Vinson Expedition Cybercast
Welcome to our Winter
2002-2003 cybercasts of our Ecuador Volcanoes Expeditions. Ecuador,
Jewel of the Andes, presents a relatively untraveled paradise for the beginning
climber. Perhaps nowhere else on earth does the combination of high mountains
and easy accessibility exist in such close proximity. Follow our teams, led by
Jose Luis Peralvo on their
as they phone in periodic dispatches when they
highlight the day's events, and keep us
updated on their progress.
We wish all of the team members the best of luck and look forward to following their
Monday, January 27, 2003. Quito, Ecuador.
Hi. Friends, this is going to be our last report from the climbing
team in the Ecuadorian Andes. Mary and the Highlanders are preparing their
bags to return back home and to their loved ones. Our patience was
rewarded with a summit of Cotopaxi on a very, very beautiful day. The team
returned to Quito in the afternoon and today we climbed to the summit of Guagua
Pinchincha (15,700 feet), a spectacular active volcano located only 5 miles west
of the Capitol of Ecuador (as the crow flies). In the evening we watched
the Super Bowl in a friendly Sports bar and restaurant where we all laughed with
the funny commercials. Well folks, these are good friends and moments that
we shared, not only this but the best climbing season in Ecuador. Take
care, all the very best to all of you from the middle of the world. Hasta
pronto amigos, Jose Luis and Pepe, bye.
Saturday, January 25, 2003. Cotopaxi Summit, Ecuador.
Hi this is Jose Luis reporting from the summit of Cotopaxi! Yes,
Mary and the Flatlanders made it to the top. The weather is just
spectacular. We have to rename the team Mary and the Highlanders. Now Leo:
"Hi everybody, this is great we are here at 19,347 feet on the summit of
Cotopaxi and its a beautiful beautiful day, it's sunny the clouds look great.
The crater of Cotopaxi is the nicest crater I have ever seen. The lowlands
are all cloud covered, but we can see the peaks of Cayambe, Antisana, and
Chimborazo and farther away a smaller one. Bennett got here before we did
so it's too bad we couldn't have all of us together here, but we had a great
summit push with Mary and here she is..."
"Hi this is Mary and he pretty much covered all of the beautiful things
that you can see, the crater is just amazing, I've never seen anything like it,
you can really smell the sulphur. if I had more energy I'd love to climb down
there and walk around a bit. Well it was a tough climb for me, it was a
little bit scary in some places, but Jose took good care of us. We still
have a long way to go to get down, but this is just amazing, we're sitting in
the hot sun and it feels good and loving life right now. So this is Mary saying
goodbye, and I'm glad to be here. Here's Jose..."
Okay in a few minutes we are going to start going down. Congratulations
to Mary and the Highlanders in the Ecuadorian Andes. More news when
we get back to the refuge. Bye.
Friday, January 24, 2003. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador.
Hi again to the armchair adventurers around the world. Mary and
the Flatlanders are proudly back again at the Cotopaxi Refuge at 15,800 feet. We
hop the snow conditions will be okay this time. Everyone is looking
forward to summit. The first group will leave at midnight and the second
one at 1:00. We just had dinner and everyone is sleeping, we are all
carbo-loaded. We make all the necessary arrangements to locate Leo at wake
up time. Hello to all of our loved ones, keep tunes, talk to you soon, the
Thursday, January 23rd, 2003. Rio Bamba, Ecuador.
Today we visited Chimborazo. We hike to the second refuge at
16,500 feet, and saw the conditions were still unsafe. We descended to Rio
Bamba, the capital of the province. Everything is okay, and tomorrow we
will attempt again Cotopaxi. There are some personal messages from Mary
and the Flatlanders.
From Stephen: "Hi Tasha, we are still alive and we will be home
From Jim: "Hello Sam, we are having a fabulous time with a wonderful
group. See you shortly, no more dogs please."
From Mary: "These are happy times and I will cherish them forever.
Leslie and Becky I wish you were here, see you Monday, love Mary."
From Pepe, guide: "Thanks for the chance to work with such nice
From Bennett: "Gina, We have a great group but nothing compares to
you. See you soon my love."
From Gary: "Ecuador is wonderful. Hi everyone."
From Leo: "Enjoying dinner prior to our second Cotopaxi attempt.
This time Jose Luis know where I will be sleeping in the Jose Rivas
Bye, Take care.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003. La Cienega Farm, Ecuador.
