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!