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Entries By dustin wittmier


Mexicos Volcanoes: King & Team Summit Pico de Orizaba

We had an amazing night to climb the highest peak in Mexico, 18,491’. The skies were clear, near full moon and warm air in the first 2 hours out of Piedra Grande Hut. 

By the time we got done meandering through the labyrinth there was a cold breeze and the temps dropped as we neared the toe of the Jamapa Glacier that dominates Pico de Orizaba’s Northside. The Team got their crampons on and up we went for what seemed like forever. The climbing is similar to Rainier’s glaciers. There had been some new snow in the last 10 days and a rain event that was proceeded by a lot of wind and a cold front. The result was a thick ice crust on the lower glacier. The guides had begun talking about turning the climb due to the inability to arrest a fall in these conditions if they persisted in the steeper slopes. Fortunately the snow softened and the team reached the summit around 8:15 am. 

During the descent the clouds came in and we descended to the hut. With wet clouds rolling through camp and temperatures dropping we loaded up and road down the bumpy road to Senior Reyes’ climbing hostel. Beers, showers, beers, food, packing and sleeping in that order gets us to the airport tomorrow afternoon. It’s been a fantastic Mexico Volcanoes trip with a great group of climbers. 

RMI Guides Mike King & Dustin Wittmier

On The Map

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Mexico’s Volcanoes: King & Team at Piedra Grande Hut

We got an early start from Puebla after a fun and relaxing rest day. The drive to Tlachichuca takes us through agricultural communities and around a massive Audi/VW manufacturing plant that appears to have just sprung up in the middle of nowhere. 

We will pack our bags for the Orizaba climb before enjoying a light lunch at Sr. Reyes' 100+ year old soap factory turned climber’s hostel. From there we load up in some 4x4 trucks that crawl their way through sprawling corn fields and dense pine forests until we get to Piedra Grande Hut where we will spend the night. Aside from the packing, the only other objective today is to go for a hike into the lower portion of Orizaba’s labyrinth section to stretch the legs and lungs a bit. This gives the Team a chance to see what the first 3+ hours of the climb will be like. Hopefully we are checking in next from the summit of Orizaba tomorrow morning. Thanks for following along. 

RMI Guide Mike King

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Trust today’s climb went well. I see a lot of nasty weather around Mexico City.

Posted by: Roger Coffey on 11/16/2019 at 11:43 am


Mexico’s Volcanoes: RMI Guide Mike King Recaps Ixta Summit Day

The guides got up at 11:30 pm to head up onto the ridge where you can see any approaching storms for the East and West. There was a low lying blanket of clouds and west wind of 5-10 mph. Hoping not to get into a similar lightning and thunder storm from previous years we waited 45 minutes before waking up the climbers. The approaching cold front kept the clouds low through the night which afforded us a great temperature to go climbing. The first stretch takes you through the “knees” of Ixta and is a steep scree slope with some scrambling straight out of high camp.

Once on the ridge we began the up and down of what seems like 7 false summits. As we crossed the rapidly receding Ayoloco Glacier, the trail begins to narrow and we were close to the summit crater. At 17,160’ it was still dark and the teams began their descent with increasing winds and cold/damp clouds started rolling over from the West. The descent back to high camp was smooth and we enjoyed an amazing sunrise with the dark silhouette of Pico de Orizaba in the East.

The Team is in Puebla now for a rest day and tomorrow we will head for our last climb of the trip on North America’s third highest mountain, Orizaba.

RMI Guide Mike King

On The Map

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Good luck tomorrow

Posted by: Roger Coffey on 11/14/2019 at 11:41 am


Mexico’s Volcanoes: King & Team Reach Summit of Ixtaccihuatl

The RMI Mexico's Volcanoes Team reached the summit of Ixtaccihuatl at 5:30 am local time.  They left High Camp in warm conditions but the weather changed to cold and windy by the time they reached the summit.  The team is making their way to the trailhead and will check in later with more details.

Congratulations to the team!

