Hiking on guagua pichincha
Trip Start Jul 12, 2006
17Trip End Aug 23, 2006
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The first hike was guided by a Canadian named Brad, who lives in Quito and works at the hostel. We had a group of ten ride in the hostel´s Land Rover to 4200 meters, then hike to the summit, which is at about 4900 meters. It was cloudy and extremely windy, making it pretty cold near the top. We made sure to rest and drink water often so as to avoid altitude sickness (I think it´s cerebral endema). On clear days you can see most of Quito, as well as three other volcanos in the region from the summit, but we could see all of about 10 feet into the clouds. Luckily though, the next day was clear (more on that below)
Guagua Pichincha: The Unplanned Sequel. I woke up fairly late (9:30 or so) after the late night and caught the tail-end of breakfast on the roof of the hostel, then sat around talking with some of the other hostel inhabitants (they´re mostly Brits and Australians, with a few Americans and other nationalities mixed in) trying to decide what to do
As we were buying our tickets for the TelefériQo Sylva realized that his passport was gone. He decided to return to the hostel and look around (he didn´t find it--he´s pretty sure it was stolen on a bus by someone reaching under his seat). Andrew, Fen, and I rode the cable car up and took a few pictures from a scenic viewpoint of Quito. I should mention here that I was completely unprepared even for that--it was quite a bit cooler above the city than in it, and I was in shorts and a pretty thin polo. Fen let me borrow her windbreaker, but as you can imagine, it didn´t fit all that well. Anyway, we decided to walk along the path toward Guagua Pichincha for a little ways--Andrew was not in favor of this so he went back down to Quito.
Long story short, Fen and I hiked to within 25 or 30 meters of the summit on a path that was sometimes loose sand, and other times steep jagged rock--I blame her for our not turning around
Our descent was much quicker--just under 2 hours, as opposed to 4--because we could slide/run/surf down the sandy parts of the trail. Fen employed the sit and slide strategy, and I did a slide sideways/sidestep kind of thing. It was good times, and the the thought that we were on the way down, towards warmth, was encouraging. We started back down just after 6 PM and the sun set behind the volcano soon thereafter, making the trail dark. Luckily we went down quickly enough that we were off of the difficult parts of the trail before it got dark. We were also lucky that I had decided to put a headlamp in the Ziploc bag that stays in my daypack. This bag also has a roll of toilet paper (it´s not in every bathroom here), a Swiss Army Knife, sunscreen, duct tape, and spare chapstick (don´t want chapped lips you know)
I´m probably heading south to Latacunga tomorrow or Wednesday. I was planning on climbing Cotopaxi (just under 6000m with a glacier on top) with a guide from here, but I´m either not going to do it at all, or I will hire a guide in Latacunga, which is much closer. I might not do it at all though because it is expensive and fairly time-consuming--I´ve spent a bit too much time here in Quito and need to head south into Northern Peru by the 28th. Anyway, thanks to everyone who has emailed, and I apologize if I rambled a bit here.