Entries from Ecuador
December 10, 2017
We awoke to a clear and chilly morning at the hut. The first half of the day provided views of the upper mountain and the summit of Cayambe before some snow showers moved in. Today’s goal was to climb another 1,000 feet to the base of the glacier to acclimatize and review some mountaineering skills. The steep climb up to our school site gave us a great preview of the beginning of our summit day. By the end of our school, the team was looking great and ready to climb Cayambe tomorrow. We are back at the hut resting and preparing our summit packs for the morning. Wish us clear conditions like we had this morning for our summit attempt!
On The Map
Awesome experience for all of you! Dad & I are living vicariously! Our best to all of you for an awesome assent!
Posted by: Judy & dale collins on 12/10/2017 at 5:06 pm
Despite some menacing afternoon clouds we woke up again to clear beautiful skies. A late breakfast and a short drive brought us to the Otovalo Market, a huge local market full of a wide variety of textiles and food. The team spent an hour and a half exploring the markets many corners, buying gifts for loved ones before meeting for lunch at Buena Vista. From there we headed back towards the town of Cayambe to meet our transfer vehicles that would carry us and our belongings to the Cayambe Climbers Hut at 15,300ft. An hour or so of exciting driving down primitive roads perched on the side of a volcano brought us to our final destination. The team is doing a great job getting readjusted to life without so much oxygen and are patiently awaiting what will no doubt be a wonderful dinner served by the huts cook staff. Thanks for following. Tune in tomorrow for more!
On The Map
December 8, 2017
The team performed well today on our second acclimatization hike up Fuya Fuya. The beginning of the trail starts at a beautiful caldera which is now Laguna de Mojanda. With the view of the lake behind us we began ascending through knee high vegetation and in two hours we were standing on the summit! Although we were in the clouds, we were happy it stayed dry otherwise the soil would have had us sliding all the way back to the van. A short van ride brought us to Otovalo and our haciendas for the evening. The rest of the afternoon provided some time for us to organize our gear in preparation for our transfer up to the Cayambe Hut tomorrow!
RMI Guide Bryan Mazaika & Team
December 7, 2017
A good nights rest brought us yet to another unseasonably sunny Ecuadorian morning and our first acclimatization hike up Rucu Pinchincha (15,700ft). The day started with a taxi ride from our hotel to the Teleferique de Quito, a gondola ride that would take us to 13,500ft on the eastern flanks of the active volcano. The hike starts by following a rolling ridge through high alpine meadows until we traverse to the peaks northern side where a different character is shown. We leave behind mild grassy slopes for volcanic rock and loose scree. The climb finishes with a challenging but fun Cass 3 scramble past several ledges to the mountains summit. The crew did great with the new altitude and the weather held clear and gave us panoramic views of the Ecuadorian Andes, including Cayambe (18,996ft) our first objective of the trip. We spent a few moments on top taking photos and hydrating before descending back to the Teleferique and the thicker air of Quito! Off to dinner in a short while to enjoy the traditional dishes of Ecuador. Tomorrow takes us to Fuya Fuya for more acclimatizing and the city of Otovalo! Thanks for following.
On The Map
December 6, 2017
The team is all here in Quito! We began our day by enjoying our breakfast along side an abundant spread of fresh fruit and overloading on coffee while we made some group introductions. We had a number of stops during our city tour, some of the highlights include visiting the Equator monument, a panoramic view of Quito from the top of Panecillo Hill, the colonial Center and touring some of the historical churches. Today in Quito is the celebration of the capital’s foundation so many shops were closed and the plazas were busier than normal with locals celebrating the holiday. We are back at the hotel for a quick siesta before we head out together for dinner. This evening we will prepare our day packs for our first acclimatization hike up to Rucu Pichincha and we are hoping for the clear, sunny skies we had this morning so we can get our first view of Cotopaxi and Cayambe!
With a pre-midnight alpine start from the Cayambe climbing hut, we woke to a starry sky and light winds; all systems were go. We had a quick breakfast, got geared up in the hut, and were walking by midnight. The weather was perfect for our climb and so were the mountain conditions, with firm (but not icy) snow for efficient cramponing. The climbing was varied: rock scrambling to reach the glacier, gentle glaciated slopes, a steep 200’, 45° headwall, and a narrow summit ridge. Six hours later we were all standing on top of Cayambe, at 19,000’ that lies directly on the equator. We enjoyed great views of Cotopaxi, the Ilinizas and Antisana to the south, and Cotacachi and Imbabura to the north. We spent a half hour on top, high-fiving, hugging, taking pictures, and even singing.
As we descended, winds increased and clouds were rising from the rain forest to the east. Soon a nasty-looking lenticular cloud formed over the summit. But our timing was perfect; we were well below this by now and smoothly descending back to the climbing hut. In less than an hour after arriving at the hut we were packed up and loaded into four-wheel drive vehicles and headed back to the hacienda Guachala for hot showers, delicious food, and comfy beds. Tomorrow we’ll head back to Quito for the night.
RMI Guide Mike Walter sent a brief note to let us know the team has reached the summit of Cayambe, 18,997’. They will send a full report after their climb.
Congratulations to the team!
On The Map
We woke to light snow and strong winds, but after a leisurely breakfast and a few hours of relaxing it cleared up. We took advantage of the clearing and hiked to the glacier to practice climbing with ice ax and crampons. Now, back at the hut, we’ll rest after lunch in preparation for our summit bid tonight.
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