Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills Expedition (Trip 2: Jan. 18 - 27, 2020) Dispatch 3

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: Romel Sandoval

Climbers: Taaryn W., Geneva B., Diana S., Stephen A., Tom W., Philip B., Timothy M., John C., Marcus B., Richard M.

January 24, 2020

Romel called with an update:

Hello again,

I am excited to report that eight of our team climbed the great glaciers and made the summit of Cayambe today!  

I think the 18,996-foot / 5,790-meter summit was the highest so far reached for each of them, except for one person, and what was really great was the fact that everyone felt pretty good with the altitude.  There were a few "tired heads," but otherwise, the team was very comfortable on top.  This team has acclimatized very well!

We were lucky to have such great weather.  The forecast was good and it all came true.  It was perfectly, beautifully clear, and we were treated to a fine sunrise and then excellent views of all of Ecuador's big peaks.  The team had fun identifying each one.    

The air was crisp but not too windy, so it was a comfortable climb.  And it was cold enough that the glacier was nicely frozen up and it gave us perfect conditions for climbing.  We made very good time on both the ascent and descent.

Everyone is feeling happy, but tired after their hard work.  We'll have a nice evening and a good dinner at Hacienda Guachalá, and then tomorrow we will drive south to Cotopaxi National Park and a stay at Tambopaxi Lodge, with beautiful views of our next mountain to climb.  

So tomorrow, Saturday will be a rest day, except for the drive that won't be too long. Then on Sunday we'll drive to the base of the mountain and hike up to the climbing hut.  We'll go to be early Sunday evening and get up around midnight Monday morning for our climb.  Wish us good luck!!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2020 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills Expedition (Trip 2: Jan. 18 - 27, 2020) Dispatch 2

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: 
Romel Sandoval

Climbers: Taaryn W., Geneva B., Diana S., Stephen A., Tom W., Philip B., Timothy M., John C., Marcus B., Richard M.

January 21, 2020


Romel called again today with another update.

Hello from Ecuador! We had another great day today and we all summited on our final acclimatization peak of Rucu Pichincha!

Everyone was excited to make it, especially considering that the weather was terrible - very cloudy with no views and relentless rain. Does that qualify for a “terrible weather” rating?

I am pleased to say that despite all that, the spirits of the group were high and the team was very strong throughout the day.

The rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits! If anything the day was even more motivating for the team.

We also like the fact that the weather outlook is better for tomorrow!

I’m now going to give the phone to one of the climbers on our team, Tom Wilson.


Hello folks. We had a great day, and I’ll add that if there ever was a day where "overcoming adversity" was the theme, then it would have been today!

It was not just regular rain; it was freezing rain with very low visibility. But the bright side was that the low visibility made the summit quicker since we didn't have to stop for photos!

Our guides were great again today. And a nice touch was having hot coffee on the gondola on the way up to where our hiking began. It was definitely a welcome contrast to the cold rain.

We are now on our way to Hacienda Guachal
á which means hot showers, another excellent meal from what I’ve heard, and a very good sleep!

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2020 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills Expedition (Trip 2: Jan. 18 - 27, 2020) Dispatch 1

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide:
Romel Sandoval

Climbers: Taaryn W., Geneva B., Diana S., Stephen A., Tom W., Philip B., Timothy M., John C., Marcus B., Richard M.

January 20, 2020

Romel called to give us an update on the program.

We are off to a good start after meeting in Quito Saturday evening for dinner. On Sunday we did an orientation on the program and a gear check followed by a city tour of the old part of Quito.

Today, Monday, we drove from Quito to the Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge for our first acclimatization hike. Everyone in our group (10 climbers) did very well and was able to make it to the summit of Cerro Pasochoa which is 13,776 feet or 4199 meters. s 4,199m/13,776ft

4,697meters or 15,413 feet. I would say everyone had a wonderful time on the hike. They were feeling good, and while people hiked at different paces that were most comfortable for them, I think each person was feeling quite strong.

