Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Guides: Jose (Pepe) Landazuri
Climbers: Charles P., Fred E., Donna M., and Andy O.

Pepe called Wednesday night, January 16 with the following news:

I am very happy to report that some of our team summited Cotopaxi today! It was a great climb. Fred and Donna made the summit at 6:40 am with our second guide Diego Castillo. Charles and Andy climbed with me and made it very high on the mountain – 5700 meters (18,700 feet). We left the hut at midnight and climbed together to the 5700 meter point.

We all had a great time on this beautiful route. The new snow had consolidated, so conditions for climbing on the glacier were excellent, and the weather was absolutely perfect. We had clear skies and almost no wind. It was an amazing day.

We had been planning to try Cotopaxi again on Monday night, but we changed plans and decided to take a look at Chimborazo. So on Monday the 13th we driving down to Riobamba and spending some time there. Tuesday morning we drove up to Chimborazo to check out the route. We hiked to the first refuge at 4800 meters (15,750 feet), and then continued to the higher refuge at a little over 5000 meters (16,405 feet).

We considered climbing Chimborazo. The new snow had improved the condition of the face, but we know from experience that conditions can be quite variable as you move higher on the mountain. Thinking about all the recent snow, and knowing it takes new snow longer to consolidate on Chimbo because it is higher and colder, we decided to make our second attempt on Cotopaxi. It seemed like our best bet for summit success.

So we drove to Cotopaxi National Park and hiked to the Jose Ribas hut on its skirt. The hut wasn’t crowded because it was a weekday. We made a very early start as I said, and then had our success. It felt really good to be up high in the sun and with glacier conditions so good.

Tomorrow, Thursday the 17th, we are going to drive south to Baños and enjoy the semi-tropical climate and vegetation there AND the hot springs. Baños is on one of the routes the cuts through the eastern Sierra. The road follows a river to the Napo River which later merges with the Amazon.

It is a very moist and beautiful area. There are a lot of flowers in bloom at this time of year and many kinds of hummingbirds that feed off their nectar. It will be a fun contrast to the glaciated alpine environment where we have been spending a lot of time.

We’ll maybe do some more hot springs bathing Friday morning or take a hike or do a bicycle ride down river to see several nice waterfalls. It will be a good time.

Though the weather gave us a hard time at the beginning of our trip, we had a really good time together and were very pleased to have our success on Cotopaxi. I enjoyed the company and climbing with Fred, Donna, Charles, Andy and Diego, and I hope that they will come back to Ecuador next year for some other climbs. We had a good time together.

OK – that’s the news from Ecuador! We hope everyone at home is enjoying the winter season. Hasta luego!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ecuador Expedition Dispatch: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Guides: Jose (Pepe) Landazuri
Climbers: Charles P., Fred E., Donna M., and Andy O.

Pepe call at 8:52 pm on January 10th with the following update 10

Today we we drove from Guachala about four hours to Tambopaxi. We got there around 2 pm and had lunch. We will stay here two nights which will provide very comfortable rest and maintain our acclimatization. We are just across a pretty plane from Cotopaxi. It is quite close and very beautiful.

We will climb from the parking lot instead of going up to the hut. It’s just a 30 minute hike to the hut, and it’s not a great place to be this month. The government is rebuilding it, and there aren’t any services there – even though you can sleep there.

The parking lot is 4600 meters, and we will leave from there to start the climb at 10:00pm Saturday night.
I won’t call from the mountain, but I will call from Hacienda La Cienega after the climb. We’re all doing well, and that’s the news for now.

Cotopaxi sits large on the horizon.  AAI collection.

Pepe called again Sunday night, January 12 at 7:14 pm with the following news:

We tried Cotopaxi but the snow conditions were very bad from all the recent precipitation. This is great for the health of the glaciers, but not great for our climb! The snowpack was very soft, and as we got higher the danger of avalanche increased. 

 We climbed to 5500 meters and everyone did a great job and was feeling good, but the snowpack was just not good enough. The weather was good – it was clear. We were happy about that!

We are at beautiful Hacienda La Cienga now, and we have decided to try Cotopaxi again tomorrow.  
It will be great to have another chance. This time I’ll call from the mountain if I can get a good connection. We are excited to have a second chance! That’s all for now. Talk to you soon.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Guides: Jose (Pepe) Landazuri
Climbers: Charles P., Fred E., Donna M., and Andy O.
Climbers get a clear view of Cayambe from a nearby shoulder.  Jason Martin.
Pepe called from Ecuador at 8 pm on Jan 9, 2014 with this report:


We want to give you an update on our activities and let you know we are all doing well. I tried to call yesterday, but I had trouble getting a connection that would work.

On Tuesday we drove up to the hut on Cayambe and on Wednesday we hiked up to a point at about 4900 meters / 16,075 feet and worked on skills. We climbed with just boots and then with crampons, we covered different ice axe positions, and we finished with safety procedures glacier climbing. The weather was not very good, but we still got a lot done.

We went back to the hut in the early afternoon and in the evening we had an early dinner and early to bed so we could get up at midnight for the climb of Cayambe if the weather improved enough.
I got up at midnight as planned, and I found that the weather was still not suitable. There was too much wind and rain, which is very odd for this time of year.  Thursday morning we drove back to Hacienda Guachala, and then in the afternoon to the Otavalo market. We spent another very comfortable night at Guachala.

Friday we will drive south from Guachala, past Quito, and on to Cotopaxi National Park. In the park we will drive to beautiful Tamboxi lodge. If the weather clears a little, from the lodge we will have great views of our next goal, 5790-meter / 19,997-foot Cotopxi.  We will drive and then hike to the hut on the peak Saturday, and our plan is to climb the mountain on Sunday, leaving at midnight, Saturday night. We’ll call again before the climb to give you an update.

We hope you all have a good weekend. Please wish us good luck for the exciting weekend we have planned down here!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Ecuador Expedition: January 3 - January 17, 2014

Guides: Jose (Pepe) Landazuri
Climbers: Charles P., Fred E., Donna M., and Andy O.

Pepe called on Sunday, January 6 with the following report:


This is Pepe
calling from Ecuador to let you know everything is going very well here as we work on acclimatization before our high altitude ascents. 

On our first full day together, Saturday, we went to the “Middle of the World,” where we straddled the equator, went to a museum, did a little walking, and had a very good lunch. Afterwards we made a short drive to a nearby volcanic peak and took an enjoyable hike in its crater.

Today, Sunday, we climbed Pasachoa (13,776’ / 4199 m). This is a strong ream, and we made very good time. We saw condors on the way up – really beautiful! They are huge and very graceful.
And now for Monday we are looking forward to climbing Guagua Pichincha (15,670’ / 4776m). That’s the news from here. I’ll just also say that this is a fun group, and we are having a very good time together!

More news soon,