Monday, December 29, 2008

In the belly of Volcan Cumbal 4764m

Maria and I tried this one 12 years ago and had to turn back due to lack of time, poor visibility, off-route and difficulty breathing the sulfur gas emmitted from the steam vents. So back for another go, with brother-in-law Carlos, who had only climbed one other volcano, 15 years ago. We too ended up off-route, but it turned out for the better in the end, so that we were able to camp on the edge of the smaller, lower crater to the south, instead of the gas filled summit crater to the north.

Here is an ariel shot taken by the Colombian vulcanology institute, who´s job it is to monitor these beasts. We spent the night on the edge of the far crater, and the next morning climbed down about 300m to by-pass the narrow connecting ridge and then up to the summit crater.

Summit crater is indicated by the huge steam-gas vent.

We had it much easier this time, as there are 3 or so kms of horse trodden mud, which was relatively dry this time round.

Paramo....and Frailijones that grow between 3700m to 4100m

Plenty of cairns to mark the way....useful in the common foggy conditions.

Nearly as loud as a jet engine!

Locals mine the sulfur and take it down by sled and horse.

An artist´s pallate...however you spell it.

On the edge of the smaller-lower crater, looking towards the Pacific about 100 or so kms away.

Camped on the edge of this.

Mist rolling in around 6pm. Down to zero overnight.

Sumset and steam-gas rising from below.

The objective for the next morning....the summit crater.

.....but we had to find away around this cairns on this stretch between the two craters to assist us.

Fortunately, the morning fog burned off and we had clear views of Chiles, Cayambe and Cotacachi in Ecuador, with all else below, obscured by mid-level cloud.

And so it was easy route-finding with the fog-mist gone.

Up thru the colored band .... into the black band....

.....and into the summit scree and sulfur gas.

Carlos arriving at the summit...note the yellow sulfur under foot and Volcan Chiles in the background.

Yippee! Highest he´s ever been!

The endorphin goat himself. I´m sure many jokes could be made of this seating position and apparatus, but I won´t stoop that low.

View to last nights camp....small crater in front of the large one in the distance.

The huge summit steam-gas vent....the same one as in the 1st two fotos.

The descent.

....and back to the paramo and home by 3pm for a roast Peruvian turkey guinea pig this year :)