Hi from 16,500 feet. We left for the summit at midnight on a clear
beautiful night. Everybody was feeling bright, although we could not find
Flatlander Leo who was deeply asleep in a remote corner (hiding from the
noise). We got to the entrance of the glacier and geared up (crampons and
ropes). As we were climbing, we were surprised that everyone was coming
down despite the great weather. Once we reached 17,700 feet, we made a
snow probing concluding that the snow was unstable, (we understood then why
everyone else was descending). Safety first, we all came down.
After returning to the Valley and checking at La Cienega Farm (Where Baron
von Humboldt stayed in 1802). We got news that the snow conditions on
Chimborazo were even worse. Since we could not summit Cotopaxi, we
proposed the group to visit Chimborazo as a day tour and then after a few days
try Cotopaxi again. (for the snow to stabilize). The group agreed
and we will get in touch later. All the very best from Ecuador, Mary and
the Flatlanders. Tonight, opening at the La Cienega Lounge, Bluegrass
music. The main band, The Pepes previously known as los Pepes and
Diego. Bye bye.
Tuesday, January 21st, 2003. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador.
We salute the Alpine Ascents family. Wee left Guachala right
after lunch. The bus ride lasted about three hours. Everybody
enjoyed the beautiful views of grassland, towns and surrounding mountains.
Our drivers took us through some very adventurous back roads. When we
arrived at the Cotopaxi National Park, we had a impressive clear view of the
mountain. We spent that night in the Tambotaxi Acclimatization Hut at
12,700 feet. Today we reached 15,900 feet arriving to the Cotopaxi refuge.
The weather is still. Mary and the Flatlanders, Jim, Steve, Gary, Leo and
Bennett are sleeping after watching a beautiful sunset. They are all
feeling strong and well-acclimatized, they are amazed at the beauty of the
Ecuadorian Andes. We will attempt the summit tonight, looking forward to
call you back with good news. No doubt more soon, the two Pepes. Pepe
is a nickname for Jose Luis.
Monday, January 20th, 2003. Guachala, Ecuador.
Hola amigos, this is Jose Luis reporting from Ecuador. We left
the refuge at midnight under a low and full moon. A blanket of stars was
covering us, and the city lights of Quito were shining in the distance.
The group did a very good job reaching 17,500 feet. Mary and Leo got
almost to the summit (18,600 feet). The sunrise was very inspiring, in one half
of the sky was the full moon and on the other the first sunrays were painting
the clouds. We could see in the distance, Cotopaxi and Antisana.
After getting back to the refuge (very tired) we descended to the beautiful old
farm Guachala. Then we enjoyed a fine meal and rested by the chimney. Today
we are heading to Cotopaxi and expect to summit. The group is still positive
and refreshed by this great day. Looking forward to calling you from the summit.
Sunday, January 19th, 2003. Cayambe, Ecuador.
Hi folks this is Jose Luis reporting from Cayambe. We are only
three hundred feet below the summit, but once again the crevasses along the
summit have stopped us. With me are Mary Mary and one of the Flatlanders.
So let's hear their impressions, here's Mary:
Hi this is Mary, I've never done this before (given a cybercast). But I'm
feeling great, the clouds are awesome, I'm a little bit tired, I'm glad to be
here. I wish we could have made it to the top, but it was a great
experience coming up here, it was a hard hike. So here's Leo, and thanks you.
Hello this is Leo. The view is great, Jose Luis is pointing towards the
clouds, but it doesn't bother me. It was a great climb up here, (some unintelligible)
but I didn't feel like pushing it all the way up to the summit with the
conditions, but I hope to make it up on Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Talk to
Okay folks we are going to rest after coming down and talk to the rest of you
guys. talk to you soon.
Saturday, January 18th, 2003. Cayambe Refuge, Ecuador.
Mary and the Flatlanders have on the acclimatization process.
We have reached 16,000 feet and spent a long day climbing on the glacier.
Everybody showed great skill, but we must say that Gary, better known now as the
spider monkey, won the gold medal for his attempt on a 10 feet element on a
vertical wall. After a great dinner that ended with a delicious fried
bananas flambé, we are getting ready for attempting the summit of
Cayambe. We may not use our headlamps if the full moon is shining on the
glacier, zero wind, prefect conditions. We'd just like you to stay
tuned. All the best from the Andes and the middle of the world, Mary and
Wednesday, January 15th, 2003. Otovalo, Ecuador.
Hi folks hope you are okay. We are posting again from
Ecuador. We are enjoying a dinner after our second acclimatization hike
(15,000 feet) And had a chance to decide what to name our team. Since all
the climbers are from sea level, (Atlanta, South Carolina, San Antonio, Texas,
San Diego and Silicon Valley, California) we are going to call it Mary and the
Tomorrow we go to the Otovalo Market and then we will head to Cayambe.
