Back Safe in Quito

Posted by: | June 14, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

Buenas tardes from Ecuador.

Our team is all safely back in Quito now, enjoying hot showers and rest before our final team dinner/celebration tonight. Yesterday we spent the morning in Otavalo, enjoying the expansive indigenous market. Then we headed up to the climbers’ hut on Cayambe. After dinner we hit the sack early, in preparation for our alpine start and summit attempt. We awoke to perfect weather…no wind, clear skies (you could see both the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper from the same place!). After a midnight breakfast of oatmeal, bread and jam, and coffee and tea, we ventured out for the climb. The snow conditions were perfect, and it was most likely the most beautiful morning of our trip. The climbing went well, and we neared the nearly 19,000’ summit when our climb was thwarted by a huge, impassable crevasse that guarded the summit. The snow bridge that had been used to cross the crevasse had recently collapsed, and we searched back and forth for another option. But in the end, we had to turn around ~250’ shy of the true summit. The objective hazards were just too high to press on with any of our other possibilities.

Such is life in the mountains; the team did great, and we enjoyed a spectacular day of climbing. But we were kept ~250 feet away from topping out on the true summit. We dubbed our high point ‘cumbre (summit) de los gringos.’ Everyone was content with our climbing experiences today, and the great experiences of the entire trip to Ecuador.
Thanks for keeping track of us. Our team members will be on their way home soon. Check back on the 6/20, as RMI’s 2nd Ecuador’s Volcanoes trip of the summer begins. I’ll be back in touch then!

PS…on the descent we scoped a new route, which I’m confident will enable us to get to the summit next week…if the weather cooperates. Stay tuned!

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