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Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Discussion area for peaks outside of the USA.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby JB99 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:15 pm

I'm curious if those that have been up these would consider plastic boots necessary? I have Nepal Evo's right now that I use here in winter and also used on Orizaba. I also have some overboots that I could probably wrestle on to my boots. But my feet run cold if anything and I am very interested in keeping all my toes.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby astrobassman » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:50 pm

I used Nepal Evos on Orizaba and my toes got pretty cold, and used Scarpa Invernos in Ecuador and was warm the entire time. It was however colder on Orizaba than on Cotopaxi or Chimborazo. If you stay warm enough in Evos here in Colorado during the winter, you should be fine using them in Ecuador. That said, a good plastic boot comes in handy and if you plan on climbing other high altitude peaks you should just pick up a pair.

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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby Gabriel » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:28 am

I spent 6 weeks in Ecuador in summer 04. Travelled by bus without a problem. It's fun and inexpensive, although it seemed more costly than Peru. If you take the same precautions as you would in Denver and don't do things you wouldn't at home, you should be fine.

G

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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby nyker » Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:38 am

Bring a gas mask for driving around, particularly in tunnels in and around Quito...similar to many other locales, there are no pollutions standards on vehicles, there. The fumes are so strong, you'll be tasting diesel.

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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby JB99 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:02 pm

Can anyone compare the difficulty and objective dangers of Cotopaxi vs. Chimborazo? Specifically was there much more crevasse danger and route finding on Chimborazo than Cotopaxi? Right now we are planning on a guide for Chimbo but not Cotopaxi and I am curious if that makes sense or if we should use one for both or neither. Thanks.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby Scott P » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:15 pm

Can anyone compare the difficulty and objective dangers of Cotopaxi vs. Chimborazo? Specifically was there much more crevasse danger and route finding on Chimborazo than Cotopaxi?


It depends on conditions. Some older sources say that Chimborazo has less objective dangers, but when we were there in January 2007, this was not the case. Chimborazo was much more dangerous at that time.

Falling ice was a big problem on the Whymper route and rockfall was a big problem on the Castillo route. We tried the Whymper, but when the upper part of the Whymper was plagued by icefall, we had to retreat 1000 feet and traverse over to the upper part of the Castillo. The traverse had some large crevasses (other than the traverse, I don't remember many crevasses so it will depend on which route is in condition). Reclimbing the 1000 feet was tiring at 20,000 feet and it was a long day.

Cotopaxi was much easier. There are crevasses, but they were all big and obvious and the route to the summit was well marked. During bad weather or after a snowstorm, this may be different, but it was a pretty safe and easy ascent when I was there.

Conditions can change quickly on both mountains, but especially Chimborazo. When we were there, it was the eruption of Tepungato and resultant ash covering the glacier that made Chimborazo harder and icier than it used to be. MOre recent reports say that conditions have become better again.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby TomPierce » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:46 pm

Scott P wrote:Some older sources say that Chimborazo has less objective dangers, but when we were there in January 2007, this was not the case. Chimborazo was much more dangerous at that time.


Scott P wrote:Cotopaxi was much easier. There are crevasses, but they were all big and obvious and the route to the summit was well marked. During bad weather or after a snowstorm, this may be different, but it was a pretty safe and easy ascent when I was there.


Hey JB
FWIW, Scott's impressions are identical to mine from 1992. Cotopaxi was a relative snap as Scott describes (but watch any snow bridge crossings on the warmer descent). And they've reeeally improved the hut! Chimbo was noticably harder and icier (we did not summit due to the trepidations of some team members in ascending the icy ramp in the dark). But as always theses peaks can be much harder, maybe even killers, in poor conditions. If you're gonna spring for a guide anywhere (not saying you need to...) Chimbo would be it IMO.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby Snowgirl » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:49 pm

I'm going to third that. From what I gathered of people coming and going on Chimbo while we were in the hut, almost everyone had a guide. I know someone that was guided up Cotopaxi with 0 mountaineering experience and she had no problems, but anyone above that with good sense and great map skills should be fine.
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby centrifuge » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:54 am

has anyone done chimbo unguided? My understanding is that we should be expecting up to 60 degree slopes in some places, but are those the spots that were icy in any of your experiences?
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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby Woodie Hopper » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:43 am

centrifuge wrote:has anyone done chimbo unguided? My understanding is that we should be expecting up to 60 degree slopes in some places, but are those the spots that were icy in any of your experiences?


When I was there, yes. The steepest sections were blue and very hard, due to ash from Tungurahua which was erupting (I was there a few months before Scott). If my guide slipped, there would be no way I could have stopped him without ice screws.

Hopefully the conditions are much better now.

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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby susanjoypaul » Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:07 pm

I'll echo what just about everybody else is saying here...

Cotopaxi: EVERYBODY goes up there, hikers, non-hikers, tourists, locals. The hut was so packed in June that we ended up sleeping on the dining room floor. With dozens of people heading up, there was an easy-to-follow bootpack - all the way up to the point where everybody else turned around (but us). We turned around higher up, after literally getting hit with an avalanche. If you're comfortable with that kind of terrain, and rope travel, then go for it. I was glad to have a guide, personally, but the conditions can vary considerably, depending on weather, snowfall, and everything else that comes with glaciated volcanoes, so you may or may not need one. My main reason for having a guide is the fact that, if my partner did fall into a crevasse, I would like some help getting him out (he's a lot bigger than I am.) We practiced crevasse rescue for weeks prior to the trip, but I still wouldn't want to ever have to be in a position to get someone out of that situation without some help. I think it's important to be honest with yourself about those things. Someone's life depends on it.

Chimborazo: Hardly anyone goes up there. The same week in June, we were the only people in the hut. The route-finding is straight-forward, but it's steep, icy, there's rockfall, crevasses, and the avalanche danger was incredibly high. Again, conditions vary greatly. I wouldn't do it without a guide.

To an earlier question in regard to boots and clothing: I used leather (not double or plastic) boots on both, and didn't even carry a down jacket, just a wool base, fleece, and water/wind proof shell. Goggles, face mask, and helmet are also a good idea. Again, this is a personal choice. I think you should base these decisions on your own experiences with Colorado winter ascents (real winter ascents, not fake winter of 2008 ascents), and your clothing requirements on those outings. Everybody's different.

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Re: Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Advice

Postby ClimbandMine » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:05 pm

centrifuge wrote:has anyone done chimbo unguided? My understanding is that we should be expecting up to 60 degree slopes in some places, but are those the spots that were icy in any of your experiences?



Yeah, my buddy and I did it sans guide in early June, 2003. We had pretty good conditions on the Castillo route though, with just one short section of 10' vertical ice to get over and about 400 feet of icy glacier early in the route - ~18,000'. Most of the route was 30-40 degrees, tops. I don't remember anything that surpassed 45.

Based on my experiences with the guides I met both in Ecuador (on Chimbo and the hut on Illiniza) and in Chamonix, I would never use a guide anywhere. They pushed their clients well beyond their capabilities, in two cases (both in Ecuador) to the point of needing treatment for AMS.
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