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.


Nick said...

Hey Guys, Glad to hear everyone is safe and ready for the second part of your unforgetable vacation. Safe travel!

Sarah said...

WooHoo...congrats to you all. Sorry to hear Wendy was sick and hope she is feeling better soon. We have enjoyed reading your blog entries and imagining the thrills and excitement you have experienced over the last two weeks.
Travel safely and enjoy a few days of rest before you come home.
Jeff, Sarah, and Catherine