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[TR] Ecuador - Pinchicha, Antisana, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo 1/16/2012

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Trip: Ecuador - Pinchicha, Antisana, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo


Date: 1/16/2012


Trip Report:

I have been wanting to go climbing in Ecuador for several years. When I have the partners, I didn’t have the money. When I have the money, I didn’t have the partners. Finally, I decided to pay for partners. Going with a guide service made for a luxurious and stress free adventure.


Ecuador is different. Being at 10,000 feet and having warm weather was weird for a NW guy. We had a nice hike around town to start the acclimatization. Our first objective slowly got me used to climbing at the equator. I have been to the summit of Rainier a couple times, so I have a certain idea about what the weather at 14,400 feet should be.



The first objective was Pinchicha, 15,500. This picture shows us at the summit. Not exactly snow and ice.



Then we were off the Antisana, a huge collapsed volcano. The first pictures shows the group on the ascent. As we were going up the glacier, I felt the entire face of one of the gulleys just drop about 3 inches. A very scary and weird feeling. Like a short earthquake. However, this was not a good sign. Higher up, after digging a pit, the layers indicated serious avalanche danger. We made the right decision to turn back, but it never feels good. Here is a panoramic looking towards Cotopaxi in the clouds. Our third objective.





Cotopaxi is a beautiful mountain. We spent a night in the park resting at the Tambopaxi lodge!! Then on to the Jose Ribas hut.



After spending a night at the hut (with 100 others), we left around midnight for the summit. What was good weather the day before, was hurricanes and “viento blanco”, white wind for our summit bid. The rime ice continually grew on our shells as we approached the summit. Traversing the huge crevasse field was a lot of fun. A couple of us got to about 800 feet from the summit before the remaining guides turned us around. I really wanted to see the crater, but it was not meant to be.




Last objective was Chimborazo. The furthest point from the center of the Earth and the big challenge, 20,700 feet. We felt acclimatized, but about 1/3 of the group was out with a viral infection. I just wanted to get to the summit and then I didn't care if I got the groups infection. Again, a short hike to the huts, food, and then an attempt at bed. Sleeping at 16,500 is not easy and I got zero sleep. By the way, don’t use a 500ml Nalgene for your pee bottle. If you have 550 ml’s of pee, it’s not pretty.


The climbing was tough due to the snow conditions. Occasional solid snow, but mostly sugar snow. One step up and a half step back. We arrived at the Ventimilla summit. About 200 meters below, but about 30minute hike from the true summit. I was about to pull the plug. A little rest, food and I was so glad I pushed on. Here are some pictures of the last hundred feet, a dorky one of me on the summit and another looking back at the Ventimilla summit.






An incredible adventure. The guides at Alpine ascents were incredibly strong and a joy to spend 2 weeks with.


Gear Notes:

ice axe, glacier gear, goggles


Approach Notes:

1 long flight, several short hikes to nice huts.

Edited by sharp_end

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Excellent work. I've stood on top of Cotopaxi and been darn near the summit of Cayambe (damn bergshrund collapse). Anyhoo, looks like a great trip. I bet Pinchincha was awesome! To climb up and see all of Quito must be incredible!

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Skeletor, I'm sure your question was directed to sharp_end. However, I went guided on my trip and was very happy with IMG. Phil Ershler basically loaded up down to Ecuador way back and developed this as an international climbing destination and the other guide services followed. That means that IMG's trip is a little special - you get to go to off the beat places, meet amazing people and such. You're even more lucky if you go on a trip with Phil. He has a lot of insider knowledge. The best part about an IMG trip is interacting with Romulo Cardenas. Romulo is a famous adventurer, mountaineer and guide in Ecuador - you might have seen his picture in a Patagonia calendar before. He's an amazing climber and an excellent guy! Finally, IMG trips introduce you to Jorge Anhalzer. The Anhalzer family is a famous one in Ecuador. Jorge's passion (other than climbing) is to fly around the volcanoes of Ecuador in ultralights alone and take amazing pictures (panoramas & such). Jorge's work is stunning: http://www.jorgeanhalzer.com/. Anyhow, my trip in 2010 was fantastic.

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Skeletor, I went with Alpine Ascents. The main guide Jose Luis was a joy off the mountain and a powerful general on the mountain. A great combination. The other guides that we had for the trip were also professional and strong. The 1:1 guide ratio for Chimborazo was excellent. Most of my group turned back. Only two of us made it to the top. I did not know these people before we met in Quito. I would hate to have my opportunity jeapordized because I was hooked to someone that couldn't make it.


However, I fell in love with the pictures of Jorge Anhalzer. He is very well know. I would have loved to meet him.

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Jorge is amazing. What he does in his ultralight is pure real adventure. For someone who lives at 480 feet, hearing of his flights at 20k in open air while photographing is totally spectacular.


Good stuff - gotta go back to get Chimbo and finally get up Cayambe.

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awesome trip, cool panoramas. Know what you mean about the small pee bottle....been there

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