Archive for November, 2014

Ecuador – Day 10 – Guagua Pichincha Hike and Quito’s Marascal District

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

A Fruit Stand
A Market on Outskirts of Quito

Pichincha Hut and Basalt Crag
The Guagua Pichincha Hut (14,900 ft) and nice looking Basalt Crag (climbable?)

Quito Beer
Enjoying a beer in the Marascal District

On our last day in Ecuador, we drove back to Quito, from the lodge, Cuello De Luna. As we neared Quito, we drove through a large farmers market. Then, we headed to the town of Lloa, to do a cool down hike near Guagua Pichincha. After the hike, we drove to the Marascal district in Quito, where Rafael’s shop is, to walk around and have dinner. A ride to the airport was arranged for after dinner, so we had the evening to be tourists.


Ecuador – Day 9 – Cotopaxi (19,347 ft)

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Antisana and Chimborazo from Cotopaxi Summit
Antisana and Chimborazo from the summit of Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Victors
Tilden and Clare on the Summit of Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Shadow and Ilinizas at Sunrise
The Shadow of Cotopaxi and the Illinizas (see the previous day’s post!)

Cotopaxi Map
The Map

Rafael Descending Cotopaxi
Our Guide, Rafael (photo courtesy of Tilden)

12:00am: Trail Head at 15,100 ft
01:20am: Hut at 15,750 ft *took a 10 minute break
02:20am: Snowline at 16,000 ft *took a 10 minute break to don crampons and rope up
06:05am: At 18,600 ft Watched Sunrise and shadow of Cotopaxi appear by the Illinizas
07:45am: At 19,347 ft On Summit!
08:25am: Began Descent
11:25am: Back at Trail Head


Ecuador – Day 8 – Rest Day at La Rinconada Campsite, in Cotopaxi National Park

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

La Rinconada Campsite
La Rinconada Campsite in Cotopaxi National Park

Tilden and Cotopaxi
Tilden Admiring Cotopaxi

From the Swiss Lodge, we drove 45 minutes to the La Rinconada Campsite in Cotopaxi National Park. We have left everything at the hotel except a sleeping bag, change of clothes, and our mountaineering gear which we need for climbing Cotopaxi. Dressed in our mountaineering garb, Rafael drives us to the campsite. It rained the entire drive.

La Rinconada has a huge open space where people can pitch tents, a covered picnic table area, and a bunkhouse with a mess hall. The bunkhouse has ~6 bunks, which are 3 beds high, and also some mattresses for the floor. So, at full capacity, there is probably room for up to 25 people. There were two bathrooms, but one did not have a sink and no shower facilities (that I could see). (more…)

Ecuador Day 7 – Illiniza Norte (16,817 ft)

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Ilinizas Map
The Map

The Misty Ridge of Iliniza Norte
The Approach

Climber Congo Line up Iliniza Norte
Congo Line at the Top

Clare and Tilden on Summit of Iliniza Norte
The Summit

Our 4th mountain of the week was Illiniza Norte. To climb this mountain, we went roughly 11.5 km with 1,128 m (3,700 ft) of gain. The whole thing took us 7 hours and 10 minutes; including a lengthy stop for tea and another one for lunch.

For the first time during the trip, I had a headache from the altitude. It was just after we crossed 16,000 ft and it disappeared once we began descending. Tilden, on the other hand, finally started feeling good at the altitude and he did awesome.

We were both really happy Rafael knew the route so well. When we got to the top, there were a couple of huge tour groups and we were able to bypass them without roping up. Also, since most of them were stationary on the summit, we didn’t have to worry about them knocking rocks down on top of us while we descended.


Ecuador Day 6 – Rucu Pichincha (15,413 ft)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Guagua and Rucu Pichincha Map
The Map

TeleferiQo in Quito
Riding the Gondola (TeleferiQo) in Quito

Rucu Pichincha: A Lovely Ridge Hike
The Approach. It starts on the ridge, then it climbs ever steepening terrain until the last wee bit is 3rd class. The summit is in the clouds, left of frame!

Tilden Stepping up on Rucu Pichincha
Third Class Section…Most Fun bit, but unfortunately only 10 minutes!

Rafael and Tilden on Rucu Pichincha
Rafael and Tilden Enjoying The Summit

For our 3rd mountain, we climbed Rucu Pichincha. It is a unique ascent because it is very close to Quito and the trip starts with a ride on the Gondola! From where we got off on the Gondola, it took us 2 hours and 50 minutes to summit and just under 2 hours to get back.

It’s a great half day acclimatization. While the navigation and hiking is relatively easy during the ridge traverse to the peak, the ascending of the peak itself is not for the beginner. There are cliffs surrounding the entire base of the mountain. Thus, it’s really important to go with a guide on this mountain, or be in the company of an experienced mountaineer who is already familiar with the peak. Clouds are pervasive threats to navigation and the terrain at the top is steep and chossy!