Entries By adam knoff
January 16, 2016
Summit day on Chimborazo. Not only were our bodies still recovering from the two previous big climbs of Cayambe and Antisana, we saved the trickiest and tallest climb for last. Towering over the surrounding landscape at 20,700ft, Chimborazo was our final objective. And boy, did it deliver!
Even in the best conditions, this peak isn’t an easy target. But coupled with uncharacteristically dry season this year, this climb proved to be the most physically and mentally demanding of the trip.
We hiked up yesterday to our High Camp at around 17,500’, made some dinner, and hit the sack. Our climb this morning began with our 11pm alarms waking us from our sleep. After tidying up camp, slamming some calories, and chugging some coffee, we pointed our tired feet uphill towards the summit.
The climb began with about an hour and a half of walking on trail, exposed ridges, and a couple of 5th class climbing moves. As the trail steepened, we cramponed up and prepared to hit the glacier.
Because of the dry spell Ecuador has been experiencing, the glacier was a challenging beast! Steep, firm, icy, exposed. Perfect footwork was required for the entire ascent, but our team delivered! From challenging cramponing to sections of pitched-out steep ice, this team persevered and tackled everything that crossed their paths. After a grueling 7.5 hours, we reached the Veintemilla summit at 20,561’, 30 minutes later we had turned tail and began the descent.
The steep ice and exposure made the descent as difficult as the ascent, but the team kept their heads in the game and we made it safely back to high camp by 2pm. Our porters had already packed up camp for us, making it easy for us to continue on our final descent back to the bus.
The (thoroughly exhausted yet happy) team is now back at Estrella de Chimborazo, enjoying some much earned beverages, and reminiscing about these crazy last two weeks. It’s hard to believe we’re heading back to the big city tomorrow and flying home!
We will have one more update for you guys tomorrow, but we’ll all be home to tell you more stories firsthand before you know it!
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Adam Knoff
January 15, 2016
We woke this morning and had a great breakfast. After we were well nourished we decided to brush up on our crevasse rescue skills. This afternoon we packed up and headed for the Chimborazo Reserve, from there it was a three hour hike to 17,500’ where camp was set up for us. The team is doing great we had a great dinner and now it’s off to bed, for an alpine start awaits us. The summit of Chimborazo beckons…Wish us luck!
RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team
Based on Justin’s SPOT - I see you on the summit of CHIMBORAZO - seems you all have had a fantastic trip with considerable time high in ice and snow (wish I were there)! Congrats all!! Greetings especially to Justin and Larry - be safe!
Posted by: Tim on 1/16/2016 at 5:33 am
So your aim is to reach the highest point on earth from the earth’s center! Now that’s a story to tell. Sending you hope for good conditions that will permit you to attain your goal. Regardless… You already have great stories to tell and incredible memories for years to come. Excited to hear them:-)
Posted by: Sharon Halls on 1/15/2016 at 8:24 pm
January 15, 2016
Today we awoke with the same tired bodies we experienced after climbing Cayambe but this time there was no packing up bags preparing for a walk to the bus. Here at Guaytala they prepared us a great breakfast, had hot showers and gave us free range over the espresso machine which helped shake out the cob webs more than anything. At 10:30 Victor arrived and we loaded our luggage once again into the magic bus for our final migration to Ecuador’s tallest mountain, Chimborazo.
Six hours after leaving the foot hills of Antisana, we arrived at La Estrella De Chimborazo, “the star of Chimborazo”. Here we definitely saved the best for last. It was agreed that no other hotel or hacienda has displayed such forethought in its layout, architecture and decorating. This place is made for climbers. With pictures of Chimborazo on almost every wall and a literal museum of climbing photos and old equipment hanging from every rafter, we can’t help but to be inspired to push ourselves one last time into the high alpine in an attempt to make history of our own.
We are all feeling tired from two big climbs but ready for one final go. The weather had been great and most other things have gone as planned. Wish us luck as we move to high camp tomorrow. Adios for now.
if I look close enough I can almost see you on the map!
Good luck J-man
Posted by: Paul Shepherd on 1/15/2016 at 3:27 pm
Good News, The Grand Jury has chosen not to return an indictment, so it is safe to come home.
