2004 Ecuador Cybercast

Welcome to our Winter 2003-2004 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 adventures, 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 progress

February 14, 2004. Antizana.
We were finally able to see our namesake the Cara-Cara falcon on our drive to Antizana. We were also treated to the rare sights of two condors riding the thermals before arriving at camp. After several minutes Josè Luis and Edison (another guide who joined us for Antizana) were finally able to set up the dinning tent in totally new fashion. Right before having dinner the skies cleared up granting a beautiful view of Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Tungurahua erupting in the distance.

We got up at midnight an Edison made a cappuccino for us and we were ready to go.

We began our ascent at 1:45 and shortly thereafter Jerry, feeling dirty, decided to take a bath in a small pool at the beginning of the glacier. Having forgotten a towel he returned to camp cold and wet. The rest of the team continued on.

The climb of Antizana was the most thrilling of the trip for Kyle. It required the use of all the practiced glacier skills (except crevasse rescue) and it was an excellent conclusion to the trip.

Our climb towards the summit of Antizana ended up on an island of ice about a thousand feet below the summit, completely surrounded by deep and large crevasses. Reaching this tower of ice required leaping 3.1417 feet over a crevasse followed by a spectacular shoulder roll to regain your feet on the other side. Altitude reached was 17,780 ft. Due to large crevasses and a broken condition of the glacier our attempt for the summit was ended but not before asking by radio for a chicken squeeze (another team on the mountain was carrying a rubber chicken as a mascot and they were squeezing it constantly over the radio).

We descended back to camp and after packing our things travel to Papallacta, fortified along the way with a stop at Pizza Hut.

There we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs and full body massages. This we felt was a happy ending to an incredible trip.

Thanks for inviting us into your homes these past weeks.

Farewell from the Cara-Cara Team: Jerry, Kyle, Josè Luis and part time member Edison.

Take care and see you next season.

Josè Luis Peralvo.

February 12, 2004. Quito.
Cheers and congratulations for the Cara Cara Team after summiting Cotopaxi. We are back in Quito where we had a celebration dinner. We are going to head to Antizana tomorrow. First to talk and give his impressions about the successful climb is Jerry:

"Jose Luis has been showing us a wonderful time, feeding us everything from pizza and peaches on up to fine Italian food We're back now in Quito enjoying a day's rest after having a thrilling climb up Cotopaxi, up a new route. We had a difficult climb, through very windy weather but when we reached the top, we were rewarded with a gorgeous view of a sea of clouds and saw Cayambe and Chimborazo sticking up through the clouds. We had a quick descent and a safe and successful climb and looking forward now to the last of our three mountains".

Here's Kyle: "We had a wonderful climb of Cotopaxi, the conditions were a little bit windy but we successfully reached the summit and enjoyed wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and we're looking forward to our climb of Antizana tomorrow and hoping that we have similar conditions so that we can again enjoy the views of the Ecuadorian mountains. We are having a really good cultural experience here in Ecuador, Jose Luis has been showing us a really good time, we've been learning a lot about the country, it's been a really good trip. I also want to say hi to my kids, Derek and Alex and that I miss them".

This is it for now from Ecuador and please keep following us, take care stay tuned.

February 10, 2004. Cotopaxi.
Cotopaxi Refuge 15,750 feet. Hello folks. The Cara Cara team is calling from the Cotopaxi Hut, Our small team, but big in heart, is doing well, feeling strong and well-acclimatized. We had a special treat last night at the lower refuge. Jose Luis shared with us his slides from his 2002 summit of Mount Everest. Blue skies and a clear view of the summit have our spirits high. While listening for the 30th time to "The Little River Band" we were able to see the new route that we are going to ascend. It is steeper than the old route, but it is much shorter, safer and almost free of crevasses. (Jose Luis says we are going to go slowly). Shortly we are going up to the beginning of the glacier to view the conditions on the route. We had bagels for lunch and there will be pizza for dinner. Jerry and Jose Luis join Kyle in sending Birthday wishes to Alex and Hi Eric. Jerry is missing Margaret, Maddie, Ben and his loyal dog Bunny. More soon. Ciao for now. Cara Cara Team signing off.