I think I would class today's weather as "very crazy." The day started off cloudy with showers from time to time, then the clouds would break and the sun was out. It was gorgeous. And then in the distance there thick clouds and thunder – which never reached us. Very changeable and unusual for this time of year.

Here is Diana to provide some updates:

Hello from Ecuador. The first thing I have to say is that Romel and his team of guides have been incredible! They have a great sense of humor and are wonderful instructors. I'm not sure I can list all the good things about them. Today was a lot of fun, and we were so happy that everyone did well, felt good, and made the summit. We are happy and in a very good mood! It is fun to be in such a beautiful country. As Romel said, the weather was hit or miss plus some welcomed sun, and the food was just fine. We're all working up good appetites! And the snacks and lunch Romel and team provided gave us just the energy we needed. Here's Romel again. Bye!


Tonight we are staying at our hotel the Reina Isabel in Quito, and tomorrow we'll do another acclimatization hike, this time on Cerro Rucu Pichincha which is 15,413 feet or 4697 meters. After our ascent tomorrow, we will drive to Hacienda Guachala near the base of the first big peak we will be attempting, Cerro Cayambe. Then we we will move up to the hut on the mountain for two more nights of acclimatization plus some skills training for the glacier climbing.

We are all looking forward to tomorrow's climb on Rucu Pichincha. We will try to call after the climb with an update. That's all the news for now!


Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills Expedition (Trip 13: Dec. 14 - Dec. 23, 2019) Dispatch 1

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: David Trujillo

Climbers: John P., Daniel K., and Gregory P.

December 23, 2019

David and Daniel called to give us a report on their trip. First David:

David answered the phone and said "We have good news! And less-than-good news!..."

First, the good news is, everyone is happy and healthy! The not-so-good news is that we were not able to reach the summit on either Cayambe or Cotopaxi. Though the team has been very strong and really quick to learn the mountaineering skills, the windy, wet weather conditions on both summit days prevented us from standing on the summits.

On Dec. 20th, we made our attempt to summit Cayambe. We woke up around midnight, suited up and headed out the door of the hut. Despite really good wet-weather gear, it wasn’t long before we were all wet and returned to the hut, having decided this was “not a good day” to climb this volcano. If it has been a little colder and this had been dry snow, we would have been much better off.

[David then handed the phone over to Daniel, one of the climbers, to tell me more about their ascent of Cotopaxi.]

I’ll start off by repeating what David said, we’ve had a very good time and we and our fellow climbers are happy to be sitting in the warm, dry, calm lobby of the Reina Isabel hotel in Quito.

We had quite the night on Cotopaxi! We again woke up around midnight so we could climb in the coldest conditions of the night. We got dressed, ate some breakfast, headed up towards the glacier, and roped up for our ascent, hopefully to the summit and summit crater of Cotopaxi.

That night, we counted twenty teams out on the glacier. Everybody at the hut was going for it. But the weather was so wet and windy, by the time our team reached 18,000 ft, we were all totally covered in rime ice. We discussed “the situation” and then together made the decision to turn around at this point, and head back down toward the hut.

Even though we didn’t reach our high summits, the rest of the climbing team and I had a great experience in the ten days we have spent together. We learned so much on this expedition; I think the team members would tell you they learned a lot about climbing and certainly about Ecuador, but we would include mention of a lot of unexpected findings. Sometimes, the best experience isn't the one where everything goes smoothly. Sometimes the best experience develops when you and your companions face very challenging circumstances, deal with it well, and in this case descend the mountain with composure and careful climbing, bringing us all safely back to the hut.

The whole program has really been an excellent experience. That’s our news!

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Friday, December 13, 2019

2019 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills and Chimborazo Expedition (Trip 12: Nov. 30 - Dec. 14, 2019) Dispatch 4

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: Jose Salazar

Climbers: Jeremy B., Ian B., Anthony Q., Samantha D., Matt B., John C., and Christopher A.

