Storm Prevents Cotopaxi Summit

Posted by: | June 10, 2010
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Ecuador

We’re back from Cotopaxi now, relaxing and enjoying warm showers, delicious food, and soft beds at the Hacienda La Cienega. We attempted to summit Cotopaxi this morning, but did not reach the summit due to a ferocious storm that blew in. We woke around midnight to a beautiful starry night. After breakfast and hot drinks, we set out on our climb around 1:00 am. A couple of clouds had started to form by then, but we still enjoyed nice weather for the start of our climb. Ascending the slopes above the climbing hut, everyone was doing well, and it sure seemed as if we had a great day for climbing.

By the time we got to around 17,000’, the weather changed dramatically; the cloudy sky above soon turned into a cloud that engulfed us. Winds were blowing in the 30-40 mph range, and we were coated in rime ice as we ascended. We reached an elevation of ~17,800’ where we were able to take shelter in a natural ice cave formed by a crevasse. The team was climbing strong, given the challenging conditions-the wind made it challenging to keep our balance as we ascended. Even though the team was climbing well, I made the decision to turn around because of safety concerns; steep, icy slopes at these altitudes are no place for a mistake. The summit of Cotopaxi will always be here for us to attempt again, but you don’t get a second chance with safety.

We all descended safely to the climbing hut where we arrived covered in ice. After a couple hours of warming up and rehydrating, we descended to meet our vehicles and headed for a hot shower! We climbed roughly half way to the summit of Cotopaxi before the weather turned us around. We are all happy and rested now down at the lower altitude of our hacienda (still 10,000’!). Tomorrow we will drive north and head to the Hacienda Guachala. Everyone is healthy and happy, and did well fighting through the challenging weather.

The Team in an ice cave at 17,800 ft. on Cotopaxi

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