Sunday, June 11, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition and Chimborazo Extension (June 2 - 16) Dispatch 1

Climber: Alexander Pancoe

Guide: Diego Zuirta

Diego and Alex called to give us updates on their private Cayambe + Antisana + Chimborazo climbing program. We spoke with both Diego and Alexander, and they sound like they are having a great time together.

Alexander said that he felt the altitude during the first day of acclimatizing in Quito, but he's been feeling good and very strong since waking up on Day 2. He said he loved walking around Quito with Diego and seeing its diverse cultural aspects: “It's a fantastic city and everyone should visit!  I’m enjoying the architecture and really enjoyed the market and shops.”

Yesterday they did their first acclimatization hike on Cerro Pasachoa, and Alexander said he has no issues with the peak’s 13,776-foot altitude.

There were a lot of laughs during the call and some funny feedback from Alexander:
1) Diego won't let him eat a guinea pig until the last day because he doesn't want Alex to get sick during the trip [this is a joke because we have never known anyone to get sick on this dish which is always referred to as the “local delicacy”].
2) They don't have sugar-free red bull, so Alex has been on a sugar high for the last three days.
3) They have apple flavored Gatorade in Ecuador - which Alexander has declared “my favorite souvenir so far!” He plans to bring some home, we think as a bit of a status symbol.

They called again just after coming off of Cayambe to report that they had successfully reached the summit! Alex was feeling so good at altitude that he skipped the extra day built into the itinerary for further acclimatization. He went from sea level to 19,000 ft in four days and felt quite good. He says it must be at least partly due to Diego being a great guy to climb with (!) but also added that it really helped to do the warm-up climb 15,413-foot Rucu Pichincha.

Diego summarized the ascent by saying, “Cayambe was in great shape. It was a little windy for us but not bad, and the snow conditions were perfect. Alexander was really strong, and we made a pretty fast and very efficient climb.”

Before and after the climb they stayed at beautiful the Hacienda Guachala and Friday night they were planning to stay at a different hacienda closer to Antisana, their next objective. Saturday the plan was to go to the base camp of Antisana and then begin their ascent that night at about midnight. It rained a little Thursday afternoon, so they were expecting at least a little new snow on the route. As a final note, Diego said it’s been pretty windy over the last week or so but seems to be getting back to a more normal pattern. He said the last few days have been totally calm, so they are hoping for good weather on Antisana.

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