Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 10

January 31st Dispatch

Climbers: Rod Lloyd Williams, Sean Mcllvenna, Ben Veres

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hello, this is Jeremy!

We are at the Chimborazo base camp, and the climbers are now resting for our early morning summit attempt.

This morning we left our lodge, Estacion Urbina, just after breakfast. We drove south to make our way towards Chimborazo, and saw the oldest church in Ecuador, Iglesia de Balbanera – built in 1534!

Our travels then took us north, passing La Chorrera Canyon, a local rock-climbing area near San Juan Bosco.

After a nice stop for lunch, we made our 20-minute approach to the Chimborazo base camp. We had calm winds on our hike and saw the mountain in and out of the clouds.

Reaching the base camp was the highlight of our day: We arrived just in time to see a wolf harassing a vicuña. Before we knew it, the vicuña surprised us all by running after the wolf and chasing him away! Truly a spectacular wildlife spotting.

File photo

Tomorrow will be an exciting day. We'll get up at 10pm and plan to leave by 11pm for our 12-14 hour climb of Chimborazo! We'll have three climbers and three guides making the ascent, so with a 1:1 ratio there will be plenty of support. If the weather is not conducive to us climbing, tomorrow, we still have one more day to make a second summit attempt.

We'll call after our climb to let you know how it goes! Wish us luck!

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 9

January 30th Dispatch

Rod Lloyd Williams, Sean Mcllvenna, Ben Veres

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Jeremy called at 6:30 pm (9:30 pm Ecuador time on Monday, January 30, with the following update:

Hello again,

We are now at the lodge called Estacion Urbina on the lower slopes of Chimborazo. Today was an easy day.   We had an easy morning and a good breakfast and then drove south on the Pan American highway about four hours to the small city of Ambato.  

It’s a pretty drive south – very nice farmlands in the intermontaine valleys.  We drove about 4 hours to the small city of Ambato where we took an hour for yet another great lunch. 

When we left Ambato we left the highway and drove on small country roads, gradually gaining altitude as we moved through farmlands into higher paramo where farming gives way to herding alpacas.  

The lodge here is really very comfortable.  It used to be a railway station, but it has been converted in a really nice way.   We visited with some llamas and alpacas here and even got to meet a 3-day old llama!  What a little pipsqueak – is that the technical term?  She is probably about 20 pounds and is super cute.   I’ll send photos at the end of the trip.  

It cleared in the afternoon and we got some good views of Chimborazo on our way up here. Everyone is impressed by what a huge mountain this is.   It’s a really pretty area in general.  The paramo, or grasslands, are gently rolling, and sweep up to the mountain.   Everyone agrees:  Ecuador is just very beautiful!

Tomorrow we’re heading around the mountain for the traditional Whymper Route.  We’ll be heading to the higher of the two huts to be in the best position for the ascent.   

This route has been out of shape for a while, but all the snow this fall and this past week has covered and frozen the rocks in the middle of the route, so the rockfall danger is greatly reduced.  

We were prepared to camp, but the use of the hut will be very convenient.

So tomorrow we’ll have just two hours of driving to reach the hut, and we’ll have an easy afternoon to rest and get organized for the climb.  We have a couple of days to work with on this climb, so we hope that will allow us to deal with any odd weather.  

The climbers on this team are great at dealing with challenging conditions.  On Cayambe and Antisana,  they did a great job staying warm,  hydrated, and nourished despite the conditions that were tough at times.

We had dinner here –  empenadas to start (potato and cheese – Columbian style – the cooks here are Columbianos), and dinner was chicken with veggies and a rich sauce followed by peaches in a another great sauce for desert.  Everyone is very full and happy.

By the way, my brother, Nicholas’s, birthday is Tuesday,  so please pass this on for me, “Nick – Happy Birthday from Ecuador!  I hope you have a fun celebration and don’t work too hard.  Enjoy one of your home brewed ciders for me.  If I were there I would toast you!”

OK.  We’ll call again tomorrow.  Hasta pronto!

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 8

January 29th Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hello, everyone! Jeremy, here. 

We are back safe and sound from our Antisana attempt.  Everyone had a great time and worked hard on the mountain!  

Although we would have loved to reach the summit, we experienced increasingly high winds and moisture on our climb and decided to turn around at just about 17,100 ft (5200 m). 

Climbing in a remote natural environment is challenging, invigorating, and humbling - especially while climbing amidst the elements!  Today's adventure provided an excellent learning opportunity. Team members came together to discuss their options, carefully considering what would be safe and what people would be comfortable with.  They made sound decisions as a group, first to continue and later when to descend. 

We will send pictures and more updates when we are back in Quito.  This evening we'll wish farewell to Steve Hufford, Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, and Donna Klecka. Thank you for joining us on the Cayambe-Antisana expedition! 

