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Entries By nick hunt

Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Prepared for Cayambe Summit Bid

I can’t remember the last time I woke up in a room of ten other people and everyone felt hungover.  Come to think of it, it was probably the last time I was here.  I hope all of you in the blogosphere don’t think I am telling all the climbers on my team that chugging beer is a good idea before spending our first night above 15,000 feet.  Quite the contrary actually but no matter how many preventative measures we take, the first night sleeping this high always produces hangover-like symptoms the next morning. 
Fortunately these symptoms are more easily combated and by 8:30 a.m. the team was feeling much better. 
Out hut sits at 15,300 feet on a beautiful rocky ridge.  We were blessed this morning with glorious views of Antisana, our next major objective and Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s most famous mountain.  Sadly she is suffering from a bit of indigestion and burps up large amounts of lava and ash.  Not good for climbers wanting to look into her crater. 
Anyway, Cayambe is in great shape so making good use of our expedition’s best morning, we pack our things and hiked a solid hour to the glacier.  Here we reviewed basic skills then got into a fun crevasse rescue scenario.  Our high point for today was almost 16,500’, a new altitude record for many on the team.  We knew time was getting close to head down, not when the dark clouds began to threaten rain but when a large local family arrived on the glacier next to us in tennis shoes and began taking their clothes off.  At one point I was trying to review how to tie a friction hitch when a large man began screaming for a photo while doing jumping jacks in a speedo.  Most likely the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen on a glacier.
Once down we all rested and then packed for our big night tonight.  We plan to “wake up” at 11:00 p.m. to begin our climb. 
Wish us luck!  It is raining now so think dry thoughts as well. 

Hasta Manana,
RMI Guide Adam Knoff and team

Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Visit the Otavalo Market, Settle into the Cayambe Hut

I’m not sure what it was about Casa de Sol, but my head hit the pillow at 11 and didn’t move until the sun broke through our window at 6:30 am.  When I asked everyone else how the night went, it was clear the sand man wasn’t as generous to others in the group.  Oblivious to the world, it was revealed to me at breakfast that the neighbor dogs got a bit vocal right outside most of the rooms.  I apologized for not trying to help but then just blamed things on Nick, so after much strong coffee and delicious eggs, the team was at full force.
After leaving Casa de Sol, damage free for both bus and garage, we were off to Otavalo to visit Ecuador’s largest crafts and goods market.  Here sensory overload is impossible to avoid but with good self control the team managed not to sink the ship with souvenirs and we made it out in good fashion. 
After lunch we all piled into the bus once again and began our upward push toward the Cayambe hut sitting nicely at 15,300 feet.  After two hours of driving up roads that make the pot holes of New York look like ice cream dishes, the bus could go no further.  With all bags loaded into a jeep we walked the final 30 minutes to the hut. 
We were greeted by our local guide, David, and moved right in to our private hut just below the main Refugio.  It was perfect timing because 20 minutes after arriving,  the skies opened up and a soaking rain doused the mountain around us.  With all things dry we practiced knots for a bit, had a great dinner and are now tucked in ready to listen to my bedtime stories. 
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff and team Ecuador out.

On The Map

Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Check in from Otavalo

Hello from Casa Sol or the “sun house” located high on steep hillside overlooking a beautiful valley. 

Today our team left the hustle and bustle of Quito and drove north in Victor’s Magic Bus to a beautiful reserve called Mojanda.  Translated this word means “black lake” but the lake we parked at was a deep emerald blue.  Created by a sunken crater, lake Mojanda is surrounded by steep craggy mountain sides covered with a thick carpet of tall grasses and plants unique to this high altitude ecosystem. 

