Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easter family fun

Grandpa Ramon and Grandma Maruja came for the week before the Easter holiday. We had a taxi sent to the border to pick them up.

Papi Ramon spent alot of time in the hot springs and the hammock as his leg has been bothering him.

Maria looking quite pretty in this photo.

Carlita dressed up as a Hawaiian girl.

Hopefully Ramon and Carla will enjoy these pursuits as much as I do....and if not...I'll cry :)

With the crampons on backwards :)

Hamming it up for the camera.

Well....I hope that's true....b/c I just bought my first new bike in 15 years.

Here it is....with Carla in her new seat. Looks like the old I used parts from the iguana on the the Bulls King Cobra....fenders, bar ends, rack, mirror etc.
800usd....aluminum, made in Germany.
So now I have disc brakes (that seem to wear out too fast, but grip much better) Suspension forks that can lock off, and 27 gears...I think...much smoother shifting. Still trying to get the fit right though...I have a long reach. I still miss the Iguana however and I'm tempted to revert back to it....we'll see.

From my first red tricycle, to a banana seat bike, to my orange Sears catalogue bike and onwards.......10 bikes in total I think.

So we then headed off to Pasto for a couple of weeks.
Lucho, friend and tailor, joined Ramon and I on the first leg of a 3 day tour. 140k total. Spent the 1st night at a friend's place

Second day down to the bridge over the Rio Juanambu...from which people were bungy jumping. Then a 4 hour climb up a dirt road! The little man handled it alot better than I did! He sure helps out now.

If he sits for too long and wants to burn some energy, he gets off and runs for awhile!!

....and takes photos of his old man.

Then we did a two day bike ride to La Cocha and back....a 30km ride from pasto, up and over a pass. 3:30 to ride out...2:45 to ride back. He sure is struting his stuff here! Did he learn that from his Kinder friends?
The scenery could be in BC! The Lake is about 2800m....300m higher than Pasto and I believe it's the 2nd largest lake in Colombia.

A more idealized version of the lake and surroundings.

Ramon loves to go for boat rides, so that's what we did.

Reminds me of European canals.

All the houses/hotels/restruants have loads of flowers out front.

We took a short boat ride over to the National Park, which is an island just offshore.

....and hiked to the other end and back
....could be old growth BC forest!

....but alas....just an old man getting long in the tooth
and a ton of bromiliads/epiphytes

.....and orchids

Hotel kitchen...we were the only ones there, being a weekday.

Rainbow trout is the main dish here. That's what he wanted and that's what he got. Steamed in onions and tomatoes. Too bad the they are farmed and not wild.

Any machinary or construction and we stop so Ramon can take it all in.

Just outside of Pasto in a local park.

....revisiting a place where I courted and whooed Maria about 17 years ago :) (Well...that's how I remember it....her memory is of some strange alien who wanted to go for bike rides with her)....just outside of Pasto...San Pedro de la laguna....a great place to cool the heels as well...and float leaves downstream.

Church of said village.

Carla off to the local hotsprings with Carolina on the left and Tia Vilma on the right.

Carla and grandma Maruja dining together.

Ramon and his cousin Wilson Andres, who is 10 months older. They are great buddies now.

Check out the Biology teacher's blog for Family fun day photos, pulling the bicycle triple around.

His link is also on my fave blogs on the bottom RHS on our blog.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chimborazo!!! 6310m Closest point on earth to the sun

Finally. 17 years after my 1st attempt, (turned back due to frozen toes and diarrhea, close to 6000m) I made it to the highest point that I'm ever likely to climb in my lifetime....6310m. Details below.

The beast....with Saturday afternoon tourists hanging about, looking sick....It's only a 5.5 hour drive from Guayaquil on the coast right up to 4800m and then a short hike to the Refuge at 5000m. Lot's a green faces!
We took the ridge on the bottomRHS, travesed below the face and turned right to climb up the ridge on the LHS of the photo. The start of the normal route goes up the scree to the area known as El Castillo.

Just for those who are not sure what mountain it is. This was thought to be the highest mtn in world for a long time. Humbolt climbed to about 5700m in 1810 and it was thought at the time that it was the highest any human had climbed....until a few years back when Incan mummies were discovered at 6700m in Chile.

