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Entries By ben liken

Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken & Team Finish Up Their Expedition

Hola From Quito,

What a change from 24 hours ago.   As I write this the horns from Quito’s busy streets blare below our window and the team is preparing with hot showers and clean clothes for a dinner on the town.  
This wasn’t the case last night.  Twenty-four hours ago we were camped at 17,500 feet on a small perch located on Ecuador’s highest peak.   For weeks now Chimborazo has thwarted climbers attempting a summit push with unusually bad weather and deep snow.  I am sorry to say things haven’t changed.  
After a solid meal of freeze dried chicken and rice we hit the tents for a few hours and tossed and turned until the alarm went off at 11:30, pm that is.  From here we ate a hasty breakfast and geared up.  The sky was clear so hopes were high.  The first two stretches of climbing were going well until we hit the end of the trail made by climbers the previous night.
We took a break at 19,000’ and had a long discussion about what was happening with the snow conditions and how that played into an ever-steepening route.  In the end we could not justify continuing up into the unknown with a team of 13 climbers.  All the other teams on the mountain had already turned around but we held onto hope for just a bit longer.  Finally we had to make the call to turn around.  Chimborazo has not seen a successful ascent yet in 2017 and for now it will stay that way.  
Even though the team did not summit we gave it a serious shot which our bodies will confirm.  So after dinner I’m sure we will toast a great journey and then crash hard for a restful 12-hour snooze.  We are all looking forward to coming home to see our families.
Thanks for following along.
Hast Pronto- or until next time.
Team Ecuador saying adios.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken & Team’s Next Objective- Chimborazo

What a gorgeous last three days we have had!  They have been by far the nicest weather I’ve seen on my trips to Ecuador.  As we left Guachalá, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, we started our eight-hour drive to Chimborazo.  Capitalizing on the beautiful weather, we took lots of great photos of all the mountains that were visible as we drove.  Along the way, we stopped for burritos and margaritas before making our way to Estrella de Chimborazo, the lodge at the base of Chimborazo.
Our plan is to begin our ascent tomorrow with a summit bid that night or the next.  We’ll see what the weather brings.  We may be out of contact the next two to three nights as we embark on our next climbing objective.  We will check in as soon as we can.
Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Ben Liken

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Great pics.  Looks like an amazing trip so far.  Have fun.  Be safe. 


Posted by: Jeff Williams on 1/25/2017 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for your latest post and gorgeous photo.  I’m sending Owen and the team all the best possible climbing vibes. Good luck and enjoy the endeavor!


Posted by: Catherine Leon on 1/24/2017 at 10:35 pm

Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken & Team Enjoy Success on Cayambe

Over the past few days our team has been very busy down here on the equator.  On Saturday, we departed the comforts of civilization and made our way to the Cayambe Hut at a little over 15,000’.  The road to this mountain lodge is riddled with boulders, pot holes, mud pits, and the occasional farm animal, making it mandatory to use a 4x4 vehicle. 

Once we were settled in and spent a night in the thin air we moved further uphill to do some basic training on the toe of the glacier.  The team remembered mostly everything from their previous experience and were ready for a summit attempt.  So we packed our gear, ate some dinner, and went to bed for a few hours.

At about 11 pm we awoke to clear skies and were able to start uphill by midnight.  With perfect climbing conditions and a strong team we found ourselves on top of Cayambe for a 6:30 am sunrise over the equator.  After descending the upper steep slopes we cruised back to the hut and packed up.  A quick 4x4 ride brought us to our hacienda were we will start to recover from the climb.

Everyone is doing well and excited with the success we had!
RMI Guide Ben Liken

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Yay for the team! Good work guys! Now on to the bigger beast!

Posted by: Susan Brashear on 1/24/2017 at 9:02 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken, Knoff & Team Summit Cayambe

RMI Guides Ben Liken and Adam Knoff along with their team of climbers reached the summit of Cayambe (18,997’) today.  The team will descend to Hacienda Guachala where they will spend the night.  Tomorrow they will set out toward Chimborazo and their next objective.

Congratulations to the team!

On The Map

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“Josh,  I hope you’re having a great day! I hope you don’t fall down! ”
- Evan (3 1/2)

Hi Josh!  It looks like you are in your element and having a blast! We can’t wait to hear about your adventures! - Lee & Lauren

Posted by: Evan "mountain polar bear" Hickmott on 1/24/2017 at 6:22 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken & Team Acclimate with Creativity at Fuya Fuya

