Entries By adam knoff
RMI Guide Adam Knoff originally wrote this for the training blog a few years ago. As we have all been more or less stuck in our homes, with life looming front and center for many, Adam's message again seemed apropos.
Today I was surprisingly asked a question that, as far as I can tell, is as old as human curiosity, parental affection and plain ol’ sibling rivalry. This may seem strange because I only have one child, and my somewhat unhinged three wingnut dogs can’t speak and honestly don’t care about the answer as long as they are fed and played with. As you may have guessed, the question so abruptly put on me this morning was: “daddy, who’s your favorite?” Harder to guess was, who asked it?
Things started normally enough; I made breakfast for my kiddo before packing him up and carting him off to preschool. I fed my dogs and chickens, cleaned the kitchen, and prepared for a day of light recreating before my afternoon duties began. It was when I entered the garage, home to my all important man cave and location of all my beloved fly fishing and climbing gear that things took a bizarre turn. Standing in front of me (I kid you not!) side by side, with puppy dog eyes looking up, stood my 12’6” Echo spey rod and my carbon fiber, oh so beautiful, Cobra ice tools. These sorts of things don’t just happen so I double checked my reality button. Dreaming? No I don’t think so. I have been up for three hours, had my coffee, and still felt the throb in my left big toe where I slammed it into the chest at the side of my bed. Ok, I’m awake. Drugged? No, I quit taking hallucinogens in high school and my wife, I think, genuinely cares about me. Then what? My two favorite activities in life, swinging flies for big trout with my spey rod and ice climbing, which is now doable in Bozeman, Montana, have come to a head. With a few free hours, my fishing rod and ice tools came alive and wanted me to pick favorites. Sheeesh! What’s a guy to do?
As time stood still, I began to reflect on the week long steelhead fishing trip I took just two weeks prior to the Grand Rhond, Clearwater, and Snake rivers. Ohhh, the joy of that trip made me quiver. It made me want to reach out, grab my spey rod child and declare my love for him. 28 inch ocean run rainbows on the swing, the thrill of the next hook up, not wearing a heavy pack; the reasons almost overwhelmed me. Yes, yes, you will always be my favorite!!! Then I saw my ice tools. Hyalite Canyon is in! I can’t wait for the thrill of running it out on newly formed thin ice over a stubby ice screw, waking up before the sun, and realizing this day was bound to hold everything but the predictable. Ohh, ice tools, you are my favorite, “let’s go climb something!” I think you understand my dilemma.
Parenting has taught me much in the five years that I’ve been at it. Love, patience and compassion are always at the forefront of dealing with children. Frustrations always arise. Liam spills my wine on the new rug, my spey rod whips bullets at the back of my head leaving welts the size of cheese curds on my scalp, ice tools rip out unexpectedly and send waves of sudden panic through me that make me want to puke. All part of the landscape I guess. So how did I answer the question, “who is your favorite”? Here I leaned on the invaluable lessons gleaned from seven years of blissful marriage. I compromised.
That day I took the ice tools out for their first climb of the season. I packed them up with the rest of my climbing gear all the while psyched I had just promised my fishing rod we would get out tomorrow. It’s a difficult web we weave, balancing work and play. I honestly felt troubled that I had to recreate two days in a row, climbing then fishing, but then again parenting is also about sacrifice.
As readers of the RMI Blog, most of you are probably cracking a smile but are also curious how this story is relevant to the mission of mountain climbing, training, and/or preparing for an upcoming goal. Here is how I connect the dots: Fishing for me is the yin to my climbing yang. It is a glorious mental escape which allows me to shelve my daily stresses and exist purely in the moment. Everyone needs this periodic meditation to reset and clear the mind. For many, exercise accomplishes the same release but regular exercise does not necessarily constitute “training”. The expectations I put on myself when climbing on my own are very high and the specific training schedule I follow can at times be demanding, painful, and sometimes unpleasant. Here is where we tie in sacrifice. Everyone’s life is managed by time. Somewhere on that big round clock is time you can utilize for yourself. If you have a goal of climbing a mountain, running a marathon, or bench pressing a Ford truck, you need to prioritize and then commit! Finding enjoyment and purpose in life comes when these commitments are made. Being a husband and father keep me grounded. Being a passionate climber and guide keep me psyched and motivated, and the hunt for big fish calms me down. In the big picture I think I have found some balance. Remember it takes the black and the white, the yin and the yang, to complete the circle. The web you weave and balance you seek are your own, but seek it with conviction and purpose and you will be just fine.
