Posts from the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Ecuador 2009

December, means a climbing trip to Ecuador, one of my favorite places to visit.  I hope this will be evident in the photos that I have included. This year, Timberline Mountain Guides guided the trip for “Reach the Summit” a fundraiser for the American Lung Assoc.  There were three of us, Marty, Jennifer and myself and  Edgar, our local driver/guide.

Pichincha Range west of Quito

We climb three peaks/volcano’s in an effort to get ready and fit for Cayambe and Cotopaxi.  Its a busy schedule that has the climbers hiking and climbing for the first eight days until there is a rest day between the Cayambe and the Cotopaxi.  This year we stayed at Chilcabamba for the big “r” day and this allowed us to have a no travel/no car day.  The schedule also builds in a two day weather/sick/rest period that allows the climbers to return to one of the mountains if a second attempt is needed.  Last year we used the days to summit Cotopaxi, this year we hiked one day and spent the other in the plazas and museums around the city center.

Ecuadorian Volcanoes 2009
November 30. Arrive in Quito, transfer to Hotel and sleep
December 1. Hike up Pasochoa (13,776’) and return to Quito
December 2. Hike up Guagua Pinchincha (15,700’). Spend the night in Quito
December 3. Travel to Otavalo, check in to hotel and then hike to the crater near  Cotacachi (16, 199’),
December 4. Early start to climb Imbabura (15,400ft), spend the night back in Otovalo
December 5. Spend the morning visiting the market then travel to Cayambe, stopping at a market for fresh fruit. Spend the night in the refugio
December 6. Hike to glacier for acclimatization,  Wake up at 11pm to start climb
December 7. Summit attempt on Cayambe (18,993’). Spend night at the Hacienda Chilcabamba
December 8. No car day no travel day at Hacienda Chilcabamba
December 9. Travel to the Cotopaxi refuge at 15, 750’
December 10. Summit attempt on Cotopaxi (19,347).
December 11. Return to Quito and visit Plaza Francisco, Palza Santiago and Plaza Grande
December 12. Hike up Ruminahui
December 13. Sightseeing around Quito including the museum of Guayasamin
December 14, Leave for the airport and return to Portland

Pulse Oximeter in action at the airport. 99% O2 Saturation and a PR (pulse rate of 67) excellent!!!

Acclimatization or acclimation is the process of an organism adjusting to change in its environment, allowing it to survive changes in temperature, water and food availability, other stresses and often relates to seasonal weather changes. Acclimatization occurs in a short time, (days to weeks)

Gosh Wiki, I just wanted to tell the folks back home that in order to climb Cayambe and Cotopaxi, that we needed to start on smaller climbs to get the body used to the altitude……… So after arriving late on Monday it was an early start Tuesday morning.  Edgar rrived at 8am and after breakfast we set off.  Before we do, I check everyone’s oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter. This gives us a base level to monitor how the climbers improve as we adjust to the elevation

This is Casa Sol and is our home from home in Quito.  The staff are wonderful and it has a distinct local Andean feel to the decor and hospitality.  We will be back again for sure.

Pasochoa’s lushly vegetated crater and slopes make for an unforgettable day hike. In recent years, because of its beautiful setting and convenient location just 30 kilometers (18.6 miles)south of Quito, Pasochoa (elevation: 4,199 m; 13,766 ft) has become one of the most popular hiking excursions anywhere around the capital.

Summit Shot of Marty, Joe and Jennifer, looks like we are geared up for a gorge hike.

This is the view of the crater rim when the clouds lift, special blur effect courtesy of lensbaby. This is a special lens that Marty used with his camera.

This is a hummingbird sculpture at at roundabout on our drive back into Quito. The name Quito actually means “land of the hummingbird”

Day three involves a drive to 14,600ft to Gua Gua Pinchincha trailhead. The summit is 15,700ft.  The object today is to gain elevation quickly and to spend most of the day walking/scrambling above 15,000ft.

Looking towards the summit crater, the route to the summit involves some rock climbing through the pinnicles in the background.  The rope comes out for a wee while.

Marty trying to gauge the wind speed as the clouds move up the crater and spill over onto the east flank of the volcano.

Marty and Jennifer at the summit of Gua Gua 15,700ft

View down into crater from summit

The descent from the summit, Marty, Edgar and Jennifer

An example of the wonderful flora on the hillside

What great timming, as soon as we returned to the truck, it started in rain. Its good to have a 4×4 land cruiser for our travels.

View of the Marsial Sucre area of Quito, near hotel

Day four, we drive to Otavalo to climb Imbabura.  This is our first view of the mountain, as always there is a cloud on the summit. Maybe this year we will get a view

Of course there is always time to stop at our favorite bakery. These wonderful girls are dressed in the traditional garment of Otavalo of black skirts and wonderfully colorful shirts. They were selling scarves and of course I had to buy one from each of the five girls.

