Entries from Ecuador
January 31, 2019
Well up until yesterday morning the debate was still on: Cotopaxi or the Beach? Despite the obvious draw of bagging climbing for surfing, we decided that the steep moody glaciated peak out our dining room window was a worthy endeavor, so we packed up and headed for the Refugio José Ribas. It was a brief restfull afternoon and dinner (of course with Sopa and Ahi, our two favorite parts of every meal here) before we were off to bed, feeling oddly comfortable at 16,000 feet by now. We awoke around 1 am to find our legendary streak of good weather had not been broken. Launching in calm winds under the stars with only clouds to our north, we climbed the first thousand feet on red volcanic rock before donning spikes and venturing into the glacier with a few inches of consolidated fresh snow to provide traction. The entire crew felt strong, even stronger than on Cayambe after so much time at altitude, and before we knew it we were all on top of Cotopaxi with a clear view and a steaming crater. The route and views were all time, perfect to wrap up our time in a great country. By the time we arrived back at the hut there was another first for the crew of firsts: a hut to summit to hut record was in the bag, not far over 6 hours I believe.
We are now in Quito celebrating our 400% success this trip (100% success on 4 peaks), and will soon depart for home. What a great group we have had! Fun, positive, strong, interesting, and encouraging are all words that come to mind. We’ll call this trip a great one in the books and hope to climb with all these cats again!
Thanks also to our amazing local guides, Jaime, David, Nacho, and Christian. Also a big thanks to our driver - the Ecuadorian GPS - Victor.
RMI Guides Chris Ebeling and Adam Knoff
Congratulations to the entire team and to you! What an amazing experience with amazing people! Thank you so much for leading them to the top of these massive peaks with such style and expertise!
There are truly no better people to climb with in the guides of RMI!
Posted by: Susan Matthews on 1/31/2019 at 2:07 pm
Our team had a great morning relaxing, drinking coffee and socializing with our four new Swiss German friends. Since yesterday we have all shared stories and cervezas speaking English but having a great cultural exchange with folks from another country.
This morning after breakfast we continued that connection by putting ropes on the hacienda climbing routes, getting all our Swiss friends hanging on a rope for the first time!
Now we are all packed up and ready to head to Cotopaxi. The weather looks promising and route reports have remained good for the upper mountain.
We will call in tomorrow with results of the climb.
Everyone is excited for our upcoming ascent but looking forward to cleaning up and coming home. As much fun as we’re having we do miss our families.
Best of luck on the last big climb
Posted by: Jane on 1/30/2019 at 6:38 pm
Yesterday our team earned a big Ecuadorian summit towering 18,990 feet above sea level which also happens to be the only place on the planet where the equator itself is snow covered. These big mountains are not highly technical climbs requiring fixed ropes or advanced ice climbing skills but they are long sustained endeavors taking upwards of 8 to 10 hours to complete and literally pull the energy from your body one step at a time. Within our group we have a number of climbers who are very technology savvy and wear one of those super watches that short of turning you into James Bond, gives you critical info on how your body is performing. After the climb one person reportedly burned over 7,000 calories on the climb alone. Not only did we earn the top, we earned the 3,000 calorie hamburger we ate for lunch when we returned to town.
After lunch our half asleep, food comaed bodies crawled onto the waiting bus and began our 3.5 hour drive back down the “avenue of the volcanoes” toward our country side hacienda located ten miles from the sleeping giant, Cotopaxi.
Standing at 19,385 feet, Cotopaxi is considered the world’s highest active volcano and the most beautiful mountain in Ecuador. We couldn’t see the mountain when we arrived but exited the bus like a group of stiff, smelly walking dead looking only for beer and showers. Definitely a good theme for America’s next horrible zombie film.
Despite our showers being cold, the beer and Bourbon sufficed so after dinner we agin congratulated our climb and then quickly turned from alive to dead, collapsing around 9:30 and not moving until 8am this morning. When we finally did pull ourselves out of bed, we were greeted with stunning views of the mountain and a scene straight out of an Ecuador tourism book. Llamas grazed in the pastures and clouds drifted like dreams in front of the peak which confirms why people are so impressed with its beauty.
