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[TR] The Ecuador Adventure - 12/9/2009

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Trip: The Ecuador Adventure -


Date: 12/9/2009


Trip Report:

This is part one of the South American Adventure. A TR of Aconcagua will follow…


Step one: locate wind.


Step two: pick up caution.


Step three: throw that shit out.


Like All good stories this starts at the bar....


I met Mike in between rounds of whiskey shots at a Government Camp dive. We were both finishing a first aid course that weekend when fate threw us together. Mike’s plan was to climb some peaks in Ecuador, then head to Argentina and try out Aconcagua. For the previous couple of months I had been trying to find a partner to do the same trip. Badgering friends, and even trolling online climb partner postings.


I crammed my junk into a freshly purchased duffle bag and was on a plane to Quito 9 days later. Somehow, I had managed to finish a number of finals, and term papers in a tiny amount of time.


Mike and I are both solid intermediate climbers. We headed south not to put up new lines but to climb some mountains, test ourselves at altitude, and have a great time.


After acclimatizing on Rucu Pinchincha, Illiniza Norte, and Imbabura.


Imbabura is off most climbers standard itinerary. It should be included as it's a more interesting acclimatization hike. In the small town of La Esperanza is the kindest hostel owner operating Casa Aida. Don’t tell my Mum, but Aida cooks the best pancake I have ever had! On the day I left, I ordered two of her delicious breakfasts. The climb is another straightforward walk up with beautiful vistas of the agrarian community.




Leaving Quito after a heavy night of boozing our first real climb was Cotopaxi (19,347). With less than a 100 feet to the summit we turned around on the final stretch. The snow was exceedingly soft. Worried that the sun would hit it and make the descent more treacherous we called it a day within sight of the summit.



The undulating snow slope next to the standard Cotopaxi route


To get to the Cayambe (18,996) summit we crossed through an ice cauldron. We were sheltered from the wind in this huge natural auditorium, but the route was exceedingly difficult to find. Guides had told us that a serac had recently collapsed and drastically changed the normal route.





Group ascending Cayambe.


Lastly, we topped out on the 20,561 ft Chimborazo. We had met up with a british climber and the three of us split a truck direct from Quito for a $100 each way. Chimbo is a pain in the ass, and I dragged ass from the altitude.



On the way to Chimborazo's Whymper summit.



Mike during a gear explosion at SAE


60 bucks gets you a membership to the South American Explorers. In addition to being a wealth of travel information, they have a locked garage that can be used as a gear storage in between trips.


Ecuador is an amazing country that is treat to visit. Friendly people, delicious food, and excellent travel infrastructure. The country is bisected by the North-South pan-American highway. Jump on a bus heading in your direction and get off at the nearest town. From there it's not too difficult to hire a truck to the refugio. Refugio's generally run 20-25 bucks a night, and include propane stoves, and running water.



Gear Notes:

We did the standard routes up these mountains. Nothing too difficult. To include climbing details would plagiarize the Bradt climbing guide that we used.


White gas can be used to refine cocaine. It isn't allowed to be imported into Ecuador. Searching can sometimes find white gas in hardware stores but at exorbitant prices. The cannisters available at local gear stores don't have threads to make them compatible with a Jet Boil.


Approach Notes:

A long plane ride

Edited by whoiswillhockett

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Thanks for reminding me of Ecuador. Me and a couple of buddies were there in January and had a fantastic trip. Guagua and Illinizas for acllimatization and 1 week at Antisana. Our original plan was to spend a week at El Altar but the volcanoe outside of Banos was way to active. Access to Altar was an issue with ash covering the road.


Antisana was a fantastic mountain. We had the entire mountain to ourselves and the view of Cotopaxi was incredible. Although we had multiple attempts, extreme winds and AMS stopped us from summiting. I would love to go back and spend a couple of weeks climbing on all four peaks.


2 for 1 drinks in quito :grin:


Thanks for the trip report..

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My biggest adventure in Ecuador was sitting on a park bench in the old area of Quito. Some guy grabbed me around the neck and tried to stab me with a knife. I deflected the knife with my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook and a brief wrestling match ensued. Once back on our feet, we found ourselves facing off with our respective weapons. Realizing that his knife was no match for my tome (or perhaps a bit freaked out by my wild eyes and profanity infused threats), he wisely fled. I then realized that I had only been screaming at him in English. I decided to punctuate my victory with something in Spanish. I can't really say why I chose to yell "You're lucky!", but adrenaline crossed some wires and it came out "You're sleepy!" This of course thoroughly confused the on-lookers who had wandered out of their homes to see what was going on. I added to their puzzlement by then announcing "He had a big spoon!"


I climbed a mountain too.

Edited by mneagle

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Awesome! I did a very similar trip after graduating from college in 1998. Headed to Quito and acclimated on GuaGua, then climbed Cayembe, Cotopaxi and Chimbo. Then headed down to Bolivia to climb Illimani, then to Peru to the Inca trail and then down to Argentina to climb Aconcagua. Finished off the trip doing the circuit in Los Glaciers, hanging with Steve Schneider after his first solo ascent of the central tower of Torres and hitchhiking down the Carreterra Astral getting fropped off to flyfish untouched Patagonian rivers. You will have very few chances in life to do a trip like that again once settled into a career, family anld responsibilities. Enjoy it while you can. I took money from savings to do the trip. When my Dad, who was a stock broker, questioned me on my return on my investment for the trip vs. keepingit invested. I simply replied that it was "priceless." I still feel that way today, 13 years later.

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For anyone wishing to get info on ecuador, I guide there each december, here is my blog, feel free to ask questions regarding hotels, transport etc


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