After a good night's sleep at the Hotel Reina Isabel in Quito, Rod Lloyd Williams and Sean Mcllvenna will begin the journey to Chimborazo. We're also happy to be joined by Ben Veres, tomorrow, who just completed an Aconcagua expedition with AAI.

Thank you, and talk to you again soon!

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 7

January 28th Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hi, this is Jeremy from Ecuador!

We traveled into the Antisana Reserve yesterday and had a relaxing evening together at another hacienda.  And today we enjoyed a pleasant drive through old hacienda lands with great views of Sincholagua (15,988 ft / 4,873 m) and Cotopaxi (19,347 ft / 4,099 m). We visited the Nature Reserve's office at La Mica Lake, then drove farther to establish our camp near the base of Antisana at 13,448 ft / 4,100 m. 

We had a little wind and rain on our approach to camp, but fortunately that cleared around dinner time.  Conditions now are calm and partly cloudy. Everyone is bedded down for our early start on our ascent of Antisana. Hopefully the weather will continue to improve this evening and we'll have good weather for our climb!

Overall, climbers are feeling well-rested and ready for another peak. Unfortunately, Brian has been experiencing some dental problems and chose to head home, yesterday.  We all wish him the best and are glad to have had him as part of our team on this great journey!

We will call again tomorrow to let you know how our climb goes.  Talk to you later!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 6

January 26th Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hello!  This is Jeremy, calling with an update after our Cayambe climb today.

We've just finished a delicious lunch at Hacienda Guachala, and team members are now enjoying some much-deserved rest.

After an early bedtime, we awoke at 11pm on Wednesday night to prepare for our climb. We could tell, right away, that it was going to be an interesting day as we felt the hut shaking from the wind!

We left the Cayambe Refuge a little after midnight and started moving up the mountain at a moderate pace.  Everyone was feeling good, and we made steady progress.  Although windy, we had clear skies above and enjoyed hiking under the stars. 

As we continued our climb, we noticed lightening flashes on the clouds on the far (eastern) side of the mountain above the Amazon Basin.  We didn’t see any lightening bolts and proceeded up and across the lower glacier.  The higher we climbed, the more we experienced increasing wind, clouds, and eventually snow.

Despite the challenging conditions, team members wanted to push on as far as possible. I have to say, this is quite an impressive group of very determined people!

At 4:30am we reached Picos Jarrin (17,100 ft / 5212 m), a rocky outcrop on Cayambe’s western face. The group was happy to have reached that point, and with wind and snow increasing, we all agreed it was a great place to call our high point and head back down.

Everyone felt good about how hard they had worked, and I know each person was very glad to have made it to Picos Jarrin.  As we began our descent, the snow continued and followed us all the way down to the refugio, and as the wind picked up, we knew we had made a smart decision.

We made good time on the descent and got back to the hut a few minutes before 6:00 am.  We napped for a couple of hours, ate breakfast at 8:00, and left by 9:00 for Hacienda Guachala.  

Everyone is pretty tired (no surprise!) but feeling good.  As I mentioned, we had a great lunch, and now we’re going to have an easy afternoon at the hacienda or take walks through the beautiful landscape that surrounds us here. 

Though we ate a short time ago, I heard a couple of people already talking about what they’re thinking of having for diner.  Yes, we burned some serious calories today!

We'll try to call again tomorrow after our drive into the Antisana Nature Reserve. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 5

January 25th Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hello! Jeremy, here, calling with another update from Ecuador:

We are at the Cayambe Refuge, and we've all just finished an early dinner.  Everyone is now organizing their gear and will be heading to bed soon to rest for tomorrow's summit attempt of Cayambe (18,996 ft / 5790 m).  

We'll be getting up at around midnight and heading out around 1 am to take advantage of the best snow and ice conditions and to be finished with the climb by midday.  It's cloudy now and hard to know if it will be clear or not tomorrow, but even on clear days, we tend to get clouds coming up from the Amazon in the early afternoon, so that's another reason we start early and try to be on or near the summit around sunrise.

Our alpine climbing skills session went great!  We reviewed climbing technique for more experienced climbers and for those who haven't climbed glaciers before, we taught basic glacier travel skills plus the use of ice axe and crampons – and how to do crevasse rescue.   

It was a little windy, and we had a bit of precipitation, but it wasn't wet enough for us to even need our hard shells.  It's dry out now – just a little cloudy.

All of the climbers are doing well, and everyone is looking forward to our first big climb!

