Wednesday, February 26, 2020

2020 Ecuador Chimborazo Skills Expedition (Trip 4: Feb. 15-29, 2020) Dispatch 3

Ecuador High Altitude Trip Report

Ramiro Garrido

Climbers: Patrick M., Jo M., Natallia B.h, Adam J.

Feb. 24, 2020

Hello again!

I am calling to let you know we have had two more successes.

On Cayambe we had two good days of acclimatization, at and above the hut at a little over 15,000 feet. The first day we got to the hut we did some easy skills practice and the next day we did more skills including cramponing on Cayambe’s lower glacier. The conditions were firm on the glacier and really quite good for refining cramponing technique.

We went to bed very early, as always, and got very early, as always, to get the best conditions on the mountain, with the glacier surface nice and frozen. We got up around 11 pm and started climbing at about midnight.

We made very good time. It was quite nice weather on the way up but just before we got to the summit, we climbed into the clouds. Not ideal, but we all did make it to the summit and that was a great feeling for everyone. At 18,997 feet, it’s a very big mountain to climb and it took a lot of concentration and effort to do it. This is a great team, and I am very happy to be climbing with them! We made the summit around 5 am and after a rest on top, we were back to the hut by about 7 am.

After some food at the hut and some packing, we headed back to Hacienda Guachalá for some well-earned rest and recuperation!

The next day we drove to Cotopaxi National Park and to the lodge of Tambopaxi, which gave us excellent views of Cotopaxi across the paramo. It’s such a beautiful spot!

After good rest (and dining!) at the lodge, we drove to the base of Cotopaxi and then hiked up to the José Rivas Hut. Again it was early to bed ad early to rise for a very nice climb!

It was long but interesting, and everyone enjoyed the views on the way up. Unfortunately the weather changed by 6am, and after that the clouds were coming and going. We were worried we would have a white-out on the summit, but the clouds cooperated from time to time, and we ended up getting some good views. I have attached some photos of us on Cotopaxi’s 19,348-foot summit!!

Looking out over the Amazon Basin from the summit of Cotopaxi. There was no wind on top, and it was very comfortable (as well as beautiful) to be there! Ramiro Garrido.

Yesterday after our climb it totally cleared up again, and we enjoyed the views of the majestic mountain we had just climbed. Back at Tambopaxi Lodge we showered and then had an excellent dinner. We felt well rewarded for our labors.

Today we are driving from Cotopaxi National Park to the Chimborazo area. It’s an easy drive and it will mostly be a rest day. We just had a nice Ecuadorian ceviche for lunch in the small city of Ambato in the central valley. In a few minutes we’ll be leaving for Estación Urbina, which is an old train station located on the lower skirt of Chimborazo and converted to a bread and breakfast. It is at an altitude of 11,870 feet, so we will be maintaining our acclimatization.

Tomorrow we will get into the Chimborazo Reserve and hike up to the high camp at 17,400ft for our first attempt to this summit.

After the climb we will descend back to Ecuador’s central valley located between the country’s two parallel lines of mountains, and then follow a river that slices through the eastern chain of mountains and drops into the Amazon Basin. We ourselves will drop down to the semi-tropical town of Baños (the baths, named for its extensive hot springs). We’ll call in from Baños and let you know how our climb went. Wish us luck on the climb!

Baños is at an elevation of 5971 feet, and besides hot springs and numerous waterfalls it offers palm trees and a huge variety of hummingbirds. Quite the contrast to the mountains we have been climbing. AAI Collection. 
Another shot of two of us on the summit of Cotopaxi next to its huge summit crater. Ramiro Garrido.
And here we are - happy climbers on top of 18,997-foot Cayambe. We didn't have good views on this climb but we were so happy to have reached the summit! Ramiro Garrido.

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