February 5, 2007
Hey everyone. We are back at low elevation after having ascended Cayambe which is both the third highest mountain in Ecuador and the third highest peak in the Americas north of the Equator. We started the climb in windy conditions. The wind was lifting dust and sand making the ascent along the rocky ridge challenging for all of us. Every once in a while gusts of wind made us lose our balance and threatened to knock us down. We finally arrived to the beginning of the glacier where in a protected area from the wind we put crampons on and roped up and divided into three teams: “The Good”, “The Boys” and “The Old”. It was still windy while progressing on the glacier but at least we were free of the dirt and it was not that cold. We kept a slow but steady pace. We took a long break at the rock outcrop known as Jarrin Peaks (17,250 ft). The sky was clear but we were wanding the route just in case the weather gets cloudy later on. Then things went down hill quick: The wind was very strong (50 mph) causing lots of trouble for the teams. Bill took the mission to get to the summit for the “Good Old Boys”. The other team members turned around because of our turn around time (8:00 am) but we have to mention that they were not far away from the summit but given the conditions everybody needed to head down before the snow got soft. We want to congratulate to all the “Good, Old Boys” for a great effort given the severe conditions found up there.
At the moment we are all getting ready to move up to the climber’s hut on Cotopaxi eager to do our best on the second highest peak in Ecuador. Wish us luck and stay tuned same time same channel. Our best to you all as always. Daddy Bill says love to Shelley. Mike is delighted that there is very little wind as we prepare for the ascent.
February 1, 2007
Greetings all. The Good Old Boys spent the day on the Hermoso Glacier reviewing self rescue, cramponing techniques, running belays, self arrest and we had some fun climbing steep vertical glacial ice. The weather was good enough to cooperate with us even though we woke up to a dusting of snow and howling winds. John bedazzled us all with his extraordinary ability to tie the clove hitch one handed in three seconds!!! Fred is a natural on steep ice. Bill has the uncanny ability to launch Nacho 30 feet into the air. Mike started a hybrid sport between karate and ice climbing. Hermoso glacier fears him now. Jonathan apart from being a gifted ice climber can clean dishes with the best of them and enchanting everyone with his good selection of music.
Bill says hi to Jaynie. Jonathan says hello to anyone who is checking up on him and your job will be finished as soon as I get home. More soon. Ciao.
January 30/31, 2007
Hello everybody. We have finally came up with a name and that name is: “The Good Old Boys”. Tuesday we left our comfortable accommodations in Otavalo early in the morning and headed up to Imbabura. Starting at 11,500 feet, we climbed for 5 hours to reach the summit at 15,200. Our pride in our accomplishment would have been sweeter if not for the two young ladies in tennis shoes that beat us to the top. Rationalizations were frequent. We were very fortunate to see an Ecuadorian Condor soaring over the magnificent foothills. On Wednesday, we headed up to the huts at 15,000 feet on Cayambe where the logistical skills of our guides were once again proven by securing very comfortable accommodations in a private hut.
Best wishes to all. Daddy Bill says hi to his daughter Shelley. Jed says hello Verna and his love to Marlyse. John sends his best to Reilly and his training partner Veblin. Mike says “hi ye all”. Fred sends his love to Andrea, Kee, Lulu and Bella and hopes Kee finishes his book report.
Team in the Cayambe Hut
Team on the Imbabura Summit
Scrambling on Imbabura
January 28/29, 2007
Hola amigos. All team members are doing well and are eager to set foot on the slopes of the Ecuadorian volcanoes. On Sunday, we visited the Colonial District in Quito and took a short but very interesting hike in the Pichincha massif.
Team 4 woke up Monday morning to enjoy one of the most spectacular days of the climbing season. There was not a single cloud in the sky and we could see three of Ecuador’s big snow-capped mountains in the distance: Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Antizana. The weather remained very good in the afternoon while hiking around Cuicocha “the guinea-pig lake”.
We hope that you like the photos that we are attaching. Everybody says hello to family and friends. Fred wishes a Very Happy Birthday to his daughter Isabella.
Keep tuned please. More soon.
Team 4 - Mike, Bill, Jonathan, John, Fred, Nacho
Hiking Around Cuicocha Lake
Cuicocha Crater Lake
January 16, 2007
Today Team IC stood atop Cotopaxi, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and the second highest in the Ecuadorian Andes. Its name comes from Quichua and means “necklace of the moon”.
