Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 6-20) - Dispatches 3 & 4

January 13th & 16th Dispatches

Climbers:
Kay Kuehne
Alyssa Ely
Edward Iglesias

Guide: Diego Zurita


January 13th Dispatch

Hello! This is Diego calling to report. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the group completed their glacier skills training above the hut on Cayambe.  We had good snow and ice conditions on the glacier, and techniques training and the practice climbing went very well.  I know everyone enjoyed working on their skills and then applying them to different slopes on the glacier.  The snow and ice conditions on the Cayambe glaciers are perfect for this kind of training.

So we had an early dinner and went to bed very early so we could get up at midnight and make an early start.  We always climb early because the glacier surface is more frozen, which makes this part of the day the best for cramponing.  

Also sometimes around midday we have clouds and possibly moisture coming up from the Amazon in the east.  So the views and conditions are best if we do things early.

I am very happy to report that we climbed Cayambe (18,996 ft / 5790 m) successfully on Thursday.  One climber reached the summit and two chose not to climb all the way to the top, but all three had a really great time on this beautiful mountain and alpine route.    

After our climb we enjoyed a good night's rest at Hacienda Guachala in the foothills of Cayambe.  It’s a pretty spot and everyone loved the food and the relaxation at the hacienda.   

Today, Friday, we are traveling to the Antisana Reserve, so it will be very scenic and an easy day in which we will have a relaxed schedule and a good amount of rest.  

We will continue to the Antisana basecamp on Saturday, and our plan is to climb Antisana on Sunday. Good weather is predicted for the coming days, which we're all looking forward to!

With everyone acclimatizing well and the weather looking pretty good, I think we have a good chance for success.  I will call again on Sunday after the climb and let you know how we did.  Wish us luck!

Talk to you soon!



January 16th Dispatch

This is Diego, calling with another report on our Ecuador expedition.

We enjoyed a successful summit of Antisana (18,874 ft / 5752 m), yesterday! The weather was not very clear, but it was good enough and we had a very nice climb. Our whole group reached the summit, and we were all very happy to be on top of such a big and gorgeous mountain!

We traveled back to Quito after our climb and had a wonderful dinner together.  We had quite a few calories to replace!!

It is now Monday morning, and we are all looking forward to starting our journey to Chimborazo, today.

I'll put Kay on the line to say a few words:

The trip is going great!  We had a nice day, yesterday, climbing Antisana. It rained a little the night before, but not on our climb. It was just a bit windy with some snowfall.

Overall, our group is doing really well. Alyssa and I are not used to the mountains in Ecuador, though. I experienced some AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) on Cayambe, feeling a little dizzy and nauseous. It took longer for me to acclimatize than I expected, but I learned to go slow on the mountain and yesterday I felt much better.  On the other hand, Alyssa did fine on Cayambe but she got a little nervous on the rocky ridges on Antisana.  But we made it!

Today we rested and are now preparing to travel to Chimborazo.  Here's Diego, again:

I think the climbers are adjusting well and that everyone will be ready for our final summit attempt (20,703 ft / 6310 m).  We are having better weather today, and we are hoping for good conditions on our last climb!

We will stay at Urbina Mountain Lodge tonight, which occupies a beautiful spot on the paramo below Chimborazo.  We will hike to the Chimborazo base camp on Tuesday, and our first summit attempt will be on Wednesday.  We have time for a couple of attempts if we need them.  We will call Wednesday or Thursday when we get off the mountain.  We are excited about trying to climb the biggest mountain here, Chimborazo!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 1 - 22, 2017) dispatch from Jan 15

Guide:

Richard Riquelme

Climbers:

Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

Check in from team 2 today. Had some good quality time in the tent riding out the brief wind storm. Winds reached 60mph on the summit, right on schedule. Good day to relax and prep for the big summit day with a good mountain meal.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 2, 2017 - Jan 22, 2017) Dispatch from Jan 13/14th

Guide:

Richard Riquelme

Climbers:

Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

Over the past 2 days, Team 2 has made use of a break in the weather to cache below Camp 3 (19,617 feet also known as White Rocks Camp), and move to Camp 3 waiting for the weather window to open up to make a summit attempt! Saturday and Sunday called for extremely high winds on the upper mountain so the summit may have to wait until Monday. We will be watching closely! Only 3,200 more feet to go.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 2, 2017 - Jan 22, 2017) Dispatch from Jan 12th

Guide:

Richard Riquelme

Climbers:

Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

Spoke with AAI Guide Richard Riquelme via SAT phone this afternoon...

The team made it to Camp 2 yesterday and retrieved their cache below Camp today. They are now enjoying some well earned rest. They plan to cache below Camp 3 tomorrow if everyone is feeling good and will move to Camp 3 after. Weather is looking a little "rowdy" this weekend with some very high winds on the summit but they are supposed to die down by Sunday night. Camp 3 is a good wind protected camp. A lot of high calorie comfort for the group tonight as they try to refuel and rest. More tomorrow. P.S. We were able to pass along your Happy Birthday wishes to Ben!