The Whymper hut....we took the less travelled Whyper route...gain the south ridge....up snow covered slabs joins the normal west ridge route about 1/2? way up. was a warm afternoon, but the temperature plummeted sharply when I was trying to take a few sunset photos.

This photo is actually taken at the false summit Ventanilla. It's blowing a gale here, hence the Old Goats Climbing Club shirt in the mouth to hold it open. 1/2 hour dash, flat and then up a bit, to the true summit, left the packs at the 1st summit. No fotos on the way moon and too cold and windy near the top.

Benno sheltering his face from the wind. 41 year old swiss/german guide. He married an Ecuadorian and has been here for 18 years. 3rd one down on this link
The 4 different guides I've climbed with from Andean face have been top notch! Highly skilled professionals and great people. This company has the best qualified guides in the country.

Looking down towards El Castillo. This is the route most people take in the morning when the rock is frozen. But what a shooting gallery on the way down. I've never seen so much constant rockfall. Luckily Benno, having only climbed the mtn about 120 times, new how to pick his way through and minimize exposure.

Looking back up to the summit.

Headlamp still coated in rime.

Taking off our crampons just above the refuge. 2:15 back to the hut.

Parting shot at was totally clouded in when we where there at 7:30am

Whew....feel great as I type this this morning. Chimbo is a special mtn for reasons listed above. It also has the highest death rate of any mtn in Ecuador, which is surprising considering the number of people who attempt Cotopaxi compared to Chimborazo...I'm guessing 1 to 100.
No frostbite this time! Used chemical foot warmers and plastic bags between two poly socks...and cut out the insole for the 4 smaller toes to create more wiggle room. Worked like a charm. So why didn't I think of this before??
Tried to sleep from 7 to luck there. Warm and no wind at midnight when we stared...1/2 moon lasted a few hours.
Wx was great until about 4:30?...just as we turned off the Whymper route and up onto the normal route, it clouded over and the wind began to blow...a few flurries and then rime around the summit. We had the mtn to ourselves which was great. No tracks until the normal route, which really helped, otherwise it would have been knee deep. As it was, the 1 foot of snow on top of ice was tricky....every 10/15th step you'd slip back and the ice axe would plunge in all the way. The last 400-500m was brutal. Just super slow ...lack of oxygen and maybe not eating and drinking enough. No headaches or nausea though...I've never had altitude problems. Just a few minutes on the summit as the Wx was not conducive to hanging around. I wanted to take a different route back, so we dodged the rockfall on the Castillo route...luckily nothing came close. It's full of rock on top of different levels/tiers of melting glacier and it wasn't anything like this 17 years ago. Amazingly, I was back home at 4:30pm Sunday! The taxi from the refuge is $30 for 1 hour to Riobamba...and the bus to Quito was 3.50 I think.'s done...not sure why it took me 2.5 years of living in Ecuador to get around to doing it??? (especially since it only takes one weekend) One word I suppose. Kids :)

Antisana next.

List of mountains in Ecuador

List of mountains in Ecuador. The ones marked XXX I have not climbed. Not sure how complete this list is either.

Chimborazo 6,310m (highest ever!)
Cotopaxi 5,897m
Cayambe 5,790m
XXX Antisana 5,704m
XXX Altar 5,320m
Illiniza Sur 5,263 m (front point with 2 ice axes)
XXX Sangay 5,230m
Illiniza Norte 5,120 m
Carihuairazo 5020 m (Short 20m for true summit)
Tungurahua 5,016m (climbed 3,000m in one day)
Cotacachi 4,944m
Sincholagua 4,893m
XXX Quilindaña 4,878m
XXX Morurco 4,840m
Guagua Pichincha 4,794m
Corazón 4,788m
Chiles 4,768m
Rumiñahui 4,712m (need to get to true summit...did central peak)
Ruco Pichincha 4,680m
XXX Sara Urco 4,676m
Imbabura 4609m
XXX Hermoso 4,571m
XXX Puntas 4,452
Atacazo 4,457m
Pasochoa 4,200m
XXX Sumaco 3,900m
XXX Reventador 3,485