Entries from Ecuador
Last night we hit the sack early and rested long and hard in the tranquility of our rural Ecuadorian hacienda. The quiet and darkness of the mountains was a welcome contrast to the past couple of nights’ hustle and bustle of the city. The fireplaces in our rooms didn’t hurt either.
This morning we explored the work famous Otavalo market and now we are heading up to the Cayambe climbing hut.
We’ll sleep there the next two nights and, with an early alpine start, attempt the summit tomorrow night. The weather has been good and looks favorable for an ascent. We’ll keep you posted.
On The Map
We left Quito early this morning and headed north towards our main objective, Cayambe. Today’s agenda, though, was our second acclimatization climb up Fuya Fuya, an extinct volcano that rises up above 14,000’. Fuya Fuya rises up from the beautiful crater lake, Mojanda. The climb started with a hike up a trail through high altitude grassland that got steeper with every step. Just shy of the summit, the climb got even steeper and involved some fun rock scrambling to get to the top. The weather was good, but cloudy, with intermittent views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. After a steep descent we were back at our vehicle and headed to Guachala, our hacienda for tonight. Tomorrow we will visit the market in Otavalo and then head up to the climbing hut on Cayambe where we’ll spend two nights and hopefully grab a summit.
RMI Guide Mike Walter
On The Map
We set out early this morning for our first acclimatization climb. The day started with a gondola ride from Quito to ~13,500’. Then the fun began. We headed west on a well-defined trail that followed a ridge on the shoulder of Rucu Pichincha. As the hiking continued, the trail got steeper and the air didn’t get any thicker. After a couple hundred feet of rock scrambling we arrived at the summit of Rucu Pichincha (~15,700’). Views were sporadic as clouds moved in and out. When the views were there, though, they were stunning, looking down on Quito almost 7,000’ below. The weather was pleasant and we spent a decent amount of time relaxing up top. Then we retraced our steps and rode the gondola back to town. Now, back at our hotel, we’re cleaning up, resting, and packing for an early departure tomorrow to head north towards the town of Otovalo where we’ll tackle our second acclimatization hike, this time to an ancient volcano called Fuya Fuya.
On The Map
Our Ecuador trip is up and running, and we spent our first day in country visiting the Equator and an ethnographic museum where we learned about the various diverse cultures of the country and were able to simultaneously stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Afterwards, we travelled to southern Quito to visit the old town, or colonial area. Here we toured Independence Plaza, the Compania de Jesus church, and walked the streets of old town, learning about Ecuador’s history. After a fun, educational, and jam-packed day, we’ve got some down time before dinner. Tomorrow we’ll get up early and go on our first acclimatization hike up Rucu Pichincha, a 15,700 ft. volcano that towers over Quito.
On The Map
May 20, 2017
We saw the sun on day one and haven’t really seen it since. The trend of southern flow pushing moisture our way continues, and it snowed off and on all day. While climbing on bright, bluebird days is nice, it really doesn’t get much better than conditions today. While we couldn’t see a lot, there was very little wind on a piece of the mountain that is known for wind, the clouds and snow kept the temps pleasantly cool, and the fresh snow has set up creating great cramponing conditions. We cruised out of camp a bit after the main rush, which kept us out of traffic all day. A few smooth stretches later, we rounded Windy Corner and reached our cache site. All told, the day was really smooth and pleasant, and we’re feeling really good about getting a big chunk of weight uphill. On the docket for tomorrow is done hard chilling time, nap competitions, and general self care before we look to move to 14.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Jenny Konway, Jess Matthews and Team
The daily blog and pictures are FABULOUS!
Sending Joel and the team some warm Arizona sunshine.
Posted by: Susie Okun on 5/20/2017 at 1:56 pm
Well, our luck had to run out eventually. We’ve had a good run so far this trip, but Chimborazo proved to be our match. Our teams turned this morning just under 19,000’ due to a variety of compounding issues, but the climb still provided us with over six hours of engaging terrain, from challenging rock steps to steep and firm snow slopes. Although we would have all loved to have reached the top, everyone agrees we made the right decision to turn around early and are all glad to be back down safely, celebrating the successful conclusion of our seminar down south.