Comments? Questions? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!
January 30, 2020
Our Ecuador Volcanoes team is excited to have reached the summit of Cotopaxi this morning around 7:30 am. The entire team climbed strong and efficiently. We are packing up now ready to head towards Quito. More to follow.
On The Map
Congratulations everyone!! What an amazing adventure! Love all the incredible photos and I’ve enjoyed living vicariously through you all while reading the blog! Safe travels home! Jamie
Posted by: Jamie on 1/30/2020 at 7:09 pm
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!! What an amazing achievement!!! Time to relax and reflect on your adventure. The magnificent scenery, the camaraderie, working together as a team and all the obstacles the mountain could put in your paths and you were able to meet the challenge and go on to summit!!! Wishing everyone safe travels home.
LUMTA 1TF So proud of you and your achievement Whynde
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/30/2020 at 12:53 pm
January 29, 2020
Hello from the Cotopaxi hut, situated at 16,000' on the northern slopes of this incredible mountain. At least I think we are on Cotopaxi? Yesterday the mountain shone bright and crisp, the sky cloudless and calm. Exactly what we were hoping for today.
But staying true to form, all that enticing weather, beckoning us to climb lasted all of two hours and by 11 am yesterday morning the mountain was gone and we haven’t seen it since. Through on and off rain we prepared our packs this morning hoping things would clear. At 1 pm we had left Chilcabamba with cloudy but dry conditions. By 2:15 we were in the parking lot 500 vertical feet below the hut in a complete downpour. Not to mention the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the other side of the lot.
So what gives? I am listening to rain hit the roof and the fog surround us like a haunting cape. We will try to climb anyway.
On The Map
Hello all…the weather certainly has made your climb quite a challenge!!! Believe in yourselves. When you think you can’t take one more step, focus and draw courage and strength from within you. Be proud of yourselves and remember…you’re part of a very small group of people that can say they faced the mountain and conquered it’s obstacles. YOU ALL ROCK!!! GOOD LUCK AND STAY DRY!!!
“Be the kind of person who in the face of adversity will continue to embrace life and walk fearlessly toward the challenge. Take it on! Own your own power and glory!
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/30/2020 at 8:37 am
Prayers for a safe trip! Wishing you blue bird days. Mom
Posted by: Jane on 1/30/2020 at 3:49 am
January 28, 2020
Last night we arrived at Chilcabamba Eco Lodge situated ten miles to the north of Cotopaxi, our final mountain object for this adventure. This morning we had a crystal clear view of this beautiful peak and of the actual climbing route visible with binoculars. After yesterday, we are all chomping at the bit to get a second shot at going high. I’m just hoping the mountain gods quit goofing around and make our climbing and our decision making a bit less strenuous.
During the last three weeks, Dustin and I have attempted four big peaks with only one of them giving us a clear green light. The three previous attempts, two on Cayambe and one on Chimborazo, could best be described as a devious poker game where you are constantly dealt a low grade two pair and going all in on that isn’t the risk you want to take. But it isn’t outright horrible either. Just one more card, one more bet, maybe the odds will turn. We have folded in the name of safety but the questions still linger. Could we have gone higher? Yesterday I wasn’t ready to fold but the next bet came at a cost. Through pure determination and a bit of luck we squeaked it out but those aren’t the hands you want to have to bet on day in and day out. Let’s hope tomorrow that Cotopaxi deals us the hand as it did last time.
