Ecuador 2015.02 Dispatches

Yesterday we climbed to the top of Chimborazo, 20,702′, with clear skies above the clouds. The climb started from our high camp at 16,200’ with a brief scramble over rock scree, and then onto the glacier where we ascended up the flanks to the summit of the highest peak in Ecuador.  Chimborazo is not the highest mountain in the world by elevation above sea level, but its location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the Earth. We had the summit all to ourselves, and glimpses of the surrounding volcano summits Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and Antisana that were just above the clouds. Now we are back in Quito for our final night in Ecuador, and look forward to heading home tomorrow. It’s been a wonderful trip!

Photo 1: On the summit of Chimborazo

Photo 2: Climbers at high camp the night before the climb

Photo 3: Climbing the final steps to the summit

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Today our team reached the top of Cotopaxi at 19,347′! We began at midnight and climbed through the night, up the glaciated slopes around crevasses and some steep snow to reach the top just after sunrise. We had excellent views of Quito, as well as the surrounding volcanoes Chimborazo, Cayambe, and Antisana. Now we are back in the tambopaxi lodge enjoying a nice meal and looking forward to a good nights rest!

Photo: The team on the summit of Cotopaxi: Conan Bliss (MM Guide), Garrett Madison (MM Guide), John, Patrick, Denise, & Tom, with Chimborazo in the background.

taking a pause on the descent
We spent the day on the glaciated slopes of Cotopaxi reviewing climbing skills such as rope travel, ice axe arrest, and crampon technique. The day was sunny in the beginning but later turned into a moderate blizzard, making it a fun afternoon! We climbed up to 17,000′ to acclimate before returning to our lodge for the evening.

Today we hiked to the extinct volcano above Quito, utilizing the telepherique to gain some elevation at the start of the hike! The ‘old volcano’ was a pleasant walk up and rocky scramble at the end. The weather was cool today with clouds keeping us out of the hot equatorial sun. We are now enroute to the Tambopaxi lodge where we will stay for the next few nights. We enjoyed the sights, culture, and restaurants of busy Quito the last 3 nights, now we are ready to relax in a quiet country setting.

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Today the team left Quito to hike up the nearby peak, Pasachoa. We hiked through the forest and up the grassy slopes of the extinct volcano, making our way to the 13,800 summit. Clear skies and a warm breeze greeted us at the top. We are back in Quito tonight for dinner then heading out on another acclimatization hike tomorrow!

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