2009 Ecuador Cybercast

Hello cyberfriends,

The Team is back to Quito after our final climb. Chimborazo is a colossal mountain and the Castle Ridge route (currently the normal route) a long a serious climb. Allen took the Team’s flag up to 20,170 feet. It was icy up to 18,500 feet approximately. We had a turn around time and the team was running slow due to the challenging conditions found during the ascent. You have to be off the mountain because of storms and the possibility of avalanche and rock fall after mid morning.
After the climb we descended to Riobamba (the capital of the Chimborazo province), We could rest at the Abraspungo Hostelry considered by Darrel the best accommodation along the expedition. Reinnette and Kathy visited an interesting indigenous market. The next day, we drove back to the Ecuadorian capital. In the afternoon, team members went shopping in the Handicraft Market, Galeria Latina and Tatoo Outdoor Store. We all met at Zazu restaurant for our farewell dinner where we had the opportunity to thank our Alpine Ascents guides and staff: Gaspar, Henry, Miguel, Jose Luis and Corinna.
Many thanks for having followed our adventures in the Andes. Keep climbing!

All the best,

Team Tejas Commandos.

Our Expedition Leader, Jose Luis

Chimborazo Basecamp Lodge

Hola amigos. Hope all is well. We are currently resting and enjoying the views from the Chimborazo Lodge situated at the foot of the tallest mountain in Ecuador. We are fascinated by the unique location and design of this marvelous accommodation. The altitude here is 13,010 feet according to our GPS device. Don Marco Cruz is the owner of the lodge. He is a famous Ecuadorian guide who had summited Chimborazo more than six hundred times! He was only twelve years old when he first climbed the mountain. He is sixty years old now and still guiding. He welcomed us  when we were arriving to his beautiful lodge. It was a honor to have the opportunity to meet him in person.
We also had the chance to visit a rock climbing area just five minutes away driving time from the lodge. It is known as the "Acantilado de San Juan" with dozens of bolted routes. The rock is of very good quality in spite of its volcanic origin. Most of the routes are one pitch long but some are two pitches long.
We are also focusing our minds in getting ready to attempt Chimborazo.

Be well.

Team Tejas Commandos.

Cotopaxi Summit!
19,347 ft \ 5,897 m

Hello family and friends. This morning we summited Cotopaxi! The weather was excellent. Currently we are at La Cienega Hostelry enjoying thicker air. We are all doing well. Hope you enjoy the photos taken this morning.

More soon.

Take care,

Team Tejas Commandos 

Descending Cotopaxi.

The Tejas Commandos Team on the Summit of Cotopaxi. From Right to Left Kathy, Reinnette and Allen

Cotopaxi Summit Dome

Congratulations Kathy!

The Active Crater of Cotopaxi from the Summit. Some Fumaroles Can Be Seen.

Ecuadoeian Guides Henry and Gaspar.

November 17, 2009.

Cayambe Climb.

Hello cyberfriends. The team is resting at the Tambopaxi lodge after their successful ascent of Cayambe. We would like to share with you the events that took place yesterday in the third highest mountain of Ecuador:
We awoke very early in order to get ready for the climb which started at about midnight. We headed up a rock ridge north from the hut to get to the beginning of the glacier (16,000 ft). Once there, we put crampons on and roped up. The group was divided in three rope teams that marched together up the glacier aiming for the rocky outcrop known as Jarrin Peaks. At about 17,000 feet, Kathy decided to turn around feeling not enough acclimatized yet to keep going for the summit. The night was beautiful, the sky full of stars. Every once in a while we could see shooting stars. With every step we took, we could hear the sound produced by the points of our crampons getting in the hard snow.
The sunrise found us working a way through some crevasses. Finally we arrived to the large crevasse located 650 feet below the summit. We found a snow-ice bridge right below a spectacular vertical ice wall. We belayed each other to pass the crevasse and headed left along the bottom of the ice wall. Then we encountered a climbable snow slope that deposited us onto the summit plateau. We had to traverse first to the right and then to the left to get to the top of Cayambe where we congratulate each other enthusiastically. Then it was picture time. To the south, we could see Cotopaxi, Antizana and Chimborazo. To the north, the Colombian volcanoes. To the west, the interandean valleys and some lesser peaks. To the east the Amazon rain forest. All of them spectacular landscapes that will last in our memories for some years to come.
We then retraced our steps to the hut and after packing descended to Hacienda Guachala for a well deserved rest.
It was an unforgetable and very interesting climb. Now, we are looking forward to attempting Cotopaxi, to many the most beautiful volcano in the world.

Sending our love to family and friends.

Please stay tuned.

Team Tejas Commandos.

November 17, 2009
Cayambe Summit!

Yes family and friends, we summited Cayambe only a few hours ago in beautiful weather. We are all back to Hacienda Guachala safe and sound. More details on the climb to come soon. We hope you enjoy the pictures we are posting.

All the best,

Team Tejas Commandos.

The Tejas Commandos Team on the Summit of Cayambe!

Congratulations Darrell!

Allen enjoying the view from the summit.

Well done Reinnette!

Taking the Final Steps to the Top.

