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Entries By mike bennett

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Turned Back on Antisana

Today was eventful. We have now all been up for 24 hours and are feeling the effects. Our day actually started last night with a 10pm wakeup to attempt Antisana. By 11pm the team was on the move, although lightning in the relatively short distance and clouds in the vicinity were worth keeping an eye on. As we climbed higher, intermittent clouds were upon us, with even a light drizzle from time to time. Looking in all directions, clouds surrounded the mountain and gave an eerie sense. Compounding these difficulties was also the very dry condition of the glacier. Navigating the dry glacier at night required the utmost attention to efficient footwork. In the end, there were too many factors working against us and we made the decision to turn around just above 17000'.

Every member of the team began the climb and made a valiant effort. While it is disappointing to turn around, the more we climb the more we understand that it is all part of the experience. By now, we have a team that truly enjoys spending time together and works together as a unit in the mountains. That means as much to me as standing on any summit could. To celebrate our new friendships and an overall successful time in Ecuador, we went to a nice group dinner. Jaime, our lead Ecuadorian guide, joined and we all enjoyed recounting freshly minted memories from this journey. As we depart, it is bitter sweet. It may be some time before any of us cross paths again, but we are all excited to reunite with family back home in the coming days (except me - follow the Ecuador Seminar blog!).

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Summit or no summit, those are some pretty sweet night/low light shots!

Posted by: Some guy from Puyallup on 2/2/2024 at 8:20 am

Bummer you couldn’t summit! But You know better than anyone Dustin, Its about the experience!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/2/2024 at 3:32 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team ARrive at Antisana Base camp, Prepare for climb

Following a mildly eventful 4x4 overland, the team is settled in at Antisana basecamp. Similar to Cayambe, the glacier appears very dry. However, the weather seems to be holding, so we have some things in our favor. Spirits are high, bellies are full and we're ready for a final hard day!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Enjoy Well Deserved Rest Day

Rest day!

Every member of this team deserved one day without hiking, climbing or traveling and we took this one at Casa Ilayaku, which is a lovely, modern hacienda nestled on the slopes of a defunct volcano outside of Quito. Reading, chatting with family over the phone, eating nice meals, checking out the gardens and general lounging were just a few of the relaxing activities for the day. It's helpful that the food here is healthy and fresh to help us heal from the events of yesterday (summitting Cayambe) and prepare for our climb of Antisana.

This evening, we turned our focus towards Antisana. We have a solid plan in place, great Ecuadorian mountain guides and are armed with more experience. Now we hope for good weather to cap off what has already been an excellent trip with a fun team.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Hey Dustin!
All the best wishes for you for more perfect weather!!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/31/2024 at 3:44 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: RMI Guide Mike Bennett Recaps Summit Day on Cayambe

The team started their summit day with an early alpine start, leaving the Cayambe shelter just before midnight. Scrambling up to the glacier under headlamp, and an almost full moon, the morning remained very calm and pleasantly cool. 

After nearly two hours of approach, the team transitioned into crampons and full glacier kits, roping up and embarking up the ridge with their guides. Cayambe remains in a very dry state, leaving very icy and firm walking conditions for much of the climb. 

Furthermore, winds picked up higher up on the mountain, exposing the team to colder more challenging climbing conditions. At around 18k feet, the sun began to rise, giving way to some relief for the final stretches of the climb. 

After roughly 7 hours of climbing, the team topped out at nearly 19k feet. The summit was relatively calm with low winds, allowing the team to hangout and celebrate for nearly 40 mins. 

The descent back to the shelter was altogether speedy despite the effects of altitude being obvious to many of the group. After a brief rest and a late breakfast, the team packed up and departed to Tumbaco for a much-needed upcoming rest day before heading to Antisana. 

RMI Guide Mike Bennett & Team

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Awesome Dustin!!! Great work getting your Team to the top! Beautiful blue skies!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/30/2024 at 7:28 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Ready for Cayambe Summit Climb

We are in our beds at the Cayambe hut and feeling motivated for tonight's climb. This evening, the clouds are settling and the mountain is out. We will check back in tomorrow afternoon after our summit attempt!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Shop Local Market, Ready to Climb

Well, we now sit at the base of a huge mountain. All the acclimatization, organizing, bus riding and patient waiting has brought us here. Now just one last piece of preparation, which is to have our glacier school tomorrow. Tonight, we are in the lower hut at Cayambe and enjoying a quiet evening that included a delicious, traditional Ecuadorian dinner. The team is really bonding and Joe's preamble to tomorrow night's motivational speech already has us feeling excited.

