Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#3 - Ecuador High Altitude Expedition - Dec. 14th- 28th, 2012

Climber: Michael Radin (Lynnwood, WA)

Guide: Jose (Pepe) Landazuri

“Hi – This is Pepe calling from Ecuador again.  Yesterday [Monday] we climbed Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft /4,775 m).   The weather continued to be excellent, and all day it was clear and sunny.  Really perfect!  It was possible to see into the crater of Guagua – and that is not a common thing.  Usually it is choked up with clouds – they just gather there and hang in it.  But today we had great views and we could see smoking fumaroles – we got some great photos of it.

After climbing Guagua Pichincha we headed north to an area near the base of Cayambe, which will be our first major summit. Our base is Hacienda Guachala, a beautiful place where it’s easy to get a good rest and enjoy excellent food.  Tomorrow after a late breakfast, we will drive up to the hut on Cayambe, leaving at about 10:00 am.  It will be another perfect step in acclimatization.

The big local news is that the volcano Tungurahua is erupting again.  It is well to the south, but I think we may see some ash during our climb because the winds are south to north.  It was quiet for quite a few months, but it’s getting busy again.  Our main hope is that the ash doesn’t blow to the west and give a new coat to Chimborazo.  That mountain needs to keep the snow and ice that it has, and whenever there is an ash deposit, it speeds up the melting because the dark ash absorbs a lot of energy.  So we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Today [Tuesday] we drove to the Cayambe hut and then hiked higher up to about 16,000 feet or 49000 meters.  We went to the edge of the glacier and enjoyed the views and gained the benefit of being a little higher briefly to continue our gradual acclimatization.  It was a very nice hike on a beautiful day!

Tonight we had Chinese food for dinner with great vegetables, delicious sauce, rice, and a little meat.  Peaches were our desert – very refreshing!

Tomorrow we will practice snow and ice climbing skills on the glacier in the morning and early afternoon, and then rest in the afternoon and have an early dinner as we get ready for a midnight wake-up for our climb of Cayambe (18,997 feet / 5790 meters).  OK – We’ll try to call in an update tomorrow – Wednesday.  Bye for now!”

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