Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 Ecuador Cotopaxi Skills Expedition (Trip 13: Dec. 14 - Dec. 23, 2019) Dispatch 1

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Guide: David Trujillo

Climbers: John P., Daniel K., and Gregory P.

December 23, 2019

David and Daniel called to give us a report on their trip. First David:

David answered the phone and said "We have good news! And less-than-good news!..."

First, the good news is, everyone is happy and healthy! The not-so-good news is that we were not able to reach the summit on either Cayambe or Cotopaxi. Though the team has been very strong and really quick to learn the mountaineering skills, the windy, wet weather conditions on both summit days prevented us from standing on the summits.

On Dec. 20th, we made our attempt to summit Cayambe. We woke up around midnight, suited up and headed out the door of the hut. Despite really good wet-weather gear, it wasn’t long before we were all wet and returned to the hut, having decided this was “not a good day” to climb this volcano. If it has been a little colder and this had been dry snow, we would have been much better off.

[David then handed the phone over to Daniel, one of the climbers, to tell me more about their ascent of Cotopaxi.]

I’ll start off by repeating what David said, we’ve had a very good time and we and our fellow climbers are happy to be sitting in the warm, dry, calm lobby of the Reina Isabel hotel in Quito.

We had quite the night on Cotopaxi! We again woke up around midnight so we could climb in the coldest conditions of the night. We got dressed, ate some breakfast, headed up towards the glacier, and roped up for our ascent, hopefully to the summit and summit crater of Cotopaxi.

That night, we counted twenty teams out on the glacier. Everybody at the hut was going for it. But the weather was so wet and windy, by the time our team reached 18,000 ft, we were all totally covered in rime ice. We discussed “the situation” and then together made the decision to turn around at this point, and head back down toward the hut.

Even though we didn’t reach our high summits, the rest of the climbing team and I had a great experience in the ten days we have spent together. We learned so much on this expedition; I think the team members would tell you they learned a lot about climbing and certainly about Ecuador, but we would include mention of a lot of unexpected findings. Sometimes, the best experience isn't the one where everything goes smoothly. Sometimes the best experience develops when you and your companions face very challenging circumstances, deal with it well, and in this case descend the mountain with composure and careful climbing, bringing us all safely back to the hut.

The whole program has really been an excellent experience. That’s our news!


No comments: