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David_Zeps

[TR] Cotopaxi, Ecuador - Jose Ribas Hut 5/13/2010

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Trip: Cotopaxi, Ecuador - Jose Ribas Hut

 

Date: 5/13/2010

 

Trip Report:

The route up Cotopaxi (19,350') from Jose Ribas hut (15,750') has become more complicated in the last few weeks, and according to folks at the hut the route is changing almost weekly.

We climbed 5/13/10. 2 days earlier several major snow bridges on the direct route from Jose Ribas Hut had collapsed and several ladders that spanned crevasses had been destroyed by shifts in the glacier.

The day before we climbed our 2 guides explored the route themselves and flagged a very convoluted route up the glacier, crossing a dozen or more snow bridges, some of which were quite airy. Parts of the route were under threatening seracs.

Starting at midnight, with the guides, we(4 of us) hiked up scree and pumice for about 1000 feet directly from the hut, then climbed, roped and belayed at points through a complex series of swithchbacks, snow bridges and along a scary 30 foot 6 inch wide ice ledge (mostly in the dark by headlamp) to the summit. 6.5 hours up and about 3 hours down. There was no path in the snow and the flags placed by our guides the day before were essential to finding the route. We would have never found our way through the cravasses without the guides' homework. Snow got very soft by 8am.

 

Gear Notes:

Rope, harness, crampons, ice ax; guides used 2 ice screws and 1 long picket for protecting some dicey ice ledges and snow bridges.

Warm clothes, rain pants but temps were moderate, maybe 25 degrees at the summit so thick down clothing and heavy gloves weren't needed. Temps climbed rapidly after about 7 am and we were shedding clothing on the way down. My rain pants got stolen at Jose Ribas hut, luckily I didn't need them. Watch your gear carefully.

 

Approach Notes:

We acclimated by spending a few days in Quito and Cuenca (about 9,000'), a day at Quilotoa Lake (12,900') and then 2 days at Hosteria Tambopaxi (12,500') in Cotopaxi Park. Tambo is a very comfortable place, with hiking right out the door. We did one hike to about 16,500' while at Tambopaxi and spent one day and night at Jose Ribas Hut (15,750') before climbing. We took diamox, ? if it helped but we generally felt OK.

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