One of these tall mountains was our acclimating objective for the day.  Fuya Fuya, which would sound a lot better if you put the word Kung at the beginning of it, stands at close to the same height as Mt. Rainier but is much more easily climbed.  After following the nice trail through those tall grasses for just over an hour the team reached a windy saddle splitting the mountains two summits.  Banging a hard right toward the northern peak, we had to scramble over a challenging 10 foot rock step and then continue up a steep ridge for another ten minutes to a flat and welcoming summit.  The entire team arrived together but only had enough time for a quick high five, group photo and a few personal pictures before being greeted by distant thunder advising us it was time to depart.  A quick hour long descent was motivated by a laughing group of high school kids racing downhill both on foot and rolling.  We were reminded by those playful youths that we can’t take things too seriously because even with lightning and thunder around, smiles and fun can make any situation better. 

After the hike we ate lunch at a nice local hacienda before driving to Casa Sol for the evening.  The most exciting part of the day wasn’t the lightning or thunder but watching Victor try and park his large mini bus in the cramped garage.  The scar where he tore off a chunk of the gate still showed from last year.  He made it, barely, so we all raised a cup and declared success all around. 

Let’s hope for a successful mission to Cayambe tomorrow. 
RMI Guides Adam Knoff & Nick Hunt

On The Map

Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Explore Quito

Buenas dias from Ecuador. 
Adam Knoff here, lead guide for 2016’s first RMI Ecuadorian Skills Seminar.  As mentioned in the program name, learning new skills is the name of the game down here.  The first skill encountered was getting to a foreign country, finding the taxi stand among the bustling group of tour operators in Quito’s new airport then getting to the Hotel and finding a way to sleep for a few hours before awakening to meet a bunch of strangers.  I am happy to announce everyone passed!  We are only missing 3 bags out of twenty so that ratio could be much worse but all humans are accounted for. 
This being our first day together as a team, we started with lots of coffee at the Hotel’s nice in house restaurant while doing individual introductions and chatting about what is to come.  After breakfast we all gathered in a cute mini bus to take a tour of some historical sites in and around Quito.
Our tour began with a visit to the actual equator.  Here we saw physical evidence of why, when we flush the toilet, water spins counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the south.  We learned about the bizarre gravitational effects on our bodies if you stand directly on the line and three out of eleven actually will be coming home with certificates proving they can use the force better than the rest of us and literally balance an egg on a nail. 
After the Mitad Del Mundo, or middle of the world, we drove south into the heart of old town Quito where we gained beautiful vistas of this enormous city, visited an amazing old Cathedral, walked right to the front gate of their “White House” and strolled through Independence Square. 
By three in the afternoon we were all feeling the effects of long travel days so we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest.  Throughout the tour the weather was perfect, 70 degrees, partly cloudy and a small breeze.  Just what I ordered when I put in my request with the big man before the trip.  I must have gotten greedy though because 30 minutes after getting back to the hotel, an absolute down pour fell from the sky with lightning so close the booms were setting off car alarms all around the hotel.  Let’s hope that got out of the system. 
Now it is calm and nice again as evening sets in so we should have a pleasant and dry walk to dinner. 
We will write again tomorrow about our first upward outing which could result in a summit over 15,000 feet. 
Stay tuned.

RMI Guides Adam Knoff & Nick Hunt

Justin! I know being up there in the Andes is bringing you all the happiness you deserve, buddy. I’m sure it’s gorgeous up there and after living in Colorado I finally understand why people love being in the mountains so much. There’s so much peace and serenity. My apologies for being an awful friend this year and not keeping in touch. But hopefully before I move in June we’ll be able to catch up!


Posted by: Carlos on 1/8/2016 at 11:55 am

Looking forward to seeing more pics and travel updates!  Wishing good weather conditions for fantastic viewing!  Glad to see the spot is working, Justin!

My best,
Sharon Halls

Posted by: Sharon Halls on 1/8/2016 at 11:24 am

Mt. Rainier: Four Day Summit Climb Turn at Disappointment Cleaver

The Four Day Summit Climbs led by RMI Guides JJ Justman and Nick Hunt were turned around at the top of Disappointment Cleaver this morning due to route conditions.  The teams descended to Paradise and will be returning to Rainier BaseCamp this afternoon.