Everybody is feeling well and positive. Hope all arm-chair climbers around
the world are doing good by enjoying the mountains as much as we are. Mary and
Saturday, December 28th, 2002. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador.
Hello from the Ecuadorian Andes. Guess who?, yes the Climbing
Beans reporting from Rio Bamba, the capital of Chimborazo Province. Our
summit bid started with cloudy weather, improving dramatically once we got to
the beginning of the glacier. The sunrise was splendid, clear skies and a
sea of clouds covering the coastlands. The weather deteriorated again soon
thereafter and we decided to retreat from the mountain. The altitude
reached was 18,800 feet. We are all feeling well, loved to have had the
opportunity to test ourselves at high altitude and experienced a different and
rich culture. The frijoles wish you all a Happy New Year. Hasta la Vista,
sincerely the climbing Beans.
Thursday, December 26th, 2002. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador.
Hello again from the Ecuadorian Andes. First of all we wish you
all a Merry Christmas. The team was successful on Cotopaxi. We want
to commend young Ryan Bean for carrying the Christmas Cake up to the refuge and
for flagging our name (The Beans), on the summit, wearing the team's Santa Claus
Hat. We should say that climbers from other teams were dropping like flies
due to challenging conditions. We had a great rest at the famous Hacienda
la Cienega and enjoyed our Christmas Dinner while hoping the inspired and soon
to be famous dual named, the very loud voice would finish the Bertelman.
We were not sure if the Christmas Dinner was turkey or pink beef, but it was
enjoyed by all.
The next morning we went on a cultural excursion. After a day's rest we
traveled to Chimborazo refuge to get ready for the last and final
challenge. Young Ryan decided to carry firewood to the Whymper Refuge so
the rest of the Climbing Beans could enjoy a nice and warm camp fire. Upon
arriving we discovered that the refuge was full of firewood. But thank you
so much, young Ryan Bean. We look forward to reporting back with news
about our climbing feats on Chimborazo, sincerely, the Climbing Beans.
Monday, December 22nd, 2002. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador.
Hello from the Ecuadorian Andes. Weather didn't
cooperate. It changes on the night of out summit attempt on Cayambe. One
of the climbing Beans aborted the mission because of complications with
altitude. We reached 17,100 feet, spirits were good, although there were
not many views. After a good night of sleep by the fireplace in Otovalo,
the Beans are all together again and ready to take on the next challenge. Following
an entertaining night at 12,120 feet at Tambotaxi, where we met a group of
American climbers who were trying to live college days by way of drinking
games. We awoke refreshed and climbed up to the Cotopaxi refuge located at
about 15,800 feet. We hiked up to the beginning of the glacier, 17,000
feet for further acclimatization. We are hoping for good weather
tonight. Wish us good luck and looking forward to spending Christmas on
the summit. At the pronto, Sincerely the Climbing Beans. (Now better know
in Ecuador as the Crazy Frijoles). P.S. Greetings to Larry, Jane and Mom
from Brooke. Dave says hello to all his friends and Ryan to Millicent.
Friday, December 20th, 2002. Cayambe Refuge, Ecuador.
Dear Friends, the weather has improved dramatically. The Climbing
Beans have had the chance to review glacier travel skills, doing spectacular, on
the lower part of Cayambe. The acclimazation is working slowly and the team is
adapting to the higher elevations. Our first practice today, proved to be very
rewarding, and reminding us of a few techniques and tricks that you only
remember with practice. Hoping to get good rest and have your fingers crossed
for good weather, we will attempt the summit tonight. So, to all of you folks,
thank you for being there, keep tuned. So long, the Cimbing Beans.
Wednesday, December 18th, 2002. Cayambe Refuge, Ecuador.
Greetings from the equator. Now that the weather has improved,
we manage to communicate that the team is acclimatizing slowly and gaining
progress in altitude. During our two acclimatization trips on Quicocha and
Cotocachi, not many views weather-wise, but putting in new altitude records
every day. We had a souvenir shop in Otovalo and now we are in Cayambe's
refuge, hiked up to 16,100 feet and we are resting now at 15,100 getting ready
for glacier practice the next couple of days, before our summit.