From a guide’s perspective, not summiting this morning provided us all with one last valuable lesson: mountaineering isn’t always about standing on top. So much of climbing is learning to recognize when a summit just isn’t in the cards and being able to make the conservative call. Chimborazo will be here for a while. We didn’t make it this time, but I like to think of that as an open invitation to return again some day down the road.
Tomorrow morning we will return to Quito, say our final goodbyes, and fly home to our families. It has been an incredible two weeks, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know this wonderful group of people. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to hear all the stories that never made it to the blog directly from your loved ones.
It’s been a great adventure!
Signing off one last time,
RMI Guide Nick Hunt
Hello from 17,500’ above sea level! We moved to our High Camp on Chimborazo today, getting ready for our last summit attempt of our trip. At 20,800’, this peak promises to challenge us and we’re taking the rest of the afternoon to rest and prepare. We’ll be hitting the sack early tonight and getting up early. Wish us luck! The weather is looking promising at the moment, so the team is optimistic. We’ll let you know how it went tomorrow.
RMI Guide Nick Hunt and the rest of the Ecuador team!
February 3, 2017
After a late dinner last night the team enjoyed a good nights rest at our hotel, La Cienega. Our agenda for today was quite simple, gorge ourselves on burrito’s and drive to our climbing hut on Chimborazo.
After a simple breakfast of sliced fruit and eggs we hit the road at 10:30AM. We made a short stop at a grocery store to buy water and last minute items before heading to El Rey del Burrito and the biggest challenge of our day, surviving lunch. The small restaurant, located in the bustling city of Ambato is home to the infamous 50cm burrito. That is nearly two feet of tortilla, meat and cheese! Fortunate for us, Jason, was willing and turns out quite up to the challenge, finishing the burrito as if were an afternoon snack! The rest of us were content with spectating. With full bellies we loaded back onto our trusty tour bus and our driver Victor speed off to Chimborazo.
We are all now safely nestled in at 15,000’ on the side of the tallest peak in Ecuador. We will get another well needed full nights rest before moving to our high camp tomorrow in preparation for our summit attempt. From everybody on the team, thanks for following along!
February 2, 2017
Another great day in the mountains and another summit! Today the Ecuador Skills Seminar team stood on top of Antisana, the second large objective for this trip.
Although the weather was windy and wet when we woke up this morning, we waited it out and were able to leave in decent conditions. The climbing on Antisana is quite a bit more technical than our previous peak of Cayambe, but all the training over the last few days paid off. Everyone was able to tackle the route finding, steep climbing, and exposure in good style.
We did end up climbing in to a cap on the summit, however, and everyone was covered in rime ice by the time we reached the top. Most folks had all their layers on to combat the chilly wind, but it was still fun for everyone!
Twelve hours after leaving camp we returned, and immediately got around to packing up our things and tearing down all of the tents. We traveled to a beautiful hacienda for the evening and are all looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.
Sorry for the short post, but even the guides get tired on long climbs like today!
We’ll be moving to Chimborazo Base Camp tomorrow to prepare for our third and final peak of the trip.
RMI Guides Nick Hunt and Steve Gately and the rest of the Ecuador team!
February 1, 2017
Training day on Antisana. After a good dinner last night and plenty of rest, the team was up and in good spirits this morning. After a relaxing breakfast with coffee, hot cereal, and chill out music, we geared up and headed uphill to the training site for the day.
The lower flanks of Antisana’s glaciers are a rolling field of hard blue ice, making an excellent site to practice some of the more advanced mountaineering skills. We covered steep fixed line travel with ascenders, rappelling, and vertical ice climbing. Everyone had a good time today!
We wrapped the day up in the early afternoon, getting back to our base camp just after 1pm. This gave us plenty of time to crush some quesadillas for lunch and prepare for our summit attempt tonight.
We are going to have an early night tonight, and go for the top of Antisana this evening. Wish us luck!
We’ll check in tomorrow when we’re back down.