This lake is similar to crater lake in appearance.  It has a trail that weaves along the entire rim and it takes 5 to 7 hours to complete the trail. The lake is located at 10,500ft and so today is a short “out and back” hike for 3 hours.

Local painting of the crater

Jennifer hiking on the rim with Edgar

Afternoon clouds rolling in from the west

Jennifer and Marty

Day five is a early start, getting up at 4am and leaving at 5am to reach the trailhead for Imbabura by 7am. This is a long way of hiking and rock climbing to the summit.  We start at 10,700ft and go until at 15,430ft we can go no further 🙂



Beautiful meadows on the approach to Imbabura

Edgar, smiling cause he is in the mountains after all, or maybe I tried speaking spanish to him

Marty at 4260 metres….how high is that in feet?

Edgar and Marty near the summit

Edgar and Marty moving through the mist

Disappearing into the altitude

Joe and Jennifer

All smiles at the summit.

I Love Timberline Mountain Guides

Marty, Jennifer and Joe, one last photo before we start our descent.

Looking back on a wonderful and clear ish mountain.

Driving back to the Hotel

Saturday morning is day six but also market day . Marty and the lensbaby take a tour of  Otavalo

What wonderful colors

Hand Knitted face masks


Jennifer and Marty at Hotel “Donna Esther”.  With the bags packed in the background, it looks like we are on the move again, this time to Cayambe

Edgar and Jennifer loading up the truck.

Arriving at Cayambe refugio with the summit in the background, Visibility is awesome, a welcome surprise.

Day seven: Today we hike up to the start of the glacier.  Its an altitude gain of approx 1300ft.  This part of the route gains a rock buttress and involves some rock scrambling. The next time we do this it will be dark and midnight and its good to see the terrain.

Joe and Edgar traces the route out on the upper glacier. There are crevasses that we will need to negotiate in the dark.

Afternoon clouds moving in, again a reminder to be off the summit early.

Crevasse field, fortunately for  us we can easily bypass this by climbing the rock buttress.

Looking West down the canyon below the refugio. I have seen condors flying in the thermals in previous years.

Dinner time at the Cayambe Refugio

Day eight with Marty

Sunlight reveals the crevassity

Wind and Sunlight on the summit ridge

Moving through the Seracs.

serac (originally from Swiss French sérac, a type of ricotta-like whey cheese) is a block or column of ice formed by intersecting crevasses on a glacier. Often house-sized or larger, they are dangerous to mountaineers since they may topple with little warning. Even when stabilized by persistent cold weather, they can be an impediment to glacier trave

The Big One, it is “standing” in our way  and blocking our route to the summit.Joe trying to find a way through the crevasse.  eventually after looking at different options and probing the snow layers, we decide that we can go no further.  This crevasse had stopped many groups the previous day we add to the count.

Marty giving a shout out to TMG

Its been a cold few hours as we have tried to find our way across the crevasse. It is actually a bergschrund

bergschrund is a crevasse that forms where the moving glacier ice separates from the stagnant ice above. It is often a serious obstacle for mountaineers, who sometimes abbreviate “bergschrund” to “schrund”.

In a corrie or cirque, the bergschrund is positioned at the rear, parallel to the back wall of the corrie. It is caused by the rotational movement of the glacier. In a longitudinal glacier, the bergschrund is at the top end of the glacier at a right angle to the flow of the glacier. It is caused by the downwards flow of the glacier.

Marty on the rim

This device is called a “SPOT”.  It sends a signal to various folk back home. In this case we activated it to say we were ok and descending from our high point. Sent it to BRobert,

The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger provides a vital line of communication with friends and family when you want it, and emergency assistance when you need it. Using 100% satellite technology, SPOT works virtually anywhere in the world, even where cell phones don’t – all with the push of a button.

The AOF always happy to be on a mountain

Marty and Edgar descending

Back at the hut, slowly getting ready to leave.

Chilicamba on day nine, our first rest day of the trip, Marty working the fisheye lens.

View of our next objective…Cotopaxi.  This view is from the dinner table.

The resident foal loved to chase climbers and lick door handles just as you were about to open the door!!

View of Ruminahui, this volcano would become the last volcano that we would climb before leaving Ecuador.

Mountains, Mountains everywhere.  This would also be a wonderful base to climb several of the local peaks.

My morning cup of coffee..most excellent

Latest advice to Male climbers, you could say its part of our “leave no trace” policy

Marty taking a stroll through the garden, keeping a eye out for hummingbirds.

Our local friend from last year

Quick where is the hand sanitizer!!! on this note we really did take care always to use alcohol wipes to try to minimize our exposure.  When our bodies are busy dealing with travel, the food, the higher elevation, it can be a challenge to stay healthy. We were fortunate on this trip that we all stayed fit and well and happy :).