Boy, Disappointment Cleaver is sure living up to its moniker this month! Still, a great experience. Safe trek back down everyone.

Posted by: Everett Moran on 9/22/2015 at 8:48 am

Mt. Rainier: August 27th Summit!

Our Four Day Summit Climbs led by Nick Hunt and Ben Liken reached the top of Mt. Rainier this morning at around 7:06 am. RMI Guide Ben Liken reported sunny skies and light to moderate winds. The team will spend some time on the summit before starting their descent.

Congratulations to today’s teams!

That’s so great, awesome job team! What a beautiful day for a summit! Can’t wait to do the same some day! Any difficult sections or close calls?

Posted by: Eric Muñoz on 8/27/2015 at 11:15 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Headed Home

June 7, 2015, 4:47 pm PT

It is difficult to find a place to begin the final dispatch of our group’s grand adventure.  No mountain climbing objective quite compares to the raw and unprecedented challenge of Denali.  Having been here nine times before, the burrito of emotions ranging from excitement and joy to anxiety and fear all get rolled into one and when the plane takes off and you go past the point of no return, managing all these feelings becomes more than half the battle.  I have seen this mountain crack the hardest of nuts.  Climbers who have summitted 8000 meter peaks routinely come here and say it is the hardest mountain they have ever attempted.  In the broad scope of mountaineering landscapes, “The High One” stands alone, both on the tundra and in our lives.

With this said, no one is prouder of the group than I am.  Two days ago we began our march from 14,000 feet down into the unknown.  With wind gusts strong enough to make walking feel like a mosh pit and snow conditions making hide-and-go-seek with crevasses a heart-pounding game, we honestly didn’t know what the next hour, let alone day, would bring.  After a brief visit at 11,000 feet we kept going into the ginormous ping pong ball navigating only with GPS.  At 9,000 feet we had to stop.  This sort of challenge became par for the course.  Yesterday morning, despite the feet of new snow, everyone’s energy, motivation and attitude never wavered.  Four hours after leaving camp we were at the air strip and 45 minutes after arriving we were on a plane back to civilization.  We fly into Denali as someone and we fly off of Denali as someone else.  I have been changed by the mountain many times.  Very rarely has a group such as this had a profound influence on that change.  It was an honor to lead you all.

Thanks again to Nick and Andy for being such hard working and trustworthy partners on the guiding front.  You both rock! 

Thanks also to those who followed along.  The stories of what happens the night you return to food and drink will have to be shared in person. 
Until the next adventure.  Keep climbing. 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Thanks to Adam and the other guides for a safe ascent and return. You did an amazing job with the group and we are proud of the whole team. The weather sounded tough but you all were more tough! Safe travels to your home ports and wishing you all well again!!

Posted by: Connie Whitley on 6/8/2015 at 8:17 am

So very proud of each member of the team and the guides for support and tenacity that must.have permeated your very beings to make this such a successful journey up and down the mighty Mt McKinley.  Will, so looking forward to hearing all of the details, congratulations.  Well done. XOXOXO

Posted by: Carolyn on 6/8/2015 at 6:19 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Blaze Trail to Base Camp

June 6, 2015 9:15am PST

RMI Guide Adam Knoff just called into the RMI office and gave us an update.  The team is at 9,000’ camp and heading toward the air strip.

They woke up yesterday and made the decision to head down to 11,000’ camp.  In high winds and blowing snow they headed down and after 2.5 hours they were greeted with smiles and hots from RMI Guide Tyler Jones and team at camp.  The team took a bit of a rest, packed it up and pointed their boots downhill. They then traveled through deep snow, whiteout conditions and with some help from the GPS they reached 9,000’, where they rested for the night. The Sun came out this morning and the team was all smiles!  The team is packed and ready to blaze the five miles of trail in knee deep snow toward Base Camp, where with some luck they will fly off the glacier this evening or by the afternoon on Sunday.

