Ecuador Mountaineering - Cayambe, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo

January 2007

Trip Summary

Usually I have a destination in mind a year in advance and plans laid out in excruciating detail. After our success in the Cascades last summer, Ed and I were thinking of doing something in Ecuador. We had more or less decided on a Cotopaxi only climb in January. However in exchanging emails with my Uncle Jim I learned that he was planning on going down there at about the same time for a Cotopaxi / Chimborazo combo. We decided to join forces and go with Jim's plan. His plan was to use a local guide service instead of an American service (to save a bunch of money), and a guide that he knew from climbing there the previous year. The plan later evolved into a Cayambe / Cotopaxi / Chimborazo combo.

I was excited at the prospect of returning to high altitude and was optimistic that I would perform much better this time. As it turns out I handled the altitude much better, however my overall performance was not at all what I was hoping for. It's been a month since we've returned and I have not been motivated at all to write up the trip report. The bitter taste of defeat on all three main mountains has been a hard pill to swallow. In my mind I know that I gave my best effort on all three mountains and that I made the right decisions each and every time to turn around. My mind tells me that we had a great trip and that it was a lot of fun, however in my heart I can't help but feel that I let myself down and left something out on the playing field. I can't remember the last time that I failed to achieve a major objective. And this certainly was the first time I failed to reach any summit, much less three in a row. A month later, I've moved on from self pity back to highly motivated. In fact I've enjoyed writing up the trip report now that I've done it. I'm going back to the mountains with my ice axe and crampons, and this time I'm bringing along confidence in myself and leaving the fear of the unknown at home. I've also got a score that I intend to settle one day with Ecuador's volcanoes.

Rucu Pichincha - Stopped short intentionally at 14,250 ft. Never intended to attempt summit.

Guagua Pichincha - Summited at 15,686 ft
Cayambe - Turned around at 16,000 ft due to high winds (40-50 mph sustained)
Cotopaxi - Sick with an Ecuadorian virus. Made a feeble attempt to climb but didn't get very far
Chimborazo - Bonked at 18,000 feet after vertical ice cliffs. Turned around at 19,000 ft


Trip Journal and Pictures in Order - Organized by the Four Areas Visited

Individual Areas - If you just want to cut to the chase

Trekking Peaks - Rucu Pichincha & Guagua Pichincha (15,686 ft)
Climbing Cayambe (18,996 ft)
Climbing Cotopaxi (19,347 ft)
Climbing Chimborazo (20,561 ft)


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