2008 Ecuador Cybercast

Team II

December 13, 2008
Chimborazo Summit.

Hola CyberPals!. We awoke at 11PM for our summit attempt on Chimborazo to good weather (for the first time). We set out at 12:30AM for the climb which entails 4.300ft. of vertical gain. This will be the longest, steepest and most difficult climb of our volcanic journey. This time we climbed under nearly a full moon and had the treat of seeing the complete shadow of Chimborazo at sunrise displayed on the western mountain flank. Joyously the team all summited the highest peak in Ecuador (20,702ft.) and were treated to spectacular views of the surrounding magnificent mountains and volcanoes.

Team on the Whymper summit of Chimborazo

Team headed for the true summit of Chimborazo

The summit of Chimborazo is actually the farthest point on the planet's surface from the center of the earth. Following an arduous descent, we packed up and headed for a good night's rest in RioBamba. We will celebrate our outstanding climbing accomplishments tomorrow night in Quito with some Caliente Salsa! Thanks for following our adventures - WooHoo!!

Peace out, adios muchachos, ciao for now dudes & dudettes!!

Team Hot Lava extra caliente!!

Team going strong for the summit.

Team memebers about to summit Chimborazo.

December 10, 2008
Cotopaxi Climb. Greetings CyberFriends. Team Hot Lava is recovering in the Hacienda La Cienega after their successful Cotopaxi climb. Jose Luis has guided more than 400 climbs there and said yesterday's weather conditions were among the worst he's ever seen. The winds were furious with gusts aproaching 80 mph. The Hot Lava Team was cooled appreciably, with icicles and frost covering their climbing gear. They warmed up well after consuming several rounds of "canelazos-a local highland fav" at the hotel bar. Now we are off to the Chimborazo lodge where we will update you later.

Joy and peace to all of you!

Team Hot Lava

Kathy and Kurt following their Cotopaxi summit.

December 8, 2008
Tambopaxi. Hiya! Currently we have finished a giant lunch shortly after a giant breakfast. So soon we will be waddling up to the hut to try and eat some more before we go to sleep in preparation for our Cotopaxi summit bid. We will be leaving at about midnight for the difficult ascent of the most coveted mountain in Ecuador. Please send your good thoughts our way.

Love, joy and happiness to all of you.

Team Lava Caliente (Hot Lava).

Team Hot Lava, breakfast time. Tambopaxi.

December 7, 2008
Cayambe Climb.

Greetings cyber friends. Team Hot Lava had a very abbreviated sleep preparing for their Cayambe summit attempt. The team was rousted from their Walmart shelves (bunk beds) by their ecuadorian guides at eleven pm (!) Departure was delayed by poor conditions and the team set out at 12:45 am. Unfortunately conditions never improved but despite the bad weather team members were able to summit. The team returned to Guachala and following a 5:00 pm lunch-dinner they retired in a zombie like state for a well deserved rest. Sunday morning the team stood in the middle of the world straddling two hemispheres at Quitsato a monument to the Equator. Then it was out to Tambopaxi to rest and prepare for the Cotopaxi climb.

Back at you soon,

Team Hot Lava signing out.

Nacho, Kathy and Dennis back from the Cayambe Summit.

The Team walking the line of the Equator.

December 5, 2008
Reviewing Skills.

Hello muchachos, we woke up to a stunning view of Cotopaxi and Antizana. After a great pancake breakfast, Jose Luis tortured us with crampon aerobics. We reviewed cramponing skills and then we roped up and marched up the glacier and capped the day with some ice climbing. Now we are resting up for our summit climb at midnight. Wish us luck.

Peace out,

Team Hot Lava.

PS.- Under deadline pressure from Jose Luis we finally came up with our team name. Talk to you soon.

Team walking towards the Hermoso Glacier.

Reviewing cramponing techniques on the Hermoso Glacier

Nacho on top of the Wall.

December 3, 2008
Cayambe. Hi everybody. Thanks for following our progress as we acclimate before attempting the big volcanoes in Ecuador. Today we hiked on Cayambe up to an elevation of about 16,000 feet. The weather was good. Highlights of the day were the views of the mountain and the condor that we could see while descending to the hut. We are attaching a few pictures. Hope you like them.

All the best,

Jose Luis and Team.

Team in action on Cayamabe.

Team at about 16,000 feet on Cayambe.

Team descending to hut on Cayambe

December 2, 2008
Guagua Pichincha-Hacienda Guachala.

Hello friends. Thanks for keeping tuned. Team 2 is back to low altitude after having completed the second acclimatization hike, this time to the summit of Guagua Pichincha (4,781 meters/15,686 feet). Team members are gradually adapting to the progressive increase in altitude. The round trip took us five hours. During the drive to Hacienda Guachala we could listen a CD that Nacho (the Ecuadorian assistant guide) has brought. Kurt was wondering what kind of music it was. According to Nacho it was "Industrial Music". We have not agreed about a name for the team yet but we are working on it, dead line is tomorrow. We are at Hacienda Guachala, the oldest one in Ecuador. This farm dates back to 1580, when the chapel was finished. The chapel was probably built over a pre-Hispanic Cayambean indigenous temple. All the buildings of Guachala were made of "tapial" which are walls made of dry mud. These walls are three feet thick at least. The big church was built in 1938. It is amazing how the buildings have survived several earthquakes. It is a very cozy accommodation. Each room has a fireplace!

