Well, it’s been a quick 6 months since I lost 2 ft. of my intestines to Crohns. I have managed to get my body back into climbing shape and train at high altitude again. Decided to head down to Equador with a good friend, Edgar Parra, and climb as much as we could for two weeks. This was a huge test for my body. Our goal is to climb Mt. McKinley in May of 2015. Knowing what 20,000 ft. feels like beforehand is a huge advantage. We landed in Quito October 5th and started climbing right away. Ruminawi, 15,200 ft., was our first acclimatization climb. No rain and no snow. This was a quick day hike and it felt good to stand above 14,500 ft. for a change.
Next on the list was Corazon. Standing just above 15,700 ft. was awesome. We made it to the summit in no time. Our climb down Corazon was in the rain all the way back to the car. This lead us to an attempt of the beautiful Illinis Sur at 17,270 ft. Quick climb to the refuge for a bite to eat and some sleep. With an Alpine start around 1 am, we were at the summit by sunrise. The summit of “SUR” was cold and windy with no visibility. Again it felt good to stand on the snow at 1,270 ft.
Now with a couple of free days to kill before Cotopaxi we headed out for some sport climbing. Testing our skills on the rocks of Ecuador, it was now time to go for the big one. Cotopaxi is 19,340 ft. Another Alpine start around midnight. We headed out from the base of the mountain in the snow. Conditions did not look good but we wanted to go for it anyway. With all the fresh snow the avalanche danger was too high and we made the right call. Turned around at about 18,500 ft. Now with a few rest days in order, it was back to sport climbing the rocks of Ecuador. Keeping those legs moving and heading toward Chimborazo at 20,560 ft. Another Alpine start from the base of the mountain and not able to sleep at the refuge because of construction, we went for it. Snow conditions were very rough and climbing was slow.
The conditions slowed us down and a summit was not possible in our allotted time. Again, we made the right call to start descending at around 19,000 ft. Weather was not looking good. Lots of snow and rain had put our summit attempts on hold. This was still some of the best training anyone could ask for. We knew it was a long shot but we headed over to Antisana with our fingers crossed. The mountain was hiding behind the clouds and we were denied a permit. With only a couple of days left, we headed to Quito and did what most people do. Climbed Pichincha. Of course we took the hard route and headed to the summit via the “PASS OF DEATH”. Yep, it was fun. Headed down in pouring rain and hail.
Our training in Ecuador was a huge success.