We started the climb from the Jose Ribas refuge (15,750 ft) at 00:45 am following the path along the rock/scree ridge towards the beginning of the glacier. Once there, we put crampons on and roped up. The snow-conditions were great, we found ourselves stepping up on “stereo-foam snow” as some climbers say. The weather was perfect, no clouds, no wind; the stars up there in the sky and the lights of Quito in the distance were illuminating the panorama.
Soon we hit steeper ground which we surmounted zigzagging through the snow slope to the top of it where we took a well deserved break. Then we continued the climb along less step terrain and a very aesthetically snow ridge towards the right side of the rock wall known as Yanasacha were we stashed our walking poles before climbing the final headwall that ended on the summit of Cotopaxi. High fives and hugs to congratulate each other. Marvelous views awaited us: the impressive and big crater, Cayambe, Antizana and Chimborazo, clear blue skies, a sea of clouds covering the Amazon rain forest….A fast but safe descent took us back to the refuge.
At the moment we are resting and recovering at La Cienega Hostelry. Team IC sends its love to family and friends.
More soon. Ciao.
Felipe and Jose Luis at the crater Rim.
January 14, 2007
Cayambe Summit!! Up at 11:00 pm, Team IC makes final preparations for their summit attempt of Cayambe. At an altitude of 18, 993 it is an impressive Ecuadorian volcanoe. With headlamps on, we begin at the rocky ridge and after roping up, the team then crosses over Hermosa Glacier, stepping carefully around the crevasses. We continue on to Jarrin Peaks, taking a short break before ascending towards the headwall, a 45 degree snow slope. At this juncture, the wind picked up and the temperature dramatically dropped. Pushing on, Team IC reached the summit plateau, and then after scrambling through an opening in a cornice Team IC stood atop Cayambe.
After descending, Team IC then traveled to the oldest Hacienda in Ecuador, Guachala Hacienda for rest and recovery. Good meals, hot showers, and clean clothes!
Today we visited the equator and it’s new monument. Each team member straddled the equator for the photo.
We have arrived in Cotopaxi National Park, which abounds with llamas and wild horses. We even had the treat of seeing an Andean fox. Tomorrow we move up to the climbers Refugio and prepare for our summit attempt on the second highest mountain in Ecuador, Cotopaxi.
Everyone is feeling well and Team IC will check in again after Cotopaxi.
Team IC on the equator.
Successful IC summiters.
January 12, 2007
After a “fitful” night’s sleep at 15,000’, we spent Thursday on the lower glacier reviewing skills: Cramponing, roped travel, self arrest and running belays. Felipe, the assistant guide even turned downhill travel on a glacier into a game. Everyone then got to try their hand at ice climbing on a vertical wall, with Ed climbing a steep pitch with an overhang at the top. Another great meal prepared by Felipe, and after-dinner self rescue practice (prussiking), and everyone was ready for bed.
Friday morning we were greeted with clouds and high winds from the east. Tonight we attempt the summit so the day has been spent practicing and resting. Everyone is in good spirits and hopeful for a successful climb of Cayambe- that and a hot shower!
Laurie says Hello to Eileen, Andrea and the climbing WERC women of Northampton. Love to Lauren, Raul and Malcolm.
Paul finds eating and sleeping a challenge at the high altitude but Felipe is keeping us all well fed. One new skill learned for Paul was the running belay.
Today is Neal’s 55th birthday! Happy Birthday Neal! This is the highest birthday celebration to date for everyone on the team. A cake was smuggled up to the refugio but sustained major injuries enroute that not even the plastic surgeon, Dr. Ed could fix. Neal blew out the candle, made a wish (we hope it comes true), and toasted with Chilean champagne. Neal misses his wife Viviane and sends his love across the miles on this special day.
Pillars of Friendship
Neal's Birthday Cake (Somewhat worse for the wear)
Greetings all, from Cayambe Hut at a balmy 15,000 feet. This is Ed Wilkins doing Jose Luis’ job for him (just kidding). Actually, he has graciously offered to let me be the guest cyber-reporter for this evening.
