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.

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