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Entries from Ecuador

Ecuador Seminar: Chimborazo Summit

Chimborazo Summit!

We have now traveled much of Ecuador's "Avenue of Volcanoes", visiting some of the highest mountains in this country and having the fortune to stand on top of a few:

Rucu Pichincha (15,354') - A warm-up hike that often sets a new altitude record for someone on the team

Cerro Fuya Fuya (14,039') - The first agenda item after leaving Quito, another acclimatization hike

Cayambe (18,996') - Wow, the weather almost stopped us and we were the only team to summit that day

Chimborazo (20,561') - A perfect sunrise summit this morning

Tonight, we find ourselves in the city of Riobamba, recovering from a third alpine start within a two-week vacation. As it turns out, even with built-in rest days, that is a demanding schedule. On top of climbing, there are the long bus rides and the never-ending duffel shuffle. Every member of the team has two large duffels full of mountaineering gear and general travel items that are continuously being unpacked, repacked and subsequently toted around. Hacienda and hotel staff always get a chuckle when they see how much stuff we have.

As for last night's climb, the weather worked out perfectly. It has been several days of wind and humidity on Chimborazo, which has been regularly stymying climbing parties' attempts. Even yesterday, right as we arrived at camp the clouds moved in and there was hail off and on for a couple of hours. However, in the late evening the sky cleared and it was a calm, clear night and morning. It was the perfect way to cap a trip that saw us turn around on Antisana for some pretty intense weather. We can go home with a couple big summits and start thinking about our next trips!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Hey Dustin! That is So Awesome! Thank you for the Cool pictures!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/19/2024 at 3:33 am

Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier and Team at Chimborazo High Camp

Sunday, February 18, 2024 - 7:11 am PST

Summit Chimborazo, walking down from high camp. Another blog and more pictures later!


Saturday, February 17, 2024 - 4:14 pm PST

We are settled in for the night at Chimborazo High Camp. One final climb for the team, wish us luck.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier & Team

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Ecuador Seminar: Team Rests and Prepares for Chimborazo

Friday, February 16, 2023 | 5:38 PT

This morning everyone reported having slept soundly. As it turns out, even climbing half of Antisana is still hard. We're recovering and now looking forward to Chimborazo, which has been giving us quite the show this evening. We're staying at the Chimborazo Lodge, an historic mountain lodge run by Marco Cruz, a climbing legend in Ecuador. It sits at about 13000' right at the base of the southwest flank of the mountain. There is no cell reception and no wifi, giving us a chance to unplug and hone our focus towards the task at hand, climbing another massive volcano. With any luck and a lot of trying hard we may have a chance to visit a truly majestic summit. Stay tuned!

-- RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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All the Best Dustin and Team!!! Climb Strong!! Climb High!!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/17/2024 at 2:00 pm

Ecuador Seminar: Team Turns at 17,500’ on Antisana

Yesterday morning the wind began blowing from the east around 2am, accompanied by moisture in the form of a light rain at basecamp. It continued in this manner until, well... it's still raining at basecamp. The rain was never too horrible at camp and was often accompanied by sun to the west. We had a really successful time practicing some skills and just enjoying a nice couple of nights up high (14700').

However, today we attempted to climb Antisana and ultimately were turned around at about 17500'. The team climbed strong, but the further we pushed towards the summit and therefore towards the cloud, the wetter and windier it got. It was great experience for the team and we came away from it without too epic of a tale to tell. We now set our sights on Chimborazo, the final climb of the trip. The remainder of today is for resting and tomorrow we continue the drive south to Riobamba and ultimately to the Chimborazo Lodge for one more relaxing night prior to our climb.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier & Team

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Hey Dustin! You guys gave it your best! Best wishes for perfect weather ahead for you!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/16/2024 at 3:09 am

Expedition Skills Seminar - Ecuador: Team Trains at Antisana Base Camp

Happy Valentine's Day!

We spent the day up here at Antisana Base Camp (14700'). The weather was too mediocre all day to walk to the glacier, so we practiced skills around camp. The main topic for the day was crevasse rescue and we spent several hours dialing it in. The rest of the day was spent physically and mentally resting in quite a romantic locale.

The camp chef made great meals today, which would have made lovely meals to share with our significant others :( Seriously, this place is so beautiful, and the food is so delicious, it's worth booking a couple nights just to camp. Alas, we don't get to enjoy such a civil night in this wonderful place. Instead, our alarms will be going off in the next few hours for another alpine start.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier & Team

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All the BEST!!!! Climb Strong!!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/15/2024 at 9:22 am

Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier & Team Antisana Base Camp

We are off the grid! Battling through holiday traffic as the bus was continually sprayed with celebratory foam and squirt guns, we made it beyond the hoards. Arriving at Antisana Base Camp was a welcome relief as we showed up to our private camp and pitched tents in the páramo. The mountain was out, and we caught glimpses of Cotopaxi as well. The team spent several hours learning how to rappel safely and added to our knowledge a couple more hitches.