All team members have arrived safely at the hut after an exciting and eventful two days. Yesterday, after an early breakfast we traveled by bus to the base of Imbabura at 10,650 feet. We “geared up” and headed up the mountain. Traveling through grasslands and farm fields on the lower slopes, we quickly gained ground and were rewarded with memorable views of the valley below. The grade grew steadily steeper, giving us ample opportunities to practice the pressure breathing and rest step techniques taught to us by our “Jefe”, Jose-Luis. At approximately 14,000 feet, we roped up and were treated to some outstanding scrambling (not so easy at this altitude!). By 2 pm, there was no more mountain left to climb—We had achieved our first Ecuadorian summit! Hugs and handshakes were exchanged all around, followed by a very careful descent. By 5 pm, we were back at the bus, all wishing we had spent a little more time at the gym building up our quad muscles! Returning to our hotel in Otovalo, the tired but happy team enjoyed a fine dinner and a well-deserved night’s rest.
This morning we had the opportunity to visit the world-famous Otovalo crafts market. The variety of hand-made rug, sweaters and other weavings was spectacular. The power shoppers on the team (no names here!) were truly in their element, and, after some serious bargaining, we returned to the hotel with our newly acquired treasures. As I sit writing this dispatch, the team is relaxing in the Cayambe hut, preparing for skills review on the mountain tomorrow. No Cybercast would be complete without some messages for our friends and family back home:
From Laurie—Hello to friends on the East Coast and love to daughter Lauren.
From Jim—To my two moms and Steven: I’m being careful.
From Neil—Greetings to Poes from Cayambe with ‘lots of smackeroos. ‘Lots of love-woef.
From Lee—I’m waiting for my moment to hang like a circus monkey, adding new meaning to the term “twisting in the wind”.
From Paul—Yesterday’s summit and today’s hut are new high points for me, which is exciting. ‘Lots of encouragement from guides and team. Miss all my girls.
From Ed—Love to Julie. I promise I’m not doing anything stupid (Jose-Luis won’t let me!)
Well folks, that’s all the news that fit to print. This is Ed signing off from Cayambe.
Laurie with Cayambe Summit Beyond
Jim Bargaining at Otovalo Market
Greetings from Team Identity Crisis (we have yet to come up with an official name) coming to you “alive” from Ecuador. Our first few days in Ecuador have been exciting and fun. Everyone on the team arrived on time, and miraculously so did all the luggage and equipment. We spent the first day sightseeing around Quito, walking around old town, visiting the Presidential Palace, and taking in all the great architecture. We visited one of the oldest churches in Ecuador, the Iglesia de la Compania, which took over 150 years to build. Everyone was impressed with the statue “El Panecillo Virgen and pot”, with Paul saying that the spirituality and beauty of the statue moved him to tears.
We also rode the Pichincha tram up to 12,700 feet, which provided amazing views of Quito and the surrounding hills. We then enjoyed a hike to 13,500 feet, with Ed, Lee and Jim leading the way. After a great dinner we were all ready for bed and slept soundly. Neal brings experience from past adventures and graciously answers our many questions at breaks and over dinner. Laurie has assumed the role of “Expedition Photographer” and is always running about taking pictures, even getting a couple of shots of Paul's tattoos.
The next day we headed North to Otavalo, where we further acclimatized by hiking around Cuicocha Lake, enjoying the beautiful landscape and clouds, which fortunately did not bring rain. Everyone did well and we enjoyed another beautiful day in Ecuador. Tomorrow we further acclimatize climbing Imbabura (15,190). Everyone is looking forward to Cayambe, which we will attempt in a couple of days. Everyone sends their love back home to their loved ones (Jim sends a special hello to his son Kaleb) and we will check in a couple of days from now with details of our attempt on Cayambe. Ciao!