Gambling aside, this day was a well needed reprieve from the continuous ride we have been on the last week. Fifteen minutes ago one of our faithful staff stalled into my room, lit a fire and asked if I needed anything. “Not at the moment,“ I replied, things for now are pretty much perfect.
Tonight we will pack for our climb ahead and enjoy one more night's rest before heading up hill again. We will touch base tomorrow.
Please enjoy some photos from our Cayambe summit day.
Sorry I missed sending you a post yesterday. I know you had a BIG day ahead!!!
My mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.” I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/30/2020 at 8:16 am
Wow, those were some spectacular pictures! Wishing you all a safe and memorable climb on your last mountain on this trip! Can’t wait to here about it Farmer Dave!
Posted by: Jodi Kirincich on 1/29/2020 at 3:40 am
January 27, 2020
Our Ecuador Volcanoes team is pleased to announce that we reached the summit of Cayambe, Ecuador’s third highest peak, this morning at 9:30 am.
Unfortunately we were dealt a messy hand fist thing when an electrical storm descended onto our team at 15,800 feet. With axes, ski poles and any other metal object literally glowing from the static electricity, we had no choice but to retrace our hour long start and return to the hut. With hopes almost dashed, I suggested a second round but the caveat was we needed to move fast and efficiently putting high demands on those willing. With a long stretch already under our belts, only three climbers opted to try again. Through a full white out, many crevasses, tired legs and burning lungs, all three made it to the top! No matter who went and who didn’t, everyone made the right call.
After a long drive back to town and a great late lunch we are all headed towards a rest day. We are all healthy and in good spirits. stay tuned for tomorrow’s rest day excitement.
RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier, Adam Knoff and Team.
On The Map
I can’t imagine being in an electrical storm at 15,800 feet let alone having to retrace your steps back to the hut. Whether you tried to make the summit again or not…I wish I could shake the hand of each and every one of you and tell you all to continue to believe in the greatness you have within you!!!
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ALL!!! Sounds like a fun rest day is in store. ENJOY!!!
LUMTA 1TF : )
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/28/2020 at 9:58 am
Congrats on another summit!! Safety first for all of these mts! Enjoy your day. Looking forward to more news.
Posted by: Jane on 1/28/2020 at 4:30 am
January 26, 2020
Hello friends, family and all other followers! The team is currently at Refugio Ruales Oleas Bergé, situated at 15,100’ on the SW flank of Volcán Cayambe. We arrived yesterday afternoon in good spirits after pushing through a few downpours on the 4x4 truck ride to the hut. A late dinner was accompanied by tales of past climbs and some impromptu mountain trivia. Other teams in the hut were prepping for a summit bid, we headed to bed early and wished them good luck.
This morning we woke up to some fresh snow and in and out of a cloud. No big deal, our primary goal was to get to the toe of the glacier and do some skills training. Our review of climbing skills was a success, the guides looked at each other in astonishment as literally every team member performed a textbook team arrest position on the first try!
Weather-wise it has been a pretty good day, giving us high hopes for tonight’s climb. The team is fit and seems to be acclimating well, tonight will be the true test!
RMI Guides Adam Knoff and Dustin Wittmier
On The Map
I’m as impressed as your guides are. You’re an awesome team!!! Believe in your ability. You got this!
You can take a man/woman and measure them, examine them, analyze them and dissect their statistics but you cannot look into their heart. That’s where the thirst is—-the hunger. That’s where desire turns to fire.
By M. L. Carr
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/28/2020 at 9:29 am
Wishing all a successful summit and a safe trip. Thx for the great blogs!!! Mom
Posted by: Jane on 1/27/2020 at 6:40 am
January 24, 2020
Yesterday as our team of acclimating, moth parenting, cloud touching gringos strolled up Rucu Pichincha, a storm was unleashing 40 miles to the south. In Espanol they might say it was raining perros y gatos, but luckily we never felt a drop. Ever since the team arrived, our weather has been a bit squirley leaving us to wonder if we might actually get wet somewhere along the line.