Lunch before we leave, note the proper use of hydration

Marty and the final packing for the trip to Cotopaxi, the old yellow “wild things”pack ready for one more trip up into the mountains. Each year, I get ready to retire this pack but it still keeps hauling 🙂

Driving to the trail head on day ten

Its summer here, right?, getting ready for the 700ft hike to the refugio

Looking up from the refugio to the upper reaches of Cotopaxi.

Daylight shows the crevassity

High on Cotopaxi on day eleven of  the trip, here we see a Volcano Obstacle, its looks difficult but we found a easier route to the left

Marty, happy as always to be climbing

Suddenly there is no more uphill, its flat, you manage to catch your breath and look up. its all open and you can see 360 degrees

A Serac that  we bypass by moving up and around to the right.

Edgar and Marty on the summit, 19,347ft. Congratulations on a well deserved, physically demanding climb.

View looking South into crater

Crater view

Marty on the summit of Cotopaxi


Views open up on the descent.

Court yard of Casa Sol, day twelve

Relaxing on the patio back in Quito

Local Art

Our recovery day in Quito involves walking from the hotel to downtown. On the way we pass wonderful parks, amazing artichure, quaint plazas.

Plaza San Francisco

Plaza Grande



The use of concrete in their buildings is very stunning

Back climbing on day thirteen, this time Ruminiahui, a beautiful peak

Saddle btween south and central peaks

Its a long way up and the truck seems so far away

Part of the summit buttress



Marty hydrating before the final section of rock.

Edgar and Marty on the summit pinnicle

Jennifer and Joe at the summit

Jennifer, happy to be down off the summit before the rain

Edgar, also happy to be putting away the gortex

Hmm how come I am last?

A final look at Cotopaxi from the Laguna

This is it!!! the final load up for the last volcano, an end to the climbing and treking.

Mural on the sidewalk in Quito

Marty enjoying Cuy, a traditional Ecuadorian dish

Museum of Guayasamin

Guayasamin grew up in poverty and experienced the injustice of being poor at a very early age.  He has worked to highlight this injustice on a local and on a world scale.  His paintings can show the depth of human emotion like very few artists I am aware  of.



His words are truly inspirational and heart felt





This photos says goodbye to Ecuador as the plane flies north past the summit of Cayambe







Ecuador 2008

Ecuador, It is such a diverse country with jungle to the east, mountains in the center, and a beautiful coastline and of course, the Galapagos Islands offshore. My trips focus on climbing and spending time in the mountains but it is also a wonderful opportunity to experience the native Quechua, and the many other cultural attractions the country has to offer.


The first peak of the trip was Pasochoa, 13,776 feet, our trail starts at 10,600 feet. Most of the hike brings us through meadows until the summit pinnacle. We traverse below onto volcanic rock (lahar) and then ascend from the south side.


On our drive to Guagia Pinchincha, we were very fortunate to see an Andean Condor and immediately stopped for photos and just to watch this amazing bird flying within 50ft above our heads.


Wildflowers below Guagia Pinchincha


Guagua is a wonderful peak with a summit rock traverse. Very airy!!


Ecuadorian Countryside


This lake is called Cuicocha. Here the landscape reminds me of Crater Lake in Oregon. It’s located at 10,700 feet and has a hiking trail that loops around the entire rim.


The view from our hotel looking at Imbabura


Trail as we approach Imbabura


Smiles as we approach the summit



On the way down, looking forward to our hot tea that awaits


Our Hostal in Otavalo, Donna Ester’s, had wonderfull music in the courtyard.


Market Day


And I thought my backpack was heavy!!!


Hummingbird, this leaded glass structure was part of a streetlamp..amazing detail


Our home for the next two days


Why is there so much gear and why does it always need to be sorted?


Cayambe, 18,993’/5,789m.

View of the summit, our route climbs a rock buttress to gain the glacier and then we climb via the left skyline.




Time for a break, looking down to our route


This bergshrund is the major obstacle and trying to find a bridge strong enough to gain access to the summit.


Jennifer and John heading upwards.


Summit Shot and a shout out to some folks back home.


Heather and Jennifer


Descending through the ice fall below the summit


Hacienda Chilcabamba, which is located just outside the Cotopaxi national park. This is a new Hacienda and the view is simply amazing. We could see Cotopaxi, the Illinizas and Cayambe. Dinner was a set menu and a good thing too since I could not have chosen better food no matter what the size of the menu: Filet Mignon, Quinoa soup and homemade chocolate desert. A very relaxing evening by a log fire with a beer, and the team was ready for the next climb: Cotopaxi.


Sunset from our hostal


This is the Jose Ribas Hut located at 15,700 feet. There is a road that takes you to 15,200 feet and then it’s a 700 feet hike to the hut.


Hiking up to camp, it was windy and sure felt like winter


We decided to camp rather than stay in the hut.  The hut can be noisy and a little “stuffy”


Looking up towards the summit



Its a wee bit cold


Moving up, the challenging traverse below the summit.



Summit crater, seems like we are not the first


Heather and Jennifer with a shout out to TMG…currently the best guide service on the summit of Cotopaxi