Hola From Otavalo, Ecuador,

This morning our team of intrepid climbers met our one man team and intrepid driver, Orgel, and headed into the not so subtle Quito morning rush hour.   Climbers heading off to a big mountain are always ready to leave the grips of the city in search for greater adventures but today Quito had a way of making sure we didn’t rush off and lose sight of where we were.  Wall to wall cars made the first five miles take as long as the final 50 but rain was falling so we didn’t feel rushed either way.  
Our destination today was a volcano called Fuya Fuya, which rises to 14,700 feet, higher than Mt. Rainier, but in Ecuador is relatively low in comparison to others.  We come here in January because it is supposed to be the “dry” season, but today this high, tropical landscaped proved otherwise.  Light rain fell in the morning leaving Quito, but north of the city and higher up the clouds thickened and the rain turned real.  In Seattle there are over a hundred ways to describe rain.  I’m pretty sure today we only needed one.  Let’s just call it, solid.  With a “solid” rain falling, we solved riddles in the trailhead shelter, ran quick sprints along the lake shore before sprinting back and did pull ups on the beams to pretend we were getting our heart rate up.  All-in-all the acclimating process was short lived and we were headed down having never walked a foot uphill. 
The rain continued to pour as we ate lunch in town and killed time before arriving at the hacienda for the evening.  La Casa Sol sits high on a steep hill overlooking town and it was here that we had the day’s most exciting event.  With a we cobble stone street, our driver gunned it up the hill trying to get momentum before spinning out on the wet surface.  It took two more goes to pull the van into the tiny parking spot and unload the bags.  Ben and I had to put rocks behind the van’s tires at one point to keep him from sliding backwards into the ditch. 
As we say before a day of ice climbing in Bozeman, the adventure starts the second you get in the car.  Tomorrow’s road promises to be even more thrilling!  The road to the mountain….
Wish us luck on our way to Cayambe.

RMI Guides Adam Knoff, Ben Liken and Team

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Liken & Team Acclimatize Near Quito


Today, after a lot of travel and food the team finally got out into the mountains.  We set off for a gondola ride on the outskirts of town that takes us all the way up to well over 13,000 feet.  We were pleased to find fair skies and moderate temps with sweeping views of the city at the top.
From there it took us 2.5 hours to reach the summit at 15,700 feet with the whole team!  This is a great team and everyone did excellent.  After some time on top breathing thin air, we descended back to Quito grabbing some tasty carne empanadas on the way.
After an afternoon nap we all got some pizzas and ice cream to soothe the soul before bed.  Tomorrow we will venture further outside Quito for another highland hike.

Stay tuned,
RMI Guide Ben Liken

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck over the next three days as the team moves towards the climbers hut in anticipation of summiting Cayambe on Monday! Let’s hope the weather cooperates better than today!

Posted by: Susan Brashear on 1/20/2017 at 5:27 pm

good luck on your climbing/eating adventure! if this is a race, my money is on Owen. nobody can eat faster than Owen.

Posted by: catherine's sister on 1/20/2017 at 10:15 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Ben Liken & Team Arrive in Quito

Howdy folks,

We have just kicked off our next Ecuador Volcanoes program here in Quito.  With most of our team arriving late last night, we spent day one casually around town. After a large buffet breakfast we went on a four-hour city tour where we visited the equator along with some key landmarks throughout the old city of Quito.  Even though this wasn’t quite as relaxing as laying by a pool all day, it is important that we keep some blood flowing for acclimatization. Just by being in this city we are starting this process because it sits at 9000’.  

Once we returned to our hotel and did a gear check the team was ready for a little fun, so we checked out one of Quito’s new micro breweries.  The pale ale was on par and the chili cheese fries were among the best I ever had.

Finally we will go to dinner tonight so we can pack on a few more calories before we start burning them tomorrow on our first acclimatization hike up Rucu Pichincha.  A small 15,700-foot hill right outside town.

Stay tuned to follow the rest of our journey through the Andean high country!

RMI Guide Ben Liken

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Shuksan Seminar: Liken & Team Wrap Up Their Week in the North Cascades

The final Mount Shuksan climb of the year ushered in the autumn season with some winter weather last week.  The occasional storm brought us fresh snow and great training conditions.  The whole team was able to learn a ton of mountaineering skills and summit the classic peak via the Southeast Ridge.  Great team. Great trip.

RMI Guide Ben Liken

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Mt. Rainier: September 4th Teams Summit!

The Mt. Rainier Summit Climb teams reached the top at 8:00 a.m.  With clear skies, calm winds, and a bit on the chilly side, the team began their descent at 9:30.  High fives and cheers will commence at Rainier Basecamp this afternoon.

Congratulations to today’s teams!

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Congrats team!!!  You did it! Looking forward to hearing from you once you make it down! You are all Rock Stars!!!

Nick and Lisa

Posted by: Nick and Lisa Fohl on 9/4/2016 at 7:11 pm

Mt. Rainier: Four Day Summit Climb Teams on Top!

RMI Guides Leon Davis & Ben Liken led their Four Day Summit Climb Teams for August 27 - 30, 2016 to the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning.  The teams experienced cloudy and windy conditions on their ascent.  Both teams reached the crater rim around 8 am PT and were able to spend some time on top before starting their descent. 

We look forward to seeing them at Rainier BaseCamp later today.

Congratulations to today’s climbers!

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Did the Merz brothers all make it.

Posted by: Suzi Merz on 8/30/2016 at 1:15 pm

Congratulations on your achievement Maahi! Can’t wait to see you and all the pics. Miss you…. Susmita

Posted by: Susmita Jasti on 8/30/2016 at 10:13 am

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