Throughout the day rest has been the objective. Shortly after 10 it began to rain so our time has been passed napping, sitting by the fire and prepping gear for tomorrow’s big climb. Not a bad way to recharge.
Stay tuned for the outcome of tomorrow’s attempt.
January 28, 2019
RMI Guide Adam Knoff called at 7:45 am PT to report the entire team had reached the summit of Cayambe this morning and were safely back to the climbers’ hut. The team enjoyed a great training day yesterday and awoke this morning to clear skies and beautiful weather. They are leaving the hut soon and will stop for lunch before continuing to Chilcabamba where they will stay the night.
Adam will send photos and a complete report later today.
Congratulations to the team!
Congratulations to the entire team! It sounds like and looks like you’re having the time of your lives!
Rest up, eat some good food, sleep well, & continue with this fabulous journey!
Chris and Adam, thank you for taking such good care of this fabulous team !
Love you Paul!
Posted by: Susan Matthews on 1/28/2019 at 2:53 pm
Sunday, January 27, 2019 4:48 AM PT
This morning was superb. Our wonderful hacienda has coffee ready early so it seemed the birds and had found their share.
At 7:15 I threw my yoga mat down on the patio outside my room and was delighted at how many songs echoed around me, many coming from beautiful fruit trees blooming in bright reds and yellows. After some bendy stretchy, we had a great breakfast which was critical to power our all man shopping spree taking place in one of Ecuador’s largest outdoor markets.
Once at the market we quickly discussed negotiating tactics, set a time to return and then set forth into our shop till you drop Otavalo extravaganza! No matter how many times I walk through this explosion of textiles, jewelry and crafts, I never get past the sensory overload. Even if Amazon has eroded any sense of “good shopping wherewithal” it is still possible for nine dudes to stroll head first into this crazy place and come out with something a loved one might enjoy.
Loved ones, please just say you “love it” when you get your gifts. We really do try!
After the market we picked up some groceries for the hut then piled into two rowdy 4x4 trucks and headed up the mountain. These roads aren’t your average cobble stone roads so after 2.5 hours of intense butt massaging and dust inhalation overload we arrived at the Cayambe hut.
Sitting at 15,100 feet we moved slowly but still managed a great hike before dinner. The weather was great so our views of the mountain left us wondering if we should just keep climbing.
Back at the hut we all enjoyed good stories and food setting us up well for our first night at a new altitude. We shall report on the nights effects tomorrow.
Buenas Noches from Cayambe.
On The Map
Ecuador Volcanoes, day three.
This journey is only three days old but the number of firsts for me has surpassed the last three years. What I mean by firsts is simply having an experience down here I have not had in the 15 years I’ve been guiding these mountains.
For example, I’ve never ventured off the equator tour to go find local home brewed corn beer. I’ve never been told by one of my climbers that they decided to venture out onto the fire escape, only to lock themselves out, with their roommate, and wind up on roof of the lobby looking down directly at the front desk waving to get let back in. I also have never broken two hours ascent time to the summit of Rucu Pinchincha, which we did yesterday without even trying. Yes, that’s fast…....
To continue this trend, we blitzed our second acclimating hike today on a mountain called Fuya Fuya, reached the summit in record time, decided we should keep going and found ourselves on the second summit a kilometer away that I have never even considered going to. The views of Quito were amazing and the team was psyched to have two summits reached instead of one. Right when I thought the day should find its way back to normal, I was again surprised. When we descended and reached the parking lot a few of the guys asked if the lake we were parked next to was good for swimming. After a few typical guy jokes about fish that swim where fish don’t belong and shrunken heads, not attached to our necks, three crazy men stripped off their cloths, high fived and jumped into the lake. Of course at that point jokes about great white somethings happened but jokes aside, swimming in that lake has never happened! Kudos to my “brave” teammates who took the plunge.