February 9, 2004. Cayambe.
After enduring with good style, a small group of 43 small Ecuadorians and (7 Germans) that suddenly arrived at the hut, team Cara Cara was forced to delay it's departure for the summit by an hour to get extra sleep in the corner of the dining room that we have made our fortress. We left at 1am in partly cloudy conditions. The small group of young and small Ecuadorians was tailing us and following in our steps but disappeared when we reached the top of the rocky section. We roped up at the beginning of the glacier and headed to the saddle between two rock outcrops. Kyle and Jerry were doing a great job progressing efficiently and without having any issues with the altitude at all. Jose Luis was recycling wands and conserving his own supplies for later, given the deteriorating conditions.

While taking another break at the base of the peak, we were passed by the small group of small Ecuadorians, now heading the opposite direction, down the mountain. An hour later and a few hundred feet higher, we met the German group. Diego, the Ecuadorian who was guiding that group, has a GPS, so Kyle had the opportunity to confirm the altitude reading of his watch with that of the GPS. It was at that point that we realized the altitude adjustment of 700 feet recommended by Jose Luis at the base of the rock outcrop was a cruel joke. After having lost the 700 feet of perceived altitude, we continued up through a crevassed snow field. We should mention that the other teams were dropping like flies, retreating down the mountain due to the worsening weather. At 18,030 the visibility was down to 3.1417 feet, the reason why we waited like penguins in the cold for half an hour, hoping the conditions would improve, which never happened.

So safety first, we started our descent to the refuge. Then we packed and drove down to the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, Guachala. Classic guinea pig appetizer for dinner, showers, pool and solid sleep until the next day. After having lunch at the Magic Bean, we drove to gorgeous Tambopaxi, from where we could see the cloud covered Cotopaxi...(we saw its impressive North face for only a few minutes). Now we are getting ready to move up to the upper refuge to prepare our planned summit attempt tonight. Team Cara Cara signing off.,

P.S. Kyle would like to wish Alex a happy 12th birthday and to say hello to Eric. I miss you guys.

February 6, 2004. Guachala.
(Note: cell phone problems have been preventing regular dispatches on this trip, what follows is an email from Jose Luis, recapping the first days of the expedition)
Greetings from the avenue of the volcanoes. We send our best wishes to our families and friends back in the States. We hope the problems with our cell-phones are solved, so we can keep you posted. We want to welcome to Ecuador our team members: Jerry Gale representing North Carolina and Kyle Bunting for Virginia although the two of them were born elsewhere. They are enjoying the contact with the local culture. We had a gorgeous first day and were able to admire Cayambe, Antizana and Cotopaxi in the distance. The team is also learning about Ecuadorian history and were impressed with the Baroque decorations on the facade and altars of the Jesuit church "La Compañia de Jesus". We had the chance to see the restoration of the gold leaves of the altars and while visiting the presidential palace we were able to watch the changing of the guard. The guards were wearing the uniforms from the Independence times.

We passed over the Equator on our way to the Ali-Shungu hotel and restaurant in Otavalo. Based on our home away from home we hiked around Cuicocha crater lake and got up to 15,000 ft on Cotacachi. New personal altitude record for Kyle. Congrats!

The team found its identity in a weird high altitude dream: the name "Cara-cara" was voted and accepted. Cara-cara is the name of the Andean falcon which has a distinctive orange face and is often seen flying and jumping around the mountain huts. It is a Qhichua word that means 'jump-jump'.

In the Otavalo Indian Market, Jerry demonstrated his lack of ability to haggle with the Indian merchants and unless Marga came to his rescue, it seemed that he was trying hard to raise the price of the merchandise he was negotiating. Marga is the lovely wife of Josè Luis, the Alpine Ascents guide.