Acclimatization Hike on Pinchincha
Team 3 - Neal, Laurie, Jim, Lee, Ed, Paul
Team on Chimborazo
Team Insomnia on the summit of Cotopaxi
Block Ice formation on Cotopaxi
Moving up to the Refuge
Team Hacienda in the Hacienda San Augustin
True to form, Team Insomnia hit the route at 9 AM this morning after another night of interrupted sleep. The group was in high spirits as we gazed up at Chimborazo (20,702 ft). With the addition of a third guide (Jose Garces) and our “Ecuadorian Sherpa” Marco – Team Insomnia now had 7 members. Our goal was to establish high camp at approximately 18,000 ft. We began the ascent with our full packs in the brilliant sunshine. It was so warm, we had to stop and take off layers of clothing as we ascended. At the point where we strapped on our crampons, we noticed clouds began to block out the sun. We cramponed up and over a ridge, when suddenly thunder roared near us. We quickly moved off the ridgeline to a lower (safer) area. Crampons, ice axes and poles were stashed in a pile. A tent fly was removed from Marco’s pack and all 7 team members huddled together under it to wait until the lightning danger passed. This was a very intimate 1 ½ hours for all of us. During that time, snow was falling at a steady rate. When the thread of lightning appeared to pass, we were disappointed to find nearly 4 inches of new snow. Combined with the potentially hazardous conditions on the mountain reported to our Team this morning by other non-successful climbers, the mountain was now more snow loaded for avalanche. Regretfully, the decision was made to forgo our summit attempt and return safely. If anyone doubted the decision, the mountain seemed to reassure by generating more sets of thunder when we were approximately 50% of the way to back to the hut. Team Insomnia did the best it could on Chimborazo and now we are ready to discover the Ecuadorian cloud forest, go for a day hike and relax in the thermal hot springs. Wishing you all a Happy Christmas time. Team Insomnia saying good bye.
This morning Team Insomnia took a break from mountaineering to visit one of Ecuador’s most famous haciendas San Agustin de Callo. We were immediately surrounded by flowers as we walked down the entrance. Strolling through the entrance corridor, we were amazed to see Inca stonework. The stones are placed together perfectly; you could not slide a card between them. Stonework this precise is nearly impossible with modern engineering! The hacienda has two complete/original Inca stonework rooms, a very eclectic Cathedral and a most original dining room. A surprise visit by a herd of llamas in the courtyard allowed us to experience these animals up close. Team Insomnia also made use of some decorative hats in the sitting room to shoot a team photo. Although Ron was especially reluctant to leave the hacienda, Team Insomnia had to journey to its next destination: Mt Chimborazo. As we entered the National Park we sow herds of vicuña. These llama type animals exist at high altitude where there is very little to eat. Valerie and Olga took a day hike to the Whymper refuge (16,400 ft). Above the cloud line, the views were spectacular. They watched the sun move from above the clouds to below in a very short time – about two minutes. At one point they were thrilled to see silhouettes of a passing herd of vicuñas against the sunset. After all this excitement, they came down the mountain to the hut we were staying for the night. Good night.
Team Insomnia began the ascent of Cotopaxi before midnight. Our headlamps illuminated small circles before us, as our crampons crunched on the hardened snow (much better climbing conditions than Cayambe). Since we were climbing in a National Park, the stars seemed extra bright. There was also moonlight to help guide our way across the glacier. We ascended across snow bridges, steep headwalls, and beside block ice formations. Looking down in the direction we had crossed, we could see at least 20 headlamps twinkling in the quiet night behind us. These were other climbers on the trail who had also been staying in the hut.
Step, rest, breathe, repeat. Team Insomnia made our way up the mountain slow and steady. Another rope team asked to pass us on the route. Later, we saw a backpack hurdling down the glacier ice at tremendous speed. We were surprised that most of the headlamps disappeared as the night progressed. The other climbers had turned back.
The sky gradually became lighter and we switched off our headlamps. Step, rest, breath, repeat. As we surmounted a steep section, we were treated to a great view of Tungurahua erupting. There were great plumes of smoke spewing from the volcano. Thank goodness it is not Cotopaxi that is erupting!
The final push – and Team Insomnia made the summit!!! We had great views of Cayambe due to the clear skies. Standing atop the edge of Cotopaxi’s crater rim is a once-in-a-lifetime view, and the Team gave High 5’s and hugs to celebrate our hard earned accomplishment.
We had an uneventful but strenuous descent. Now in the daylight, we could view the spectacular crevasse formations we had crossed. Some were lined with ice so delicate, it appeared as feathered crystals. Tonight we are staying at the most posh accommodations thus far on our journey—the beautiful and historic Hosteria La Cienega.
PS.- Ron wants to say hello to family and friends, and thank all that made the financial contribution to his climb for cancer.
Hello all. We awoke this morning to a clear view of Cotopaxi in the distance. We then loaded our climbing and overnight gear into backpacks, and made the ascent to the Jose Ribas hut. In true Team Insomnia tradition, we are going to awaken in the middle of the night (11 PM to be exact) for our summit bid for Cotopaxi (19,340 ft or 5897 meters).