Good Luck to Everyone on your Ascent!!
SB & KB.
Posted by: Scott Bush on 1/15/2016 at 2:31 pm
January 14, 2016
Post Antisana. Hmmmm? It is hard to put into words how a body feels after running full speed ahead for 36 hours without sleep. I take that back, we did close our eyes from 7 to 10 pm last night but if you asked anyone to tell you about their dreams they will half heatedly recount how their tent partner and the thought of eating instant oatmeal at 10:30 pm was more of a nightmare. So sleep was hard to come by.
Once “awake”, we forced down what calories we could and loaded our climbing kits into the jeeps. From base camp it was a 20-minute 4x4 trail to the starting point. Like all the other mountains down here the first hour starts with a dirt trail before gaining the toe of the glacier. We all did so about 1am and despite this being our second big climb in a row, everyone showed good spirit and stamina.
For the next three hours we crossed spectacular crevasse bridges, cramponed up steep pitches and weaved through giant ice features.
At 18,000 feet, we took a break to search out the final piece of the route finding puzzle which ended at the summit ridge. Once the ridge is gained it is a straight forward climb to the top. Unfortunately there was nothing straight forward about the terrain from our position to the ridge. With a mandatory 55-degree slope exposed to a crevasse below and having very tricky snow conditions, the risk of taking our team into that terrain was just too high. So it was here I decided to turn the climb around. The good news was, up to that point everybody climbed really well and said unanimously that Antisana was one of the coolest mountains they have ever been on.
After a safe descent we rested at camp for a couple hours then took the magic bus to a hacienda for some much needed food, beer and rest.
Tomorrow we are off to our final and most challenging mountain, Chimborazo.
Stay tuned for the next chapter.
Adam and team wishing all of our loved ones back home big hugs. We can’t wait to come home and see you.
Antisana sounds like a heart pumping adventure! It really is a day to day puzzle, isn’t it! I can’t wait to hear Justin describe this trip from a medical point of view.
Sending the team the best of wishes for another exhilarating and safe climb. Thanks for sharing!!!
Sharon and Tim Halls
Posted by: Sharon Halls on 1/15/2016 at 8:54 am
January 12, 2016
If you asked the team yesterday if they were ready to climb another 18,000-foot mountain tonight, I’m sure the answer would’ve been a chorus of “No!”, but after a good night’s sleep at Hacienda Gualchalá, everyone woke up with a spring in their step, a smile on their face, and determination to get back out there and tackle another peak. It’s hard to understate the value of a relaxing evening and a lazy morning, but its effect on us is clear: our sore muscles and tired minds are a thing of the past!
After a delicious breakfast out in the morning sun, we began the now familiar process of repacking the bus with all of our climbing gear, and we hit the road towards Antisana, our next objective. En route we stopped at a mall for some last minute grocery shopping and Kentucky Fried Chicken (seriously!) before heading up the long bumpy roads towards base camp.
Upon arriving at camp just after 4pm today, we set about pitching tents and making dinner. This was done in short order and the team is now “in bed”, resting for tonight’s climb. (The ironic air quotes here are a nod towards the difficulty of getting any real sleep when you need to get up in five hours and the sun still hasn’t even set.) The climb is a bit more challenging than Cayambe, but everyone is ready to give it a shot.
The bags are packed and we’re ready to go! Stay tuned for an update when we return from our climb!
Looking forward to seeing more photos soon. Hoping it was a fabulous climb for all. Love to Ranger Lorenzo too!
Trying to leave this comment again. Not sure why an error message appears after selecting submit your comment two times now? Maybe can’t use autofill?
Posted by: Debbie Worden on 1/14/2016 at 9:20 am
Enjoy every moment, experience the thrill, and take pride in the accomplishment. We’ll be following you up to the summit as you lift your head towards the sun. Have fun Eileen! Be safe!! We’re so proud and very excited for you!!
Posted by: Mary Segesta on 1/13/2016 at 8:24 am
January 11, 2016
Hi everyone! This is RMI Guide Adam Knoff checking in from Ecuador. We reached the summit of Cayambe this morning on what turned out to be a beautiful day. Last night at dinner we were nervous about the climb; it was pouring rain outside. Would it clear for our climb? Would we even be able to leave the hut?
