Jeremy called at 6:30 pm (9:30 pm Ecuador time on Monday, January 30, with the following update:
We are now at the lodge called Estacion Urbina on the lower slopes of Chimborazo. Today was an easy day. We had an easy morning and a good breakfast and then drove south on the Pan American highway about four hours to the small city of Ambato.
It’s a pretty drive south – very nice farmlands in the intermontaine valleys. We drove about 4 hours to the small city of Ambato where we took an hour for yet another great lunch.
When we left Ambato we left the highway and drove on small country roads, gradually gaining altitude as we moved through farmlands into higher paramo where farming gives way to herding alpacas.
The lodge here is really very comfortable. It used to be a railway station, but it has been converted in a really nice way. We visited with some llamas and alpacas here and even got to meet a 3-day old llama! What a little pipsqueak – is that the technical term? She is probably about 20 pounds and is super cute. I’ll send photos at the end of the trip.
It cleared in the afternoon and we got some good views of Chimborazo on our way up here. Everyone is impressed by what a huge mountain this is. It’s a really pretty area in general. The paramo, or grasslands, are gently rolling, and sweep up to the mountain. Everyone agrees: Ecuador is just very beautiful!
Tomorrow we’re heading around the mountain for the traditional Whymper Route. We’ll be heading to the higher of the two huts to be in the best position for the ascent.
This route has been out of shape for a while, but all the snow this fall and this past week has covered and frozen the rocks in the middle of the route, so the rockfall danger is greatly reduced.
We were prepared to camp, but the use of the hut will be very convenient.
So tomorrow we’ll have just two hours of driving to reach the hut, and we’ll have an easy afternoon to rest and get organized for the climb. We have a couple of days to work with on this climb, so we hope that will allow us to deal with any odd weather.
The climbers on this team are great at dealing with challenging conditions. On Cayambe and Antisana, they did a great job staying warm, hydrated, and nourished despite the conditions that were tough at times.
We had dinner here – empenadas to start (potato and cheese – Columbian style – the cooks here are Columbianos), and dinner was chicken with veggies and a rich sauce followed by peaches in a another great sauce for desert. Everyone is very full and happy.
By the way, my brother, Nicholas’s, birthday is Tuesday, so please pass this on for me, “Nick – Happy Birthday from Ecuador! I hope you have a fun celebration and don’t work too hard. Enjoy one of your home brewed ciders for me. If I were there I would toast you!”
OK. We’ll call again tomorrow. Hasta pronto!