Hi Folks. Team Insomnia is back on the road again. We had a private lecture from Cristobal at the new Equator monument. He explained the monument is also a solar calendar and pointed out the ancient ruins on the nearby hill. We learnt why Ecuador is the most important country on the Equator for research because of the highlands. We now understand why Chimborazo is the highest point if measured from the center of the earth. After eating a terrific lunch in a dairy barn we started the drive to Cotopaxi National Park. As we ascended towards the park we left behind the signs of human habitation and entered beautiful scenic landscape. After dropping our belongings at the hostal we went out hiking. Valerie and Olga discovered Inca ruins and a hidden spring. Ron rediscovered himself while solo climbing a nearby hill. We are optimistic we will be able to view Cotopaxi in the morning as it has been shrouded in clouds since our arrival. Felipe insists that the mountain is clear. Team Insomnia signing off.
Hola friends. After another night of no sleep (just kidding) Team Insomnia was climbing strong. We departed at midnight for our summit attempt. The weather was great we could see the lights of the town in the distance far below us as we began our ascent. After a bit of scrambling we strapped on our crampons and tied into the ropes and we were disappointed to find three feet of fresh snow on top of the glacier ice. We stepped over a dozen crevasses before we reached the first technical section. With each step we sense increasing danger due to the fresh snow. The guides wisely decided to use a state of the art snow shovel to dig a snow pit. The results were shocking and alarming to the guides. The avalanche danger was too great to ignore. We were forced to give up our summit attempt and return safely to the refuge. Our esteemed leader said “summiting is optional – coming down is mandatory”. We descended to the oldest hacienda in Ecuador where we refreshed ourselves with a cold shower. We were treated to a welcome dancing session performed by a group of local girls in exotic cowboy outfits. We witnessed a terrible tragedy while having lunch. The signature architectural icon –the bell tower- collapsed before our eyes. We heard a tremendous rumbling crash and could not believe what we saw. Four hundred years of history now a pile of rubble. Thankfully nobody was injured. After all this day’s excitement Team Insomnia finally had their first good night of sleep. All team members send their best to family and friends. PS.- Olga wants to say Happy Birthday to her mom Ira.
Hi everybody. The whole team did a great job this morning reviewing glacier travel skills. The weather was good so we could spend a little more than four hours practicing the different cramponing techniques, self arrest and self rescue on the Hermoso glacier. We are all in a good mood and acclimatizing further to the altitude. At the moment we are resting and hydrating in the refuge. The weather has been cooperating and we hope that it remains good for our first summit attempt tomorrow night. Dinner smells good so this is it for now folks. Until tomorrow. All the best. Team Insomnia.
Team Insomnia Ready for Practice
Reveiwing Cramponing Technique
Hermosos Glacier, Cayambe
Valerie Practicing Crevasse Rescue
Hello friends. This morning we visited the famous Otavalo Indian market and got plenty of souvenirs. Our duffels are feeling heavier. Team Insomnia is now at the Cayambe hut (15,250 ft high). The drive through the Ecuadorian countryside was quite scenic and interesting. At one point we could admire our driver’s skills while going up steep muddy terrain. We are all feeling good and the acclimatization seems to be working well. This afternoon we reviewed knot tying and self rescue inside the refuge. Everybody did a very good job but Felipe hit the light bulb and put us in total darkness. We are looking forward to glacier skills practice tomorrow. Good night. Team Insomnia going to bed right now and signing off.
Valerie Playing with Her Prussik
Ron Hanging From the Rope
Olga Inside the Hut
Greetings all. Team Insomnia is back at Otavalo town after having successfully completed our second acclimatization climb to the top of Imbabura (4,630 m / 15,190 ft), a beautiful volcano that stands above San Pablo Lake. We are honoring the adage “Climb high; sleep low”. During the ascent we could enjoy views of the impressive open caldera and the Ecuadorian countryside. We are all doing well and acclimatizing steadily to the thin air of the Andes. In despite of our team name, we all slept well last night and feel ready to move tomorrow to the nicest mountaineering hut in Ecuador located on the southern slopes of Cayambe where we will start reviewing glacier travel skills. Cayambe is the highest and coldest point on the equator and the only place on earth where latitude and temperature reach zero. Everybody sends hellos to family and friends. Please keep tuned. More soon. Jose Luis.
