Entries By mike walter

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Walter & Team Enjoy the Views Atop Fuya Fuya

Posted by: Mike Walter | July 03, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 13,986'

We packed our bags and left the hustle and bustle of Quito behind this morning, driving north towards the town of Otavalo for our next acclimatization climb. Along the way we had great views of Cotopaxi and Cayambe, the second and third highest peaks in Ecuador, respectively, and our major climbing objectives on this trip.

As for our objective for today, we climbed the ancient volcano Fuya Fuya. The weather couldn’t have been nicer as we summited the 14,000’ peak in t-shirts. On top we had great views of Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and even the top of the ever elusive Antisana, the fourth highest peak in Ecuador.

Our team did great on the climb today, negotiating steep terrain and a little rock scramble. Now we’re at our hacienda, Casa Sol, for the night where a shower, dinner, and a cerveza are on our to do list. After a good night’s rest tonight we’ll head to the famous Otavalo Market in the morning and then up to the climbers hut in the afternoon.

I’ll check in again mañana.
RMI Guide Mike Walter

The RMI Ecuador Volcanoes team ascending Fuya Fuya with Cayambe in the distance. Photo: Mike Walter The RMI Ecuador Volcanoes team ascending a 3rd class ridge on Fuya Fuya. Photo: Mike Walter Cayambe as seen from the summit of Fuya Fuya. Photo: Mike Walter The RMI Ecuador Volcanoes team on the summit of Fuya Fuya. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Walter & Team Acclimate on Rucu Pichincha

Posted by: Mike Walter | July 02, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,696'

We had a successful day today, with everyone climbing strong to reach the summit of Rucu Pichincha (~15,700 ft) on our first acclimatization climb in country. We had great weather with perfect temperatures for climbing, and good views throughout the day.

After a quick cab ride from our hotel, we rode the gondola to ~13,500 ft and then began climbing up the flanks of Rucu. The well graded trail eventually gave way to some steeper switchbacks and then some 3rd class scrambling to the summit.

It was a high altitude record for many of our climbers. We hope to keep breaking those records over the next few days once we get onto Cayambe and Cotopaxi.

Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up and leave Quito, heading north for another acclimatization climb up the ancient volcano Fuya Fuya.

Thanks for checking in. We’ll keep you up to date.
RMI Guide Mike Walter

The RMI Ecuador Volcanoes team ascending Rucu Pichincha. Photo: Mike Walter The RMI Ecuador Volcanoes team on the summit of Rucu Pichincha. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador Volcanoes:  Mike Walter and Team Arrive in Quito

Posted by: Mike Walter | July 01, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

Our Ecuador Volcanoes team has all arrived in Ecuador without complications. We started our first morning in country with a team breakfast and then departed on a city tour of the historic, colonial are of Quito and a trip to Mitad del Mundo (literally the middle of the world), or the Equator.

We had good views of our climbing objectives, Cotopaxi and Cayambe, from El Panecillo, a hill in southern Quito that looks out over the city. From there we toured around “old town” Quito, visiting churches, parks, and the presidential palace, all while learning about the rich cultural history of Ecuador.

The last stop on our trip was to the equator, where we visited an ethnographic museum. In addition to information and exhibits about the many different cultures of Ecuador, we stood on the equatorial line, with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern.

We’re headed out for a team dinner before getting some rest in preparation for our first acclimatization hike of the volcano Rucu Pichincha, which sits on the flanks of Quito. We’ll check in tomorrow to let you know how our first venture into very high altitude goes. Thanks for checking in!

RMI Guide Mike Walter and Team

Mike Walter and Team checking out the Equator. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter & Team Summit Cotopaxi

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 27, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 19,348'

We stood on top of Cotopaxi this morning! Our windy adventures in Ecuador continued yesterday and into this morning. Hiking to the climbing hut we battled 30 mph winds, which continued through the evening. When I woke up to check the weather at 11 pm it was windy but clear. I woke the team up at midnight and we had an alpine start breakfast and prepared to climb. By the time we left, clouds were intermittently blowing in and out. During the first hour of our climb a very humid cloud moved in that dampened our outer layers, which then turned to ice. The wind persisted, so did we. Climbing higher, our clothes began to wear a layer of rime ice as we fought with the wind to maintain good posture and climb efficiently. Clouds would come and go (mostly come) throughout our climb, but the wind would not relent. It made the ascent very difficult and also very cold. Our breaks were shorter due to the weather, but the team climbed strong and toughed it out. We reached the summit around 6:45 am, five hours and fifteen minutes after we set out (which, by the way, is a fast pace for Cotopaxi). The summit views were obscured by clouds so we didn’t spend much time up top. Did I mention it was windy?

The descent was smooth and now we’re all resting at the historic Hosteria La Cienega in Lasso, Ecuador, near the south entrance to Cotopaxi National Park. We’ll enjoy a well earned dinner here tonight, and a good night’s sleep with a leisurely wake up call before heading back to Quito tomorrow.

The summit of Cotopaxi was a heck of a way to end our two week volcano tour on the Ecuador Seminar. We’ll check in again tomorrow from Quito.

