Ecuador Seminar: Knoff & Team Acclimate on Snowy Rucu Pinchincha
This morning we awoke to steady rain in Quito. Despite the conditions and the midnight fireworks disrupting slumber, the team rallied in the lobby of Hotel Mercure excited for our first acclimatization trek up Rucu Pinchincha (15,700ft). As we loaded up on coffee and croissants the rain began to taper to a drizzle and we embarked on a short taxi ride to the Teleferico, a gondola that carried us high above the city to 13,000 feet. We began our trek towards the summit with a light rain and snow mix and good visibility. We may not have had bluebird skies but we did get the unique experience of undercast clouds wafting in out of the peaks around Quito. The team cruised the rolling alpine meadow ridge that makes up the first half of the climb, showing their prowess at the high elevation by chatting the whole way. We stopped to take a break just before the route changes character and shifts to steeper, rockier traversing leading around the spiny pinnacle to a saddle just before the final ridge scramble. As we entered this more challenging terrain we encountered snow that had managed to accumulate, a rare occurrence on Pinchincha. As we continued the snow deepened to about 6”, increasing the challenge of the already demanding terrain. The team took these obstacles in stride and made it to the saddle just shy of 15,300’ in style. We decided to make this our high point having accomplished our goal of acclimatization and not wanting to risk the decreased friction on the third-class scramble to the summit. The wet snow and muddy ground demanded our attention on the descent, but we made it back to the Teleferico in good time with only a few muddy hands and backsides. After some much deserved rest we’re off to explore the local cuisine of Quito. Tomorrow will take us up Cerro Fuya Fuya for another round of acclimatization then our first big one, Cayambe!
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