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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team photo

Our Aconcagua climbers had a wonderful climb of the highest peak in the western hemisphere!  Now all climbers are back in Mendoza and are in transit or preparing to head home to friends, family, and loved ones.  We look forward to returning to Aconcagua in December of 2015 next season!  A big congratulations to Vibeke Andrea Sefland, Sangeeta S Bahl, Diego Pallott, and Bruce Tschider!

Archive photo of Aconcagua summit

Archive photo of Aconcagua summit

I’m happy to report that today our team made it to the top of Aconcagua (22,834′) at approximately 3:30 PM local time.  The conditions today were near perfect, hardly any wind and clear views. It was a long climb up from our high camp, and after about 7 hours we reached the “roof” of South America!  I’m really proud of all our climbers who worked together, supported and encouraged each other throughout this expedition, as Aconcagua is no small mountain!  We have prepared many months for this challenge, and it is a great feeling of accomplishment to have succeeded.  Thanks for following along!

Moving to Aconcagua high camp

Moving to Aconcagua high camp

After a long climb today we are now in high camp and preparing for our summit attempt.  If the good weather continues we may leave early tomorrow morning and set out for the summit.  The views from high camp are amazing, and it feels really good to have come this far.  Everyone is doing well and with a little luck and hard work we could reach the top of the highest mountain in both the western and southern hemisphere sometime tomorrow afternoon.  The last few days have been tough, carrying loads at high altitude, and living the the cold and dry conditions with very high wind speeds, but after coming this far we are determined to give it our best shot! The weather forecast is for the winds to drop over the next few days, so we hope that will hold true.  Wish us luck!!!

Aconcagua Camp 2

Aconcagua Camp 2

Today we climbed up to our Camp 2.  It was a good push but everyone did fine today and now we are resting and taking in the spectacular views!  We are camped alongside another group of climbers and have become good friends with them over the recent days.  Things are looking good and we hope the weather continues to hold out for us. Tomorrow our plan is to take a rest day before making a carry up to our high camp.

Aconcagua Camp 1

Hiking up to Camp 1


After a few days resting in base camp, organizing gear, and carrying loads, we have now moved up to Camp 1.  We have a nice view looking down into the valley below, now we really have begun the climb!  This is probably one of the toughest parts of the mountain as there was a lot of loose rock scrambling on the way up today, higher on the mountain we usually encounter snow & ice, for which we will use our crampons.  Tomorrow we plan to carry up to Camp 2.  We have been fortunate with good weather, and hope it continues!