Team Insomnia on top of Imbabura
Going up Imbabura
Team II 12/3 - 12/4/06
Hello everybody out there in cyber land. This is Jose Luis reporting from Quito the Ecuadorian capital located a t 9,000 ft. in the highlands of Ecuador. All the team members have arrived and are starting to adapt to the altitude. This morning we visited the old town and could admire its beautiful colonial architecture. The inhabitants of the city are celebrating the Quito’s foundation day by the Spanish conquerors with various events like parades, bullfight festivals, expositions and street parties. We had the opportunity to see one of the parades which was about the typical dances of the different regions of Ecuador. Later on we took the cable car all the way up to 13,400 ft where we had a spectacular view of the city of Quito. After our gear check we had a delicious dinner at the classic Crepes and Waffles restaurant where everybody had a great meal followed by tasty desserts. Today we drove north to the town of Otavalo where we checked into Ali Shungu hotel. After doing that, we continued driving towards Cuicocha the crater lake and took a four hour acclimatization hike around it. We are all doing well and looking forward to a full day of climbing tomorrow on Imbabura to continue adapting to the altitude before tackling Cayambe the third highest mountain in Ecuador. Everyone says hello to their loved ones. More to follow tomorrow. Jose Luis.
Walking Around Cuicocha Crater.
Team II at Lake Cuicocha.
Olga, Valerie and Ron in the old town.
La Compañia Church in the Quito Colonial District.
Dancers in the Parade.
Greetings all, We are back to Quito after having climbed the third highest mountain in Ecuador: Cayambe with an official altitude of 5,789 m / 18,993 ft although Andy’s GPS device read 19,085 ft on top. The snow conditions did not cooperate on Chimborazo (there was a non consolidated snow layer three feet deep) so we had to turn our attention to Cayambe which has the distinction of being the highest and coldest point on the equator. We drove to the nicest hut in Ecuador (4,650 m / 15,250 ft) from where we started the climb at about midnight. The weather was very good. We could see the Milky Way and were able to locate the Southern Cross while surmounting the rocky ridge up to the beginning of the glacier (16,000 ft). We roped up and stepped onto the glacier, the snow was hard and well consolidated. It remained like this all the way to the summit. We took a long break at Jarrin peak, a rock outcrop in the middle of the glacier (17,250 ft). Everybody was performing very well. Six hundred feet below the summit we could enjoy another beautiful sunrise in the Andes. No wind, blue and crystal clear skies met us on top. Dave and Andy took the Feral Team flag to this coveted summit. Our cameras almost run out of batteries given the great sight of the Ecuadorian landscapes. A fast descent to the refuge and a couple of hours later we were back to Quito and ready to take a siesta. We will be enjoying a farewell dinner this evening and tomorrow the Feral Team will be leaving Ecuador. Overall, it has been a very successful expedition with all team members reaching new altitude records. 100% of the climbers who attempted Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Iliniza Norte reached the summits. Many thanks for having followed our adventures. All our best to you all. Feral Team signing off.
Dave and Andy on the Summit of Cayambe
Cayambe Glacier Formation
Hello everybody. The Feral Team + 2 succeeded once again! Our ascent began with a 10:30 pm wake up call. We were met with unusual conditions for this already challenging mountain. We made our way through the dark and upon the sunrise we found ourselves 700 ft. below the summit ridge where the views of the Amazon basin and all the surrounding peaks welcomed us to the top of one the highest active volcanoes in the world Cotopaxi (5.897 m / 19.348 ft). Everybody made it. All the team members are proud of themselves with their sense of accomplishment and setting new high altitude records for all team members.We are all at La Cienega a full of history hacienda where we slept like rocks after enjoying a great dinner. Looking forward to our final objective: the furthest point from the center of the earth and the closest point to heaven Chimborazo. Until then, wish us luck. Jose Luis. PS: Dave wants to send his thanks to Court.
