Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (January 6-20) - Dispatches 4 & 5

Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition

Guide: Diego Zurita

Climbers: Kay K., Alyssa E., Edward I.

January 13th Dispatch

Hello! This is Diego calling to report.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the group completed their glacier skills training above the hut on Cayambe. We had good snow and ice conditions on the glacier, and techniques training and the practice climbing went very well. I know everyone enjoyed working on their skills and then applying them to different slopes on the glacier. The snow and ice conditions on the Cayambe glaciers are perfect for this kind of training.

So we had an early dinner and went to bed very early so we could get up at midnight and make an early start. We always climb early because the glacier surface is more frozen, which makes this part of the day the best for cramponing.

Also sometimes around midday we have clouds and possibly moisture coming up from the Amazon in the east. So the views and conditions are best if we do things early.

I am very happy to report that we climbed Cayambe (18,996 ft / 5790 m) successfully on Thursday. One climber reached the summit and two chose not to climb all the way to the top, but all three had a really great time on this beautiful mountain and alpine route.

After our climb we enjoyed a good night's rest at Hacienda Guachala in the foothills of Cayambe. It’s a pretty spot and everyone loved the food and the relaxation at the hacienda.

Today, Friday, we are traveling to the Antisana Reserve, so it will be very scenic and an easy day in which we will have a relaxed schedule and a good amount of rest.

We will continue to the Antisana basecamp on Saturday, and our plan is to climb Antisana on Sunday. Good weather is predicted for the coming days, which we're all looking forward to!

With everyone acclimatizing well and the weather looking pretty good, I think we have a good chance for success. I will call again on Sunday after the climb and let you know how we did. Wish us luck!

Talk to you soon!

January 16th Dispatch

This is Diego, calling with another report on our Ecuador expedition.

We enjoyed a successful summit of Antisana (18,874 ft / 5752 m), yesterday! The weather was not very clear, but it was good enough and we had a very nice climb. Our whole group reached the summit, and we were all very happy to be on top of such a big and gorgeous mountain!

We traveled back to Quito after our climb and had a wonderful dinner together. We had quite a few calories to replace!!

It is now Monday morning, and we are all looking forward to starting our journey to Chimborazo, today.

I'll put Kay on the line to say a few words:

The trip is going great! We had a nice day, yesterday, climbing Antisana. It rained a little the night before, but not on our climb. It was just a bit windy with some snowfall.

Overall, our group is doing really well. Alyssa and I are not used to the mountains in Ecuador, though. I experienced some AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) on Cayambe, feeling a little dizzy and nauseous. It took longer for me to acclimatize than I expected, but I learned to go slow on the mountain and yesterday I felt much better. On the other hand, Alyssa did fine on Cayambe but she got a little nervous on the rocky ridges on Antisana. But we made it!

Today we rested and are now preparing to travel to Chimborazo. Here's Diego, again:

I think the climbers are adjusting well and that everyone will be ready for our final summit attempt (20,703 ft / 6310 m). We are having better weather today, and we are hoping for good conditions on our last climb!

We will stay at Urbina Mountain Lodge tonight, which occupies a beautiful spot on the paramo below Chimborazo. We will hike to the Chimborazo base camp on Tuesday, and our first summit attempt will be on Wednesday. We have time for a couple of attempts if we need them. We will call Wednesday or Thursday when we get off the mountain. We are excited about trying to climb the biggest mountain here, Chimborazo!

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