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snugtop

Chimborazo ?

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I climbed it in 2001. I was travelling alone in Eduador without any gear, so I found a guide in Riobamba who could outfit me w/ size 12 plastics and some reasonable outerwear. I had been in the NE of the country, camping in the jungle at about 500 feet for the week before. I wanted to acclimatize in Riobamba for a few days before heading up to the refugio, but my guide wasn't in the mood and convinced me that the weather was going to change. Since I was only in Ecuador for 2 weeks total (and was young, male and stupid), I went for it. This was not wise.

 

The road takes you all the way to the refugio at 5000m. It's warm and you get some decent food from the kitchen. At this point I was still feeling pretty good. After a few hours of sleep, we started off at around 1:00AM. There is a very short section down low where you have to make a few simple 4th class moves. It's no big deal but it's the only spot with significant rock fall potential, so you should get through it as quickly as you can. From there it was a lot of step kicking through 10 inches of powder over neve. The two of us joined another team of 3 and we took turns breaking trail. The headache began after a few hours and by the time we reached 6000m I was feeling pretty shitty and started dragging ass. I stopped breaking trail and it took everything I had to get to the Veintemilla summit at around 6240m. The beauty of the view was somewhat blunted by the throbbing in my head and waves of nausea. The Whymper summit was only another 70m or so higher and within view. However, to get to it we would have had to lose altitude and cross a field of pentientes and then climb back up. If acclimatized it probably would have taken about an hour, but my physiology was still camping in the jungle so I high-tailed it back down before the HAPE/HACE had a chance to set in.

 

The route didn't strike me as being any more dangerous or difficult than most of the alpine in WA, but that was a few years ago. I've made 3 trips to Bolivia from 1997 to 2002 and was shocked at the glacial recession. If the same forces have been at work in Ecuador over the last few years, the route may have changed considerably in character. I bet you could get up to date information from Mountain Madness, as they regularly lead trips to the area. They usually stick to Cotopaxi and Cayambe but I believe they sometimes climb Chimbo'.

 

Also, I'd recommend acclimatizing on some lower peaks before trying Chimborazo. (duh)

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I climbed in Ecuador in the spring of 2003 with a VERY good local guide (who I can recommend if you are interested). I hoped to head for Chimbo but he highly recommended against it because of all of the melting that was occurring countrywide on the volcanoes in Ecuador. He said Chimbo in particular was quite dangerous and icy and that just hiking up it required a running belay. We went up Cotopaxi and Illiniza Sur instead and had a great time. Illiniza Sur was also melting like crazy, and the glacier that had been on Illiniza Norte 5 years earlier was completely gone. I can't imagine Chimbo is much better now than it was then but the international climbing companies are still guiding it so who knows. PM me if you want my guide's contact info, he was amazing and has been guiding peaks down there for 25+ years, if nothing else he'd be a great resource for current info on the area.

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I climbed it in January 1999. Getting onto the route was a bit dicey, but after that, it was straight going. I have heard that it has melted out considerably. I would call the local guides down there, but if you are going with an expeirenced climbing partner, then it is no more difficult than doing the FInger on Rainier. When I was down there it was more like the Emmons with less crevasses and higher altitude. Acclimating will be more difficult. Acclimate on other volcanoes like El Cayambe and Cotapaxi, then stay at the lower hut and move up to the upper hut. There is also an amazing estancia built back in the 1700s that you can stay at for around $15, but then again I was there when the revolt occurred and they switched to American $ and shut down all of Quito. One of my fraternity brothers owns a hostel and internet cafe there in New Town Quito called The Magic Bean. Cool place to stay when in QUito with a lot of trekkers and internet cafes......Also, after climbed Chimbo, head to the town of Banos for some soaking in the hot springs. Just outside of town, there is a bridge (near the zoo I think) across a dep canyon. Just on the other side is a little farm. You can pay the farmer 50 cents to let you hike down across his property to some awesome sport climbing down in this deep gorge. Crazy basalt (no cracks) and quartzite in the area with a raging river cutting just to the right of you.

Edited by ryland_moore

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This winter Chimbo was not in very good condition. There is a lot of rockfall potential on the lower mountain and serious melting. The upper mountain is still in good condition and makes for a good climb. If you don't mind the objective dangers and difficult unaesthic climbing low on the mountain, then you will be rewarded on the upper slopes.

 

I found Cayambe and Cotopaxoi to be beautiful mountains with genuinely fun climbs on them. I would suggest these over Chimbo any day...

 

Jason

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