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February 2005 in Ecuador

26 Feb: A Columbia!

I'm off to Columbia. If I'm kidnapped you can send donations for my release via paypal to my account: slackerbigg. Anything not used to buy my freedom will be put towards a climbing trip to Afganistan or maybe a beach trip to sunny Iraq. :)

I don't know when my next website update will be. I plan on finding a secure place to store almost all of my stuff in Bogotá and keeping it there. That includes the laptop. I'll be able to pick up email from time to time of course, but I probably won't be able to update the website until near the end of March.

Follow me to Colombia.

23 - 24 Feb: Carihuairazo: you've got to be kidding


I left the hostel early in the morning for Ambato where I changed buses for Guaranda which I never saw because I got off at a tiny village to start my hike to the mountain. It took around four hours to reach camp below the glacier. The weather was great and I took a ton of photos.

Thursday morning I packed and started up the moraine. From camp it was just 10 minutes to the glacier and I was camped less than 400 meters below the summit. It should have been a pretty quick climb. The glacier was fairly small and rather gentle. It was crevassed but none were very big and didn't pose any danger to me. The glacier portion of the route was easy and fun. It lasted about an hour then I had to climb up through a bunch of loose, shattered rock to the rim. That wasn't nice but it wasn't a problem either. The problem came at the rim. The guidebook said that the route "traverses left along a knife-edged ridge of rotten rock" and also that the last few meters are loose with a little exposure." Well I don't think the person responsible for that description has even seen the mountain. The previous day, from MILES away, Summit of Carihuairazo I could see that the summit was a large, vertical sided rock tower separated from the rest of the rigde by a notch. "How am I going to climb that?" I asked myself. Well there must be some hidden way because the guidebook calls it a scramble, I reasoned. The route gains the glacier on the left and traverses right, climbing up to the glacier's highest point. From there it was a loose hike through a gulley to the right side of the crest. Once there it follows the crest to the summit. You can see that in the photo.

So there I am on the rim staring at the traverse. I'm looking at a steep rock wall with no easy way up. I spent a lot of time looking around and finally decided that I was in the right spot. I began with a 4th or 5th class chimney (9.3 MB mov) and I was flabbergasted. How could the guidebook not mention this? Then after a short trip along the sandy top I was stopped cold. On the other side of a notch (which couldn't be downclimbed) was the summit tower (8.1 MB mov). There was no way to reach it without a rappel into the notch that I could see and once there it would be a technical rock climb over a fatal drop to reach the summit. I was shocked. With rock shoes and a belay I'd give it a try but not solo. How is it possible that the guidebook didn't mention this feature at all? Ridiculous! It's visible from the road! Anyone with one eye could see the tower and notch from far away. You could write a better route description by simply looking at the mountain from below.

My climb ended around 5000 meters (16,500 ft) or 10 - 20 meters below the summit. Pretty annoying. I did get many good photos and enjoyed the trip however. I hope you'll take a look at my Carihuairazo gallery. The movies are good too.

22 Feb: Our going away party

We (Morgan, Ely, myself, and 2 clients) left Quito for the hostel in the early afternoon. Arthur and Paul (his replacement) were already there with Kirill, the Russian I climbed Rumiñahui with. This worked out really great for me because I was planning on heading further south the next day for my last Ecuadorian mountain ascent (this trip) the next day. That would cut my bus time in almost half and give me a couple more hours of sleep. That night the festivities started. It was a nice party and the rum flowed freely. A bunch of World Challenge students showed up so there were a lot of people. I managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour so I would be able to leave early the next morning.

Last Days in Ecuador

My Room

The time is coming - measured in days now. I know that some of you never thought it would arrive but yes I am indeed leaving Ecuador after almost a year. My friends here want to know when I'll be coming back. No lo sé.

That is the room I am saying goodbye to. Well not really the room just a nice picture of some of my gear hanging on the bed. I've been looking for an excuse to put it up. Now THAT is a man's room! No stuffed animals and scented candles there.

Tuesday the 22nd I tried to sort my passport and visa but they will only restamp me with an extension 48 hours before I leave. So below is my revised plan.

22 Feb: Vivarium

In Parque Carolinia near the edge of the New Town's Gringolandia, the Vivarium houses an excellent collection of reptiles and amphibians. Believe it or not, it was not until my fifth try before I made it inside the museum. The first two times I was looking for it at it's old address. The third time it was a Sunday and it was too busy. The fourth time it was a Monday and closed. Today I paid $2 and got inside. Safely displayed are Ecuador's most poisonous snakes and a host of other reptiles and amphibians. Everything except for the cobra was native to Ecuador. It probably only took 15 minutes to walk through but it was worth it and Carolinia is a nice park.

07 Feb: Rumiñahui (4,722 m / 15,492 ft)


About time. I was last on this mountain back in June and had to turn away 85 m below the summit because of conditions. This was a return trip I have wanted to do for a long while. I invited Arthur and Kirill (Russian that arrived with him) to climb on Monday but Arthur couldn't leave the hostel. So it would be only a US-Russian team attempting the summit.

The weather wasn't perfect but it was a lot better than last time and the clouds came and went so I had the opportunity to take pictures. I returned with a mountain of pictures and some movies. I made the best into an online gallery for you, gentle web surfer.

The mountain pictured is of course Rumiñahui. It is another extinct volcano. All that is left is part of the crater rim. As you can see, there are three main summits. From left to right they are: Sur (South), Central, and Norte (North). Norte is the highest. The hardest thing about reaching the notch in the rim below the summit is picking the right gully to hike up. In the clouds we went up the wrong one first and wasted probably 40 minutes. When we arrived at the right spot about 85 meters below the summit there was some more routefinding waiting for us. Unfortunately it was made more difficult by the cloud cover but we snaked our way to the summit which we happily discovered to be in and out of the clouds. I hope you enjoy the photos.

30 Jan - 06 Feb: Hostel Administrator

Working Late

After Chimborazo we returned to Morgan's hostel outside of Machachi, south of Quito. Most of us stayed the night. On the 30th everybody including Arthur, the hostel administrator, left. I took Arthur's place while he went on a jungle trip. Usually there are one or two other people present during the day to take care of most of the details so there isn't too much that I need to do. There was one or two days where I had to chef, but mostly I was there to translate for any guests that arrive, handle the money, move the llamas to a fresh patch of grass, chop firewood, and discourage thieves. Really I had a lot of free time to read and play on the laptop.

The picture is of the hostel's dining area and kitchen. It is raining outside and the place is empty. It is 18.00, I've got the fire going, and am working on the world's best website. Yes, I brought the laptop but have no Internet! Including the climb, I would have spent a week disconnected but I did manage a quick trip into the closest town to check email and do some shopping.

Then when Arthur returned we had a chat about leaving Ecuador. It is hard to believe my time here is best measured in weeks now.

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february.php last modified on 25 January 2017 10:59:22 UTC