Cotopaxi-Yanasacha Rock Wall
Team Feral Descends Cotopaxi
Team Feral on the Summit of Cotopaxi
Hi friends. We are back. As the road to the refuge on Cayambe became impassable for the moment, we decided to follow an alternative plan to continue with our acclimatization process: climbing Iliniza Norte (5,126 m / 16,817 ft). It has the distinction of being the eighth highest mountain in Ecuador and is considered an excellent acclimatization peak. We drove along the cobbled road to El Chaupi, the nearest village to the mountain where we spent part of the night at the climber’s hostel. Early in the morning the next day, it was time to have an early breakfast and get ready for the climb. We used our four wheel drive vehicle to get to a flat grassy area known as La Virgen because there is a shrine to the Virgin Mary. We started the approach the mountain from here reaching the foot of the twin peaks Iliniza Norte and Sur as the sun was rising in the horizon. The weather has improved dramatically so we could see the big volcanoes of the Ecuadorian Andes, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo included. Once in the saddle in between the two peaks we rope up and head for our objective: the North peak. We climbed the snow slopes to get to the ridge where we take a break admiring the panorama. The climb continued along the ridge and while taking another break, we were surprised with the sight of a condor riding the thermals very close in front and above us. It landed on a rocky ridge even closer to us. It was time to grab and use our cameras. After the female condor took off, we reassumed the climb. Then we traverse along the first tower to reach the bottom of a gully where easy scrambling took us all to the summit.
At the moment we are resting at El Chaupi village and later on today we will drive towards the Cotopaxi National Park. Everybody sends hellos to family and friends. Dave wants to wish a Happy Birthday to Justin. Team Feral Four + 2
Glen and Dave on Iliniza Norte
Female condor on Iliniza Norte
Cotopaxi from Iliniza Norte
Taking a break on Iliniza Norte
Team Feral on Iliniza Norte
Mixed climbing section on Iliniza Norte
Approaching Iliniza Norte
Hello amigos. After enjoying the morning in the oldest indigenous market in south America where everybody had the opportunity to put in practice their bargaining skills, meanwhile on the mountains there was a low pressure system from the Amazon basin building up since the previous night that affected the east Andean range creating unusual precipitations above 14000 ft. On our drive towards de refuge of Cayambe, we were surprised to find a boulder blocking the road. It was impossible for the vehicles to move the road block making us look for an alternative plan. Considering we could not reach the mountain refuge, we were forced to turn around towards the valley and Hacienda Guachala where we are spending the night and in the morning we will look for options over the acclimatization peaks in the surrounding area.
We hope that with improvement in the weather the climbing conditions go back to normal soon. We will keep you updated with our progress. Thanks for following us.
PS.- Glen says hello to Erin. Tom says hi to Ann, Churchill and Sammy. Andy says I love you to Philomena. Dave says hello to Elisa, Justin and specially Molson.
Dave bargaining in the Otovalo Market
Guachala Church and Chapel
Road Block on Cayambe
Hello cyber friends. We are all feeling well after having done our second acclimatization peak. We are slowly but gradually adjusting to the altitude. Today we had diverse weather conditions making this hike through cultivated fields and Paramo highlands an interesting introduction to tropical weather patterns in the Ecuadorian mountain range. Back at Ali Shungu Hotel in Otavalo, a folkloric band delighted us during dinner while we discuss our approach to our first big summit in Ecuador: the heavily glaciated volcano Cayambe. The team has finally came up with a name: “The Feral Four Plus Two” we are still wondering why but according to Glen it has something to do with domesticated animals going back to wild.
The group sends good byes to everyone in cyber land.
PS.- David expresses his solidarity and sends his best wishes on this special day to all his family.
Otovalo Folkloric Group
Team Feral Four + 2 in Action
Alpine Ascents welcomes you all to our first climbing expedition of the season to the Volcanoes of Ecuador. Our team members Thomas, Andrew, Glen and Dave send their best wishes to friends and family. Our trip begins with stunning views of the capital city Quito after an interesting cable car ride up to 14.000 ft. A Sunday mass in the oldest church in Southamerica San Francisco, invites us to share the local Ecuadorian culture while we admire the Quito’s School of Art that dates back to the Colonial Period two hundred years ago. The drive towards the northern hemisphere gives us the opportunity to take the classis picture in the monument of the Equator before taking our first acclimatization hike around Cuicocha crater lake to start getting our bodies acclimatized to the thin air. The views of the surrounding peaks and the deep blue color of the waters make this a unique workout trail. We are now in Otavalo. After a great meal we are preparing for a good night rest before the second acclimatization peak in the Imbabura province.
Please follow our progress as we prepare to attempt the three major peaks in the Ecuadorian Andes.
All the best from the Middle of the World.
Dave, Andy Tom and Glen
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