January 11, 2019
Thursday, January 10th, 2019 10:00 pm PT
It always seems to happen so fast. At the beginning of the trip our big objective felt far away, and each day brought anticipation of the new sights and experiences Ecuador would provide. But as soon as we pointed our crampons downhill from the summit, everything seemed to fast forward. Before we knew it we were gathered together in a warm, dry lodge with cold beers in hand at the base of Cotopaxi deliriously recounting the previous (beer-less and not very warm) 12 hours. Refreshed from deep sleep, and with the help of coffee we began to retrace our route back to the city. Cobblestone roads transformed into pavement, and conversation wandered to flight itineraries and last chances to purchase souvenirs. Then just like that we were back in the heart of Quito amidst the sights and sounds of city life wondering if our climb was really just a dream. After arriving, we visited a nearby artisan market and some headed to explore the old town. We gathered one last time tonight for a celebratory team dinner - we couldn’t leave without eating more empanadas! By now we’ve all started making our way home to loved ones armed with stories of adventure and visions of ones to come. Thanks for following along!
January 9, 2019
La cumbre! We’re happy to report that 100% of our team stood on top of Cotopaxi at 6 am this morning! After two days of downpours, we slung our packs on just after midnight and stepped outside to see the lights of Quito glowing in the distance - the clouds had broken! Alas, it wasn’t long until a chilly wind decided to follow us as we climbed toward 17,000’ and the clouds came rushing back in. Fortunately it was short-lived when we got above the clouds at 19,000’ to see dawn on the horizon and a clear shot to the summit. After 5 hours and 45 minutes of climbing we stepped up onto the crater rim. We didn’t get the spectacular view of the crater we were hoping for (we did get the pungent smell of sulfur, though!), but a lot had gone right for us and we were psyched with our team’s effort to tag 19,348’! Mission accomplished. We said goodbye to our Ecuadorian friends and guides, Nacho and Jaime, this afternoon and will head back to Quito tomorrow morning for a final celebration before hopping on flights back to our hometowns.
On The Map
Big congratulations to the whole team !!!!
Will the friends in NY WA beieve this adventure ?
Did Steve have the NBBJ flag ?
Posted by: Bob & Jan McConnell on 1/9/2019 at 10:04 pm
Today was the day we have all been looking forward to. Hacienda life and acclimatization hikes have been pretty great, but we’re excited to switch gears and get to climbing. We spent the rainy morning double checking gear, packing, and looking outside hoping we’d see a break in the weather. By lunch the rain finally let up and we loaded the van headed for our final objective, Cotopaxi. We arrived at the trailhead at about 15,000’ to a thick fog, no wind, and some light snow on the ground with no views, but we were dry! We’ll take it! The team made quick work of the short hike to the hut at 16,000’. After re-organizing gear and enjoying a hot meal, we are tucked in to our sleeping bags dreaming of clear skies. Our team is strong, feeling good, and fired up to climb this volcano!
January 7, 2019
Our hopes for sunrise photos of Cotopaxi were dashed when we woke to a layer of low clouds blanketing the hillside. The upside was additional sleep and a leisurely start to the day with pancakes and coffee. Our mission for the day was some active rest after sleeping at a new altitude of almost 12,000’. Inspired by our caffeine intake, several of us jumped on the backs of a few horses. Fortunately, no injuries and no feelings hurt. Nacho, our Ecuadorian friend and guide, has been sharing his country with us the past couple days. We went on a cruise in his high country backyard and were introduced to some of his equine friends. Never really taken a rest break before with a small herd of horses. After we banked 1,500’ feet of vertical, tagging almost 13,000’, we once again finished the day with an equatorial downpour.
January 7, 2019
Sunday, January 6, 2019 - 7:30 pm PT
Another day, another volcano! We left the hustle and bustle of Quito this morning and eased into the beautiful, lush countryside of Ecuador. After a short drive to the base of Illinizas we parked at 12,800’ and powered up to the hut at 15,100’. Beautiful weather on the ascent, not so much on the descent. Right as we reached the hut clouds began to swallow us up and we tucked inside for snacks and some hot tea. Shortly after, a cold rain gave us some extra motivation to get moving and it chased us downhill back to the trailhead. We wound our way back down the narrow (and bumpy!) cobblestone road along small family farms and pastures full of cows, llamas, horses and the occasional rogue pig. We threw it into park on the other side of the valley at Hacienda El Porvenir where we are tucked in for the night drying our gear in front of a crackling wood stove. Perfect. Hoping for clear skies in the morning and a front row sunrise view of Cotopaxi with coffee in hand. Buenas noches!
And boom. We went to over 14,000’ today. To be honest, gondola-assisted, but we still logged a few thousand human-powered vert. Warm sun, mild temps, and a calm, steady breeze from the east kept things comfortable. Clouds slowly built throughout the day as we ascended, but never threatened anything more than the occasional chilly gust. The bright orange Chuquiragua flowers, also known as the “the flower of the climber” that grows at over 9,000 feet, were in bloom along the trail and grew thicker as we ascended. We’ll take it as a good omen! Satisfied with our solid effort, we snacked and took in the panoramic views of Quito over 5,000’ below us from our perch on the flanks of Pichincha before heading back downhill.
Our team is strong and deposited valuable funds into the Cotopaxi acclimatization account today. More to come tomorrow as we venture further south through the Avenue of the Volcanoes!
January 4, 2019
After a long day of travel yesterday, we were re-energized this morning when we stepped outside the hotel to deep blue skies, brilliant equatorial sun, and temps in the mid 70s all at over 9,000’ here in Quito. We made our way high and low through the city excited to experience the colorful culture, friendly locals, and empanadas! We then ventured to the outskirts of Quito where we visited the site that gave the country its name - the equator! And since there’s never a bad time to snack, we hunted down a produce stand and stuffed ourselves with oritos, delicious sweet baby bananas widely grown here in Ecuador, and was soon followed by a delicious team dinner at an Ecuadorian restaurant. No, no one’s ordered guinea pig…yet.
What a great way to acclimatize for a 19,000 foot volcano!