As we packed Victor’s magic bus today, the clouds swirled above but not as noisily as the traffic around us. Forty-five minutes after departing our gracious hotel hosts, we gathered speed around a four lane roundabout and were literally shot out of the city like something breaking free from a strange orbit. Three hours and 50 miles later we found ourselves at a beautiful crater lake named Largo Mojanda. As Americans we want to pronounce this with a true "j" sound, making this lake sound like some kind of volcanic jelly, but in Espanol, the "j" sounds like an "h" and the "o" is long giving it a more majestic feel.
The mountains we climbed don’t take as much tutoring to figure out. Fuya Fuya is the name of the twin peaks we ascended leaving only images and not so much phonetics to the imagination. Much like yesterday, the weather held and we were blessed with another summit and beautiful vistas of the deep blue lake and surrounding peaks. The climbing wasn’t difficult but watching Jerome plunge into the frigid water was. When he asked me it it was okay to swim, I looked at him and said, “I don’t know, is it?” I certainly wasn’t risking my skin against fresh water volcanic flesh eating trout. He went in but came out quicker.
From the lake we descended the bumpy cobble road to our favorite lunch spot and then to the hacienda for some rest, packing and preparing for tomorrow’s big move to 15,000' on the flanks of Cayambe. This is a big jump so wish us luck. But, before we go to the mountain we will go shopping! All faithful blog followers get a gift.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff
Awesome job guys. Sounds like you have an extremely strong team. Wishing everyone a safe and successful summit.
Posted by: Kevin Durbon on 1/27/2020 at 4:29 am
Glad to hear the weather has been good for your journey. Enjoying the pictures that are posted. Save up your energy. Sounds like you all have lots of hard work ahead. Remember…lots of people are cheering for you!!! LUMTA 1TF
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/25/2020 at 10:13 pm
January 23, 2020
Today our Ecuador Volcanoes team set out on the first of many uphill travels planned for the next ten days. We like to think that our strategic planning plays a big role in our future success, which is why I ordered up some nice weather and arranged for a cable car to whisk us from 10,000 feet to 13,000 as to not over stress many sea level lungs.
Our goal today was to ascend the 15,400 foot Pichincha Rucu volcano, a stone's throw outside the city in order acclimate for bigger objectives down the road. With a starting zone of 13,000 feet, this hike is usually very manageable from the top of the cable car in five hours, give or take. Upon arriving at the upper station the weather, unsettled for the last two days, showed signs of grumpiness but played nice as we prepared go. A wild hitchhiker latched onto Jerome’s shirt and hand, quietly calling daddy, daddy, but after five minutes of hiking changed his mind, flying to Willie thinking his orange pack looked more suiting than Jerome’s yellow shirt. Both would make fine fathers.
Once on the trail we could not have asked for better walking conditions. Thick clouds kept the temps down which was nice but obscured our view of the upper mountain. The steep parts weren’t too slick so the entire team made good and steady progress upwards until there was no more up to be had. After a cloudy 20 minutes on top we descended down with no issues and still no rain which landed us back at the hotel around 4:00.
We ate a great meal and then prepared for the upcoming climb tomorrow. Stay tuned for more sports action.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff
Hey everyone…Just want you all to know I did write a comment yesterday. In fact I wrote it twice as best as I could remember what I said. I didn’t see it anywhere so Whynde…don’t think mama forgot you and the group. Today I can see my Comment so I’m thinking it’ll be good from now on. Wish I would have printed yesterday’s words of wisdom but…onward and upward. LUMTA 1TF
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/24/2020 at 1:26 pm
Hello everyone…I sure hope you’re getting my words of encouragement to all of you. Love the group picture. I have a book titled “Believe in Yourself”. Today’s profound words of wisdom are thanks to Erma Bombeck. Most of you are probably too young to even know who she is. She took life with a grain of salt and a smile.
There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course, I’ve got dreams.” Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while and look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, “How good or how bad am I?” That’s where the courage comes in.
