Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Ecuador Volcanoes, Illiniza and Antisana, February 13-22, 2015 Dispatch #4

Ecuador Volcanoes, Illiniza and Antisana,  February 13-22, 2015

Guide: Romel Sandoval

Climbers: Brian L., Eric M., Darrell A., Jens M.

Romel and Brian called today at 7:30 pm Eastern and Ecuador time to provide this report on their successful climb of Chimborazo:

“We are excited to tell you that we all made it up Chimborazo. It was a great climb and once again, we lucked out with the weather and with the conditions on the mountain.

“On Monday we drove south from Quito to Riobamba.  We explored a little there and made a point to eat very well to get ready for the big climb.  Tuesday we drove through snowy and foggy conditions up to the refuge on Chimborazo.  We changed plans and stayed there, because recent snowfall plus the snow on Tuesday put the regular route back in shape. 

“There’s enough snow on the route to hold all the rocks in place, so the danger of rockfall is currently very limited.  We had planned to get the help of porters and set up a basecamp further west of the regular route in order to avoid the sections threatened by rockfall.  But this snow allowed us a simpler itinerary and a more comfortable night in the refuge before the ascent.  We feel like we lucked out.

“To get the firmest possible conditions on the snow and ice, we started our Wednesday climb at 11 pm on Tuesday evening.  It was foggy to begin with but steadily cleared up.  Snow conditions were perfect.  It was well consolidated and gave us perfect cramponing conditions.  The climb was long but went really well, and we sumitted at 7:30 Wednesday morning.    It was perfectly clear and there was no wind, so it was a very beautiful place to be.  Of course we could see all of Ecuador’s peaks in a 360° panorama.

“Being on the summit was a lot of fun and so was getting down and looking forward to going to tropical Baños for some rest and relaxation.  We had lunch at the refuge after the climb and then drove to Baños and got there around 3:30 in the afternoon.

“We relaxed at the hotel for a while and then went to a Mexican restaurant for margaritas and cervesas and a deluxe dinner.  We hit the sack around 9:00 pm and slept through until 9 in the morning.  We were really tired.

“After an easy morning, we explored Baños and then went to a waterfall that cuts the canyon here.  The river empties a big part of Ecuador’s central valley and flows east into the nearby Amazon Basin.  This place is about 5000 feet, so the air is great to breath, and it is totally lush here:  everything is alive and green.  It ‘s a huge contrast to Chimborazo.  We took a cable car across the canyon, did some hiking around, took photos, and two people had massages.  It was a very enjoyable, low-key day.

“Tonight we’re going to a French restaurant.  It also serves Ecuadorian food, so we’ll see which way we lean when we get there.  We still have big appetites.

“We’re going to sleep in Friday morning and then in the early afternoon head back to Quito.  We’ll spend the night there before flying home.

“We are extremely happy about getting up all the peaks we tried:  Pasachoa, Rucu Pichincha, Illiniza Norte, Illiniza Sur, Antisana, and now Chimborazo.   The progression of the trip was perfect, gradually climbing at higher altitude, and the amount of rest time between the climbs was just right. And we really had good luck with weather and conditions, so we are extremely happy.

“We’ll call with a final note tomorrow.  Bye for now.”

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