The team members are Brooke, David, Ryan and the Ecuadorians, Rene and Jose
Luis. While in Quito and after our frequent food stops at the Magic Bean
restaurant the members of the team have decided to name the expedition,
"The Climbing Beans", so looking forward to sending you good reports
along the way. We'll keep in touch, Hasta La vista. Sincerely the Climbing
Saturday, December 7th, 2002. Quito, Ecuador.
Scott: As Team Satharuna completes it's journey, Jose Luis,
Yert, Diego Marga, Lourdes and Tiero for all their hard work and
hospitality. Good climbing and good fun. As we close our final
evening in Quito, Jose Luis graciously arranged a parade and fireworks in our
honor. (So we were told) After our experiences we feel confident in
tackling bigger mountains as Jose Luis preached to us the three rules of Ecuadorian
climbing: 1. Look Good. 2. Act Cool. 3 Safety.
Which was replaced by "Don't poop on your prussiks." (Just
kidding) Vamos, ala playa.
Saturday, December 7th, 2002. Rio Bamba, Ecuador.
Hi everybody. Team Satharuna made a decided summit bid on
Chimborazo. Starting at midnight, we climbed up through scree, rocks, and
then up towards the castle ridge. Following it, we faced the first steep
section, (45 degrees on snow) which didn't represent any problems for the
well-trained snow-climbing skills of the group. Once on top of this
difficult cycle it was clear that the acclimatization had worked very
well. Higher up, two shorter steep sections were tackled in great
style. Our confidence in reaching the summit grew. The weather
remained very good and stable. We were going for it.
Unfortunately, at approximately 19,600 feet, Team Satharuna was stopped with
avalanche prone conditions. The risk was too high to be taking. Desire, skill,
weather, acclimatization were very good, but this time the mountain said
no. In spite of this our spirits were not broken. We had performed
in an excellent way and had nothing to regret. With a short time at the
refuge we were ready to pack and go down to Rio Bamba City. It was pizza
and beer time for all of us. Bye, Satharuna Team.
Thursday, December 5th, 2002. Chimborazo, Ecuador.
Hola from Team Satharuna at the base camp of Volcan Chimborazo.
Yesterday we spent the morning exploring Inca ruins and Spanish architecture at
the St. Augustine Chapel. While viewing the incredible stonework of the
16th century Incas, we almost lost Stuart to a wild pack of llamas. Lucky for
him they were only looking for carrots. The Hacienda was lived in by one
of the most respected Ecuadorian presidents. Everyone enjoyed the
president's houses and wandered slowly on the grounds.
On the drive up to Chimborazo we witnessed native Indian culture, climbing
the high plains of the west. This side of the Andes is very dry, but it
still supports herds of wild vicuna (llama-type animals) and giant hummingbirds,
who met in the rafters at the hut at 16,000 feet above sea level. After
dinner Jose Luis taught us how to play an Ecuadorian card game created Huarenta.
Jose Luis created one of the highest discotheques in the world by dropping Earth
Wind and Fire in the CD player and we all got jiggy. Everyone is feeling
well and looks forward to starting our summit bid tonight. So long from
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2002. Hacienda Cienega, Ecuador.
From Scott: At 1:20am Team Satharuna left high camp for an
eventful day. Under clear skies, the city light of Quito with lightning in
the distance could be seen for most of the climb. We were treated to an
impressive high mountain sunrise as everyone pushed for the summit. At
approximately 8:30 am the last member reached the top of 19,345 foot
Cotopaxi. With clear blue skies, we enjoyed amazing views of Cayambe,
Antisana, Ilinitas, and our next objective Chimborazo. Steam rising from
within Cotopaxi's crater, emitted a sulphur smell, the mountain with calm gas in
more ways than one. After spending one hour on the summit, team Satharuna descended in two and a half hours and headed to Hacienda Cienega for some needed
rest and in anticipation of our attempt on Ecuador's highest mountain.
That is it, good bye.
Monday, December 2nd, 2002. Cotopaxi refuge, Ecuador.
Hello amigos. The Satharuna team is ready for the summit
attempt of Cotopaxi. They are all in a good mood, feeling strong and
well-acclimatized, ready to head up the mountain. We are in the refuge at
15,800 feet, they weather is stable and the climbing conditions are good. We had
awesome views during the sunset, an amazing photo. Looking forward to talk
to you soon from the summit. That's all for now, and wish us good luck.
Goodbye from Luis.
Sunday, December 1st, 2002. Cayambe, Ecuador.
