Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cayambe 5789m!

Photo fromm the internet. Route goes up south side.

Started from the Refugio at 2:30am Saturday morning, after a rea sonable 4-5 sleep. Refuge was empty except for the caretaker...no one had been there for 8 days. Great setting on a ridge with glaciers above and below. One night past the full moon makes all the difference in the world....fantastic views with the stars above, rather than staring at the light from your headlamp, for hours on end. First hour is on loose rock with some minor scrambling. First light is just after 5am. This shot was around 5:45

Cotopaxi to the right....Chimborazo just behind Coto to the left and far left is Tungurahua (active). Typically the weather blows from the Amazon/east...this blows the ashes from Tungurahua over to Chimbo. Cayambe is the 3rd highest in the country, Coto is 2nd and Chimbo 1st. Not a bad view eh?

Marco pointing out a crevasse. I went with 2 guides, Javier and Marco, as a friend rather than a client. Javier is a great friend, who's kids are at the British School and Marco a quiet and extremely cautious climber. Marco was doing it to keep in shape...just for the exercise and Javier to get out of the office and back in shape, as he hadn't been up there for 1.5 years. I can't quite wrap my brain around the fact that these guys go up and down the same mtns all the time. ie...Cotopaxi 300 plus times! Canada..it's a different mtn every outing.

I love being in the land of the clouds! Such variety. This shot looking west.

Approaching crux at about 5600m.

Just a few feet below the summit.

On the summit at 8am. View towards the Amazon/lower east summit. Simply stunning.

Javier and Marquito

Upon reaching the summmit, I just had the urge to roll in the snow like kid. Head and lungs were fine but I felt the energy in my legs giving out during the last 400m or so. Pushing the kids in a 10k the week before and cycling all week took their toll I think. Frozen fingers for a while after having to do a number 2 at around 5300m.

I love this shot of Javier decending the crux.

Photo by Marco....looking down to Javier in the middle of the rope, on the crux.

Looking back the other way.

Wind from the east blowing snow over this monster of a wall.

You can see our route on the right leading up to the wall...then along the base to the LHS and up the crux.

...and down

3 hours down. We took our time. Could be done in 2 hours.

Seracs at the bottom near the refuge.

The road down. 3 hour drive back home.

Some minor frost nip the day after. Toes froze up in the 1st hour and stayed that way until the bottom of the glacier. Need some plastic boots for these "Lake Louise" toes of mine. Too many years of skiing in -25ish weather. Nothing compared to Carla's 2nd degree burns from a pot of boiling water falling on her. I left my cell phone in the refugio, so I didn't find out that this had happened the night before and that she was in the hospital.

"Nevado Cayambe, a massive glaciated volcano, is located about 65km NE of Quito and is the 3rd highest peak in both Ecuador and the Americas north of the equator. It also enjoys the distinction of being the highest point on the earth's surface through which the equator directly passes, at about 4,600m onn the south side." (Taken from, Ecuador: Hiking and Climbing Guide-Mark Thurber) "This peak is the highest and coldest point on the equator. It is the only place on earth where the latitude is 0 degrees and so is the temperature." (Taken from, Ecuador: A Climbing Guide-Yossi Brainn) I can also see it from our front window, which faces north...so of course I just had to climb this peak!

This was a more sublime experience than climbing Cotopaxi (although I'm still missing 300m to finish Coto!) No tracks to follow, no other bobbing headlamps. Just a few tiny humans and one massive volcano.


Aubrey Groves said...

awesome pics Dude

DH said...

Great pics!
Would you be willing to share your pic of the frost nipped toes for an educational resource for physicians/medical students, etc?

Thank you!