Our team of 3 had a superb expedition to Ecuador in early December. One of the things I’ve learned about international climbing over my 20+ year guiding career is that no matter how well planned your trip is on paper, things can change dramatically when you get in-country. Expeditions frequently require exercising those flexibility muscles! This trip was no exception. In fact we didn’t climb a single peak we were scheduled to climb!
‘On paper’ we were scheduled to acclimate on Ruccu Pinchincha followed by our main events: Cayambe and Illiniza Sur. The gondola that accesses the trailhead for Ruccu turned out to be closed so we rallied, rented a high clearance taxi for the day and climbed Gua Gua Pinchincha instead – a perfect acclimatization day in the misty mountains of Ecuador.
Then our local intel alerted us to deteriorating conditions on Cayambe so with the help of our awesome local logistics team we opted to climb Cotopaxi instead since conditions were reported to be ideal there. The day we went for the summit was one of my two best weather days ever in Ecuador! Glaciated climbing doesn’t get any better!
Our last climb, Illiniza Sur, was in good condition when we arrived at the hut. Unfortunately, the night before our climb when we got super saturated snow fall and a low temperature almost 15 degrees ABOVE freezing. On a route that requires a hard freeze to keep rock fall at bay this made for a no-go decision. No problem: we put our crampon skills to good use on snow covered rock on Illiniza Norte instead – a great finale to our time in the peaks of Ecuador!
My team did an amazing job of adapting to the changing landscape (pun intended!) and embracing the adventure as it came. Kudos to Tom and Flora for creating a successful expedition with their excellent attitudes. Thanks for an incredible trip guys!