December 13, 2019

Jose just called from Ecuador to let us know that the team succeeded on Chimborazo on Thursday morning! Jeremy came on the line to give us these details:

I am glad to let you know that we had a very successful climb. We basically had good weather and good conditions on the route. We climbed with three guides and I have to say, Marco gets a lot of credit for breaking trail. There was some new snow on the route and it hadn't been climbed for a while, so that was a lot of work that he accomplished, and we all appreciated it very much.

I would say we made good time. We were all feeling good. The weather was a little cloudy, and we had fog too, but as we got closer to the summit it cleared off. We were really lucky.

It was pretty exciting to be so high – 20,703 feet.

We are now heading to Baños which I understand is going to be nice a warm and a rather lush landscape with hot springs. That will be a fun contrast to where we have been.

We are all feeling good and are in high spirits. It's been a great trip and we feel really good about summiting all three of our major objectives.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

2019 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills and Chimborazo Expedition (Trip 12: Nov. 30 - Dec. 14, 2019) Dispatch 3

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: Jose Salazar

Climbers: 
Jeremy B., Ian B., Anthony Q., Samantha D., Matt B., John C., and Christopher A.

December 12, 2019


Samantha called the AAI headquarters with the following report about the team's Cotopaxi Climb:

Hello again,


We are calling to report that we had such a great climb on Cotopaxi! The weather was excellent and our whole team was feeling very strong.

We had a really nice rest day after the ascent of Cayambe with a night at a mountain lodge. It's so beautiful here and the day before the climb was pretty easy too. All we had to do was pack our gear up to the hut on the side of Cotopaxi which took about 45 minutes.

We went to bed early and then got up at 11pm so we could start our climb at midnight. We wanted to climb in the coldest part of the night to have the best snow conditions on the glacier.

Some of the group was ready more quickly than the others, and with multiple guides, we were able to split groups so that the faster climbers didn't have to wait around.

This worked out perfectly so each group could move at their own pace. The weather remained good, and the conditions on the glacier were excellent.

It's exciting to report that the entire team made it to the summit by 7am. It was wonderful to all be there together. It was beautiful up there – an amazing, deep crater and excellent views of Ecuador's other big peaks – and it was a really good accomplishment to share!

After reaching the summit, we descended back down to the hut and then headed back to Tambopaxi Lodge, where they enjoyed some delicious, warm food.

That's our news!!




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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2019 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills and Chimborazo Expedition (Trip 12: Nov. 30 - Dec. 14, 2019) Dispatch 2

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: Jose Salazar

Climbers:
Jeremy B., Ian B., Anthony Q., Samantha D., Matt B., John C., and Christopher A.

December 8, 2019

Christopher called on behalf of the team to report on their climb of Cayambe.

Hello! I am very happy to report we have had a wonderful climb of Cayambe. After having a nice night at Hacienda Guachala after our hike up Rucu Pichincha. We then headed to the hut on Cayambe and had a day-and-a-half to work on glacier climbing skills. Jose did a great job teaching both climbing skills and things like proper roping and crevasse rescue. We all felt like we learned a lot.

On the day of the Cayambe climb we left the hut at midnight. It was fairly good weather and good conditions on the mountain, and we felt like we made good time on the ascent. As we got closer to the top, the visibility decreased. However, after our 6:30 am arrival on the summit, it was still a wonderful place to be.
We’ve all been having an excellent time together. From the culture and history, to the food, and the hiking and climbing, it’s been excellent. This is my fourth trip with AAI, and it keeps getting better! I really like applying the skills I have developed on new kinds of terrain, and of course, in new places. And Ecuador has been a great place to be. It’s a very rich experience.

So the climb was really good, and after a break on the summit, we descended to the hut in about two-and-a-half hours. We’re now at Hacienda Guachala again, and before long we’ll head for another mountain lodge for some rest and good food.

Next comes Cotopaxi and we are all looking forward.

December 9, 2020

Just a quick note from our team - They were able to reach the summit of Cotopaxi this morning! We will hear back from them soon.