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 2, 2017 - Jan 22, 2017) Dispatch from Jan 11th

Guide:

Richard Riquelme

Climbers:

Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

Yesterday the team made the move to Camp 2 (18,000ft) also known as Chopper Camp. The team will look to carry to Camp 3 either today or tomorrow. Hopefully they will squeeze in a rest day before moving up to Camp 3, which is the last stop before going to the summit! The skies have been clear and beautiful with winds sustaining around 25 - 30mph. It's getting cold up there (high is 12 degrees) so they are chowing down on some hot food and drink. Looking forward to hearing from them about their movement today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 2, 2017 - Jan 22, 2017) Dispatch from Jan 10th

Guide:

Richard Riquelme

Climbers:

Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

From AAI Guide Richard Riquelme...

"Hello! We just arrived back at Camp 1 after successfully caching at Camp 2 today. Right around mid day the winds died down which is when we made our move and it is very quiet now. Very nice to get a break from the wind. The plan is to move to Camp 2 tomorrow with this wind break and our views of the Andes keep getting better as we get higher. Everyone is tired and ready for sleep (me too). Goodnight and we will chat with you tomorrow."

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 6-20) - Dispatches 1, 2, & 3

January 7th, 8th, & 9th Dispatches

Climbers:
Kay Kuehne
Alyssa Ely
Edward Iglesias

Guide: Diego Zurita


January 7th Dispatch

Hello! This is Diego from Ecuador!

Our trip is off to a great start. We met Kay, Alyssa, and Edward at the hotel, this morning (Saturday), for breakfast.  After an introduction to the expedition and a special digital presentation on the mountains of Ecuador, we did a careful gear/equipment check to make sure everyone was prepared. 

Our first acclimatization day started with a trip to the local outdoor equipment shop, very close to the hotel to rent one pair of boots (as planned).  Then we headed north to straddle the equator(!), and visited the lively and colorful Otavalo Market!  

Everyone really enjoyed the market. It was fun for the climbers to see the traditional clothing of the local shoppers, and we had a delicious Ecuadorian lunch!

After lunch, we also visited Laguna Cuicocha Lake ("Guinea Pig Lake"). The lake is located in the Cordillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes, at the base of the Cotacachi Volcano.  If you wonder how a lake could get such an odd name – the largest island in the lake looks like a guinea pig!


After our visit to the lake, we returned to Quito (9350 feet / 2850m) in the afternoon. Everyone is looking forward to our hikes and climbs together!   So we’ll meet in the morning for an early breakfast and then head out for our first acclimatization hike on Pasachoa.


January 8th Dispatch


Hello, this is Diego, again!

Today (Sunday) is our second day of the trip, and we did our first major hike, crossing open grasslands and hiking up a nice trail on the beautiful Pasachoa (13,776 ft / 4199 m). 

Pasochoa is an ancient and heavily eroded volcano that has been inactive since the last ice age. It is located 30 km south of Quito. 

Inside the Pasochoa crater is the Pasochoa Protected Forest Reserve, a humid Andean Forest, with more than 110 species of birds and 45 species of trees.  Some of the plants in the forest have important medicinal properties.  The altitude in the forest ranges from 2700 m (8,856 ft) to 4200 m (13,776 ft). 

We hiked up the peak in 3 hours, and back down in 1 hour.  For most of the day it was beautiful, but we got hit by a heavy rainfall on our afternoon descent.  Pasochoa has its own micro-climate and sports very unpredictable weather!!

Some group members started feeling the effects of altitude on our first hike with a little bit of headache, but all are doing well. Overall, everyone enjoyed the first hike in spite of getting wet at the end!  What an adventure from Day 1!


January 9th Dispatch

Hello! This is Diego. 

I am calling to let you know that everything is going well and that today we completed our second acclimatization hike on Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft / 4776 m).  It was a great hike, and we have very happy climbers!  Again it rained a little on our descent, so we waited in a cave on our way down to stay dry during the wettest part of it. 

I will put Alyssa on to say a few words:

Things are going great, so far!  We have completed our two preliminary hikes. We got super wet on Pasochoa, but less wet on Pichincha, today because we waited out the rain in a cave.  On our way up Diego offered the option for us to turn back early to avoid the rain, today, but we said, "No, we want to get to the top!" Diego's a great guide. Now we're looking forward to the fireplaces at tonight's lodging! 

Here's Diego, again:

We are now driving to Hacienda Guachala, one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador, for a good night's rest and a very good dinner!   Tomorrow we'll be traveling to the hut on Cayambe at 15,250 feet (4648 meters) and we’ll start our training (or review for some climbers) of glacier climbing skills.  On Wednesday we’ll spend a good part of the day doing some more practice climbing, then have an early dinner and an early bedtime to be ready for the Cayambe.  We’ll start our climb at about 1 am Thursday morning! 

We'll call, again, after our ascent of Cayambe (18,996 ft / 5790 m). Talk to you soon!