Special request from Adam: “WISH US LUCK!”

Good luck!!  You all have worked hard and are almost home from an incredible experience. Keep on keepin’ on…you’ll be there soon!

Posted by: Carrie, Brook, Finn and Reid on 6/7/2015 at 10:32 am

Way to go Team Knoff.  Warm beds and showers await Mark and Bob in Anchorage.
Great accomplishment!

Posted by: Wayne and Barb Pichon on 6/6/2015 at 2:53 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Continue to Wait out Storm

June 4, 2015 3:05pm PST

One of the most famous books of Mt. McKinley lore is of the first winter ascent and it’s title is Minus 148.  Yes this refers to the calculated wind chill factor the climbers experienced while stuck in a storm at 18,000’ feet in the middle of February.  While we sit here waiting out this storm which we have been racing for six days, the cold accompanying the snow is bone chilling. Last night after the sun went behind the ridge, we all guessed the evening temp here in camp at 14,000’ feet was a balmy minus 15 degrees.  Add in the 15 mph breeze and the wind chill here was a cool minus 35!  Up at high camp where we just came from, where teams still sit waiting for a summit chance, the air temp was a frigid minus 25 with 40 mph winds.  This means the wind chill was roughly minus 50.  At these temps skin freezes in seconds and the body can hardly consume enough calories to stay warm without shelter. The morale of the team is really high knowing the high altitude work is done. As I write this on June 4th, the description of June 3rd is identical.  Drink coffee, eat lots of food, take a nap, eat more food, have dinner and go to bed.  The need to hang outside in the freezing temps is not what anyone needs. 

As the storm moves through, we are hoping to get this show on the road and move to base camp where planes can pick us up as soon as the weather breaks. Cross your fingers for an opening by Sunday.  We will touch base tomorrow. 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team

Comgratulations on your amazing climb! Thinking of the team every day. Stay strong and safe on your descent.

Posted by: Elaine on 6/6/2015 at 8:51 am

Hang in there Knoff and Team!  Waiting at base camp to fly home is trying.  Stay warm, have fun, throw lots of snowballs at the other teams (Especially Chad’s AAI team, Greg!) and be ready to go.  Hoping you hear the planes any time now!  Home soon!

Posted by: Kerry on 6/5/2015 at 11:01 pm

Mt. McKinley Expedition: Knoff & Team Start Long Descent

June 3, 2015 - 10:10 am PT

Yesterday proved to be a bit bitter sweet for all of us.  Despite having the almost euphoric sense of accomplishment for summiting Mt. McKinley, the work left to be done is astounding.  Many people may think that when the top is reached it is all downhill from there.  In a literal sense that is true, in the big picture that is like saying once you plant a garden food will just appear on your plate. 
Nothing is easy at 17,000’, especially motivating to pack up the entire camp after only getting six hours of restless sleep coming on the heels of what most of the team considered the hardest summit day they have ever experienced.  But as always they impressed me with there drive, attitude and willingness to do what needed to be done.  That fact right there is why they all succeeded in this climb. 
So after camp was broken, the long tricky climb back down Washburn’s ridge began.  After those obstacles were over we then needed to descend the fixed lines, stomp down the remaining slopes to camp, dig up the cache and then rebuild a new camp.  All while being sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty and utterly exhausted.  On top of all that, it is supposed to snow two feet by tomorrow.  Ahh, the true colors of this mountain are being revealed. 
We will keep you posted on our progress. 
Liam, daddy is on his way home soon.  I can’t wait to see you! 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Congrats Shannon !!!! Awesome Job!!!!!

Posted by: Tony on 6/4/2015 at 12:48 pm

Congrats Greg!  You’re probably already down and on your way home.  No where?  I would hope somewhere hot!

Posted by: Rick & Tracy on 6/4/2015 at 9:06 am

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