Warm-up Climbs - Pasochoa and Pichincha

Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 13, 2009

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The goal of my trip was to climb Cotopaxi (19,347 feet - a few feet high than Kilimanjaro).  Cotopaxi is the world's highest active volcano.  Secondary goals were Iliniza Norte (16,818 feet) and Chimborazo (20,702 - the farthest point from the center of the Earth due to the equatorial bulge).

To conquer these beasts, I had to warm up on some "babies," Pasochoa (13,780 feet) and Rucu Pichincha (15,413 feet).  I met my climbing partner (Howard) and our guide (Diego) the day before we tackled Pasochoa.  Howard is an older fellow from Montreal, but he is an experienced climber who has a lot of guiding and mountaineering experience in the Northern Appalachians.  It goes without saying that the Appalachians are a littler lower than Ecuadorian volcanoes, so Howard ventured to Ecuador to test himself on some higher peaks (as did I).  Our guide Diego was a fun-living Ecuadorian (as most are).  At about 6'3", he was definitely out of place in a land formerly ruled by the Incas.  I soon realized that his long legs would also make it an adventure to keep pace on the mountain. 

Pasochoa was a great warm-up.  It's extinct and below the vegetation/tree-line, so it was green pretty much all the way to the top (amazing at that altitude).  The day was cloudy (as are many Ecuadorian days), but it was a beautiful hike nevertheless and a good, taxing warm-up.  Everyone made it with no problem. 

Pichincha was a different story.  We got more sunshine and some beautiful views of the city.  Howard had a little trouble on this day but managed to power through to the top.  We also got a fun bit of slightly dangerous rock scrambling up to the summit.  On the way down, we got pelted with rain for two hours.   FUN!!!!!

Acclimatization - check.
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