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Congratulations!!!  Have a safe trip down and cannot wait to hear about your adventures John! Love ya- Jen and JD

Posted by: Jen Brown on 11/13/2019 at 11:08 am


Mexico’s Volcanoes: King & Team Move to High Camp, Ready for Summit Bid

This morning we had a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit and a locals take on huevos mexicana. The Team got packed up and organized their gear to begin the 3.5 mile hike to our High Camp. The route consists of a series of ascending traverses that gain approximately 2,500’. During this time we looked out upon the farming communities of Amecameca and Puebla. After our second break we were overtaken by some thin clouds. Thankfully they were dry and didn’t carry any lightening. More times then not we experience some thunder and electrical activity at this High Camp due to similar weather patterns that many of you have experienced in the US Rocky Mountains. If the weather gets bad we do have a hut to hide out in since it is grounded and has a few lightening rods.

The Team did well today considering the high altitude and heavy overnight packs. This camp is at 15,500’ which is a new high point for many in the group.   We will make a summit attempt early tomorrow morning and we have our fingers crossed the weather cooperates.

RMI Guide Mike King

On The Map

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Mexico’s Volcanoes: King & Team at Ixta’s Altzomoni Hut

Today was a logistics day with a hike to continue our acclimatization. We left La Malinche around 8 am and had a delicious breakfast enroute to the town of Amecameca where we bought our water and remaining supplies for the Ixta climb. From there we drove up a winding road to Paso de Cortes which lies between the 2 volcanoes Popo and Ixta that dominate this area of Mexico. With rain lightly bouncing off our jackets, we walked the 4.5 miles from the park entrance to the hut located at 13,000’. We are packing and enjoying the new dusting of snow on the surrounding peaks. Dinner and a good night's sleep will have us prepared to head up to high camp tomorrow morning.

RMI Guide Mike King

On The Map

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Best of Luck to you and your team Mike!!! I’ll be following along!

Posted by: Farmer Dave on 11/12/2019 at 3:05 am


Mexico’s Volcanoes: King & Team Unable to Climb La Malinche

Today we attempted to hike up the 14,600’ peak of La Malinche. The drive to the park entrance goes through a nice pine forest. We got to tree line around 1:45pm at 12,800’ and storm clouds had been sitting on the summit all day. There was thunder and billowing clouds for the next hour. The guides decided that being on an exposed ridge line with a building electrical storm on the horizon wasn't the best scenario. We started the descent with views of the surrounding countryside coming and going between dark clouds. We are back at the cabins having had a delicious meal and eager to get started on the Ixta portion of our trip.

RMI Guide Mike King

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Mexicos Volcanoes: King and Team Arrive in Mexico City, Ready for First Hike

This is Mike checking in for the November Mexico Volcanoes trip. Everyone arrived in Mexico City over the last 2 days with all their equipment. We had a brief team meeting and dinner last night. This morning we will head out early to get to La Malinche, a dormant volcano for the last 3,100 years for our first acclimatization hike. The bus ride takes us out of the vast and heavily populated area of Mexico City with its population of 22 million people and into the rolling agricultural communities near the border of Tlaxcala and Puebla states. The goal for today is to hike to the top of La Malinche at 14,600’. We will check in later today once we are back down at the cabins. RMI Guide Mike King
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Mt. Rainier: Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir Reaches Summit!

So far we've had a tremendous trip. Our first day started cold and rainy, which posed no problem for us given that our training that day was largely spent indoors or at least under the cover of a roof overhead. That day was spent doing some technical training, going through equipment needed for the week, and getting to know one another. Day 2, Monday, we moved to Camp Muir on what ended up being a fairly nice day. The group was impressive moving uphill, with nobody having difficulty with the 4,500' hike up the snowfield. Tuesday was a very full day as we covered all the skills we needed to climb the mountain. Following our skills session we ventured out onto the Cowlitz Glacier to practice what we learned and better understand just how glaciers behaved.Following this it was back to Muir to prepare for our climb. A summit talk, early dinner and early bedtime set us up for our climb. Waking up at 1:00am and walking at 2:00, we were immediately challenged by high winds. Unfortunately, the winds haunted us all day, making for a difficult climb. But we persevered and got lucky, summiting just after 8:00am. The team did great and we're all enjoying some well deserved rest. Talk again tomorrow, RMI Guide Brent Okita & Team
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We are super proud of Matthew Roth & Team!!
Love,
Leah, Haddox & Bailey

Posted by: Leah Roth on 9/25/2019 at 2:04 pm


North Cascades: Wittmier & Team Summit Mount Shuksan!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier and his team reached the summit of Mt. Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys Route. With the forecasted weather, the team was able to summit a day early and is continuing with some training through the rest of their program. They will descend from the mountain tomorrow. Congratulations to all on their success- 100% to the top!
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