Monday, June 8, 2009

Climbing Well (and Eating Well) in Ecuador

We received the following dispatch from AAI guide Pepe Landazuri Monday evening, June 8th at 5:30pm Pacific time (8:30pm Ecuador time).

"Hello – this is Pepe calling from Hacienda Guachala with John Lockwood [Ontario], Tom Betor [North Carolina], and David Kellow [Ontario].  We just finished dinner and are enjoying the end of a great day.  It was clear and sunny for our climb of Pichincha today, and now we have a clear windy evening at the hacienda with a full moon.  It’s very beautiful.  

It is supposed to stay clear too, so we are excited about the coming climbs.  We think we are going to have very good luck with the weather.  It’s been windy, but that’s OK because it basically blew the clouds away as this high pressure system came in.

Today we left the hotel [in Quito at 2900m, 9500ft] at 8:00am and drove to an elevation of 4000  meters [13,125ft].  We started hiking at 9:30, had some breaks and lunch on our way up, and got to the summit of Guagua Pichincha [4776m, 15,670ft] at 12:30pm.  Unlike Sunday on Pasachoa when Cotopaxi was hidden by the clouds, today it was clear on the eastern and western ranges, so we could see all the mountains.  It was great.

So we just finished dinner.  I think these guys drank two gallons of pineapple juice.  We had steak and vegetables for dinner, and now we’re heading to our rooms for a little fire.  It’s breezy outside and chilly, so having a fire in our fireplaces will be very nice.

Tomorrow we’ll have breakfast at 8 and leave for Cayambe at 9:00am.  We need an hour for breakfast because they have both American and Ecuadorian breakfasts available.  So We’ll have cereal, eggs, yogurt, meats, cheese, fruit, rolls.  It takes a while.  But we are focusing on preparing for our first big climb by eating a lot!!  These guys are acclimatizing well, so there is no problem with their appetites!

The drive to the hut in the morning will probably take an hour-and-a-half, a half-hour longer than normal.  We had some rain about ten days ago that did some damage to the road, so it is a little rough in areas.  But well be there by late morning and then make an acclimatization hike up to 4900 meters [16,077’], and then use the next day, Wednesday, to work on cramponing skills on the lower glacier, and then we’ll make our climb of Cayambe [5790m, 18,997ft] on Thursday.  We'll head to Cotopaxi [5897m, 19,348ft] on Friday and probably climb it on Saturday

I’m using my cell phone to call in the report today.  For some strange reason it works better than the satellite phone when we’re at Guachala.  Tomorrow I’ll call using the Sat phone from the hut on Cayambe; the cell phone doesn’t work there at all.

OK, that’s the news.  We’ll call tomorrow at about the same time. Sleep well everybody.  We’re going to!"


You can follow the progress of all AAI Denali expeditions on the dispatch page of AAI's website:     The URL for the specific page is:   Use the drop down to follow the country and team you want. 

Dispatches are posted M-F on the dispatch page.  Aside from special events (e.g., summits, major storms, etc), they are posted on this blog only on the weekends and when they come in after normal business hours.  They are later moved to the dispatch page. 

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