After this, we loaded the vehicle and drove up to the Cayambe hut following a kidney damaging road according to Kyle. The refuge is at 15,100 ft of elevation and has a fantastic view of the Hermoso glacier and the south-west face of the mountain.

After surviving our first sleepless night at this altitude (another new record for Kyle) the team is acclimating well and eager for a break in the weather so we can attempt the summit of the third highest mountain in Ecuador. The word Cayambe comes from Quichua and means "Water, the Source of Life". We know this very well because we have been drinking a minimum of five liters of water per day.

We got part of our inspiration from Kyle's great selection of songs that we have been listening to from his MP3 player. We went to the glacier to review our skills on snow and mostly on ice. Team members showed confidence, enthusiasm and aptitude during the practices which has increased our will to succeed safely on our goals along the expedition. We want to mention that we we are maintaining our strength and waistlines through the plentiful and delicious food Marga has been preparing for us.

Jerry wants to say hello to: Margareth, Ben and Maddy. Kyle would like to say hi to: Jamie, Alex and Eric.

We are looking forward to the weather improving for our summit attempt and will try to keep you informed as often as we can. Wish us luck.

Cara-Cara Team signing off.

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January 22, 2004. Antizana.
Thank you for following us friends! After the success the SGP Team had on the highest volcano in the Andes, we need to express our content and congratulate all the members for their team work and their rewarding effort that was put into the limb to make it a life-altering experience. A special mention for Amy, being the only woman among 9 black sheep, worked so hard during the acclimatization and realize that all of the self-confidence that someone can build up to success with ourselves through any goals in life.

After a great night at La Cienega, an old enchanted hacienda, I'm enjoying an exquisite dinner while listening to Cotopaxi's folkloric band! we are all now back on the road again for our next challenge. Due to dry weather conditions that we have been enjoying so far, Chimborazo received the worst part. Most of the snow has been melted, and the ash of a neighbor volcano, located East, did the rest of the damage, making the normal route icy and prone to rock falling, resulting in why we have changed our plans to the fourth highest volcano in Ecuador, Antizana, with an altitude of 18,800 feet.

Named an ecological reserve because of the Condor nesting, it has the biggest glaciers in Ecuador, located NE of Cotopaxi, it covers great climbing expectations. For this climb we will be camping so that is the end for luxury! We hope the weather continues good for climbing and we are all looking forward to relax in a great spa resort with hot springs after the Antizana climb. The SGP, wish us luck, warm regards, ciao Amigos!

January 21, 2004. Cotopaxi Summit.
Hello, this is Team SGP calling from the summit of Cotopaxi! Here are some of the impressions from some of the team members, first off here is Amy: "Whoo hoo, I made it, all right, whoo hoo!" Now Ted: "Hi to Ginger Milo, Cecil, maybe one day you'll be up here too!" Now John, "Hello to Liz, I'm tired, but I made it up top!" Now it is Jeff's turn, "Hi Sue, we're on top of Cotopaxi, it's been a great trip so far." Now to Alex, "Hi Julie, hi people back home in Australia, especially Hanna, Dawn, Luke and Jack, bye."

January 20, 2004. Cotopaxi.
The SGP team is reporting to you today form the Cotopaxi Refuge at 15,750 feet, after an exciting bus ride, we had an easy hike up to the hut, where our mission was to hydrate, rest and prepare for the climb. After recharging energies with a four-season pizza, the team is ready and anxious for success on one of our big challenges and hopefully the whole team stands all together on the top of the most perfect snow cap.

January 19, 2004. Tambopaxi.
The SGP Team sends it's best to all cyberfans, after our successful ascent and new personal records set in altitude, Cayambe impressed us with an awe-inspiring sunrise at 18,800 feet. Great job to all! The Ecuadorian Andes are experiencing an unusual weather pattern, when the high pressure and a warm front moves in from the Pacific Ocean, affecting the Andean range with hot temperatures and extreme dry weather. This high pressure trend occurs each 1 or 2 years. As a result of this, the most prefect days have been recorded in Ecuador's climbing season, we really hope our luck continues.