We'll call tomorrow after our return from our ascent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 4

January 23rd Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Jeremy called at 3 pm Pacific time / 6 pm Ecuador time with the following update:
We had another good day together.  After a really good night’s sleep at Hacienda Guachala and an easy morning, we made the drive up and along the lower flanks of Cayambe to the refugio.  We were able to drive all the way to the hut. 
It was a beautiful morning, and we enjoyed views of the entire mountain.  I think everyone was impressed with the scale of the glaciation.
After a tasty lunch of potato soup and sandwiches, we went on a short walk above the refugio.  We spent about three hours up and down and went all the way to the lower lobe of the glacier.
Here’s Sam who will give you some more detail:
Hi!  We’re having a fantastic trip!
The hacienda last night was amazing.  I've lived in Quito since August – I’m a student at the University of Oregon, and I’m down here studying Spanish.   I've seen a fair amount of the country including the area near Chimborazo, but never close to one of the big peaks like we are here.   Cayambe is amazing, and this whole area is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. 
Hacienda Guachala really took me by surprise.  I think I read that it’s the oldest hacienda down here.  It looks somewhat rustic and certainly historical on the outside, but it’s luxurious on the inside. 
And the food was great!  Actually I have to say the food on the whole trip has been great, both the meals the guides have made for us and the restaurant and hacienda food we have had. 
We had tremendous views yesterday on the Pichincha climb, and today as we drove up we had beautiful views of Cayambe.  We could see our whole route, and the guides described where we’ll be going and what the route is like in different parts.   
We enjoyed today’s hike.  Everyone was excited to get to a little higher altitude and also to get a good close-up view of the glacier.  It’s really impressive!
That’s about it from me.  Here’s Jeremy again:
Tomorrow we'll work on skills on the lower part of the glacier, and the weather forecast continues to be for good weather, so it ought to be nice up there.
We've got great folks on this trip, and everyone is enjoying each other’s company.
We all felt the elevation a little on Pichincha yesterday but felt good heading down.  And everyone felt good last night at Guachala, today on the hike, and at the rufugio.  So our acclimatization schedule is going very well – very successfully.
It looks like Cayambe is in really good shape.  All the mountains got a lot of snow a week ago, and it appears to be consolidating very nicely.  There's definitely a lot more snow on the mountain this year than the same time last year, so the climbing season should last nicely with routes in good shape. 

We’ll give you an update tomorrow. 


2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 3

January 23rd Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guides: Romel Sandoval, Jeremy Devine

Hello, this is Romel calling from Ecuador!

Everything is going great! The group just finished their second acclimatization hike, Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft / 4776 m). It was a fantastic climb, and everyone is very happy! We had wonderful, sunny weather with amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

Now we are headed to Hacienda Guachala. Everyone is looking forward to enjoying a big dinner, and resting well tonight, before start our journey towards Cayambe in the morning.

Here's Jeremy to report, as well:

Hello! As Romel mentioned, the major highlight of today was the weather. It was phenomenal! Slightly cool, which was nice for the hike, and not the typical warm clouds that turn to rain later in the day. We had incredibly clear views, and were even able to see Chimborazo, 100 km away!

The group is doing really well and everyone is having a good time and acclimatizing very nicely. All of the climbers reached the top of Guagua Pichincha today, and there are no signs of significant altitude illness.

We'll try to call, again, tomorrow.

Would anyone else like to say anything to AAI? (The group responded in a loud chorus of hoops and hollers. What a fun, lively, enthusiastic bunch of folks!)

Donna, nearing the summit of Rucu Pichincha

Starting the descent from the summit through the rocks

Dinner at Hacienda Guachala

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 2

January 22nd Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Jeremy, from Ecuador, here! 

We woke this morning to beautiful weather – blue skies as far as the eye could see. 

Today our drive to the trailhead on Pasochoa for our first major acclimatization hike took us through winding cobblestone roads as we climbed past many farms.

We started our hike at 10:30am and enjoyed a comfortable pace passing along a tree lined road and into the paramo, the high grass lands that surround most of Ecuador's peaks. The team maintained a consistent pace and we were able to move for an hour before our first break – great practice for the strategy that we will use on our next objectives.

We saw falcons riding the thermals around Pasochoa.  Perhaps they were of the same species as those we saw yesterday at the bird sanctuary near Otavalo. The entire team summited the cumbre máxima (highest summit 13,776 ft / 4199 m) in the early afternoon.  We were treated to great views, had fun identifying the high peaks, and enjoyed a cool breeze on the summit before some afternoon clouds rolled in from the Amazon lowlands to our east.

Our descent was quick, and upon returning to the bus we made sandwiches and picnicked in the grass. A great finish to our day. We are looking forward to climbing Rucu Pichincha tomorrow and then moving on to Hacienda Guachala in the Cayembe province for the evening.  Looking forward to our next update. Hasta pronto!

Some of the team stopping to take pictures on the paramo with Cotopaxi in the background on the right.

View of one of our climbing goals, Antisana, during our drive to Pasochoa.