After those shenanigans, we all piled back into the bus to head into Otovalo to praise our adventurous spirits and eat some pizza. At this point I was just waiting for an earthquake or meteorite to hit the bus, just to keep the streak alive. It didn’t happen…..Gracias!
Now we are resting nicely at our beautiful hacienda soaking up the warm sun and humid air. When the weather isn’t raining, it can be almost perfect.
In a couple hours we will have another nice team dinner then prepare to head to Cayambe. Our fist “big” objective of the trip. Stay turned for tomorrow’s dispatch on high intensity market negotiating, crazy 4x4 truck rides and a new sleeping altitude for most. With this team I have no idea what might happen.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team
I love the energy this group brings! Looking forward to the stories of the summit bids and how it all goes! Adam is a wonderful human and guide- you are in good hands! Can’t wait for the next update! Safe travels to one and all! ❤️
Posted by: Chrissy on 1/25/2019 at 8:39 pm
Your blog is awesome. Best of luck. Safe and fun! Mom
Posted by: Jane Knoff on 1/25/2019 at 6:04 pm
January 24, 2019
Today we woke up to another beautiful day in Ecuador. After breakfast our team, now complete with our outstanding local guide Jaime, headed for the teleferico (gondola) and began our first acclimatization hike on a beautiful ridge overlooking Quito. The entire team styled our climb to Rucu Pichincha, breaking a couple of altitude records along the way. After some time on the summit enjoying just enough weather to make for dramatic light without spoiling any views, we headed back to Quito to rest and pack up for our move to Fuya Fuya and Otavalo tomorrow. The whole team was happy to get up in the mountains today and are feeling great, we hope our streak of great weather continues!
Paul you are incredible!
Posted by: Julianne Echols on 1/25/2019 at 7:22 am
Nice work everyone! It looks absolutely beautiful out there. Good luck on your climb today! *Rock Stars*
Posted by: Amy Collins on 1/25/2019 at 4:46 am
January 23, 2019
I am happy to announce the Ecuador Volcanoes team successfully assembled in the hotel lobby this morning. They were all a bit late and I couldn’t scold anyone in particular so I plan to run them all a bit harder on our first acclimating climb tomorrow.
After our team introduction we all loaded the tour bus and headed north out of Quito to the Mitad Del Mundo, or Middle of the World. Otherwise know as the equator! Here at the museum we were taught how the Amazon tribes shrunk actual heads of people, tiny fish can swim up urine streams into parts of the body fish don’t belong and snakes in the jungle can eat full size monkeys. And of course we learned how shadows tell time, the coriolis effect makes the water spin in opposite directions and gravity is possessed by aliens on the actual equatorial line.
The team seemed quite interested in these scientific studies but when we left the museum they were equally as interested to detour from the set itinerary to find some local home brew corn beer called Cheecha that the tour guide said was popular in that area. We did just that, toasting a good trip together with a liquid resembling nothing like we drink back home. At this same restaurant we noticed another local delicacy roasting on a stick. Here it is called Cuy. At home it is widely recognized as guinea pig. Luckily they don’t look as cute once they are cooked.
When the Cheecha ran dry we loaded up and headed into the old town of Quito where we saw great views of the city, a beautiful golden church and some of the oldest buildings in the country. Ecuador has an incredibly rich history and diverse population. Getting to see it up close never gets old.
After the tour we all gathered for espresso and soccer at my favorite place one block from the hotel. Before dinner we will check some gear then team up for our first official team dinner then retire to prepare for our first official climb. Tomorrow we go to 15,400 feet so stay tuned for the report.
Hello from the Chimborazo Lodge located literally at the base of the mountain. From our windows we watch herds of llamas grazing in the pastures, condors buzz the hillsides and the mountain, straight up valley, show us she is certainly not done being angry at something. Which sets the stage for this upcoming tale.
It is no secret that lessons surround us. Whether learned from business, school, love or mountain climbing. If we are aware and observant enough we should be able to find value and see reason through the events of everyday life. Today was one of those days we all learned something.