My alarm went off at 11:00 p.m. and when I went outside to check the weather I saw stars in the sky. Our climbing window was open! It turned out to be a great climb. The rain last night didn’t hamper our efforts. We had a great route with great local guides. The team did an awesome job. On the summit we had views of Antisana and smoky Cotopaxi.
Now we are back down and waiting for our bus to take us Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador. Our bus is delayed by rain, the same rain that made us nervous at dinner last night is now delaying our pick-up. Delays are part of the game so we take them in stride but I must say that this delay is definitely increasing our appetite for a juicy hamburger…hopefully soon we will be able to satiate our appetites.
Until next time,
RMI Guides Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt, and team
On The Map
Mountaineering experience enhances with good quality equipment. To get more insight about Mountaineering expedition and mountaineering please visit our website www.mountaineering.asia
Posted by: Tripti on 1/12/2016 at 1:44 am
Congrats on reaching the summit! The photo looks gorgeous. Great job everyone! Glad to see Justin Halls’ bad jokes aren’t weighing you guys down. ;)
Enjoy your adventures!
Posted by: Aimee Gilchrist on 1/11/2016 at 10:16 am
January 10, 2016
I can’t remember the last time I woke up in a room of ten other people and everyone felt hungover. Come to think of it, it was probably the last time I was here. I hope all of you in the blogosphere don’t think I am telling all the climbers on my team that chugging beer is a good idea before spending our first night above 15,000 feet. Quite the contrary actually but no matter how many preventative measures we take, the first night sleeping this high always produces hangover-like symptoms the next morning.
Fortunately these symptoms are more easily combated and by 8:30 a.m. the team was feeling much better.
Out hut sits at 15,300 feet on a beautiful rocky ridge. We were blessed this morning with glorious views of Antisana, our next major objective and Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s most famous mountain. Sadly she is suffering from a bit of indigestion and burps up large amounts of lava and ash. Not good for climbers wanting to look into her crater.
Anyway, Cayambe is in great shape so making good use of our expedition’s best morning, we pack our things and hiked a solid hour to the glacier. Here we reviewed basic skills then got into a fun crevasse rescue scenario. Our high point for today was almost 16,500’, a new altitude record for many on the team. We knew time was getting close to head down, not when the dark clouds began to threaten rain but when a large local family arrived on the glacier next to us in tennis shoes and began taking their clothes off. At one point I was trying to review how to tie a friction hitch when a large man began screaming for a photo while doing jumping jacks in a speedo. Most likely the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen on a glacier.
Once down we all rested and then packed for our big night tonight. We plan to “wake up” at 11:00 p.m. to begin our climb.
Wish us luck! It is raining now so think dry thoughts as well.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff and team
January 10, 2016
I’m not sure what it was about Casa de Sol, but my head hit the pillow at 11 and didn’t move until the sun broke through our window at 6:30 am. When I asked everyone else how the night went, it was clear the sand man wasn’t as generous to others in the group. Oblivious to the world, it was revealed to me at breakfast that the neighbor dogs got a bit vocal right outside most of the rooms. I apologized for not trying to help but then just blamed things on Nick, so after much strong coffee and delicious eggs, the team was at full force.
After leaving Casa de Sol, damage free for both bus and garage, we were off to Otavalo to visit Ecuador’s largest crafts and goods market. Here sensory overload is impossible to avoid but with good self control the team managed not to sink the ship with souvenirs and we made it out in good fashion.
After lunch we all piled into the bus once again and began our upward push toward the Cayambe hut sitting nicely at 15,300 feet. After two hours of driving up roads that make the pot holes of New York look like ice cream dishes, the bus could go no further. With all bags loaded into a jeep we walked the final 30 minutes to the hut.
We were greeted by our local guide, David, and moved right in to our private hut just below the main Refugio. It was perfect timing because 20 minutes after arriving, the skies opened up and a soaking rain doused the mountain around us. With all things dry we practiced knots for a bit, had a great dinner and are now tucked in ready to listen to my bedtime stories.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff and team Ecuador out.
On The Map
January 8, 2016
Hello from Casa Sol or the “sun house” located high on steep hillside overlooking a beautiful valley.