Due to the success on our first big mountain, we are all looking forward to showers and rest alt lower altitude in Guachala, an old farm built on Inca settings. After admiring our namesake mascots during dinner, we ate it! The Reason why our name has been changed to SGP Team! Interesting experience! We are now back at 12,500 feet in Tambopaxi, our first altitude refuge and focus for our next goal Cotopaxi! The team has built confidence and to work all together will be the key. Wish us luck and more soon SGP Team signing out.

January 16, 2004. Cayambe Hut.
Hello cyber friends! At the end of an intensive day, we are gaining confidence in ourselves and our skills. The team managed to rest in their first night at altitude due to climbing expectations and for our skill practice on the glacier, self rescue and ice climbing were on top of the list. Our sincere admiration to Marga's cooking abilities, after surprising us with a full candlelit gourmet dinner. Thank you Alex for being always helpful and slicing the bird!

The team is ready after rest, feeling stronger and acclimatizing well. We inaugurated a very cozy and new built-extension of Cayambe's refuge, courtesy of Jose Luis and Rene who traded part of the bird for the key. We have a private bathroom and showers. We are still not sure about the name but Alex thinks that changing it now is bad luck. Some of the Snow Guinea Pig Team will keep you informed about our progress after our summit attempt tomorrow night, when we have a 3900 foot elevation gain that will take us approximately 8 hours.

The good weather is holding but we don't want to talk about it due to previous experiences on this mountain. Hasta la vista amigos. PS the team agrees that today's sunset was the most impressive so far in Ecuador.

January 15, 2004. Cayambe Hut.
Hello friends. The no-name team is working it's way to altitude, our hike to Cotocachi was rewarded by an awesome sunset at 15,500 feet. We are slowly beginning to get used to the thin air. After surviving a guinea pig stampede, we visited one of the most famous weavers in Otavalo, who showed us the laborious techniques for making various wall-hangings and llama-design embroidery, making our visit unique. We now know how to spend so much in such a small time while trying to prove in practice our bargaining skills in the famous indigenous market of Otavalo. It is always a great intercultural experience.

After the splendid color that the sunset that delighted us with at 16,100 feet, we are now in the Refuge of Cayambe at 15,250 feet, to experience our first night at high altitude. The mountain is impressive, the whole team is looking forward to reviewing glacier skills tomorrow. The acclimatization is getting better and the weather is so far so good. Everybody wants to say hello to their families and friends. More soon, take care. Jose Luis signing off.
P.S. We have come up with a name for the team: The Snow Guinea Pig Team. The Ecuadorian equivalent to the Russian mountaineering prize known as The long-lived fart(?)

January 13, 2004. Quito – Ecuador.
Welcome friends to our first 2004 Ecuador Expedition, sending you all the best energy for the new year. Our expedition members arrived full of expectation and enthusiasm. Welcome to John M, Rob F, Jeff A, Steve S, Ted L, Amy L, and Alex V. The colonial visit to Quito is always cultural in feeling, this time we had the opportunity to visit one of the most historical churches, La Companera, that after surviving a substantive fire, opens it's doors to learn how modern restoring techniques save a world that is gone.

We're now in Otovalo relaxing as our first expeditions had, around the ancient crater lake of Cuicocha. Our learning process begins with outstanding weather, amazing views of Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Antizana which encourages us to give our best on every new challenge and making new friends is always a gratifying experience. Our time limit has come up to pick a team name tomorrow, until then, all the best.

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(Editor's note: the past few cybercasts were sent by email due to reception difficulties while climbing)

December 28, 2003. Quito – Ecuador.
Hello cybernauts. Most of the members of Team C Cubed are on their way back home after a wonderful farewell dinner last night in Quito (some of us were still feeling the effects of a karaoke night in Riobamba where the unplugged version of Mamma Mia from Queen won the prize). It has been a great trip and an excellent learning experience for the crew. I am sad to see everyone go. Many thanks and Happy New Year!!!
Josè Luis signing off.

