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Entries By avery parrinello

Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team knock Rucu Pichincha off their to-do list

Hola readers,

Today the team got to stretch their legs and expand their lungs hiking on El Rucu Pichincha. This peak stands at roughly 15k at the foothills of Quito. The nice thing about this hike is we get to take a gondola to 13k before we start walking. The team performed well and looked strong and ready for the volcanos to come.

The clouds rolled in and out through the day, creating some mystery on where we actually were. Were we in Lord of the Rings? Would a dinosaur appear? Who knows! You truly can't beat the beauty out here.

Next, we go to Fuya Fuya to continue to allow our bodies adjust and compensate for the decrease in pressure and less oxygen molecules to suck in. We say goodbye to Quito and hello to the rest of the journey!

Avery, Hannah, and Team

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Ecuador Seminar: Parrinello & Team Arrive Quito, Explore the city

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Hello readers,

Today officially kicked off our Ecuador Seminar! The team gathered in the hotel lobby to introduce their selves, say why they chose the Seminar, and where they are coming from. From first glance it appears we have a fine looking team, who is going to be a hoot to climb five peaks with. After running through the itinerary for the next twi weeks, we grabbed a quick day pack and loaded the vans to go on our city tour. First stop was the equator where we learned many fun facts about the region, the culture, and how to make delicious chocolate. We also learned who has steady hands and the patience to balance an egg on the head of a nail. After the Equator we drove to a magnificent view of the city and walked the streets of old Town. It felt good to stretch the legs and see Quito. A casual night out for dinner wrapped up our day. Today we hit our first acclimatizing hike where we get to hopefully hit 15k feet and get our bodies adjusting to the high altitudes. The team is psyched and ready to go high.


RMI Guides Avery Parrinello, Hannah Smith, and Team

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Reach Summit of Antisana

The dry weather held out for us and we summitted Antisana at 6:30am yesterday. Clouds threatened in the distance, with a fantastic lightning show in the direction of the Pichincha Volcano. However, it was mostly calm and clear at Antisana, until the summit where wind and rime ice conditions convinced us to not hang too long.

Antisana is well-liked by climbers for it's challenge and aesthetic beauty. The mountain is heavily-crevassed with numerous seracs. The largest snow bridge we crossed yesterday stretched nearly 20 meters! The use of steep snow climbing techniques and running belays are required, especially in the final 1500 vertical feet of the ascent.

Climbers on this trip have now summitted the fourth (Antisana) and third (Cayambe) highest peaks in Ecuador. If future trips bring them back here, they have Cotopaxi and Chimborazo to round out the top four. But for now, Cotopaxi continues to erupt, so those plans will need to be on hold.

After the 11-hour day of climbing, we descended to camp, ate one final Locro de Papas (potato soup), packed up camp and made one last trip in 4x4s down to the bus. We said our goodbyes to the Ecuadorian guides who have taken care of us along the way and we rejoined Victor on his bus for the two-hour ride back to Quito. The afternoon was spent relaxing in the hotel and I'll say the cold plunge felt better than ever. Today, most folks head back to the United States to regale their families with stories from another successful climbing trip.

Thank you all for following along and consider joining us next year!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Brings a smile to me…

Posted by: Terri L. Jennings on 2/4/2023 at 7:30 am

Awesome Dustin! Really enjoyed following along!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/3/2023 at 1:35 pm

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Enjoy Rest Day at Casa Ilayaku

Our rest day at Casa Ilayaku was just that, restful. For most people, reading was the main source of entertainment. We are also close enough to town that some folks made a trip into town to kill some time and do a little shopping. Avery and I went to a climbing gym and funny enough the only other two people there when we arrived were two of our local guides from Cayambe, Fatima and Fernando.

Casa Ilayaku is a wonderfully relaxing hacienda. It is modern, but built on what used to be the owner's grandfather's farmland. Due to this, much of the food served here is very local, sometimes even from the garden. Fresh avocados, tree tomatoes and a variety of other vegetables are grown right here on the property. The owner, Marco, comes from a family of farmers so even the coffee they serve is grown and roasted by his family, just outside of Cayambe. Mountaineering is hard, but the hacienda life is pretty easy. The contrast between the two activities really makes these trips special.

But hey, we can't just live at Marco's place forever. This morning we will head for Antisana basecamp, which is basically just us setting up tents in the paramo (the Spanish word for a high, treeless plateau). The camp is incredible, looking down there are long-reaching views through the grasslands and an about face reveals a huge, glaciated mountain. Antisana is broad, the glaciers are heavily crevassed and it is truly a wild place. For the last time on this trip, we hold out hope for one more night of good climbing weather!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

It sounds like Marco and I would have had a lot in common! That is so Awesome you have had such great weather! Sending best wishes for more clear sky and Strength and stamina for your next Summit!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/2/2023 at 3:28 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Reach Summit of Cayambe

Cayambe Summit!

We topped out today at about 6:30am, to clear skies and views of the erupting Reventador and Cotopaxi. The climbing route was in great shape, due to the past several days of dry weather.