Tomorrow the plan is to hike up to the beginning of the glacier (16,000 feet approximately) on Cayambe and come back the hacienda to spend the night. We hope you are doing well.

More of our adventures soon.


Jose Luis.

The Guchala Church

The Guchala Chapel

The Guchala Rooms

November 30, 2008
Quito Festivities.

Hello friends. Team 2 has arrived to Quito. The inhabitants of the Ecuadorian capital are celebrating the Spanish foundation of the city (which took place on December 6, 1534) with parades, bullfights, concerts, etc. We have seen the "chivas". They are open colorful old buses. A folk band travels on a conditioned roof playing some tropical rhythms; the inside of the "chiva" is full of locals and visitors dancing and trying not to fall off the bus. Today we visited the old town on a hot sunny day. We had the chance to taste the local food at the Tianguez restaurant located in the catacumbs of the oldest colonial church in South America: San Francisco. We are all doing well and finding Ecuador interesting and exciting. Tomorrow we will take our first acclimatization hike.

Please keep tuned.

Jose Luis and Team 2.

Kathy, Kurt, Martha and Dennis visiting the Colonial Town in Quito

The change of guard at the Presidential Palace, Quito

The Team taking a break on Pasochoa.

Team I

November 21, 2008
Veintimilla Summit - Chimborazo.

Hola! We are back from a successful summit bid on Chimborazo. The acclimatization built on the previous climbs helped a lot and we reached the Veintimilla summit (6,267 meters/20,560 feet) in six hours and forty five minutes of climbing, having departed from the Whymper hut at midnight. Big congrats to Team Gorillas in the Mist. They all did their best on the mountain today. Good snow conditions allowed us to climb swiftly along the Castle Ridge route up to 6,000 meters/19,700 feet approximately, then the snow pack changed and we had to fight our way up to the summit punching repeatedly through the hard surface crust, a very demanding process at high altitude. It was hard going but finally we got to the top of the Veintimilla summit dome. We snapped a few photos and rested for a little while before starting the descent. Going for the Whymper summit was out of question, the sun was already softening the snow. We did not want to take any chances specially in the top part of the mountain. In about two hours we came back to the hut. It was a very rewarding climb. The mountaineering skills of The Gorillas were put to a test and they did not fail. Currently, we are enjoying a well deserved rest at Abraspungo hotel in Riobamba city.

Our best to you.

Jose Luis and Team Gorillas in the Mist.

Steven, Fredy, Gregg and Les on the Veintimilla Summit of Chimborazo

November 19, 2008
Visiting Hacienda San Agustin.

Hey amigos. Team Gorillas is feeling well rested and ready to turn their attention to Chimborazo. After having breakfast at La Cienega, we visited another beautiful and interesting hacienda: San Agustin de Callo, built on the site of an Inca palace, constitutes one of the most important archaeological Inca sites in Ecuador. Since the 15th century it has served as an Inca fortress and palace and Augustinian monastery and was also temporary home of the French Geodesic Mission (1742). Other famous visitors include the German scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, English mountaineer Edward Whymper and recently Team Gorillas in the Mist.

Right now we are driving south along the Panamerican Highway to get to the Chimborazo Basecamp lodge located at the foothills of the mountain. Tomorrow, we will move to the climber's hut in the afternoon to prepare the climb of the highest mountain in the country.

Take care,

Jose Luis and Team.

Team posing for the camera in front of an Inca Stone Wall. Hacienda San Agustin.

Les feeding a llama at Hacienda San Agustin.

November 18, 2008
100 % Success on Cotopaxi!

Hi everybody! The whole team summitted Cotopaxi this morning after 6 hours of climbing. We started the ascent at one am and labored our way up the mountain following a very aesthetic route. From the top, we could enjoy spectacular views of the gigantic crater and of mountains like Chimborazo, Cayambe, Antizana and the Ilinizas. The weather and snow conditions were very good. We descended to the hut in two hours. We are now at Hacienda La Cienega, safe and sound and enjoying thicker air, hot showers, good meals and very comfortable rooms.
More of our adventures soon.
Thanks for keeping tuned.

All the best,

Jose Luis and Team Gorillas in the Mist.

Matt waving at us from the top of Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Crater

The Team on the top of Cotopaxi

November 16, 2008
Tambopaxi Lodge.

Hi everybody. Today we awoke to a beautiful, sunny and fresh morning. Team members slept very well last night. After having a good breakfast (and two Sebastian sandwiches) we were ready to hit the road again. We visited the new monument on "The Middle of the World", had lunch at the Chillos valley and after an interesting drive along the Ecuadorian countryside arrived to Tambopaxi lodge located in the Cotopaxi National Park. We are all enjoying our stay at this comfortable place. Tomorrow we will move up to the climber's hut on Cotopaxi to get ready to climb this perfectly symmetrical volcano.

Be well,

Team Gorillas in the Mist.