December 26, 2003. Riobamba – Ecuador.
Hello this is Josè Luis calling from Riobamba. The route conditions on Chimborazo were very icy and the sky was heavy with ash from neighboring volcano Tungurahua. Later on the climb, we could see lightning right behind the mountain (signs of an approaching storm). The very good snow-conditions that we found only two weeks ago are gone (in fact most of the snow is gone two-thirds of the way up) making the climb much harder and exposed. However, the team is okay with the decision to turn around. Now we are looking forward to a well-deserved rest in Abraspungo our home base in this green province.
Thanks and so long. Josè Luis.

December 25, 2003. Whymper Hut Chimborazo.
Greetings from Refugio Whymper. It is Christmas day and everybody woke up feeling revitalized and excited for our summit bid tonight. It took only 30 minutes for the team to get here (16,400 ft) from the lower Carrel hut (15,750 ft). The weather is cloudy so we have not had the opportunity yet to check the current conditions up there on the glacier. We carbo-loaded pasta for dinner, in preparation for our long journey to the summit, which will begin in a few more hours. The plan is to get up at 10 pm and start the climb at about 11 pm.

Well muchachos, we are about to head to bed and try to get some sleep. Wish us luck!
More soon. Josè Luis.

December 24, 2003. Chimborazo Base Camp.
Hello amigos, this is Josè Luis calling from Abraspungo Base Camp located at the foothills of Chimborazo. Spirits are up and we are all thinking of our loved ones and friends. We want to send our Christmas wishes to you all back home.

Yesterday we learned a bit more about Ecuadorian culture and history while staying at La Cienega and visiting San Agustin del Callo, both old haciendas full of history and beauty. Minutes ago, the crew met by the cozy fireplace and everybody enjoyed the good conversations and received colorful Otovalo wool hats as Christmas presents in a very friendly atmosphere.

Tomorrow, we will move up to the Whymper hut on Chimbo (16,400ft) hoping to find good conditions for our summit bid. Merry Christmas to all again from Team “C cubed”.
Josè Luis signing off.

December 22, 2003. Cotopaxi Summit.
After a short night of sleep, tasty instant oatmeal and lemon cake for breakfast, we headed up to the mountain at about 12:50 (according to Mark’s watch again) in a starry beautiful night, perfect conditions and the lights of Quito in the background. We roped up and put crampons on before the glacier starts because the red scree was covered with hard and nice snow (according to Liz: “delightfully cramponable”).

We found the first part of the glacier heavily crevassed and technical in a few short sections which included “the traverse of death” in the dark. After which icy vertical steps led to another crevassed area culminating in the trembling “lip of fate”, a shallow 30 foot-deep crevasse. Then we ascended up to the next challenge, dropped into a crevasse, crossed a snow bridge and climb up to the flanks of the headwall. We could see the dawn on the west ridge, orange colors were painting the sky in the background and the mountains revealed their beauty.

Jaime put in a few snow stakes to protect the steepest sections of the final snow slope. Despite the massive fatigue of the team, we continued up the last 700 feet to the summit. In Dave’s words: “the guides were awesome, they danced across the snow like the mythical yeti”. The sun rose over the summit, then we knew we would make the peak. Jaime’s team got there first, José Luis’s team held up consistently by the former one. Then it was celebration time with high fives and hand shakes. Paul left his own artifact to memorialize his summit bid to the end of time. We were rewarded with spectacular views of the Ecuadorian Andes. Tungurahua erupted in the shadow of Chimborazo, our final challenge. We safely descended, quickly flashed “the traverse of death”. By then, we were roasting in the sun reflecting of the glacier like the guinea pigs at the spit of señor José Cotacachi (the famous Otavalo master weaver).

We got off the oven (glacier), unroped and release our harnesses (big moment for Liz for nature's call). Then we tramped on the snow and loose scree so finally we all could ring the celebratory summit bell which hangs outside of the entrance of the hut. After packing, we headed down for showers and cervezas.