We are now settled in at Casa Ilayaku, a beautiful farmhouse outside of Quito. Tomorrow is a well-deserved rest day before heading for Antisana. Thanks for following along!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

That is Awesome Dustin!! Looking forward to pictures!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/31/2023 at 10:09 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Refresh Skills, Prepare for Climb

Sunday, January 29, 2023 - 10:26 pm PT

This morning we made our way up to the glacier under clear skies and moderate winds. We had a quick refresher on basic snow and glacier climbing principles and throughout the weather turned nicer.

A quick jaunt back down to the refuge was followed by most people squeezing a short nap, which was useful given we just woke up at 11pm. We’re now halfway to our first break, trying to wipe the cold from our eyes and get the engines running.

Tonight we try hard.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Fingers crossed for Perfect calm weather for the climb!!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/30/2023 at 11:02 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team visit local market, tuck in at Cayambe Hut

A leisurely morning at La Casa Sol was in order following yesterday. Particularly for Andrew, who in the bus to taxi switch before hiking Fuya Fuya, forgot to grab hiking shoes. He sent Fuya Fuya, in sandals, and with minimal issue. Jaime and I also got ourselves into a dizzying misadventure in our attempt to hike a lesser known mountain near Otavalo. It turned into us driving windy roads through the Ecuadorian countryside and running out of time to summit before dinner. We did however get some great views of Cayambe and a huge mushroom cloud over the erupting Volcán Reventador. 

After copious cups of coffee and tea, we headed for the Otavalo Market. On Saturdays, the market is bustling and extends beyond the normal square where it is held. Sensory overload is real there: colorful textiles, yelling merchants, loud music, food cooking over coals and so on. I typically choose to sneak into an alley and enjoy my favorite coffee I have found in Ecuador at a little shop called Tayta Wasi. After a couple hours, we hopped back in the bus and headed for the town of Cayambe. Once there, we enjoyed a quick lunch with complimentary bizcochos, which are basically the driest butter biscuit you can imagine. Their popularity as a staple food in this region continues to baffle me.

Finally, we made our way towards the volcano and are now settled in at the refuge. Book reading, organizing, gear adjustments and heavy breathing were the afternoon’s activities. Tomorrow we will brush up on basic glacier travel skills before our first big objective of the trip, Volcán Cayambe.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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This is for Nancy:

“The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist…The mountains have no “meaning,” they *are* meaning; the mountains *are.” ... I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share.  I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day.” - Peter Matthiessen, “The Snow Leopard”.

Thanks for the inspiration Nancy, disfruta este periplo.

Posted by: Lisa Fernandez on 1/29/2023 at 7:48 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Take Acclimatization Hike and Leave the City

Today was our second acclimatization hike and a travel day as well. It was another perfectly clear day, about as nice as I have seen here. There is a bit of a haze in the valleys from eruptions and perhaps a bit of an inversion. Despite the haze, we were treated to views of Cayambe all day, from a variety of angles.

We are now relaxing at La Casa Sol and mentally relaxing, with our harder objectives lying ahead. Now we just hope this dry weather doesn’t run out for Cayambe and Antisana!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Love the updates and pictures!!! All the Best Dustin and Team!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/29/2023 at 3:36 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Take First Acclimatization Hike

As our first real warmup, the team hiked Rucu Pichincha today. Of all my times on this peak, today was by far the clearest. We were able to identify numerous big mountains once we got off the Teleferico (gondola): Cayambe, Antisana, Sincholagua, Cotopaxi, Rumiñahui, Chimborazo, Iliniza Sur and Iliniza Norte. Being such a clear day also meant we did not get rained on to end the hike nor have to slip around on the muddy trails following a rain event.

We have been happy to be in Quito, adjusting to life in Ecuador, but are now ready to venture into the countryside. Tomorrow, we head for our second acclimatization hike on Fuya Fuya and will stay the night at La Casa Sol, just outside of Otavalo.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome!! All the Best to you Dustin and Team!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/27/2023 at 4:49 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier and Team Tour Quito

Everyone arrived with all bags in tow. That is as much of a win as we can ask for on day one.

Today, we ventured out on a tour of Quito and La Mitad del Mundo (literally, The Middle of the World). It was a particularly sunny day, and we spent a little time enjoying the variety of flowers at El Museo de Intiñan, the indigenous equatorial museum.

From there, our tour heads to El Panecillo, a small hill just south of the old town. Panecillo basically translates to "little bread loaf" as it is just a small rise that affords a person a nice view of Quito. If you make an early morning trip here, you can usually see Cayambe, Antisana and/or Cotopaxi from atop the hill. In the afternoon, mounting clouds tend to obscure the view.

We, then, headed down into the old town to have a look around at some statues, historic buildings, and old churches. But perhaps more importantly, there was a quick stop for empanadas and ice cream. Much of culture can be absorbed through food and discovering the taste of fresh guanabana ice cream is certainly a cultural experience.

Today is just the beginning of what we all hope is a safe, successful climbing trip!


Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thanks for being our biggest fan Farmer Dave!

Posted by: Dustin on 1/26/2023 at 6:46 pm

Hey Dustin ,
You Rock! Looking forward to following along again!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/26/2023 at 3:26 am

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