Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition: Dispatch 14

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition: November 26–Dec 10, 2010

Lead Guide: Pepe Landazuri

Climbers: Diane Evans, Robert Krueger, Timothy Pattee, John Stephenson, Scott Curtis.

Pepe called Thursday, December 9th at 6:15pm (Ecuador and US Eastern time) with the following message:

"Hello!!  We're calling with really good news.  EVERYONE made it to the summit of Cotopaxi today.  We had a great climb together! 

As planned, one team left at 11 and the others at midnight.  The snowpack was in really good condition, and our new route worked out perfectly.  

Everyone enjoyed the climbing and the views.  There were low clouds in the central valley with all the other peaks sticking up above the clouds.  Very beautiful!  The sun came up at 5:30am, and we got a good color show on the clouds and on the hills in Cotopaxi National Park.  We had every color. 

Once we got up fairly high, we could look out over the Amazon Basin.  There were clouds there too, very low down.  We felt like we had the world to ourselves up there.  It was wonderful being on top together.   

Everyone was very impressed by the summit crater. It's really deep.

And today is Tim's birthday.  What a birthday – to summit Cotopaxi!!!  Can you believe that?  What timing!

So now we are at Estacion de Machachi  just outside of the town of Machachi.  We decided not to go to Baños.  The town is open, but we heard it has more ash from Tungarahua, so we decided to avoid the ash.  Plus everyone is pretty tired, so we have come to this hotel for an early dinner AND FOR BIRTHDAY CAKE!   This is going to be fun.  

Tomorrow we will have an easy morning and then make the hour-and-a-half drive back to Quito.  Everyone will have the afternoon free to explore Quito some more, and then we will have a final dinner together.  The other guides Ramiro and Sebastian headed back to Quito this afternoon, but they will join us for the dinner so we'll all be together again.  This has been a great trip, and I have really enjoyed each of the climbers on this team.  It's been a lot of fun traveling and climbing together.  

That's the news from this very happy group.  Talk to you tomorrow."

Central Valley near Machachi and the hotel.

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