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 20 - February 3) - Dispatch 1

January 21st Dispatch

Mark Choroser, Stephen DelGreco, Blaine Cochrane, Samuel Westerfield, Stephen Hufford, Rod Lloyd Williams, Donna Klecka, Brian Fay, Sean Mcllvenna

Guide: Jeremy Devine

Hello! This is Jeremy, reporting from Ecuador.

Today (Saturday), we had a wonderful day traveling from Quito to the Imbabura province an hour and a half northeast. Our first stop of the day was at Parque Condor, a refuge and recovery center for injured raptors, falcons, and condors. Many local species were represented including the Harpy Eagle, Mottled Owl, and of course the Condor. Some non-native species confiscated by local authorities were also present including a Bald Eagle.

After our stop at the Condor Park we continued to the town of Otavalo renowned for its Saturday market. We had a large lunch at a restaurant serving a mix of local specialties and international cuisine. We then took some time to explore the market and purchase local goods including alpaca blankets, ponchos, hats and crafts.

On our return trip we stopped for bizcochos and coffee. The bizcochos are a local favorite from the Cayambe region and are a mix between a cookie and bread, still warm from the oven! A great treat at the end of the day.

We are hoping for a good weather day tomorrow, continuing the trend we saw today of lessening rain. Yesterday we experienced almost constant heavy rain and we will be happy to see an improvement. The great thing about starting the trip with rain is that it can only get better! We're looking forward to keeping you updated as our trip continues. Hasta pronto!

A Black Chested Buzzard Eagle (Águila Pechinegra - Geranoaetus melanoleucus) at the Parque Condor rehabilitation center near Otavalo.

Spectacled Owl (Búho de Anteojos - Pulsatrix perspicillata).  Photo courtesy of Parque Condor. 

Central plaza in Otovalo near the market

Group photo on our way back to Quito, overlooking Lago San Pablo

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 6-20) - Dispatch 6

January 20th Dispatch

Kay Kuehne
Alyssa Ely
Edward Iglesias

Guide: Diego Zurita

Hello! This is Diego, calling from Ecuador. 

We are in Quito, now (Friday afternoon). On Tuesday we hiked to the Chimborazo base camp (16,100 ft / 4907 m). We had planned to climb Chimborazo on Wednesday or Thursday, but, unfortunately, poor weather conditions on both days prevented us from attempting the summit (5,500m / 18,044 ft). 

We camped, Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Thursday we descended to the semi-tropical town of Banos, at the edge of the Amazon basin. The climbers enjoyed the delicious food, beautiful waterfall, a nice view of the town of Banos, and the chance to rest and relax in the hotel.

Kay and Alyssa are staying in Ecuador for a while more. They chose to stay in Banos until Sunday, then they'll leave for their Galapagos tour! Edward came back with us to Quito for his return flight to Argentina, tomorrow. He's resting, now.

Overall the climbers were tired and disappointed that they were not able to climb Chimborazo, but we were glad to at least make it to the base camp. They said they still had a great trip, and that now they have an excuse to return to Ecuador: They want to try to climb Chimborazo, again!

We've had a really fun time together - some great conversations and good times while hiking and climbing and exploring Ecuador's local foods.   We are really pleased to have submitted two out of three of our primary summits, and we already look forward to getting together again to climb Chimborazo.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 1 - 22, 2017) Final Dispatch


Richard Riquelme


Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

From AAI Guide Richard Riquelme....

It has been a while since my last contact. A lot has happen & really it has feel like a ton in a short period of time for us!

Here it goes a collection of different moments on our adventures here in Argentina from yesterday to back into time toward the start of our trip.

Please enjoy it while we are just now doing gift shopping and relaxing while socking into the Mendoza summer heat waves as much as we can!

Until next time and thank you very much for following us online on our travels!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 1 - 22, 2017)


Richard Riquelme


Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

The team is safely making their way down the mountain headed for Plaza De Mulas. From there, they will trek out the "Normal Route" instead of taking the long way through the Vacas Valley. They are moving fast and we will be trying to keep up with their location as they head back to civilization.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 Aconcagua Team 2 (January 1 - 22, 2017) Summit Dispatch


Richard Riquelme


Ben Veres
Eric Tutterow
Horacio Trevino

Just got off the phone with AAI Guide Richard Riquelme who is standing on the summit of Aconcagua nearly 23,000ft in the air with Ben, Eric, and Horacio! They had a beautiful day and there was a lot of hooping and hollering in the background! They started around 5:20am this morning and just now summited as of 3:32pm Argentinean time. We wished them a safe trip down and they are looking forward to some rest.

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 6-20) - Dispatches 4 & 5

January 13th & 16th Dispatches

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


Richard Riquelme


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


Richard Riquelme


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


Richard Riquelme


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


Richard Riquelme


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


Richard Riquelme


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

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!