According to the now classic Mark’s watch, our summit time was 8:45 am, left it at 9:15am and were back to the José Ribas refuge at about 11:20 am.

Phenomenal pizza for dinner, real pepperoni (not guinea pig yet) after which we were on a crash course with bed.

The C Cubed Team wishes everyone back home a Merry Christmas! On Chimborazo, we hope the summit will be our Christmas present. Go C Cubed minus one!

Best to you,

Team C Cubed.
PS.- No matter what, we have got a C. We want to mention Brandt’s making snow-angels offerings on the summit of Cotopaxi to appease the volcano gods.
José Luis signing off. More soon. Please keep tuned.

December 19, 2003. Cayambe
Table climbing and self rescue from the rafters. The team braved the wind and climbed to 16,000 ft with spectacular views of the Hermoso glacier to buoy our spirits. We ended our acclimatization hike at a 30 foot deep glacial cave.

After another one of Marga's amazing meals, we headed onto the glacier for ice axe and crampon skills review. The weather prohibited our summit attempt, so we headed to the Hacienda Guachala for hot showers. Guachala is the oldest hacienda in Ecuador with a history dating from 1485. Every room has a fireplace!

Weather improves and we head to Cotopaxi, our next goal. Our first day we climbed 2000 vertical feet to an elevation of 16,750 ft (according to Mark's watch) the base of the glacier.

By 8:00 pm we were back at the mountain hut enjoying a great meal and looking forward to a great night's sleep.

Everyone's excitement is growing with the summit attempt beginning around 1:30 am Monday morning.

More soon. All the best. Team C Cubed.

José Luis signing off.

PS.- Happy Birthday Jennifer, I love you very much from Todd.

December 16-17, 2003. Otovalos - Cayambe, Ecuador.
After a good night of sleep and a nice breakfast, we were ready for our first high altitude hike on Mother Cotocatchi. as this old Volcano is know by the 40,000 Otovalo Indians who live in this area. The weather was good while driving up to them tonight (15,200 feet) but once we got there the wind started to pick up and tried to make us lose our balance. In spite of having to fight the winds, the group's spirit was always up and we had a good time. The height of 15,000 feet was an altitude record for four climbers. As soon as we got back to the camp, we left the clouds behind and the sunshine accompanied us all the way down to our home base the town of Otovalos. Climbers are getting spoiled with hot showers and down pillows. We met for dinner by the fire and good conversation until it was time to go to bed. We slept like a rock until it was time to eat again!

After breakfast (Waffles, French toast etc. etc.) We visited Jose Cotocatchi 's workshop to admire his wonderful weaving and learned how the locals raise guinea pigs (we won't mention what happens to the guinea pigs later on). Afterwards we headed back to the Indian market where the climbers worked on their bargaining skills with the various merchants. Finally the time came to climb. Cayambe is our next step. Driving toward Cayambe we saw a couple of condors and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We hiked up to the refuge (15,300 feet) where we reviewed our skills (knots, crevasse rescue). Dinner was great, there was a lot of pasta and chocolate cake while listening to The Buena Vista Social Club. Keep tuned and wish us luck with the weather.

P.S. Finally we agreed on a Team Name: CQ, for attempting the 3 peaks we hope to climb.

December 15, 2003. Quito, Ecuador.
Hello dear friends. All the members of Team II have arrived to Ecuador with no problems. They are doing well and starting to get used to the altitude gradually. Yesterday, we visited the old town in Quito and everybody was impressed by the beauty of the Colonial churches, specially La Compañia, which is said to be the most beautiful church in the Americas. Built between 1605 and 1768, it is calculated that about seven tons of gold were needed to ornate its altars, ceilings and walls of baroque design. Also the group was amazed getting in San Francisco church and convent, the oldest and largest Colonial edifice. Built on the remains of an Inca palace destroyed by the Spanish conquers back in 1534.