Today our team left the hustle and bustle of Quito and drove north in Victor’s Magic Bus to a beautiful reserve called Mojanda. Translated this word means “black lake” but the lake we parked at was a deep emerald blue. Created by a sunken crater, lake Mojanda is surrounded by steep craggy mountain sides covered with a thick carpet of tall grasses and plants unique to this high altitude ecosystem.
One of these tall mountains was our acclimating objective for the day. Fuya Fuya, which would sound a lot better if you put the word Kung at the beginning of it, stands at close to the same height as Mt. Rainier but is much more easily climbed. After following the nice trail through those tall grasses for just over an hour the team reached a windy saddle splitting the mountains two summits. Banging a hard right toward the northern peak, we had to scramble over a challenging 10 foot rock step and then continue up a steep ridge for another ten minutes to a flat and welcoming summit. The entire team arrived together but only had enough time for a quick high five, group photo and a few personal pictures before being greeted by distant thunder advising us it was time to depart. A quick hour long descent was motivated by a laughing group of high school kids racing downhill both on foot and rolling. We were reminded by those playful youths that we can’t take things too seriously because even with lightning and thunder around, smiles and fun can make any situation better.
After the hike we ate lunch at a nice local hacienda before driving to Casa Sol for the evening. The most exciting part of the day wasn’t the lightning or thunder but watching Victor try and park his large mini bus in the cramped garage. The scar where he tore off a chunk of the gate still showed from last year. He made it, barely, so we all raised a cup and declared success all around.
Let’s hope for a successful mission to Cayambe tomorrow.
RMI Guides Adam Knoff & Nick Hunt
On The Map
January 6, 2016
Buenas dias from Ecuador.
Adam Knoff here, lead guide for 2016’s first RMI Ecuadorian Skills Seminar. As mentioned in the program name, learning new skills is the name of the game down here. The first skill encountered was getting to a foreign country, finding the taxi stand among the bustling group of tour operators in Quito’s new airport then getting to the Hotel and finding a way to sleep for a few hours before awakening to meet a bunch of strangers. I am happy to announce everyone passed! We are only missing 3 bags out of twenty so that ratio could be much worse but all humans are accounted for.
This being our first day together as a team, we started with lots of coffee at the Hotel’s nice in house restaurant while doing individual introductions and chatting about what is to come. After breakfast we all gathered in a cute mini bus to take a tour of some historical sites in and around Quito.
Our tour began with a visit to the actual equator. Here we saw physical evidence of why, when we flush the toilet, water spins counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the south. We learned about the bizarre gravitational effects on our bodies if you stand directly on the line and three out of eleven actually will be coming home with certificates proving they can use the force better than the rest of us and literally balance an egg on a nail.
After the Mitad Del Mundo, or middle of the world, we drove south into the heart of old town Quito where we gained beautiful vistas of this enormous city, visited an amazing old Cathedral, walked right to the front gate of their “White House” and strolled through Independence Square.
By three in the afternoon we were all feeling the effects of long travel days so we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. Throughout the tour the weather was perfect, 70 degrees, partly cloudy and a small breeze. Just what I ordered when I put in my request with the big man before the trip. I must have gotten greedy though because 30 minutes after getting back to the hotel, an absolute down pour fell from the sky with lightning so close the booms were setting off car alarms all around the hotel. Let’s hope that got out of the system.
Now it is calm and nice again as evening sets in so we should have a pleasant and dry walk to dinner.
We will write again tomorrow about our first upward outing which could result in a summit over 15,000 feet.
RMI Guides Adam Knoff & Nick Hunt
Justin! I know being up there in the Andes is bringing you all the happiness you deserve, buddy. I’m sure it’s gorgeous up there and after living in Colorado I finally understand why people love being in the mountains so much. There’s so much peace and serenity. My apologies for being an awful friend this year and not keeping in touch. But hopefully before I move in June we’ll be able to catch up!
Posted by: Carlos on 1/8/2016 at 11:55 am
Looking forward to seeing more pics and travel updates! Wishing good weather conditions for fantastic viewing! Glad to see the spot is working, Justin!
Posted by: Sharon Halls on 1/8/2016 at 11:24 am