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Feb 072019
Does Ecuador Replace Nepal for Best 20,000-foot Climbs?

I just returned from a rewarding trip to Ecuador to climb three of their volcanoes. I went with US-based, Mountain Madness. While this was my seventh trip to South America, it was my first to Ecuador and now I see what I’ve been missing! I’ve been climbing and going to Nepal 13 times since 1997. As anyone who has read my blogs knows, Nepal is close to my heart for many reasons. However, Ecuador was so impressive, Nepal may have to share the top spot. In evaluating the two countries for trekking and climbing, both have pros and cons and continue reading

Feb 042019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Final Trip Report

Climbing three volcanoes in Ecuador was a pleasant, rewarding experience. One that I would repeat. I found Ecuador to be filled with a rich history, friendly people, great scenery, challenging climbs with convenient access and quite affordable. We climbed three of their 32 volcanoes located on the mainland: Cayambe 18,997 feet/5790 meters, Cotopaxi 19,348 feet/5897 meters, and Chimborazo 20,703 feet/6310 meters. We used Mountain Madness and I found them excellent in all aspects and would climb with them again without hesitation. Big Picture These three volcanoes are quite popular for a guided trip and for some independent climbers. As I will develop, continue reading

Jan 292019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Chimborazo "Summit"

Chimborazo proved to be the toughest of the three climbs this week. We got very near the summit of 20,703-feet/6,310-meters, it was the highest of the three. Here is the story: As we got up at 11 pm last night, Jan 27, the view of the stars from the High Camp on Chimborazo was breathtaking. The Milky Way looked like a long narrow cloud and the billions and billions of stars made even the best known constellations like the Southern Cross, Orion, Big Dipper almost invisible. We left at midnight for our summit push full of energy and optimism. I continue reading

Jan 252019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Cotopaxi Summit!!!

Our Mountain Madness team summited Cotopaxi, 19,348-foot/5897-meters, around dawn this morning January 25, 2019. It was a good climb with everyone making it except for one member who sprained an ankle on Cayambe and stayed in the hut. As is normal for these climbs, we left the hut at midnight to climb in the early morning hours to avoid the weather that always develops near the equator. Coto has a nice hut perched at 4,800 m (15,744 ft) on the flanks of the active volcano. The hut has an active history especially when in 1996 on Easter Sunday when an avalanche partially buried continue reading

Jan 242019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Cotopaxi Up Next

As I wrote in the last blog, Cayambe iced us off the upper slopes so now Cotopaxi is up next. After Cayambe, we returned to heal and regroup at Hacienda Rumiloma outside of Quito. We had a great dinner with Ossy, Amber and their family at a local Sushi restaurant, yes Sushi!! Yesterday, Wednesday, January 23, we drove to another amazing Hacienda, Los Mortinos located in Limpiopungo roughly translated as “Clean Valley” just a few miles from Coto and just outside the national park. Mountain Madness continues to impress me with logistics, staff and choices. The drive in was on surprisingly smooth, continue reading

Jan 222019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Cayambe's Ice Age

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Today we were the bug on Cayambe!  Before I get to the crash, let’s catch up a bit from the last full post. I’ll keep repeating that I find Ecuador delightful. The cities, the countryside, the people, the mountains/volcanoes (what I can see of them!) It’s a similar feeling I had on my first visit to Nepal and now I’ve returned 13 times. Perhaps the same is in store for this South American treasure.  As I covered when I first announced my plans to climb the three Ecuadoran volcanoes: Cayambe, Cotopaxi and continue reading

Jan 212019

The last few days have been very eventful. We acclimatized on the local mountains, visited the local market and went to 15,000 feet on Cayambe and now are are at 11,000 feet preparing to go up tonight for a summit attempt starting midnight. I haven’t seen the volcano but everyone tells me it’s behind the cloud so I have to trust them. When we went up yesterday and there was a light rain but strong winds probably 30 mph, so instead of making a day walk up to the glacier we just spent three hours in the hut at 15,000 continue reading

Jan 182019
Ecuador Volcanoes 2019: Acclimatization and Rare Bird Sightings!

Ecuador keeps getting better and better. Today was a real acclimatization hike on a super trail above Quito  We had another fabulous breakfast at Hacienda Rumiloma and hopped in Ossy’s FourRunner for the 10 minute drive to the telefèric or cable car to the Start of the trail to the summit of Pichincha Volcano which is considered extinct although it is next to Guagua Pichincha which erupted in 1996 covering Quito in a foot of ash. The modern convenience of the cars on cables (image that!!) to 12,950’/3,947-meters to start the hike. It was a clear, mostly cloudless cool day offering up continue reading

Jan 172019
Ecuador 2019: Climbing the Volcanoes: Quito

When I started telling people that “I am going to Ecuador to”, I never got out the “climb volcanoes” part before they gasped, put their hand to their heart and squealed, “you are going to love it!” Oh my, were they right. I arrived in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, late last night after a relatively short flight from Colorado but a long 12 hour connection in Panama City, Panama. My bags arrived on time, I got a local SIM for my iPhone and easily found the driver for the 40 minute ride to one of the most amazing places continue reading

Jan 072019
Ecuador 2019: I'm Off to Climb the Volcanoes

I’m very excited to announce my plans to climb in Ecuador in January 2019 with my good friend Robert LeClair. We leave the US in mid January. Before I get to the climbs, I need to share this story. I was doing a talk on my mountain climbs to a group of 8 to 14 year-old school kids. At one point, a “confident” 6th grader raised his hand with sound purpose. I continued with my talk but he was persistent. I know this type …. Finally, I made eye contact. “Yes, Do you have a question?” He stood up, adopting continue reading

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