Have a great day!!! Make good progress!!! Remember it just takes one step at a time!!! GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU!!! LUMTA 1TF
Posted by: Geri Kuehn on 1/24/2020 at 1:18 pm
Today the entire team was assembled for the first time. With a couple last minute emergencies, the group is now down to eight. We are disappointed some folks had to cancel, however we are happy to report that all who planned to make it here are in country with luggage in tow.
After a quick orientation we were shuffled onto the bus for a tour of Quito and a trip to La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World). This is not a reference to Middle Earth, but instead is a museum at the Equatorial Line. We were treated to a variety of scientific representations of the Coriolis Effect. Two members of the team were able to balance an egg on a nail. In reality, this is possible anywhere in the world but Dustin keeps a close eye on this activity for when it comes time to assign rope teams.
Our tour then proceeded to El Panecillo and old town Quito. It rained for most of the day, but we made the most of it and it cleared up just enough on top of El Panecillo to have a great view of the city.
By the time we returned to the hotel most of us were pretty exhausted. Many team members' flights arrived late last night so people were given the choice to run around town or just relax in the rooms. I think most chose sleep!
We are all in good spirits, healthy and ready for our first acclimation hike tomorrow up Rucu Pichincha.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff
January 19, 2020
Deja vu happens to people all the time. A familiar face, feeling or experience happening in the present that one is sure has happened in the past. Most of the time this strange phenomenon passes quickly and the day continues on its normal path. Today was a different type of deja vu.
One year ago at this very time of year, I was on Chimborazo guiding a team of climbers motivated to ascend this beast of a volcano. We were camped at the same camp, had the same tent sights and experienced the same weather. Unfortunately this weather was the kicker. From well below the mountain, a mean looking cloud cap obscured the summit and it was clear that wind, whipped up from the volatile tropics had a grip on the upper mountain with no intention of loosening it. Today, everything from our parking spot to the cloud formations was the same.
We reached high camp at 17,400' at the 3:00 p.m. This section of the climb was actually much more pleasant than expected. Beautiful backdrops of our climbers were framed against the moody upper mountain and the deep red volcanic rock making for amazing color contrast and Kodak moments.
Once at camp, things began to change and the wind began to pour down the mountain making our tent houses flap. Through dinner the wind didn’t let up. Then around 8:00 p.m., as we were tucked in, things went calm. Exactly like last year. With this sign, I knew what was coming.
By 9:30 p.m. the atmospheric fan was turned to high. Dust found every tiny opening in the tents covering our sleeping bags and getting into our eyes and mouths. From here on we knew it was going to be an uncertain climb.
At 2:00 a.m. we left our camp with winds so strong we needed to collapse our tents and put rocks on them to keep them from getting destroyed. Last year that’s what happened. Unfortunately an hour into the climb, having been protected by a large rock band, we turned a corner and were greeted with the full force of Chimborazo. With all the local guides urging us to turn back, we were left with little choice. Having only climbed 600 feet, we turned the group around.
Sometimes the house deals some bad hands. Unfortunately on this trip, two out of three were not winners. Although we didn’t summit Cayambe or Chimborazo, we were blessed with a perfect day on Cotopaxi. We all feel psyched to be heading home soon but a bit disappointed we couldn’t get higher. All in all we had a great journey learning a lot while making life long memories.
Now we are enjoying a welcome afternoon of football before heading back to Quito and ultimately back home. Thank you all for following our Ecuadorian adventure.
RMI Guides Adam Knoff, Dustin Wittmier and Team
Sign Up For Ecuador Seminar January 7, 2020 Emails
Good Luck Sue!! Wishing you and your fellow climbers a safe and successful climb!
- Mychal (Mexico climb teammate)
Posted by: Mychal Wooldridge on 1/20/2020 at 1:14 pm
Glad you are safe! Sorry that the wind blew you off the summit! Packers also were blown out!
Posted by: Jane on 1/20/2020 at 5:03 am