2002 - 2003 Ecuador Cybercast

Monday, January 27, 2003. Quito, Ecuador. Team III
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. Team III
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. Team III
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 Pepes.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003. Rio Bamba, Ecuador. Team III
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 soon."

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 people."

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 Refuge."

Bye, Take care.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003. La Cienega Farm, Ecuador. Team III
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. Team III
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. Team III
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. Team III
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 you later.

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. Team III
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 the Flatlanders.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003. Otovalo, Ecuador. Team III
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 Flatlanders.

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 the Flatlanders. 

Saturday, December 28th, 2002. Cotopaxi Refuge, Ecuador. Team II
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. Team II
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. Team II
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. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20th, 2002. Cayambe Refuge, Ecuador. Team II
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. Team II
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 Beans.

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 team Satharuna.

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 success.  

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 soon. 

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 team name.  

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 bye.

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