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Mount chimborazo: climbing glaciers near the equator - in the open air


The climb up the glaciers to the apex of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador isn't careful decidedly technical. Technically, it is mountaineering, but how hard could it be, bearing in mind that I went to 20,600 feet the first time I used crampons and an ice axe? Okay, I had used them once for practice, on a sledding hill near my house. I climbed just about forty feet while colonize walked by with their sleds, admonition their kids to stay away from me.

Driving Up Mount Chimborazo

It is easier to climb a mountain when the guide drives you to 15,000 feet. Don't get me wrong. Climbing that last 5,600 feet was one of the most challenging belongings I've done, but not for the skill required. The fact that the air was absent half of its oxygen is what had me quitting twenty or thirty times on the way up Chimborazo. It just gets challenging to move up there.

The Graveyard

The barely monuments near the first place of safety weren't for climbers lacking skill. The cemetery is a evidence to the changeability of all high places. Chimborazo is very high, it arbitrarily drops large rocks on you, and has become rough that changes by the minute. Even as we were ice climbing to the back up refuge, we could hear the rocks and pieces of ice declining everywhere above.

El Refugio Edward Whymper is a simple, unheated hut at 16,000 feet, named after the English backpacker who first made it to the apex of the mountain. Okay, it isn't completely unheated. There is a fireplace, and when a big cheese feels like moving wood up to 5000 meters, the fire might raise the fever in the hut by 3 degrees.

We had "mate de coca" a tea made of coca leaves, which are also known for an added artifact made from them--one that is taken up the nose. Then we went mountain climbing for a short while. That was my acclimatization. We ate, and I slept for at least an hour already initial the gradient at eleven that night.

A Hardly About Mount Chimborazo

Chimborazo is in Ecuador, not far from the Equator (100 miles south). The altitude in the core of the country, and the moderating achieve of the Humboldt Current, which runs along the west side of South America, gives the land near absolute weather. A bit hot along the coast and lowlands, but spring--like in Quito (the capital) , with daily highs in the sixties to low seventies year--round. Breathtaking coarsen approximately everywhere--until you get high enough.

Chimborazo, at it's peak, is the farthest point from the axis of the Earth. Our earth bulges at the equator, creation Mount Chimborazo even futher out there than Everest. It has the division of being the close point to the sun on the planet, and yet still the coldest place in Ecuador.

Climbing Chimborazo

Paco, my guide, didn't like the nonthreatening person part of this mountain climbing adventure. He frowned when he saw my sleeping bag, which packed up minor than a football, and weighed a pound. My frameless bag didn't seem to impress him each (13 ounces). In any case, even if it did get below freezing in the hut, just as he said it would, I stayed warm--as I said I would. No troubles so far.

Unfortunately, Paco didn't speak a word of English, and I was just education Spanish. Since our whole group consisted of him and me, we did have some communiqu? problems. I thought, for example, that the $11 fee for the "night" (a few hours) in the hut was integrated in the $130 guide fee. He attention that I was a mountain climber.

I think he was maxim that he didn't like the flimsy rainsuit I was using as a shell, and he frowned at my family 1--ounce ski mask. When he saw me putting on my insulating vest, a fluffy piece of poly batting with a hole cut in it for my head. . . well, I just pretended not to appreciate what he was saying.

I hadn't calculated to go climb up Mount Chimborazo with such insubstantial gear, but I had come to Ecuador on a courier flight, and could bring only carry-on luggage. Since I had only 12 pounds in the pack to begin with, by the time I put on all my clothes that night, the credence on my back was irrelevant. The authority of my body, however, wasn't irrelevant. Paco had to coax me up that mountain.

Hiking On Glaciers

The glaciers start a short walk from the hut, and ice climbing soon became mountaineering. I put on crampons for the be with time in my life (there was that sledding hill). At some stage in one of my many breaks ("Demasiado" - too many, which I pretended not to be au fait with when Paco explained in Spanish), I noticed that the tiny, cheap thermometer I agreed had bottomed out at 5 degrees fahrenheit. I wasn't cold, but I was exhausted at times--the times when I moved. When I sat still I felt like I could run right up that mountain.

We struggled (okay, I struggled) up Mount Chimborazo, hiking, climbing, jumping over crevasses, until I at length quit at 20,000 feet. Of choice I had quit at 19,000 feet, and at 18,000 feet. Quitting had develop into my routine. Lying had be converted into Paco's, so he told me straight--faced that the apex was just fifty feet higher. Maybe I hunted to have faith in him, or maybe the lack of oxygen had jumbled my brain. In any case, I on track up the ice again.

On Top Of Mount Chimborazo

We stumbled onto the apex at dawn. Well, okay, I stumbled. Paco, who seemed to some extent frail down at the refuge, was in his amount at 20,600 feet. Dirtbag Joe, the nineteen-year-old kid from California with ten dollars in his pocket, rented equipment, and my Ramen noodles in his stomach, was coming up for us with a smile.

The sky was a stunning shade of blue that you in reality can never see at lower elevations. Cotapaxi, a classic snow-covered volcano to the north, was noticeably discernible 70 or 80 miles away. Handshakes all around, and it was time to get off the mountain. I was told you don't want to be on Mount Chimborazo when she wakes up. She wakes up at nine a. m.

Paco kept looking at his watch and frowning. He told me to hurry, then he got additional and auxiliary ahead. I brain wave he was going to abandon me on the mountain. When I at length immovable up to him at the hut at nine a. m. , I began to hear the rocks fall out of the ice above as the sun warmed it. Now I silent his affair with time. We exceedingly did need to get down to the place of safety by nine. A thousand feet lower and my mountain climbing adventure ended with a photograph that as luck would have it doesn't show my shaking knees.


If you want to climb Mount Chimborazo, it is cheapest to wait until you get to Ecuador to make arrangements. Talk to more or less any hotel owner or boss in Riobamba, and he or she will find a guide for you. It will be cheaper if you are part of a group, of course.

For more in a row and stories about Ecuador, you can visit the pages, "Information On Ecuador," and "Banos Ecuador" on the website http://www. EverythingAboutTravel. com

Steve Gillman first hit the road on his own when at sixteen, and traveled alone crossways the United States and Mexico at 17. Now 40, he continues to move and bag with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. Many of his stories, plus tips and in a row on journey and inconsequential backpacking, can be found on his websites, http://www. EverythingAboutTravel. com, and http://www. TheUltralightBackpackingSite. com


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