Sunday, April 28, 2013


Looking back down to the parking lot from the refuge.  This was bare, dry dirt/rock on the way up....then it dumped 5cm

A group ahead me, on a fixed rope.  I've always wanted to solo Cotopaxi and I tried it about 4 years ago and turned back about 300 vertical meters from the summit (The refuge is 4800m and the summit about 5900m) due to too some exposure I wasn't comfortable with.  The route changes at least every year, and one simply follows the path made by previous parties.  Of course a snow bridge over a crevasse could break at anytime and a slip on a steep section without being able to self arrest could be "problematic" as well.  :) 
Sunrise over the Amazon with Antisana in the foreground
....and getting lighter.....didn't wait for the sunrise shot though, as the route continued on the west side of the volcano.  I was the last one out of the refuge at 2am under a moon that was 2 days past full....perfect, above head moon headlamp required except for the tricky bits.   There were about 30 other climbers!  Some didn't make it.....passed others on the way up and got to the top at 7am.  45min on top and 2.5 down in blazing sun.
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Cotopaxi's shadow to the west, with the Illinizas in the background.
As it gets shorter.....
....and shorter
Note the climbers on the ridge
A group approaching the summit
Summit crater
Views down to the Amazon
Views to the north....Cayambe in the back LHS and Anitana on the RHS
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Climbers heading back down
....and some more (looks like a road to the right!  That's the shadow of my legs and a trail that has split in two)
Yanasacha (black rock in kechwa language).  Which one can see from Quito
Climbers heading down
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Have to move quickly through this area, with the sun warming things up quickly.  This is why Cotopaxi and other large glaciated volcanoes near the equator are climbed at night. 
Convoluted route.  Note the fixed rope at bottom right.
Had to jump a few crevasses
This was worrisome, as the LHS overhangs by about 3feet! 
This snow bridge still intact

A weekend bike ride in the Intag region

Ana K has been staying in our casa de cana guest house for  few week now.  She's cycling solo from Alaska to TDF, via as many back/dirt roads as possible.  Check out her excellent website at
We did a little weekend tour, down the west side of the Andes to Nanegalito and up to the hotsprings for the night, just before the small village of Apula at about 1300m.....the next day we climbed 42km on dirt roads up 2000m, just below the face of this mtn....Cotacachi
Lots of signs, but the only andean bear I've ever seen is in the Calgary Zoo!
Road side snack shop
With my fave Ecuadorian meal....big, "meaty" Choclo
Got slammed with rain at the top....and then freewheeled down to Quiroga, near Otavalo

The kiddies

Monday, April 1, 2013

Illiniza scree run

Illinza Norte 5126m

Emily at the Refugio at 4700m

The Illinizas....we climb the one on the right....up the ridge and down the line thru the scree

Master chef Freddy in the kitchen

Some light snow in the afternoon

Another alpine start....

Emily grinding it out on the slag heap

Corazon, Atacazo, Las Pichinchas and Cotocachi....looking north


A third of the way up the mountain

Cotopaxi in the background

Hugging the rock on the Paso de la Muerte....death pass.....not a problem in dry conditions

Final push to the summit

View to the south....Illiniza Sur....about 200m higher and the most technically demanding peak I've climbed

Cotopaxi about the cloud

Mountain woman M on the summit!

Whacha gonna climb in Nova Scotia Emily?

10 minutes on the windy summit

Just hanging out

Major scree blast