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Entries from Ecuador

February 8, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Retreat from Cayambe

Today the gang got a good old-fashioned butt-kicking at the hands of Nevado Cayambe. We woke in the middle of the night to strong winds but clear skies and decided to rig up and take a shot at climbing. The walls of the refugio were rattling in the wind and I remember thinking to myself that we were gonna probably have a pretty tough go out there. Shockingly, as we left the hut and climbed around the rock buttress above we found ourselves moving through the terrain in much more manageable conditions. The wind backed off and we were looking up at a starry night and the city lights below. We made our way up a couple of steeper rock steps and onto the dry glacier in short time and continued up the hill. Chase and I both remember thinking to ourselves, “we just might pull this off…” But alas, the wind was to return as we climbed higher but this time with some serious moisture. The wet came in pulses and we were able to deal with it until we reached a bench in the glacier at just over 17,000’ where we all came into the break and looked each other over. The truth was undeniable, we were all soaked and the conditions were worsening. Sadly, we knew we had to turn around before the summit and weave our way back through a very crevassed and broken glacier. Despite not making the summit we still got to climb through some incredible terrain and glacial formations and everybody agreed that we were getting a full value experience. Some hours later, when we finally stumbled back to the hut, the storm has significantly increased its ferocity and was plastering us with sheets of sideways rain and strong gusts. We napped for a little bit and loaded our soaking gear into 4x4’s and headed back to Babylon. Tonight we’re drying out and enjoying a real bed at Hacienda Guachalá. Built in the late 1500’s, it’s the oldest hacienda in Ecuador with tons of crazy history from famous visitors (including Edward Whymper, the first to climb many of these peaks in the 1700’s) to pre Inca constructions, and even a crypt beneath the chapel. Tomorrow we’re headed for Antisana, praying for good weather, now, I’m headed for dinner!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

February 7, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Experience Winds on Cayambe

We woke this morning to a quiet refugio but that didn’t last long… The weekend hordes of locals would soon overwhelm the small refugio and unfortunately for us, the weather wasn’t really cooperating for our planned day of training up on the glacier. Despite gusts to 50 mph and sideways drizzle we geared up and tried to make our way up towards the glacier. We didn’t last long. After making our way up some 600 or 700 feet we were getting blasted by even stronger winds and getting wet to boot. We pulled the plug and headed back for cover, ultimately using a rock ridge for some protection. It was barely enough for us to get the training in we’ll need for tonight’s attempt at the Cayambe summit. Luckily, the wind is backing off a bit along with the crowds of day visitors and we are hoping both trends continue and allow us to make an honest crack at the summit.

I’ll check in tomorrow evening and let ya’ll know how it went,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Happy Birthday SPS!!! We L and M!!!! Enjoy yourself!!!!

Posted by: Team Chapman on 2/8/2016 at 8:39 am

Happy Birthday Jason!!!!  Love, mom and dad

Best wishes to the team for a safe and successful climb!!

Posted by: Esther Chapman on 2/8/2016 at 5:57 am

February 7, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Seminar: Nugent & Team Explore Market, Arrive Cayambe Hut

Saturday, February 6, 2016

After a light breakfast at the Casa del Sol we headed down to find a bustling Otavalo Saturday market. We cruised around town shopping for souvenirs, avoiding kids hellbent on silly string annihilation, and finished up our Otavalo experience with a nice lunch in the main square. After that we left town and headed for the hills under the guidance of Victor, our fearless driver. The road to Cayambe isn’t in the best shape these days and despite massive potholes and some pretty steep switchbacks for a bus Victor was able to deposit us about 30 minutes shy of the refugio. After our short walk, we settled into our accommodations in the refugio and enjoyed a hot drink. The evening brought us to dinner (pork chops!) and knot session to lay the foundations for more skill training to come.

Cozy above 15,000’,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Hope you art all four pork chops. Meat sweats are a critical component of good acclimatization.

