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Entries from Ecuador

January 8, 2016

Expedition Skills Seminar Ecuador - Chimborazo, Cayambe, and Antisana

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

January 6, 2016

Expedition Skills Seminar Ecuador - Chimborazo, Cayambe, and Antisana

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

December 17, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom and Team Summit Chimborazo!

Update: 11:30 a.m. PT
The team has completed their descent and are headed to Quito. Photos from the Chimborazo climb below.

6:40 a.m. PT
Hello everybody this is Casey Grom calling from the summit of Chimborazo.  It is a nice day up here although it was pretty blustery this morning when we got up a little after 11 o’clock and started our stoves to have a little quick breakfast and some coffee. Thankfully shortly after we started walking the wind died down and we hiked or climbed in some gravel and dirt for about 2 hours before we got to the start of the glacier.  Then it was pretty icy and pretty tough. The team did another fantastic job today. We ended up having to belay quite a few pitches to keep it safe. The team did fantastic and we’re up here in the sun everyone is smiling and doing great. Everyone is a little tired, but the game plan is to get a few more photos and then head on back to camp. Then eventually all the way back to Quito, as we make our way back down in the land of Wi-Fi and cell service then we will send you one of our summit photos. Thank you following and look forward to seeing some of our photos.  Alright, take care.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from the summit of Chimborazo, Ecuador.

Welcome back down, What an adventure!*

Posted by: Ron Birch on 12/17/2015 at 11:06 pm


Posted by: danny on 12/17/2015 at 4:03 pm

December 16, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Casey Grom Calls In from Chimborazo High Camp

Hey everybody, this is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador Volcanoes Expedition. We are up here at just over 17,000 feet at our high camp on Chimborazo. We had a pretty nice day to hike up here. Was a little bit of clouds, which was nice to have it cool for our hike. The team had a great time and we hired a couple of porters to help expedite our arrival to camp, which was great. We just wrapped up a nice dinner of hot soup and watched the sun go down up here, which was incredibly beautiful. We’re crawling into our tents and do our best for a little bit of sleep until we get up. Similar to our game plan as we had on Cayambe. We are going to try to get up at 11 and try to start climbing around midnight. So that will be our game plan for us. We will do our best tomorrow to give a call once we are back down off the mountain. I’m sure it’s going to be a long, busy, hard day for everybody. We’ll update you guys tomorrow once we are off the mountain. Thanks.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom calls in from Chimborazo High Camp.

glad to hear you all made it to High Camp and enjoyed the views.  By now you should close to back from the summit.

Can’t wait to hear the good news and of course, am sorry I could not be there with you.

Posted by: danny on 12/17/2015 at 7:43 am

December 15, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Prepare for Next Objective - Chimborazo

Hello Everyone,
All is well here in Ecuador especially after a wonderful night of rest. The team did a fantastic job on Cayambe yesterday and really deserved it. We spent last night in the oldest Hacienda in Ecuador called Guachala, which dates back to the 16th century, and isn’t too far from the mountain.
After a relaxing morning at the Hacienda we loaded up our gear and headed south for five hours to reach our next climbing objective, Chimborazo. We are spending the night in another newer hacienda, not far from Chimborazo, built about 20 years ago by a German mountain guide that’s full of climbing memorabilia. Our plan is to have another good night’s rest here, then hike up to a high camp tomorrow afternoon to help shorten our climb. If all goes according to plan we’ll be settled in camp by 5pm and hopefully get a little more rest before starting our climb around 11-12pm.
Everyone enjoyed the drive and the beautiful views we had today. We are all excited for tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

Hi guys

Made it back stateside and have slept most of the day.

Also had issues w/connection or would have posted sooner

Great news u r going for the summit

I know u will all do great and am sorry can’t join u

I am with you in spirit

Kick some Chimborazo butt!!

Posted by: Danny on 12/16/2015 at 4:05 pm

December 14, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Summit Cayambe!

100% on top!!!
The Ecuador team reached the Cayambe summit in stormy weather. Although the weather was not stellar, they were all happy to have made it.
RMI Guide Casey Grom sent this summit photo and will check in once the team is safely off the mountain.

On The Map

That’s awesome, congratulations to the team!

