Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition #1 – The Hermann Family – Dispatch 10

Hermann Family Expedition

December 23, 2011 to January 3, 2012

Guides:  Pepe Landazuri and Freddy Tipan

Climbers:  Mark, Wendy, Mackenzie, Chelsea, and Gavin Hermann and Dave Garrabrant


 Here are some photos just in from Ecuador.

At Hacienda La Carriona, New Years Eve:



At Cotopaxi national Park before the climb:

On the summit of Cotopaxi, 19,348 feet, with the summit crater in the background.  Dave, Gavin, Chelsea, Mark, and Robinson (one of the guides):



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition #1 – The Hermann Family – Dispatch 9

Hermann Family Expedition

December 23, 2011 to January 3, 2012

Guides:  Pepe Landazuri and Freddy Tipan

Climbers:  Mark, Wendy, Mackenzie, Chelsea, and Gavin Hermann and Dave Garrabrant

Pepe and Mark just called with the following news:

“We are pleased to tell you that four of our team and two guides summited beautiful Cotopaxi early this morning!  It was a great climb in excellent conditions – cold, but excellent climbing conditions.

Cotopaxi, EcuadorWe left at midnight and at 6:30 am, Mark, Chelsea, Gavin, and Dave stepped onto the the 19,328-foot summit.   Mackenzie made it to 17,200 feet before a headache from the altitude caused her to stop.  Wendy didn’t climb because – I am sorry to say – she came down with a cold. 

There were a lot of people on the mountain, and some of the people who were supposed to leave after us left just before us.  They were kind of slow – otherwise we would have summited even earlier.  Ours is a very strong team!

Everyone is fine.  I think everybody is pretty tired but very happy!  We are now at Tambopaxi Lodge where we had a great dinner, and people are now heading to bed for what I think is going to be an incredibly good sleep.

Here’s Mark.”

Cotopaxi Summit "The summit was beautiful, really spectacular.  This was an excellent climb, and the guides did a great job.  Pepe is referred to by the kids as ‘the Mountain Ninja.’  To every everything – Pepe says, ‘No problem!’

Robinson came in as our third guide for this climb.  He is calm and quiet, and we were impressed by his steady pace and patient style.  Mauricio is gregarious, and he's always joking around with everyone.  They all did a great job.

Kirk Backman and Bob Egan on CotopaxiWe stayed at the Hacienda Cariona on New Years Eve. It was incredible.  The owner bought the hacienda in the sixties and has restored it over the years.  His son and his American wife were very gracious and showed us around the estate and shared many stories.  It was an unexpected highlight.

Dinner was a very amazing event as the Hermann kids got into a lengthy discussion of Pepe's “life in the jungle.” When he is not guiding, he lives in the upper Amazon jungle, and he has many, many stories including eating monkey brains, a ritual delicacy, like in Indiana Jones. And he has a remarkable story of how he worked to achieve the honor to marry his wife.

There were big bonfires for New Years Eve, which was amazing as people were writing on paper all the negative things that happened to them or their family or their friends during the past year and burning them in the bonfires.  It was really a huge celebration unlike and beyond what we do in the U.S.

Wendy caught a cold and then between that and lack of sleep from all the people in the hut she was sick and never considered climbing this one.  The refuge, they expected to be very quiet but instead it was incredibly crowded and there were people sleeping on the floor and all around.  It was not pleasant and hard to sleep.

Climbers Descending CotopaxiGoing through the big crevasse field was very intimidating at night but was amazing coming through at night.

Mackenzie was disappointed at not summiting but has a little joke about the equatorial effect to help herself feel better about the effort.  The earth bulges significantly at the equator, so she notes that she was able to climb farther from the center of the earth than most people despite having pulled muscles from the ice climbing on Cayambe.”

Mark then started speaking about the comforts of Tambopaxi Lodge, but we were then cut off.  We will catch them up will all the comments on the blog tomorrow when they call next.

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition #1 – The Hermann Family – Dispatch 8

Hermann Family Expedition 

December 23, 2011 to January 3, 2012

Guides:  Pepe Landazuri and Freddy Tipan

Climbers:  Mark, Wendy, Mackenzie, Chelsea, and Gavin Hermann and Dave Garrabrant

Hello again from Ecuador.  This is Pepe calling for our group from the hut on Cotopaxi.  We are going to climb tonight!

Yesterday we traveled from Hacienda Guachala to the Cariona Lodge, and we had a very restful day.  Our team was a little tired from the climb of Cayambe, so an easy day was the perfect thing.  We had a nice time.  We ate well and slept well!

Cotopaxi Refuge.New Years Eve in Ecuador is pretty interesting.  There is a lot of music and there is much recollecting of the bad things that happened in the year that is passing — for the purpose of saying good-bye to them — good riddance!  Then there is the saying of all the good things that are hoped for in the New Year — basically welcoming them with great optimism.   It’s very interesting, and people get pretty enthused about both parts of this balanced equation. 

Refuge\'s livingroom.So now we are at the hut high on the side of Cotopaxi and we are looking forward to the climb to over 19,000 feet.  It is clear and really beautiful, and it should be a great climb.  

What a way to begin the New Year!  The stars are out, and this afternoon and evening we had perfect views of Cayambe and Antisana to the north.  Everything is so clear.  There is a little wind, but conditions ought to be just fine for us.

We had a good dinner and everybody ate well.  There is no problem with appetites in this great climbing team!  And that is a good indication that each person has acclimatized well.  When climbers are having a hard time acclimatizing, as well as feeling a general malaise, they also commonly totally lose their appetite.

We had a first course of home made vegetable soup.  The main course was sautéed fish with rice and a salad of mixed greens, peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.  For desert we had chocolate cake, and I have to tell you, while people were quite good about finishing all their vegetables, NO ONE had any problem finding room for the cake!  I didn't see any frosting left on the desert dishes either, so they are now all members of the HACPC (High 
Altitude Clean Plate Club).

Cotopaxi Topo Photographic Map 2011.There are a lot of people here at the hut who plan to climb tomorrow morning, so we have arranged for staggered times of departure in order to keep people spread out on the mountain and not get in each other’s way.  This should work quite well.

We have a perfect time, with a schedule to get up at 11:00pm and leave right at midnight.

OK.  Wish us luck!  We will call you Monday evening from Tambopaxi Lodge down lower in Cotopaxi National Park, and we will let you know how we did.  We are all excited about this next climb.  Cotopaxi is a very beautiful mountain and the views should be excellent.  

Mark, Wendy, Mackenzie, Chelsea, Gavin, Dave, and I say – ‘Happy New Year! ! ! !’ – and ‘Talk to you soon!’ ”

Cotopaxi, seen from the approach to the Ilinizas