Posted by: Bunny Lebowski on 2/7/2016 at 12:35 pm

Hi Poppy I love you Its Olivia

Posted by: Olivia on 2/7/2016 at 11:19 am

February 5, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Nugent & Team Ascend Fuya Fuya and travel to Otavalo

Chillin’ at Casa del Sol…

Well, we enjoyed another great day down here in Ecuador with a nice hike, good weather and good company. After meeting our local alpine guide David and an early departure from Quito we made our way to the north towards our acclimatization objective Cerro Fuya Fuya, but also Otavalo, and most notably Cayambe. While the clouds prevented us from peeping Cayambe while on Fuya Fuya, we were still able to enjoy views from the summit of the surrounding volcanic caldera and the large lake below. The whole team moved well and enjoyed the day out and about. We’re now posted up at a beautiful guesthouse up above the city of Otavalo called Casa del Sol, enjoying a beer and waiting for dinner. Tomorrow, however, the real adventure begins as we make our way up towards Cayambe…

More to come!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Team Chapman is hoping Jason is having a great time! Enjoy! We love you!

Posted by: Team Chapman on 2/7/2016 at 7:20 am

February 4, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Seminar: Billy Nugent & Team Meet in Quito

February 3, 2016
Welcome to a series of dispatches from our most recent expedition seminar in Ecuador! This morning we officially met for the first time as a team and enjoyed a nice breakfast at our hotel before heading out on a cultural tour of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. We started off our sightseeing with a visit to the geographic equator and an interesting sort of a natural history museum at the same site. We saw all sorts of cool stuff like enormous anaconda skins, crazy spiders, a spiny Amazonian fish that will swim up your urethra, and even a real human shrunken head from the jungles of eastern Ecuador. Crazy stuff. We spent the afternoon visiting the old town of Quito which is a Unesco World Heritage site with many buildings dating back to the 1500’s. Lots of cool churches were visited and we learned about Ecuador’s tumultuous political history as we saw the sights with our local cultural guide Angel. We’ve got a great group of guys and we are all excited to get out tomorrow and feel a little altitude. Although, it could be said we’re starting out acclimation process right here in Quito, hanging out at just over 9,000’.

Talk tomorrow…

February 4, 2016
We woke today to broken clouds and another lovely morning here in Quito. Jaime, our local man with a plan (he’s our coordinator for nearly everything we’ll do) decided to join us on our climb of Rucu Pichincha just for fun. After a quick taxi ride over to the Teleférico and a scenic ride up the gondola we began our approach towards Pichincha’s rocky summit through gentler, but beautiful green mountains. Our team moved well for the most part despite feeling the acute burn of our first serious dose of altitude. The summit block involved a bit of easy scrambling but before long the team found themselves on the summit, albeit in a sea of clouds. Still, we were able to catch a few glimpses of the active part of Pichincha’s caldera, la Pichincha Guagua and down to the buildings of Quito filling the valley far below. We celebrated our last night in Quito with a great pizza dinner and are all looking forward to getting outta town tomorrow on our way eventually to Cayambe in the north. 


RMI Guide Billy Nugent

A photo posted by Billy Nugent (@carlhungus23) on

January 27, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Enjoy Relaxing Day

Hello again everyone
All is well here in Ecuador. Today the team spent the morning relaxing a bit and enjoying the beautiful surroundings and practicing some technical rope work that will hopefully come in handy tomorrow. Then a few folks went on a horseback ride while the rest of us relaxed around the hacienda. We wrapped the afternoon with a little more training and good conversations.

Our plan is to head to bed soon and get up around 5am to start our climb which is just a few miles down the road. If the weather continues we hope to summit and make our way back to Quito by mid to late afternoon.

It’s sad to think our adventure is nearly over, but I am sure everyone is excited to return to their loved ones.

We’ll check in again tomorrow. That’s all for today.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

January 26, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team’s Decision on Next Climbing Objective

The team is well rested after our long climb on Cayambe. It took us about eight hours to reach the summit and another four to safely descend all the way back to the hut. Everyone was very happy, but also very tired from such a long day.
After descending from the mountain we had a wonderful lunch before arriving at Hacienda Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, which dates back to 1580. Everyone slept very well and enjoyed the hot showers to say the least.

Today we had a nice big breakfast and had a team meeting to discuss the upcoming climb on Chimborazo. Currently the climbing conditions here in Ecuador are less than ideal on several mountains including Chimbo. The local guides and I discussed the difficulty and hazardous conditions that awaited us there and decided it’s a little more than we are willing to risk.
The team was a little disappointed we weren’t going to climb to 20,000+ft, but everyone agreed it might be best to choose a safer option.
Our new plan is to climb another mountain that hasn’t been affected by the unusually dry weather, yet still gives us a challenging ascent.
We have relocated to a quaint little place in the countryside not too far from our next climb Rumiñahui. It’s not the big mountain we were hoping for, but I’m certain we will all enjoy the climb.