Today was also an enjoyable travel day. We left the Intiyaya residences at a reasonable hour this morning, most of us getting a great night of sleep. That was followed by using our haggling skills to shop at the Otavalo market and get some last-minute supplies or souvenirs. We then had a nice lunch at a cozy little sandwich shop in the town of Cayambe. This place is generally a relief for folks as the owners are English, so the only things lost in translation are things like "chips" (french fries) or "rocket" (arugula). And now we are settled in for an early bedtime as we adjust to the early wakeup schedule.

Our plan at this point is to be standing on top of Cayambe in less than 36 hours. Of course, Mother Nature always has the final say, but if the weather continues to hold, this team is prepared!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Hey Dustin! Fingers crossed for clear skies and light winds!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/28/2024 at 5:09 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Enjoy Fuya Fuya Hike and Evening in Otavalo

Today we traded the bustle of Quito for the serenity of the northern Ecuadorian countryside. Life is a little slower here in Otavalo where we are staying for the night. We sat down to dinner, which felt like a family dinner as we are the only party in this hacienda tonight. Even the house dogs joined us at the table, making us truly feel like we're at home.

Our day consisted of several hours of driving and another acclimatization hike, Cerro Fuya Fuya. The weather remained quite dry today and afforded us seldom seen views from the summit. To the north we could see well into Colombia, to our east a clear view of Cayambe and to our south a variety of other big mountains of Ecuador. In fact, it was nice enough that the bus driver took a swim at the lake while we hiked.

Tonight, I'm enjoying literally the best chocolate bar in the world and tomorrow an affogato at my favorite coffee shop near the Otavalo market. Some nice treats before we begin walking up very big hills.

RMI Guide Dustin Witmier

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Hey Dustin!
Those are some beautiful blue skies!! I sure hope you have that for the rest of your trip!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/27/2024 at 3:53 am

Ecuador Volcanoes: Wittmier & Team Arrive in Ecuador

The whole team arrived safely in Ecuador and with bags, which is always a good first step. I think we all experienced some bit of turbulence as we escaped the North American winter, but fortunately no door panels removed themselves unexpectedly during anyone's flights.

Yesterday's city tour happened without any hitches. Due to the recent political events, the streets are a bit quiet, but it seems like life is more or less returning to normal. It was great to have our city tour guide to help answer our questions and help us sort through what may have actually happened and what is a bit sensationalized in the American news media. Along with that, we made our first steps in acclimation both to the altitude and a different culture. Some physics experiments at the Museo do Intiñan (the indigenous equator museum) were capped off with us balancing eggs on a nail before heading to old town Quito and seeing some attractions.

Team descending the rocks on Ruca. PC: Dustin Wittmier

Today, we awoke to another beautiful morning. Typically it is rainy in the afternoons here, but for our first two days we have been treated to nice days, start to finish. Blue skies made for a lovely hike up Rucu Pichincha and everyone did really well. We even had a few folks reach new altitude records, congratulations! Hopefully, there are more to come on this trip. The remainder of our evening involves cold plunging, hot tubbing, group dinner and one final night in the hotel before departing for the countryside.


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Hey Dustin!
All the best to you and your Team!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 1/26/2024 at 4:26 am

Mt. Baker Seminar: Burns & Team Climb and Train via the Easton Glacier

RMI Guides Seth Burns and Mike Bennett our leading our last program of the season. The Expedition Skills Seminar - Baker met on Thursday to begin their mountaineering skills training.  On Friday the team made it up to basecamp on a beautiful sunny day. The team has been working on their cramponing, rope travel and ice axe arrest skills.  Today they put them selves to the test and reached the summit of Mt. Baker via the Easton Glacier.  They were in and out of the clouds with moderate winds. The team has a few more days to climb and train in order to complete all of their seminar skills.

Nice work team!

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Thanks Seth, thanks Mike for a great seminar!  Enjoyed the mountain and great instruction during our time on the rocks and ice!

Great climbing Matt!  Keep bagging those summits!


Posted by: Don Davis on 9/19/2023 at 7:23 pm

Mt. Rainier: Five Day Climb Reached Ingraham Flats

The Five Day Climb led by RMI Guide Joe Hoch spent two days on the mountain. The team climbed to Ingraham Flats where they were able to spend the day learning crevasse rescue skills. The team had a great couple of days on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier.

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