That was yesterday, today we did our first acclimation hike around Cuicocha lake, the word Cuicocha comes from quichua and means guinea pig lake because the ancient Indians used to raise these little animals in the two volcanic islands that are in the middle of the lake (however at present nobody has seen any wild cui in the surroundings). The team members did a very good job and despite it raining at the beginning, later on we could enjoy the sunny afternoon with the shells inside our back packs. At the end of the hike, we had the opportunity to observe Cotacachi. It made us feel very excited about trying to reach 15.000 ft on this pointy peak tomorrow. Good food and plenty of water is the plan for the rest of the day. Please keep following our reports. Best to you. Josè Luis signing off from the Ecuadorian Andes

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December 5, 2003. Chimborazo, Ecuador.
Chimborazo Summit. Our final ascent started through one of the most perfect nights for climbing. The sky was full of stars. Our approach to the summit ridge at 17.800 feet was very enjoyable with great snow conditions. Later, we were surprised by an unusual cold wind coming from the Pacific cost, which helped to keep all the clouds away from the mountain but at the same time made the temperature dropped dramatically and became a real issue for the team at 19.000 feet. The members of our expedition were getting cold because of the wind and had to make a very hard decision. We passed the Tile Breaker’s flag to Craig and Edison at that point, who had the vitality and whom we truly respect for the indomitable will to stand on the farthest point from the center of the earth! Thanks and congratulations guys!
We are all proud of ourselves for the great team spirit and looking forward to rest and share our experiences with those we love.

Now Quito is waiting for us to celebrate together its foundation day and a farewell dinner to say goodbye and to hope see each other again sharing an unforgettable experience once again. Many thanks for having followed and supported us!

Team Tile Breakers will be back! Josè Luis.

December 3, 2003. Cotopaxi, Ecuador.
Congratulations team Tile Breakers! We are now asleep at 15,800 feet after an 8-hour ascent through perfect weather conditions. Five of our team members stood amazed on the summit with the reward of outstanding views on the highest active volcano of the Ecuadorian Andes, Cotopaxi! We have to express our content and admiration for everyone on the team. Congratulations to David, Rodrigo, Big Ben, Jude, Craig and a big applause to the effort, great team work and new personal successes that all of our team members worked so hard for! Great Job!

After a good day's rest in the full of history and magical Hacienda of La Cienega, the expedition members are relaxing and beginning to understand that the challenge with any personal goals is with ourselves. Our final test is yet to come! After an historic review of some ancient Inca Ruins in St Augustine, we drove to our next home base, the Carrel refuge of Chimborazo (15,800 feet). The mountain looks in good condition and big, but we have faith and we feel strong as a team. Many thanks for following and supporting us from a distance.

Team Tile Breakers.

November 30, 2003. Cotopaxi, Ecuador.
Hello cyberland. It seems our luck has changed with the weather. After witnessing the spikes of the flag poles glowing outside of the refuge of Cayambe, we understood the risks of climbing during an electric storm was too high to be taken. After sunrise we decided to get our hearts working and climb above 16,000 ft. Anyway, our timing at altitude was productive and after a hot shower and enjoying the fireplace in one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador. We are now in the Cotopaxi refuge, focused and eager to do our best in one of our main goals on the highest, active volcano in the world. We are thinking positive thoughts and hoping Cotopaxi will be good to us. More from us later, from Team Tile Breakers. PS Regardless of our desire to climb these big peaks we sure do love our 4 star accommodations in between with their good beds, good food, hot showers and creative conversations. We miss our loved ones. Have a nice day, Jose Luis.

November 28, 2003. Cayambe, Ecuador.
Hello everybody in cyberland calling from the Cayambe refuge for the Tile Breakers. Today was the last training day before our summit attempt, turned out to be instructive and after figuring out how not to hang ourselves with knots, the glacier travel practice gave us a good sense of what to expect during the climb and what is most important how to work as a team. We are now resting and getting ready for our long summit night. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the weather to continue smiling at us.