We’ll spend the day doing some training here tomorrow and getting prepared for our next adventure.

RMI Guide Casey Grom and crew

January 25, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Summit Cayambe

The Ecuador’s Volcanoes January 19th trip reached the summit of Cayambe today at 18,977’, RMI Guide Casey Grom said it was a tough climb and the ascent was 8 hours.  The team descended safely back to camp and then packed up their gear and loaded vechicles toward their hacienda for the night.  They were looking forward to hot showers and a good night’s rest.

Congratulations to all the climbers for their great effort today.

On The Map

Well done guys. It sounded like a tough climb so I hope you are all feeling good about your achievements so far!
Have fun on the rest of the trip! good luck and stay safe.

Posted by: Peter Williamson on 1/26/2016 at 8:22 am

Congratulations Dave, John & the rest of your team.  I was thinking about you when I was in PT yesterday.  Glad you are having a good trip.  Gambatte!

Posted by: Jean on 1/26/2016 at 4:25 am

January 24, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador: Grom & Team Prepare for Cayambe Climb

Hey everybody, this is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador’s Volcanoes trip to let you know that we had another nice day down here on the equator. We woke up this morning at about 6 and had a quick breakfast and then tried to get out the door as close to 7 as we could. We hiked for about an hour and a half up to where the start of the glacier is here on Cayambe and took a nice break.  We spent the next couple hours reviewing some basic climbing techniques and trying to do a few advanced things and just getting ourselves prepared for tonight’s climb. The team is doing great, we just wrapped up dinner not too long ago.  We packed our backpacks and everybody’s off bed. If all goes well our plan is to wake up at about 11 p.m. and have another hot breakfast and hopefully be headed up hill about midnight. Currently it’s been pretty icy down here it’s been pretty dry and they haven’t had a lot of snow so I think the route might be a little more circuitous than normal. I am anticipating about a 7 hour ascent so if we are fortunate we might be able to reach the summit around 7 a.m.  Then we will take a handful of photos and then we’ll make our way back down. Regardless of how our climb goes tomorrow, our plan is to pack up and get out of here and head down to another hacienda so we will check in sometime tomorrow mid day and let everybody know how we’re doing.  All right you guys.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom checks in from the climbers hut on Cayambe.

On The Map

January 23, 2016

Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cayambe

Ecuador Volcanoes: Grom & Team Visit the Otavalo Market

Hey everybody. This is Casey Grom checking in from the Ecuador Volcanoes trip. We have a great day today. We started off with a nice leisurely breakfast at La Casa Sol. We departed there at about 10:30 and made our way, just about 10 minutes down the road, to the big open air market of Otavalo. Otavalo has one of the largest markets in South America. It just so happens that Saturday is the big market there. We spent a little more than an hour doing some shopping, a little bartering and just general sightseeing as we made our way around the the central square in the town of Otavalo. After we had our fill there, we hopped in our van and we go to the town of Cayambe, which sits just at the base of the mountain Cayambe where we had a nice lunch and then we loaded up the vans one more time and had a nice bumpy, but enjoyable, ride up to the hut that is right at the base of the glacier here on Cayambe. We’re currently relaxing up here at about 15,000 feet. In fact it is a little after 8:30 for us here, that’s east coast time, and the team is outside looking up at a beautiful full moon and a fantastic view of Cayambe. Everyone’s doing great. We’re going to head to bed here pretty soon and then hopefully head up to the glacier tomorrow to do a little training in preparation for our climb. Other than that everything is going great for us and we’ll check in again sometime tomorrow. Alright thank you guys.

RMI Guide Casey Grom

RMI Guide Casey Grom calls in from Cayambe Climber's Hut.

Thank you, Casey, for these wonderful updates and for this awesome expedition!  I loved my phone call from the top of Cayambe.

We are thinking of all of you, and can’t wait to hear the stories and see the photos! 

Group hug! 


Posted by: Laura Bryson on 1/25/2016 at 6:57 am

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