Tambopaxi Lodge with Cotopaxi in the background

November 15, 2008
Cayambe Summit!

Hello friends. Yes, Gregg, Don, Fredy and Jose Luis reached the top of Cayambe (5,790 meters/18,996 feet) after about seven hours of climbing. Team members Steven, Less and Matt did a great performance too but decided to turn around just short of the summit wanting not to push their limits in the thin air and save their strength for Cotopaxi. The weather was good and the snow conditions were excellent. We had great views of the surrounding peaks and of Cotopaxi and Antizana in the distance (the second and fourth highest mountains in Ecuador respectively).

At the moment we are resting and recovering at Hacienda Guachala and looking forward to a good night of sleep. We hope you all like the pictures we are attaching.


Jose Luis and Team.

Team Member resting at the bottom of the final headwall on Cayambe

Cayambe Summit Dome

Gregg on the Summit Plateau

Don and Fredy taking the final steps to the summit of Cayambe

Descending Cayambe

November 14, 2008
Reviewing Skills on Cayambe.

Hola amigos. Team Gorillas is getting ready to attempt the third highest mountain in Ecuador. Everybody is coping well with the altitude. We have already spent one night at the Cayambe's hut located at an elevation of 4,630 meters/15,190 feet. During the last couple of days we have reviewed mountaineering skills on the nearest glaciers. Nicolas, our third ecuadorian guide joined us this afternoon so there will be 5 gorillas plus three ecuadorian guides going for the summit in a few hours. Our plan for tonight's climb is to get up at 11 pm, get dressed, have a light breakfast and start the climb at about midnight. So, wish us luck and keep tuned please.

All the best,

Jose Luis and Team Gorillas.

Gregg Prussiking up an ice wall

November 12, 2008
Cayambe Volcano.

Hi everybody. We have finally come up with a name for the team: " Gorillas in the Mist", (although the weather has been good to us). Continuing with our acclimatization process, today we hiked up to 4,850 meters/15,830 feet on Cayambe. We could enjoy a sunny day with fantastic views of this big volcano which is the third highest mountain in the country. We had lunch at the hut where Gregg prepared himself a very tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We noted that snow conditions on Cayambe are good so we are very optimistic about our summit attempt on this mountain which will take place in a couple of days. Right now we are back at Hacienda Guachala (climb high - sleep low). Team members are doing well and looking forward to a full day of skills review on the glacier tomorrow.

Best Regards,

Jose Luis and Team Gorillas in the Mist.

Team Gorillas in the Mist enjoying the sun.

Team Gorillas walking by the Cayambe Hut.

November 11, 2008
Guagua Pichincha.

Hola amigos. Thanks for following our dispatches. After checking out from our hotel in Quito, we drove to the cable car station just to find out that it was closed for maintenance. We then rapidly switched to another mountain on the same massif: Guagua Pichincha. This volcano was very active in 1999 when it covered Quito and its surroundings with a few millimeters of ash two times. Since then, Guagua has decreased its levels of activity. The word "Guagua" means "Baby" in Quichua but in this case is the highest peak of the three mountains that form the Pichincha's massif. To get to the base of the mountain, we drove through the green and beautiful valley of Lloa. We started the hike at about 3,800 meters/12,470 feet. The weather was very pleasant although clouds came and went regularly. It was amazing to walk along the crater rim: it was cloudy on one side and clear on the other. Two fronts were meeting right there. Shortly afterwards we found ourselves on the first summit of Guagua (4,781 meters/15,686 feet). We then descended to where our minibus was parked and drove to Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, a cozy accommodation where we will spend the night.

All team members are adapting to the altitude very well and want to say hello to family and friends.

Our best to you all,

Jose Luis and Team.

November 10, 2008
Team 1 Climbs Pasochoa. Hello family and friends. Today we awoke to a beautiful day. We enjoyed clear blue skies and nice views of Cotopaxi while driving to the trail head on Pasochoa. Our hike to the summit was quite interesting, we could see the most common plant of the Ecuadorian highlands: a type of grass known as "ichu" and also the native "polylepis" trees. Everybody performed well and nobody had issues with the altitude. After three hours we reached our first summit in Ecuador: Pasochoa which means "Lonely Widow" in the native language. Tomorrow we will go to Ruco Pichincha a higher volcano than Pasochoa and a more challenging goal.

Take care, Jose Luis and Team.

Team 1 on the summit of Pasochoa

Team 1 acclimatizing on their way up Pasochoa

November 9, 2008
Team 1 Visits the Colonial Town in Quito.

Hello everybody. Welcome to the 2008 Alpine Ascents climbing season in Ecuador. Team members Gregg, Les, Don, Steven and Matt are doing well and are eager to set foot on the mountains. Today we visited the Old Town, the weather was fine so we could admire the city and its surroundings. We were impressed by the beauty of the colonial architecture. Highlight of the day was the visit to the inside of the Presidential Palace. Tomorrow we will take our first acclimatization hike on Pasochoa volcano. Please keep following our dispatches.
Our best to you all,

Jose Luis and Team.

Team 1 Begins Their Ecuador Adventure

Team 1 and the Presidential Guard

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