Allen Climbing the Final Headwall in Spectacular Scenario

Crossing the Big Crevasse Below the Summit Plateau

November 13, 2009
Glacier Skills - Cayambe.

Hola amigos. After a good night of sleep at Hacienda Guachala,  we drove back up to the Cayambe hut to start our glacier skills review. We got our equipment ready inside the refuge and walked towards the nearest glacier which we reached in about twenty minutes. Then we put crampons on and roped up before entering this world of ice and snow. The Ecuadorian climbers called it "Glaciar Hermoso" that means beautiful glacier with justified reasons. We reviewed the use of the ice axe and different cramponing techniques before returning to the hut to have dinner and try to get some sleep. It was an interesting day, we could even spot a condor while we were on the glacier. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the weather to remain good for our summit attempt which will take place tomorrow night.
We will keep you informed.

Wish us luck.


Team Tejas Commandos.

Allen and Darrel -Team Red - during the practices with Ecuadorian guide Henry (in black)

At the foot of the ice wall. Hermoso Glacier - Cayambe

Kathy and Reinette-Team Blue- during a break while reviewing glacier skills.

November 12, 2009
Acclimatization Hike on Cayambe.

Good evening! We are back at Hacienda Guachala after having completed another journey of acclimatization. This time we reached the Cayambe hut (15,250 ft) and later on the beginning of the glacier (16,000 ft). Cayambe is the third highest volcano in Ecuador. It is currently listed as active and constantly monitored.  It is big and heavily glaciated. According to some authors the word Cayambe means "water the source of life". It was first climbed in 1880 by the famous English alpinist Edward Whymper and the Carrel cousins (two very experienced Italian guides). Whymper also made the first ascent of the Materhorn (also known as Cervino) in the European Alps some years before he came to Ecuador (back then a colony of Spain).
We feel that we are acclimating well and are optimistic about our first big climb which will take place in a couple of days. The weather has been good to us so we have enjoyed the beauty of the Ecuadorian highlands. Tomorrow we will come back to Cayambe to start reviewing glacier skills as part of our preparation for the upcoming climbs.

We are all having a good time. We will keep you informed of our progress. Sending our love to family and friends.

Be well,

Team Tejas Commandos.

Team Tejas Commandos at 15,250 feet on Cayambe

November 12, 2009
Ruco Pichincha Summit (15,413 ft/4,685 m).
Today we did our second acclimatization hike to the summit of Ruco Pichincha. Ruco is a Quechua word and means "old". Everything went well except. We took the new cable car at an altitude of 10,331 ft and after a fifteen minutes ride we reached the upper station at 13,020. A pleasant hike of 4  hours and some scrambling on the last few meters took Reinette, Allen and Darrel up to the summit. The view of the old crater and its steep walls was impressive. On the way down we could observe two Cara Cara Falcons as they were riding the thermals. Back at the parking lot Miguel, our bus driver, and Kathy were already waiting for us and we started for Hacienda Guachala immediately. Guachala is the oldest hacienda in Ecuador. A place full of history. After dinner at the hacienda we retreated soon to our cozy rooms to get some rest.

Tomorrow we will go to Cayambe (the third highest mountain in Ecuador. Our plan is to walk up to the edge of the glacier (16,000 ft approximately) to continue with our acclimatization process.

This is it for now.

All the best to you from the high Andes.

Team Tejas Commandos.

November 11, 2009
Summit of Guagua Pichincha (15,728 ft/4,794 m)

Hello family and friends. Today, after having an early breakfast we were ready to hit the road. Our 4x4 vehicle took us to the base of the mountain and farther up to the parking land located at about 13,200 ft from where we started our first acclimatization ascent. Our steady walking rithym helped us to reach the summit of this active volcano in three hours. During the ascent, our guides showed us some of the plants of the Andean grasslands. Among them the Chuquiragua, whose orange flower has been adopted by Ecuadorian mountaineers as their official symbol.
The name of the mountain comes from two indigenous languages: Guagua is a Quichua word that means "baby" and Pichincha comes from Tsachila meaning "the good that cries".
Summarizing, it was an interesting day and a good acclimatization climb.
More soon.

Please stay tuned,

Team Tejas Commandos.

Mommie Says I Love You to Elisabeth and Thanks for the M&Ms!

November 10, 2009
Hello everybody,

Welcome to the 2009-2010 Alpine Ascents Climbing Season in Ecuador. The first group has arrived to Quito, the Ecuadorian capital. They are doing well and feeling excited about having the opportunity to climb the three highest volcanoes in the country. This morning we visited the old town where we could admire its beautiful colonial architecture. From the top of the Itchimbia and Panecillo hills we had breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains (Cotopaxi and Cayambe included, the second and third highest mountains in Ecuador respectively). We also pay a visit to the "Museum of Water" with interesting explanations about glacier retreat and global warming.

Right outside the museum a woman was carrying a pot full of meringue. Temptation was to big to resist and we all had a cone of the local desert.
Let's some pictures talk for us. We hope you like them.
Please keep following our adventures in the Andes of Ecuador.

Our best to you all,

Team "Texas Commandos" signing off.

Reinnette, Kathy, Darrell, and Allen

Visiting the Museum of Water in Quito

The View from the Museum. To the right can be seen Panecillo Hill, Quito.

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