November 9, 2007

Rafting and Climbing, not a bad way to spend a couple days

Now I know it´s been a little longer than expected since we wrote our last post, but it´s only because we´ve become beach bums, and have little motivation these days, other than surfing, swimming, and reading books in a hammock. Sorry, but we do miss you...I swear. Julie and I finally made it to Peru, although we didn´t get as far as we planned. We found a beautiful beach town on the Northwest coast called Mancora, and decided to stay put for a couple days/weeks, not sure really. I´ll let Julie fill you in on this.

In the meantime, I´m going to get you up to speed on the week after our jungle trip. I didn´t mention it at the time, but the previous week we had met an American couple from Colorado who had told us about a rafting company that their friend had set up with local Ecuadorians. What sold us on El Chaco, was that it was off the beaten path, and away from all the major rafting operators further south in Tena. We did a one day tour with Water Dog Tours and had some class IV rapids on the Rio Quijos all to ourselves. For those of you who don´t know about rafting in Ecuador, the country has some of the best rapids in the world, so we couldn´t pass up the opportunity.

Here are pics from rafting

After Chaco, Julie and I separated for a night. She went to relax in the thermal springs of Papallacta, and I went back to Quito to climb Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is the world´s highest active volcano, capped with a beautiful glacier at a height of 19,348 ft (5897 m). The climb itself only takes 2 days, but the altitude is a killer. I ended up climbing Rucu Pichincha (the mountain on the outskirts of Quito) again, in order to acclimatize as best I could.

I left for Cotopaxi national park the following morning with a climbing group consisting of a French Canadian from Montreal, a Brit, and two local Ecuadorian guides. We arrived at the park mid-day, loaded up our gear, and after an hour hike we were at the refuge, where we would spend a couple hours before climbing.

We had a quick refresher course on the glacier, and then it was back to the refuge to eat some food and get a couple hours of rest before heading out at 1 am for the summit. The Refuge was packed with Ecuadorians and tourists alike. Bunk beds were piled three tiers high, sleeping dozens of people. I didn´t get much sleep, so it was tough waking up at 11 pm to get a quick bite before heading out.

We climbed all through the night, from about 1 am to 10 am. We were pretty fortunate to have what seemed like a full moon lighting up the snow, and the weather only got really cold from around 4-5 am, but the altitude was a killer. I still don´t know how I got to the summit. The last 2 hours of climbing seemed like I was in a drunken dream. Just put one foot in front of the other is what I kept thinking, hoping not to slip and take my rope team down the mountain. Our guide kept pushing us on, worried about a late summit. We had crossed a ton of large crevasses, and although they were probably safe, we didn´t want to take a chance as the sun warmed up the day and melted the ice.

I don´t really remember being on top of the mountain. We spent a maximum of 5 minutes, took some pictures, forced down some food and water, and then headed back. I think I enjoyed going down much more, not only since I had the satisfaction of reaching the summit, but we had climbed in the dark, and I was finally able to enjoy the scenery.

All in all I had a great time climbing. It was strange experience in that the climb was definitely packaged for tourists. All the travel agencies in the touristy part of Quito had trips, and you could tell by the number of people on the mountain that day. There must have been somewhere around 50 people climbing along side us with other tour operators. Oh well, it wasn´t as remote as Gannett Peak in Wyoming, but it was still fun, and I have now climbed the highest volcano in the world. This trip is supposed to be about amazing adventures and crossing things off the world list. Here´s one more.

Here are pics from the climb

1 comment:

RĂ©mi said...

Hey Jared! Nice post about Cotopaxi! Me neither, I don't remember being at the summit! This was a hell of a climb, but an amazing one! Take care during the remaining of your trip! Adios!
The guy from Montreal :)