All the Tile Breakers are optimistic and have a great spirit feeling to make this a success. Wish us luck and stay tuned. Team Tile Breakers.

PS.- Craig would like to say Happy 4th Birthday to Jasper.

November 27, 2003. Cayambe, Ecuador.
Team Tile Breakers wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving Day back home from Cayambe's refuge. Turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie at 15,000 feet just as good as home. Marga (Josè Luis's wife) is a world famous chef that has yet to be discovered, and eight privileged guys enjoyed her cooking with candle light and a warm festive atmosphere that helped us appreciate our home away from home.

The whole team felt well after spending our first night in high altitude. The skills practice day turn out to be very productive.

Everybody enjoyed the ice climbing, self arrest, self rescue, crampon techniques and learning about crampon repair. Big Benjamin thanks Josè Luis for his crampon repair ingenuity. With this said we are going to bed to digest all this turkey that we had for dinner.

Our count down begins for our first big summit attempt. Signing off. Team Tile Breakers.

November 25, 2003. Cotacachi, Ecuador.
Hello everybody. Finally the team agreed on a name: The Tile Breakers after a team member (we don't want to mention by name) decided to drag his huge duffle bag up the stairs of our home base taking along a couple of tiles as souvenirs during the process. Right David?
Today after driving up to 13,000 ft our goal, Cotacachi rewarded us with a great view of the Imbabura valley. Everybody succeeded reaching 15,200 ft and we are beginning to understand how our bodies react to altitude. The weather was much better giving us plenty photo opportunities.

After a delightful dinner and a tile repairing evening, we are looking forward to put in practice to put in practice our bargaining skills in one of the oldest Indian markets of South America. Hoping our luck with weather continues, our next challenge will be to sleep at Cayambe's refuge for the next nights, to review skills and to get ready for our first big ascent. Greetings from Team Tile Breakers. See you soon. Josè Luis.

November 24, 2003. Cotacachi, Ecuador.
Sending our regards to everyone from the middle of the world. The No Name Team Has crossed the acclimatization start line with stunning views of Cuicocha Crater Lake. We are starting to have the pleasure to know each other and stretching the group's bonds.
After driving north of Quito and taking the classic photo shot standing on both hemispheres, we drove through breathtaking scenery to where will be our home base the ancient market town of Otavalo. After our first 11,000 foot challenge, the group is beginning to get confident and willing to encourage each other in our next elevation gain of another 2,000 feet, on the jagged volcano Cotacachi. Hoping to succeed in our next goal, No Name Team says hello to all the loved ones back home.

Keep following our cyber reports in our adventures through altitude. All the best to everyone. Josè Luis signing out.

November 23, 2003. Quito, Ecuador.
Greetings from Quito. Welcome to Alpine Ascents Ecuador Volcanoes 2003 - 2004 Season. The expedition team arrived yesterday to Quito, the Ecuadorian capital located in the Andes at 9000 feet of elevation. Today, we visited the old town. It was a great opportunity to admire its beautiful Colonial architecture. We could easily walk along the narrow streets empty of vehicles, as nobody is allowed to drive in this part of the city on Sundays. Our first “acclimatization climb” took us to a vantage point situated in one of the towers of the impressive Basilica Church from where we had a panoramic view of Quito and the surrounding mountains and valleys. We continued to visit San Francisco and La Compañia Churches before walking into the Presidential Palace also known as Palacio Carondelet.

We finished our first visit with Ecuador rich culture and past driving to the top of el Panecillo hill, with views comparable only to those we had earlier from the Basilica towers. It is a pleasure to get to meet the members of the team: Clement Hey, Ed Wilkins, Jeff Silverberg, Ben Whitfield, Dave Hill, Rodrigo Montañez, Charles Lotte, Craig Ladkin and Jon Lieb. All of them are doing well and eager to head to the mountains. Tomorrow we will drive north to walk around Cuicocha Crater Lake. Again, welcome everyone and please follow us along our adventure through the Andes of Ecuador. All the best, Josè Luis.

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