Monday, March 26, 2012

Guagua Pichincha 4784m

3rd peak in as many weeks. Guagua means baby...even though it is 88m higher than it's sister summit Rucu. Details below.

Setting off it the pre-dawn. 5:45am

Sincholagua to the left (climbed it last week), Pasachoa to the right and Quito in the clouds below.

This guy passed me on the way up....he's training for an 80km North Face Ultra run.

Volcan Atacazo looking to the south. The village of lloa below...where I started at 3100m

The slippery section...for about 500m.

Even the motorcycles had trouble and one had to push the other, taking turns.

This AMAZING dog...which I named Bertha....followed me from the start to top of the mountain and back down! 28km round trip. Here she's eating the first bit of snow that she sees.

Strange rock formations at the summit.

Looking down the crux from the summit. Bertha couldn't quite scramble up the last 10m. She waited down in the snow at the top centre of the photo.

Summit rock in the background.

Bertha on the false summit.

The zig-zagging road up to the refugio....summit in the background.

Well I was starved when I got back to lloa....and so was Bertha. Bought her some fried pork instead of this guinea pig.

There is a 4wd road that leads up the south side of Guagua. 14km and nearly 1700m vertical. I biked about 11km of it and pushed thru the muddy bits and the top part. The last 3 km was just too steep for me to ride and combined with the altitude....
4.5 hours to the refuge, then a 40 walk to the summit...amidst light snow flurries. Very cloudy and rainy this time of the year, but almost no wind and very warm on the summits. 45mins to bike back down and Bertha stayed with me, as I told her I'd buy her lunch if she made it back down. Then she proceded to follow me another 7-8 to Quito, but was scared off by upper neighborhood, Quito dogs. Otherwise I would've taken her home!

Think I'm ready for Chimborazo 6300m next week. Conditions permitting. Stay tuned....

BTW....this is what guagua looks like on a bad day :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sincholagua 4873m

Another weedend, another scramble....see below for details.

This was part scramble, part 4WD adventure. 1st the creek.

Then the rock dirt barrier....after only 10 mins of digging. To avoid the first locked gate

2nd locked gate....15 minutes of piling rocks.

Martin, a student from last year's class, his dad Jose and a friend of theirs, the paramo.

Martin nice and warm in his balaclava.

On the rocky ridge.

Off the ridge and scrambling upwards.

And up to the snow at about 4600m. Where 3 amigos stayed and had lunch.

I carried on for another hour to the summit. That's my blue pack in the gully below, just to the right of the snow patch. The crux was 40m of exposed climbing. (I just read in another guide book that this is rated at a 5.4 III 70 degrees)

Very narrow ridge on the other side, looking down from the summit.

Rap slings just below the summit. Since I didn't carry a rope and it was more exposed that expected, I tied together 5 pieces of rope/tape and carryfully climbed down to my pack.

Looking down to my pack from the summit.

Looking back up to the summit and the rope I tied together....from my pack in the gully.

Still...the most dangerous part of the climb with the 4WD decent in the rain. I got out with the excuse of taking a photo :)

And back over the bridge. Private property doesn't mean much here!

Sincholagua....true summit, still in the cloud, to the right.

And nearby Cotopaxi.

Left Jose's house in Selva Alegre at 5:30 and flew up the road in his Turbo Diesel Toyota to the North Entrance of Cotopaxi National Park in 45 minutes.
Made our way past 2 locked gates and drove up a good 300 vertical metres to save about 3-4 hours hiking. Windy, cloudy and foggy at the start....some light rain and eventually some snow flurries. Martin's 1st big peak and he made it to about 4600m....not bad for a 9 year old! Unfortunately, the altitude hit him and that's as far as he got....woofin' his cookies on the way down, the poor kid. Left the truck at 8am and hit the summit at 1:30, an hour after leaving the 3 amigos....caught up to them about 2/3 of the way back down. The summit crux was trickier than expected. I found it more difficult than last week's Cotacachi scramble, as this was an open and fully exposed cliff face/ridge. Of course I wouldn't have climbed it if I didn't think I could downclimb it. Nevertheless I tied the raps slings together as a safety measure. Yup...I'd bring a rope next time.

So that was, Sunday we ran a 10k and the kids ran 1km each! I was impressed. Maria was 3rd overall and won the masters catagory as well. This time she got a prize for both and won $500. I got a gift basket for pushing the kiddies...even though I didn't have to push them all the way.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cotacachi 4944m

Well I have stared at this pyramid shaped volcano enuf over the was finally time to climb it.  Details at the bottom.

Cotacachi at 7pm, with Lago Cuicocha in the forground....a crater lake with an island.

The lights of Ibarra in the wee hours of the morn.

The virgin doing her thing....somewhere along the trail.

Looking south towards Quito. I was between two layers of cloud at that point.

A pinnacle on the way up, near the 1st col.

The crux...a 10m chimney...just the perfect squeeze :) (A few weeks later, just read in another guide book that this is rated as a 5.5 IV 70 Degrees)

A rap sling above it. Passed 3 more on the way up.

Looking down the ascent gully from the summit ridge. Placed the "peligro" tape so I wouldn't miss the correct gully on the way back.

Sitting on the 1st summit, looking towards the 2nd summit.

On the 2nd summit, looking back at the 1st. One of those twin summits where it's hard to tell which is higher.

The narrow, exposed, crumbling connecting ridge.

No one had been here for months....the melting snow had erased any footprints that might have been on the ridge.

Ramon loves my fire breathing dragon! What's this old man doing up here anyways? Shouldn't he be at home with is feet up instead? in the photo below...

Going back down the crux/chimney to the right. I didn't need a rope due to the warm verglas on the rock.

Back to the 2nd col. Note my boot prints on the left
This little critter was high up around 4800m on about a foot of corn snow. Must have crawled out of hole where a falling rock had landed and the sun melted the snow around it, allowing it to crawl out. Good luck little buddy!

Hopped on the bus to Otovala after school on Friday and got a truck up the Lago Quicocha...hadn't been there for 16 years, since Maria and I did the 14km trek around the lake. Got there at 5:45...just in time for the 1st photo above....of Cotacachi. Got a ride up to the antennas at about 4000m, from about 3100 at the lake. Started at 5:45 and got to the top at 11:15. Snow from about 4500m to the summit. A difficult scramble with a chimney crux just below the summit ridge. Many route finding challenges...esp in the cloudy/foggy/snowy weather and alot of loose rock...but I'm used to that in the Rockies! Brought a harness and rope to rap the crux, but never used it. Rained on the way back in the paramo...where 5 happy semi-wild llamas were happily grazing. Had to walk the 11km down from the atennas so I didn't hit the hiway until 5:30....back home to a hot bath at 9pm :)
Nice to have a taste of winter when I feel like it! Now it's time for the hotsprings on a Sunday afternoon.