Now we are settled into our tents, waiting for dinner. Tomorrow morning will include more training before we rest in the afternoon in preparation for our climb.

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier & Team

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That looks so peaceful!! Rest up!!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/14/2024 at 4:19 am

Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier & Team Move Through Weather to Summit Cayambe

Ok, so what we got when the alarms went off was more rain. It wasn't a downpour, but certainly any amount of rain (and also wind in this case) is not the way to start a long day on Cayambe. As we sat staring at our coffee mugs, the sound of raindrops against the window broke the silence. The guide team made the decision to delay our start and took routine trips outside to see if the situation was improving. By 1:00 am, it really hadn't gotten much better, but given the current afternoon temps and weather patterns it seemed like to have any chance we needed to just gamble and get started. 

To our astonishment and excitement, we quickly moved out of the cloud and stayed mostly dry to start the day! The stars came out and climbing on Cayambe gives quite a show. The highest point on the equator crosses over the slopes of Cayambe and there is very little light pollution, it really is spectacular. However, that feeling of excitement quickly dwindled as clouds set back in. There were still intermittent views of the stars and town of Cayambe below, but the weather was changing. As we moved higher, it began to snow lightly, getting heavier as we got closer to the summit. It was clear that to make the summit, we would need to move quickly and this team was able to pull it off! We took a short break on the summit, anticipating more precipitation. The surface conditions were rapidly changing on us, so we just kept the train rolling downhill. Eventually, we reached the lower part of the glacier, emerged from the storm cloud and breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction. 

Luck was certainly on our side today as we were able to safely ascend Cayambe on what turned out to be a marginal day. Now we are resting at Casa Ilayaku and with a late start to head to Antisana Basecamp tomorrow morning. We will spend two nights at basecamp and plan to cover a variety of mountaineering skills while enjoying the scenery of the high grasslands. Our summit attempt on Antisana will start on Wednesday night!

-- RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Awesome!!! Just Awesome!! Congratulations Dustin and Team!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/13/2024 at 3:28 am

Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier & Team Settled in at Cayambe Hut

We are settled in at the Cayambe hut and planning to climb tonight. It has been off and on rain and wind throughout the day, but is currently nice. We will see what we get in a few hours when my alarm goes off!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

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Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier & Team Head for Cayambe

After a leisurely three course breakfast at 8:30am (read, one final relaxing morning), we're ready to do big mountain things in earnest. We left the lovely confines of the Intiyaya Residences and enjoyed a couple hours in the Otavalo market. Souvenirs were haggled for while Jaime and I enjoyed multiple ice creams, in the form of both affogatos and soft serve. It was our way of celebrating Carnival, which is happening right now through much of the world. I have no plans of fasting for Lent, but a little bit of Carnival indulgence seemed appealing.

This afternoon we made our way to the lower hut on Cayambe and are settled in for the night. We spent some time practicing anchor building skills for those who hope to use this skills seminar as a jumping off point for personal climbs or bigger guided climbs. Things to this point have moved a bit slowly, the acclimatization process is not fast-paced, instead it is methodical and does not pay to be rushed. However, we now are beginning the three-day cycle of big climbs. Tomorrow, we go to high camp, the next day is our summit attempt and the following is a rest day. We will repeat this cycle on Antisana and Chimborazo, making three big summit attempts over the following nine calendar days. And as soon as we know it, it will all be over, so for now we are all just trying to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

All the BEST Dustin and Team!!!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/11/2024 at 3:59 am

Ecuador Seminar: Wittmier & Team Leave Quito, Acclimatize with Fuya Fuya Hike

Today we left Quito and the city life is in our rear view. Yeah, the hotel is nice. Yeah, the coffee shop across the street knows my name and order. Yeah, the eucalyptus steam room is great. But we are here to climb, experience culture, be a little uncomfortable. All those other things are available everywhere else!

So, we turn our sights towards Cayambe. Today, we did one more acclimatization hike to Cerro Fuya Fuya and were once again fortunate to stay dry. Walking around in the high grasslands gave us a chance to breathe some fresh air and continue to work towards the physiological adaptations that will be advantageous for us on higher mountains. Tonight, we are enjoying a lovely rest in a classic Andean highlands hacienda before we head to the lower Cayambe hut tomorrow.

The team is in good spirits after reaching the summits of both acclimatization peaks. I seem to be the only person who is a bit chapped about missing the Super Bowl (once again) because we will be out of cell range. Oh well, I don’t actually care who wins, just as long as all the players have fun.

Anyways, it’s time to call it a night, keep us in your thoughts as we venture higher the next few days. Hopefully to 18,996’ by Monday morning!

RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Hey Dustin! Loving this bringing back Awesome memories! All the Beat as you more higher!
Hey Team…Just so you know Dustin Rocks!!! But you all probably know that already!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 2/10/2024 at 4:36 am

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