Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (February 10 - 24) - Dispatch 3

February 13th Dispatch

Climbers: Michael Watson, Glenn and David Booth, Eric Safieh, Eric and Loic Vincent, Susan Mullins, Dean Doyle, James Murray, Tom Fry

Lead Guide: Jeremy Devine

From Jeremy:

Today was our last morning in Quito for a while. After a nice breakfast, we met promptly at 8:00am with our bags packed and loaded our little bus for a short ride across town to the Teleférico, a gondola lift running from the edge of the city to the Cruz Loma viewpoint. We paused to grab snacks and make tuna sandwiches for lunch, then climbed aboard.

After our aerial lift, we set off at a casual pace on our second acclimatization hike, Gua Gua Pichincha (15,696 ft / 4784 m). Everyone did an excellent job of negotiating the minor rock scrambles we encountered on our ascent.

The trail was a bit wet from overnight showers, and we had pretty dense cloud cover above, which allowed for nice, cool climbing temperatures for hiking! We stopped halfway up to put on our shells when it looked like we might see a little rain, but for the most part we stayed very dry.

We made great time on Pichincha, arriving at the summit two-and-a-half hours after we began our hike. We ate a bit of lunch, but didn't stick around too long since the showers were heavier on top of the mountain. We descended carefully down the rocks, making good time on our way down. As we descended, we were rewarded with clearing skies and views of Quito.

Our round trip time was only five-and-a-half hours. Not only was this a great pace, but we also got down in time to avoid most of the afternoon rush hour traffic as we left the city to make our way to Hacienda Guachala, located in a lush area down valley from Cayambe, the first major peak we will be climbing.

We arrived at the Hacienda at 5:30 and had a wonderful dinner at 7:00. Much of the team ordered the house specialty: trout with shrimp sauce. The meal was a perfect end to cap off a great day!

Everyone seems to be having a really good time. Loic likes the Hacienda's history and rustic charm. Glenn and David enjoyed a father-and-son card game after dinner tonight. And somehow we all managed to have a civil conversation about national and international politics over the meal! It helps when we have six different nationalities; represented our own mini UN!

We're looking forward to our approach to Cayambe, tomorrow, and seeing our first glimpse of the mountain. ¡Hablamos luego!

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