The title of this cybercast is "In search of the Golden
Axe". Hola this is Jose Luis following the progress of the Satharuna team. sitting in front of the fireplace at the 400 year old Hacienda
Ochola we recall the events of the last two days. The weather cleared on
Friday, we continued our acclimatization and skills review on the Molto
Glacier. Having a break while doing glacier travel, we could hear a
metallic sound and watched how Pablito's axe slid and disappeared into a
water-filled ice hole. The next hour the whole team stood around it like
penguins trying to fish the lost ice axe using different fishing
techniques. We tied another axe like a hook to a climbing rope and joined
three walking poles together, and even our beloved George (Jorge in Spanish)
suggested to dig another hole from below to try to reach it. We thought he was
joking until we saw him crouched chopping the ice like crazy. No
Anyway, following a spare axe, Pablito was ready for the climb next
day. We got up at midnight to get ready to climb. A thin layer of
ice was covering certain parts of the glacier, making it a little grey, a new
sight even for the Ecuadorians. The climbing conditions were perfect,
clear skies and no wind. A height of 18,600 feet was reached by Scott,
Theresa and Kevin, before being stopped by a wide and deep crevasse that was
almost surrounding the nearby summit. The other members of Team Satharuna had decided to return back down to the refuge in order to save energy for our
next climb, Cotopaxi, the almost perfect cone-shaped volcano.
The descent in the equatorial sun was very warm making tough
conditions. As Theresa climbed over a snow bridge, she noted it was interesting
to see our ascent route in the sunlight, a curious circumstance of nature.
Multiple 1-2 foot-wide crevasses crossed the terrain. Some at least 40
feet deep. At the refuge, prior to leaving, we were visited by a young Ecuadorian
condor riding the current. On our drive to the town of Cayambe there were
also two perching condors, which caused George to bring the Land Cruiser to
sudden sliding stop. Farther down the mountain, four condors were riding
the current above. We all slept like rocks at the Hacienda, eating four
meals in 20 hours and doing nothing but sleeping and laying around. Well,
this is it for now. We have to start loading the bags, I will see you
P.S. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, love Scott.
Thursday, November 28th, 2002. Cayambe, Ecuador.
Hello Amigos after our first night at the Cayambe refuge the group
was waiting patiently for sunshine to come and wind to subside. Anyway
during the cloudy and rainy morning we took the chance to review knot and rope
skills. The weather improved a bit in the afternoon and we took advantage
and took another acclimatization hike up to 16,010 feet. On the way down
everyone blamed Pablito for gas, but eventually we realize it was the sulphur
gas from the mountain. Happy thanksgiving to all of our families.
Marga and Lopez created a masterpiece for our dinner.
"Hope things are well back home from Scott and Theresa. "
Sean wishes Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends that are far away.
Kevin wishes his father a happy Birthday and a happy thanksgiving and love to
his family. Paul wishes a happy anniversary to his parents. Happy
Thanksgiving to the Allbrights from Kat and Hat. That's it bye.
Wednesday, November 27th, 2002. Quito, Ecuador.
Hola Amigos this is Jose Luis calling from Ecuador. Today we are
moving up to the Cayambe Refuge. Yesterday, reaching on Cotocatchi 15,000 feet
was the highest altitude for Theresa, Hattie, Tom, Scott and Pablito.
This morning we had an exhaustive hike to the Indian market, where the team had
the chance to put into practice our bargaining skills.
Finally we agreed on a team name. Satharuna (the Ecuadorian equivalent
to a yeti). Hasta la Vista. Okay that's it, bye.
Tuesday, November 26th, 2002. Otovalo, Ecuador.
Hi everyone this is Jose Luis reporting for Alpine Ascents from Ecuador.
Everybody is doing well and the weather has been spectacular. Yesterday,
we visited the interesting polling of town in Quito. It was a special day
as the Ecuadorians had a presidential election. In the evening we broke
the dry laws and we each had a little wine with our welcome dinner.
Following the Ecuadorian spirit of democracy, we will vote tomorrow to choose a
Today, we crossed back from the Southern to the Northern
hemisphere, and walked around an extremely big lake (Cuicocha). We had a
nice view of the surrounding volcanoes including Cayambe and Cotopaxi.
Returned to recover calories at the restaurant of the beautiful Alasbrunga Hotel
in Otovalo. Welcome! That's it for today. We will keep in
touch every day if possible. Greetings from the middle of the world.
Joe Luis and Crew. P.S. Hello to Annie, Jackson and Lucas, hope all
is well. Kevin sends his love to Julie and Miranda. Hello to Mom,
Cage (?), Amy, James, from Hattie, and Beth. Sean says hello News (?).
Theresa says hello to everyone in Reno, having a great time. That's it bye