Mountaineering :: Trekking :: Ski touring


I led this expedition for Jagged Globe in December 2004. This is a copy of the report that I wrote for their website.

This was one of the most successful trips that Jagged Globe has organised in Ecuador, with members climbing all three of the highest peaks in the country. Good weather, a strong team of climbers and the excellent local guides all contributed to the high success rate.

Acclimatisation hikes on Pasochoa (4,200m) and Pichincha were completed on December 22 and December 23 by all members of the expedition. Several Condors were sighted on the former. In continental tradition, the team Christmas party was held on the night of the 24 December at Hacienda Guachala, complete with crackers and party hats.

After glacier training and further acclimatisation on the slopes of Cayambe (5,790m), ten members of the team reached the summit of Ecuador's third highest peak on the morning of December 27. A few days were spent familiarising the group with the refuge and lower slopes of Cotopaxi (5,897m), the country's second highest peak, before an ascent was made on December 31. Despite the fact that the current route is steeper than that used previously, all but one member of the team reached the summit early in the morning.

The New Year party held at Hotel Cuello de Luna featured a local band and dance troupe, but few of the summit team lasted until midnight! January 1 was a rest day and the group endured a hair raising bus ride along a narrow mountain road to find an esoteric hot spring. In the afternoon, we stumbled across a small, local bullfight where the bulls were a bit small and the Matadors a bit drunk - all the bulls survived to fight another day.

However, it was to be altogether smaller animals that would bring to an end the expedition's record breaking haul of summits. On a trip where the food had been uniformly excellent, it was perhaps a mistake to try and the local speciality, Guinea Pigs. The result of this gastronomic adventurism was that most of the team were struck down by a variety of ailments over the following four days. Hopes of getting ten or more people onto the summit of Chimborazo (6,310m) faltered. Three people reached the main summit on 4 January, 125 years to the day that Whymper and Carrel made the first ascent. Two more members of the expedition repeated the feat the following day, making a total of five summiteers on Ecuador's highest peak.

Everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable expedition combining high quality climbing with a chance to see some of the many faces of Ecuador, the smallest of the Andean countries. The group would like to express their thanks to Javier Herrera and his team of local guides (Pepe, Marco, Mauricio, Daniel, Philip and Washington) for providing an excellent service. The group found each of the three major peaks to be more technically difficult than expected. This makes the high rate of summit successes all the more remarkable and is a credit to the effort and determination shown by all members of the expedition.

David Hamilton, 5 January 2005


David Hamilton
High Adventure
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