| Ecuador 2009: Rucu Pichincha Direct
June 20th - July 5th
I wondered what it would be like to drive along the high volcano studded Pan American Highway. After heading as far south as Rio Bamba and then back again to Quito, we had a good feeling for the mountains of Ecuador. As we rode the Teleferiqo toward Rucu Pichincha, it was clear putting this mountain at the end of the trip was a fantastic way to wrap up to the climbing.
June 20th - Arrive in Quito (~9000')
June 21st - Bus to El Chaupi (~11,000')
June 22nd – Approach to Refugio Nuevos Horizontes (~15,600')
June 23rd - Summit Illiniza Norte (16,818')
June 24th - Summit Illiniza Sur (17,267')
June 25th - Approach to Refugio Jose F. Rivas (~15,800')
June 26th - Summit Cotopaxi (19,347')
June 27th - Rest Day in Rio Bamba (~8,500')
June 28th - Approach to Chimborazo Refugio (16,400')
June 29th - Summit Attempt Chimborazo (18,900' highpoint)
June 30th - Summit Attempt Chimborazo (17,100' highpoint)
July 1st – Baños - hot springs and beer
July 2nd – Baños - see above
July 3rd – Quito – sights and Rucu Pichincha summit (15,413')
July 4th – Otavalo - markets
July 5th - Arrive in Denver – work
We brought a lightweight 30 m rando rope, useful for glacial travel and perfect for an easy rock climb in the area. The ridge direct route on Rucu is well traveled and for good reason. There are several brief sections of interesting climbing, ample horns for easy protection (no need for rock hardware, just use your glacier gear slings), it puts you in a great position to view Quito far below and also avoids the crowded standard route.
The paramo on the way up to the ridge is dominated by evenly spaced grass tufts.
The shrouded ridge begs the question: What's ahead?
A very well traveled trail rises slowly up a shoulder. The trail splits just as the ridge rises into a fin, so we took the left to stay on the ridge top.
The first section of climbing appears shortly, easy slab to checkerboard climbing then blocky ridge (5.2).
More of the same, for the next several hundred feet.
The route holds ample graffiti, including tributes to fallen climbers. A slightly more difficult section of climbing eventually bars easy passage.
There are at least 3 routes up this tower's small face. Without any rock gear, we opted for the left, the easy way. Head behind a block to climbers left then up a low angle dihedral to large blocks (5.4?). We topped out on a false summit, and with no view of the remaining ridgeline, assumed it was the summit. Realizing our mistake during our attempt to find the standard route, we continued along the remaining and now very sharp ridge crest.
Ecuador above 15k
A 5.0 class down climb leads to a 2 foot wide catwalk for 20 feet. Bonus! Turn a small corner (5.4) at the end of the catwalk and surmount a tower. Down climb the backside and follow easy loose terrain to a broad summit.
Debbie on the Catwalk:
A better look at the crux:
The standard route on the way down had some amazing plant life and we even saw the Ecuadorian Rabbit, somewhat like a mix of pika (also rabbit family) and our common rabbit. More Graffi:
Raptors flew about in spades. More paramo shots…
We had become accustomed to the fog, a nice walk in the clouds. However, the rain and thunder on the trip down had us running, and I don't like running.
Chimborazo TR: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=6739
Illiniza Group TR: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=6676
Cotopaxi TR: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=6702
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):