi (over 16,000’) where we hope to get a little nap in before launching for the summit very early tomorrow morning. The weather pattern has been promising and with a little luck we will all be taking hero pics and exchanging high fives on the summit! But we’re not counting our chickens before the eggs hatch, Cotopaxi is a big mountain and deserves respect. Wish us luck!
More on the alpine escapades of this intrepid group as our program continues… Stay with us!
On The Map
OOOhhhhh!! AAHHHHHH!!! May the Force Be With You! We’ll watch for Pix tomorrow!
Posted by: Deb on 1/17/2013 at 9:41 am
Best wishes as you venture on!
Posted by: Geoff on 1/16/2013 at 9:44 am
January 17, 2013
We enjoyed great weather on Cotopaxi this morning which enabled the team to go 2 for 2! To help describe the beauty of our surroundings today, I hope you enjoy the photos in our blog post… Our ascent took just under seven hours in nearly calm but frigid conditions. As the dawn began to break we were unfortunately climbing on the shaded side of the mountain and felt no relief from the cold until we were kissed by the sun on the summit. Despite the cold morning 6 of our 8 climbers persevered to enjoy the glorious sunrise from the top. A strong team on the way up doesn’t always mean a strong team on the way down. Lucky for us, everyone descended exceptionally well and we found ourselves back at the Refugio drinking coffee by 10 am after a 2:30 descent! Anyway, the gang is back in Quito safe and sound, resting up for a celebratory dinner this evening before we all hustle back to our real lives. It’s been tons of fun, thanks for following along!
On The Map
Congratulations, Matt & team! So happy that you made it to both summits, and are back down safely. See you back home tomorrow :-)
Posted by: Nisha on 1/17/2013 at 10:05 pm
Way to go Meredith and team. Beautiful view! Way to climb strong.
Posted by: Rich on 1/17/2013 at 8:19 pm