Entries from Ecuador
December 4, 2023
Hello friends, all is well here in sunny Ecuador! Yesterday we kicked off our adventure with a trip to the Equator to learn some science and balance eggs on a nail (difficult, but not impossible), followed by a cultural tour of the city. After a delicious Ecuadorian dinner and some spa time, the team hit the hay to rest up before our first acclimatization hike.
We awoke to blue skies and after a nice breakfast we headed to the teleférico where we took a ride up to 13,000 feet and were able to stretch our legs on a wonderful hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha 15,354 feet. We saw some splendid flowers along the way and even some friendly birds at the summit.
Tomorrow we will check out of our hotel and make our way to Cero Fuya Fuya for another acclimatization hike before ending our day at a lovely hacienda in Otavalo (don't worry friends and family we are certainly not roughing it on this trip). Morale is high and at dinner tonight we will be finalizing our new team name so stay tuned.
Hope all is well back at home and hasta mañana.
RMI Guides Dustin Wittmier, Michael Murray & Team
Sign Up For Ecuador's Volcanoes 12-2-2023 Emails
Following two nights of tent camping in the paramo, yesterday we climbed Antisana. Several members of the team reached the summit and everyone gave a serious effort. Congratulations to all for making it as far as we have.
Antisana is Ecuador's fourth highest mountain, but the complex glaciers that one encounters makes a summit bid quite difficult. Our camp sits at 14,800' in the final patch of grass before entering more serious alpine terrain. The first hour takes you through a glacial moraine before arriving at the base of the glacier. Once on the glacier, numerous huge crevasses are encountered as well as needing to navigate through serac-ridden terrain. Higher on the mountain, the team worked their way up some very steep snow pitches before walking the seemingly endless plateau to the true summit. Although this section is benign, the altitude of over 18,000' catches up with you. This is truly a difficult climb and for making the effort, you are rewarded with excellent views of other high mountains in Ecuador.
Honestly, Antisana might be my favorite volcano climb in Ecuador. The beauty of our campsite alone is worth a visit. We camped two nights in tents and there is also a dining tent where we were served delicious, hot meals every morning and evening. The staff at Antisana basecamp is lovely and as always, our local Ecuadorian guides are professional and just truly good people to hang with.
Today, a portion of the group heads home while the rest of us are headed to Chimborazo. We spent a final night as a team at Casa Ilayaku, a quaint hacienda on an old farm property near Quito. According to our smart watches, the sleep was near perfect. For those headed to Chimborazo, we are now on a four hour bus ride to the Chimborazo Lodge for one more relaxing night prior to another big summit push!
Thanks for following along.
RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier
That is Awesome Dustin and Team!!
I speak from experience, a few years ago Dustin was the reason I made it to the Summit of Cotopoxi!!
You all have an Awesome guide!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 11/5/2023 at 3:57 am
November 1, 2023
Iliniza Norte summit!
Our team reached the summit of Iliniza Norte at 6 pm yesterday evening. It was a beautiful afternoon, so upon arrival at the hut we decided to just go for it. We were rewarded with a lovely sunset at the summit, one of the nicer ones most of us have ever seen.
Back at the hut, we sat down for a hot meal and although it was quite tasty, Emma and I spent some time forcing people to eat. A long few days of acclimatizing is catching up with everyone, but you have to eat! The main objective lies ahead.
We are now in route to Antisana Basecamp, where we will spend two nights and hopefully be standing on top of the fourth highest peak in Ecuador less than 48 hours from now!
RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier
That is Awesome Dustin and Team!! Thank you for sharing those incredible pictures! Breath Deep!!!!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 11/3/2023 at 4:21 am
October 31, 2023
Flying into Quito you begin to grasp the magnitude and astounding beauty of the volcanoes surrounding the city. The dichotomy of the lush Amazonian rainforest and the high, snowy mountains leaves one with a sense of the diverse ecosystems of Ecuador. Our first day included trip introductions, getting to know each other and exploring the city. We spent the first half of the day at the equatorial line, learning about the indigenous people of the Amazon and their culture. The second half of the day we explored old Quito, checking out stunning architecture and discussing the current politics of Ecuador. Our second day we took a teleferico or gondola up to around 13,000ft to begin our acclimating hike up to the summit of Rucca Pichincha at 15,354ft. Everyone enjoyed snacks and laughs at the summit before heading back to Quito for a delicious Mediterranean dinner.
Best of Luck to the entire team from US, especially from Chicago and NY. Wish I was there with you guys.
Good Luck on Antisana and Chimborazo. Carpei Diem…!!!
Fernando Carranza Sr.
