Ecuador 2021, Escaping the Pandemic

Just like most people in the world, the Pandemic had been weighing on us. We had gotten a lot of climbing in this past year, but our international plans had all been canceled. And with Jessica's green card application in the USA moving forward, we knew there would be a long period ahead where travel on her end would be 100% restricted. The weather in the PNW had been particularly bad this winter, and it only looked like it was getting worse. After a number of failed climbing attempts due to conditions, we made the call to go south for a bit. [...]

Cotopaxi

My 3rd time in Ecuador. My 6th week. Around my 40th day in the country. And I had still not ever stepped foot on the famous Cotopaxi. I swore that this trip, I would change that, I wouldn't leave before giving it a shot. I say “a shot” because our luck with the weather and conditions has been fairly poor so far. A few years ago, coming to Ecuador looking to climb more technically challenging routes, Cotopaxi seemed to not have any on the list. The perfect conical shape left no nooks and crannies for “imperfections” like ridges or faces. [...]

Illiniza Sur

Illiniza Sur, Illiniza Norte’s far less popular yet much more difficult sibling, was our main objective.  Up until 2009, there were two routes up Illiniza Sur, with the most popular route being La Rampa.  As of 2017, La Rampa is pretty much just a melted out rock shooting gallery, so we would be using the other route.  Funnily enough, nobody really seems to remember what the current route used to be called back when there were two routes.[...]

El Altar: Subpeak Dreams and Avalanche Hell

Nacho and my expedition to El Altar was planned for 8 days, much longer than we spent last time here in 2017 when we climbed the main summit, El Obispo. We would hike in supported by horses to the Italian Camp, and setup (and likely tear down) a base camp. Then the plan would be to do an alpine style smash and grab of Monja Grande, and 2 further peaks (to remain unnamed for now), inaccesssble from the base camp. [...]

Carihuairazo

Spelling the name of this peak seems to be just as challenging as pronouncing the name. I practiced in my head, but when I'd open my mouth, unstrung syllables just gobbled out. The indigenous people's story goes as such. Carihuairazo and El Altar entered an epic battle against Chimborazo over the love of Tungurahua. Carihuairazo and El Altar were left battered and destroyed, only remaining as the calderas that they are today. This peak had been on my radar for a few years now, but it was more of a question mark than anything else. [...]

El Altar, The Italian Route

I knew that the trek in would be interesting when we stopped by a hardware store in Quito to buy rubber boots. We also made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up 30 liters of water as the Campo Italiano has only a trickle of running water. It seems hard to believe at face value, but because the camp sits on a ridge, very little of the glacier melt is directed its way. Yet another reason wonder why this climb is unpopular, I guess.[...]

Illiniza Norte

Upon gaining the ridge we were presented with an amazing view of Illiniza Sur, our primary objective. The day was beginning to warm up, and the skies were clear. Climbing in Ecuador comes with the expectation of bad weather, so I was super happy that the mountain gods seemed to be on our side. [...]

Ecuador the Hard Way

Upon arriving back to Ecuador for the second time, now few years later, I had all the same levels of excitement as the first, but with something very different in mind.  Technical climbs.  However, because of how poorly the technical climbs of Ecuador are documented, I had really very little idea of what I had ahead of me.[...]