Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (December 16-30) – Dispatch 4

December 29th Dispatch - Chimborazo Summit

Guide:  Romel Sandoval

Climbers: Philip A., Sarah M., Yao-Wen (Wayne) H., Yu-Lin (Amanda) T.

Romel called the evening of Wednesday, December 28th, with the following report:  

Hello again!

We are calling to give you the good news that we have summited Chimborazo!  It turned out to be a very good climb.  We left camp at midnight in beautiful, clear weather.  The stars were really out - thousands of them!

It was clear for a good part of the climb, but eventually we moved up into a cloud as we got closer to the 20,703-foot / 6310-meter summit.  By the time we reached a little over 17,000 feet it was really snowing. 

Let's say the weather was not very nice on top, but we were truly pleased to complete the ascent and stand on the summit of this giant mountain!  It was really fun to be up there!  

We had no problem on the descent, and we made good time back to our camp and then back to our vehicle.  We walked back down into clear weather at about the same altitude where we had left it, so that was really good.  We had great views again, once we were just under the very distinct bottom of the cloud layer.

This afternoon we drove out of the mountains and then a little north to the town of Ambato (8521 ft / 2597 m).  The town sits on the floor of the north/south valley that runs between Ecuador's two parallel ranges of volcanoes.  

At Ambato we left the Pan American Highway and descended through the Eastern Sierra by way of a valley system created by glaciers thousands of years ago and carved a little deeper through the modern era by waters of the Rio Pastaza.  

We headed down-river to the beautiful and lush town of Baños.  Here we are enjoying the sight of palm trees in the town square and the active volcano, Tungarahua (16,480 ft / 5023 m), just to our south.  In town we are at 5971 ft / 1820 meters, so in contrast to the atmosphere on Chimborazo, here at an altitude 15,000 feet lower (!), we are really enjoying the warm and delicious oxygen-rich-air!

As you can guess, today was quite a workout, so the team is currently napping in our hotel.  We'll meet for dinner before long and discuss what we want to do on our "rest and recreation day" in Baños tomorrow 

We may do some mountain biking, explore the canyon and waterfalls just downstream, or head down-river towards the Amazon Basin to enjoy more contrasts between the alpine zones we've been in for the last two weeks and the jungle which is so close.  

We'll be heading back to Quito on Friday and will give you a final report in a day or two. That's all the news for now.  Thank you for following along!

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