Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ecuador High Altitude Expedition Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #3

Cayambe/Cotopaxi Jan 2-11, 2015 Dispatch #3

Guide: Romel Sandoval
Climbers:  Rod N. and Tommy N.

January 8, 2015

Rob called at about 7 p.m. Ecuador time with the following report:
“We had an excellent climb on Cayambe today,  but high winds kept us from going all the way to the summit.  We had a good climb, but the wind was something! ‘

We reached 17,300 and decided to head down.  This system is blowing in from the Amazon.  It’s not real cold but the winds are sustained.  Yesterday it was foggy most of the day which Romel says is very unusual, and it gradually got windier as we moved into evening.  When we woke up at midnight to have breakfast and leave for the ascent, it was blowing at least 60 mph, and the hut hut was bending under the force.  

We decided it was definitely a no go at that point and went back to sleep (it was only sort of a sleep to be honest!)

It snowed a little in the night, but that was no big deal.  We left the hut at 5 am and the winds had dropped to 30 to 40 mph.  That’s still a lot of wind, but we had the gear for it and stayed plenty warm.

We decided to head up to the glacier and see how we felt.  We felt fine when we got there, so we kept going.

I would say we climbed for 3 hours or a little more and had a pretty good pace.  The winds were a little calmer the higher we went, which was surprising, but because of greater exposure up high, we knew we would be back in high winds and that it would soon be brutal.  So at 17,300 feet more or less, we decided to take a break and then head back down.

It was pretty exciting to be out there in the wind and still feel totally in control and be warm enough.  The views were good too.  Sometimes the mountain was obscured, but at other times we saw a lot.  It’s a beautiful mountain, that’s for sure.

We remembered Director Dunham’s final trip letter before we left where he mentioned that in the face of unforeseen challenges, “maintaining a spirit of flexibility and adaptability are the shortest routes to having a good time.” we did exactly that.  We said, “OK, this is one of those unforeseen challenges!”  and we successfully maintained our flexibility and we adapted!  We realized vividly how huge the scale of nature’s forces are and how small we are.  It had its brutal aspect, but we had a good time being out there dealing with it and getting as high as we did.

I have to add, Romel is quite the cook.  Our cabin food here has been very enjoyable!  I could east his food all the time.

Last night we had Romel’s mushroom soup, homemade mac and cheese, tofu sausage (my son is a vegetarian and he loved them), and peaches for desert.  Oh, those were goooood peaches!

Oh yes, and we had maple syrup on our morning pancakes yesterday.  Wow.  First class.

So we’re at hacienda Guachala about ready to have dinner.  We just ordered.  Tommy is having trout, potatoes, and salad, and I am having filet mignon.  Oh yes I am!

Tomorrow we heading to Cayambe town then to the lodge El Porvenir  for a little R & R.  Should be good.”

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