Posted by: Fernando R Carranza on 11/2/2023 at 1:00 pm
Posted by: Jean Wittmier on 11/1/2023 at 11:35 pm
February 19, 2023
We woke at over 17,000 feet at Chimborazo High Camp for our final climb. Looking outside we were surprised to see heavy snowfall. Momentarily the guides debated if the weather would push back our start time or stop us in our tracks. After discussing, we optimistically decided to stick with the plan, start packing up and hope the snow would subside. After breakfast we looked outside elated to find a perfectly starry sky, the timing was perfect. As we climbed we encountered difficult firm route conditions and a steady 20 mile an hour breeze that wouldn’t quit. Even so, just before sunrise some of the team managed to summit. That only team to do so today. We descended a route completely empty of other climbers. Back at High Camp the team had a lovely second breakfast together and relaxed after the all night battle up Chimborazo.
Wonderful journey! (Sounds like Pippin..second breakfast, elevenses….!)
Posted by: Terri L. Jennings on 2/20/2023 at 6:47 am
February 17, 2023
We awoke inside a thick cloud engulfing basecamp on Antisana. Optimistically we ate a quick breakfast, packed up and started the hike to the base of the glacier. After an hour we ascended through the thick cloud deck and emerged into a beautifully calm, starlight night. As we ascended, we quickly encountered complex and technical glacier travel. Many crevasses emerged that were not present two weeks ago on the last RMI climb. Also, we found many steep, firm slopes that had hardened to trap crust from recent snowfall. The team climbed excellently, overcoming one obstacle after another. Unfortunately, with the summit insight, we realized we had used up too much time to reach the top and defend safely. We were also concerned with snow and crevasse bridge conditions on the very unusually warm evening. We reached 18,100 feet on Antisana, a high point for many on the team. At sunrise we watched Cotopaxi erupting before descending.
We're now safely off the mountain and looking towards our final objective of our program, Chimborazo--the tallest volcano in Ecuador. We'll keep you posted as we continue to train and discover all that Ecuador has to offer.
RMI Guide Avery Parrinello and team
February 15, 2023
Good morning all,
After enjoying a relaxing day at Casa Ilayaku the team is ready to get back to business and start walking uphill. A two hour drive brought us to the basecamp for Antisana. A quick duffle shuffle and gear sort gets us psyched and ready for our early departure, hopefully to the top this time. It's early to bed to rest the eyes and body. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates this time.
Happy belated Valentines Day to all our loved ones,
RMI Guides Avery, Hannah, and Team
February 14, 2023
We awoke at 11pm at the Cayambe hut to get an alpine start on our climb. Unfortunately, when we took a look outside we encountered sideways rain. We continued to monitor the weather throughout the night with hopes of getting a late start on the climb. Finally, around 5 am the wind and rain subsided enough for us to get out of the hut and do some climbing. By that time our we could not reasonably make it to the summit and back. We climbed up to 17,000 feet and did some training in the morning sun. That was a new high point for most of the team! Resting today in a beautiful hacienda outside Quito. Here we’ll learn crevasse rescue and set out sites on the next volcano, Antisana.
Good evening readers,
What is a great way to wake up you ask? Waking up to fresh mountain air and then you walk down a colorful spiral staircase to hot coffee that you sip on a porch looking out on the lush green hills towering all around you as birds tweet in the trees. They say mountain climbing is type 2 fun (fun once your done) but so far we are experiencing type 1 fun (fun as you do it). After our casual morning we loaded the bus to the Otavalo Market. Here is where you buy all the souvenirs for your loved ones back home, plus some for yourself. The big ticket items are blankets, art work, and chocolate. After all that bartering we had worked up an appetite and made our way to a lovely sandwich shop before ending at our final destination, a beautiful hostel at the base of Cayambe. We spent our afternoon learning knots, hitches, and Earnest anchors. These are our building blocks for further skills/training later. Tomorrow we head up to the Climbers Hut where we will continue our training and prepare for our early start Monday to, fingers crossed, the summit of Cayambe. Monday is not our only early start because the alarm clock goes off at 4am tomorrow. So it's early to bed for us as we rest up for many big days to come.
RMI Guides Avery, Hannah, and Team
February 11, 2023
Friday, February 10, 2023 - 3:10 pm PT
Woke up today, packed up and headed out of Quito to start our travels throughout Ecuador's highlands. Our first stop is the town of Otavalo. To continue acclimatizing we drove up steep cobblestone roads to a peak Fuya fuya. We parked at a beautiful crater lake with the peak in the clouds above. Rain threatened throughout the day, but after reaching the summit we returned to the bus without a drop. Looking forward to heading towards Cayambe tomorrow!
RMI Guide Avery Parrinello