Our time at high camp began with teaching our seminar crew the correct way to level tent platforms, secure the guy lines and properly tie down your house so the big bad wolf doesn’t come and blow it all away. Once settled in, we were treated to a great meal by our cooks and hit the rack about 6:30 pm. At that point the full moon was rising over the mountain and the wind was calming just a bit. By our wake up time at 11:45 the wind was calm but the clouds had unleashed some freezing rain which coated everything in a smooth sheen of verglass.
By the time we departed camp the wind had picked up a bit and the mountain was sporting a nice cloud cap, beautiful in the full moon light.
The terrain right out of camp was challenging but by the time our climbing team reached an elevation of 18,500 feet, a few had turned around due to fatigue and the unruly steepness of the route. The weather had also begun to deteriorate with gusts reaching upper 30s and a heavy coat of rime ice building on our Gore-Tex shells. By 19,300 feet only two climbers remained headed up. But that upward progress didn’t last much longer. By 19,800 feet the cloud was now fully upon us and the wind and rime became too much to safely continue toward the summit. So at 6:15 our final summit climbers turned around.
The climb down can be as arduous as the climb going up because of tired legs, heavier muscle strain and outright exhaustion. As they have this entire trip, our team performed like seasoned veterans, all arriving back at camp by 8 am. Usually getting back to camp provides a deep sense of relief and comfort, knowing the hard part is over. This morning that was not the case as the winds increased moderately on the upper mountain, they increased dramatically at camp. I almost wanted to start climbing back up the mountain just to avoid the scene. The tents were being held down by rocks and people just to be kept from blowing away, the dining tent was literally beginning to tear itself apart and the noise of flapping nylon could likely be heard ten miles away. But through incredible teamwork we were were able to keep our houses from blowing away and got things packed in relatively good order considering the mountain’s jet engine was on overdrive.
On the descent, some of us had to literally crawl on all fours to keep from blowing over. It was one of the windiest days I’ve ever seen. Thirty minutes after leaving camp we were sheltered enough to take a sigh of relief and walk normally to the bus waiting in the parking lot.
After a brief time to reflect and sit down, we loaded up and headed to Chimborazo Lodge where we are about to take dinner and give a final toast to a mountain that has taught us much more than just climbing skills.
So even though we didn’t reach the summit, we by no means consider this a failure. On the contrary, like our journey as a whole, we consider this a great success! It has been a wonderful two weeks!
Team Ecuador signing off.
Good job to all of you. Will be happy to see you all safely home.
Mom (Chris Condon’s Mom)
Posted by: Mary Accettura on 1/21/2019 at 8:37 pm
January 19, 2019
This morning our team woke up at one the most impressive haciendas I’ve had the pleasure to visit in this beautiful country. I think what added to the splendor of the place was the outright need for rest after two big mountains in a row. The beds were superb, the food amazing and the amenities top notch. But in mountain climbing, as in life, all good things come to an end.
So where are we now?
Currently I am writing this at 17,500’ from my sturdy but noisy tent on the southern flanks of Ecuador’s biggest mountain, Chimborazo. We were just fed dinner by our awesome camp staff so life could be much worse. On the other hand the wind is tumbling down hill at 30+ mph crashing into the tents and buckling them over on a routine basis making the sound of jet engine stuck in place. Not exactly last night’s digs.
But now the full moon has begun to rise, we are wrapped up warm in our bags and the summit cleared up catching the last rays of sun enticing us to venture upward.
Which we intend to do in five hours from now.
Wish us luck as we attempt to reach the place farthest from the center of the Earth.
And Ecuador’s highest point.
RMI Guide Adam Knoff
Posted by: Beck Condon on 1/21/2019 at 8:06 am
Travel safe, team! Praying for a successful summit. The full moon and new light to guide you all to the summit. Upward bound! :)
Posted by: Chrissy on 1/19/2019 at 9:56 pm