Posted by: John Arnold on 12/15/2015 at 7:30 am

Well Done!*

Posted by: Ron Birch on 12/15/2015 at 12:30 am

December 13, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcaloes: Grom and Crew Ready for Summit Attempt

Hello everyone.
All is well here in Ecuador.
The team got a decent night of sleep here on Cayambe at 15’000ft last night despite someone car alarm going off all night. We got up at 6am and had a nice breakfast before hiking up to the start of the glacier where we reviewed the climbing techniques that we’ll need for tomorrow. After a few hours of training we then made our way back to the hut for a nice lunch.
Currently the team is taking naps or resting outside in the always warming ecuadorian sun. Our plan is to have an early dinner tonight and try to get a little more shut-eye before our alpine start. We’ll most likely get up at 11pm, have a quick breakfast and coffee, then start climbing around midnight to make use of the cooler temps. If all goes according to plan we hope to summit around 7am give or take a few.
As per usual, I’m going to have a mountain trivia challenge where one lucky winner will receive a summit phone call from my Satellite phone. So everyone back home keep your phones nearby, you might be receiving a call from a strange number.
Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Cayambe crew

December 12, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Settle into Cayambe Climber’s Hut

Hey, everybody. This is Casey Grom calling in from Cayambe and Chimborazo climb corn here in Ecuador. We’re doing great down here today. We had a nice relaxing morning at Casa de Sol. We then headed into the center of Otavalo, close to where we are staying. Otavalo is one of the largest open air markets in all of South America. The team spent a little over an hour practicing their bartering skills and doing a lot of sightseeing all the local artisan goods they have for sale. After we felt like we had enough shopping done, we got in our van and we went out to lunch just a few miles down the road. Then we headed up a long and winding road that leads up the mountain where we hit Cayambe. There’s two huts up here. There’s a big one and a smaller one. Thankfully for us our outfitter was able to secure the smaller hut, which is nice. It sleeps about ten. The big hut is full tonight and sleeps about 40 to 50 people, so we are pretty thankful that we got the smaller hut. We just finished our dinner, and we’re settling in for the night at the base of Cayambe. Everybody’s doing well. We will give a check in sometime tomorrow afternoon and let you know the game plan for the summit. See you tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from Cayambe.

On The Map

Sending all my best to Danny, and fearless leader Casey Grom and team.  I took a quick peak at the weather and looks like there may be some heavy snow in your area, especially Monday night.  Hope all is well and you will be able to stay on schedule.  Everyone looks they have been enjoying themselves in the pictures.  Stay strong for yourselves and each other!  -Virginia

Posted by: Virginia N. on 12/13/2015 at 3:12 pm

December 11, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Enjoy Stunning Views from Fuya Fuya

Hello again everyone!

Today the team left behind the hustle and bustle of Quito and moved just north of the Equator to the comfortable and quite rural countryside. Once outside the city limits the landscape quickly turned into rolling hills with farms pitched on steep slopes and dozens of small eucalyptus forest.

Our plan was to visit a smaller mountain called Fuya Fuya where we stretched our legs on a nice steep and short acclimatization hike. Thankfully the weather was nice, which allowed us to see some amazing views of the beautiful surrounding landscape. 

We are just on the outskirts of a town call Otavalo, which is known for its massive market and we are currently relaxing at a wonderful hacienda called “La Casa Sol.” The team is doing great and looking forward to nice quiet night here.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

The landscape looks incredible & the team looks happy & enjoying the adventure!

Posted by: John Arnold on 12/12/2015 at 6:48 am

Looking good everyone* Have Fun!

Posted by: Ron Birch on 12/12/2015 at 1:29 am

December 10, 2015

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom and Team Take Acclimatization Hike

Hello again everyone
Today we had a very nice hike to help with our acclimatization on a nearby peak called Pichincha. It is one of the many local peaks that is situated above Quito and is used by many climbers to help adjust to the higher altitude here in Ecuador. We made use of the gondolas to help us gain access to around 13,000 ft then hiked the additional 2,500 ft to the summit. It took our team roughly 3 hours to gain the top after a little scrambling up the final bit to reach our high point thus far. It was a personal high point for a few of us, and the entire team did a fantastic job. After spending a bit of time on the summit and getting are photos we descended all the back to our hotel for a brief nap before dinner.
Everyone is in good spirits and looking forward to tomorrow.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

On The Map

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