Saludos,
RMI Guide Mike Walter

Cotopaxi as seen from the Jose Ribas Refugio. Photo: Mike Walter The RMI Ecuador Seminar team with Cotopaxi in the background. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter & Team Prepare for Cotopaxi

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,953'

We’re up at the Jose Ribas Refugio on Cotopaxi at 15,953 ft. Tomorrow is climb day on Cotopaxi so we’re hitting the sack early tonight in preparation for our alpine start. We’ll check in again tomorrow and let you know how things go.

RMI Guide Mike Walter and Team

The Jose Ribas Refugio on Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter & Team Acclimate on Illiniza Norte

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

Our climbing team had a great morning climbing to within a few hundred feet (16,500’) of Iliniza Norte’s summit (16,818’), before the wind was too intense and we had to turn around. Climbing up the rocky, exposed ridge from the climbing hut, the clouds would momentarily part, affording us intermittent views of Iliniza Norte’s austere summit, covered in rime ice. The climbing was a very enjoyable 3rd class rock scramble and everyone did great. The wind was literally making it hard to stand up, much less climb a high altitude mountain. So we retreated back to the safety of the climber’s hut. After a bowl of soup and a cup of tea, we descended back down the trail to our vehicles. Now we’re at the beautiful hacienda Chilcabamba, outside of Cotopaxi National Park, where we’re resting before heading out to climb our final objective, Cotopaxi. We’ll keep you in the loop…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Ecuador Seminar enjoys a rainbow seen from Illiniza Norte, Ecuador, acclimating climb. Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter & Team Head to the Illiniza Climber’s Hut

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 23, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

June 23, 2015 6:31 am PST

We enjoyed a relaxing evening at the Papallacta hot springs last night. After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we are packing up and heading off to the Illiniza climbers’ hut. To get there we have a 3 hour hike ahead of us, carrying our sleeping bags and climbing gear to get to an altitude of about 15,400’. It will be hard work, and a stark contrast to leisurely soaking in the hot springs. But our team is up for the task, and it will be worth it; the hut sits at the saddle between the south (17,267’) and north (16,818’) Iliniza peaks, the 6th and 8th highest peaks in Ecuador, respectively. If weather and conditions allow us, we are prepared to climb both peaks over the next two days. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Termas Pappallacta hot spring and lodge, Ecuador.  Photo: Mike Walter The beautiful grounds of Termas Pappallacta, Ecuador.  Photo: Mike Walter

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter and Team Thwarted by Winds on Cayambe

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 22, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 17,500'

I woke up to check the weather early this morning (last night, actually) and was pleased to see a clear sky full of stars. The problem was that it was so windy outside I could barely stand up. So, back into the hut I went to wait for the weather to improve.

Winds died down a bit (it’s all relative) and we began to prepare to climb around 2:00 am. We were on the move by around 3:30 am. Everyone climbed very strong, despite fighting the wind to keep our balance. Clouds were interspersed with stars as we ascended. By the time we reached 17,500 ft. we had walked into a cloud cap with winds gusting into the 50 mph range with about 100 ft. of visibility. It was time to throw in the towel and start our descent. Everything went smoothly and soon we arrived at the climbers’ hut.

We enjoyed a fun and challenging day of climbing, even though we came up a bit shy of the summit. Now we’re headed for the Papallacta Hot Springs where we’ll get a good night’s rest before heading out tomorrow on another climbing objective.

We’ll keep you abreast of the latest.
RMI Guide Mike Walter

An RMI Team ascending Cayambe in Ecuador. Photo: Casey Grom

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Ecuador Volcanoes: Walter and Team at Cayambe Hut

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador
Elevation: 15,300'

We are up at the Cayambe climbers hut at around 15,300 ft. The weather is quite windy with alternating rain and snow showers. We’re comfortable inside the hut.  We have been going over knots and crevasse rescue systems. Hopefully the weather improves so we can head out on our summit bid with an early alpine start tonight. For now we’re staying dry and warm inside the hut. We’ll touch base again tomorrow to let you know how it goes.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

The climbers hut at 15,300 ft on Cayambe, Ecuador.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Ecuador Seminar: Walter & Team Visit the Otavalo Market

Posted by: Mike Walter | June 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

After a relaxing evening last night at the Hacienda Casa Sol, we are currently enjoying the world famous market in Otavalo. Otavalo is an indigenous kichwa town in the Andes highlands north of Quito. The Otavalos are known for their woolen woven goods, art, jewelry, and music. The market here is a sight to behold, with both native Otavalos and tourists shopping side by side.
We’re enjoying the morning roaming the streets and exploring the market. After lunch we’ll drive up to the climbing hut on the volcano Cayambe. The hut sits above 15,000’ at the toe of the crevassed glaciers of Cayambe. It will be our home for the next two nights as we train and prepare for our ascent of Cayambe.
Cayambe is the third highest peak in Ecuador at nearly 19,000’, and the highest point on earth through which the equator passes. The mountain is situated in the eastern ridge of the Andes and, as such, is influenced by weather rising up from the rainforest of Ecuador and the headwaters of the Amazon. Over millenia the snowfall on Cayambe has formed a massive network of glaciers that we hope to climb.
We’ll have our work cut out for us over the next few days on Cayambe. But for now we’re enjoying the colorful culture of Ecuador.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Otavalo Market in Ecuador famous for its woolen goods, jewelry, and art. Photo: Mike Walter Colorful spices available at the Otavalo Market in Ecuador. Photo: Mike Walter

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