High season is keeping us busy, but yes, there is a small slot for a Christmas Tour for the 2 of us, our targets are Sincholagua and Antisana, 2 of the less visited mountains in Ecuador. We leave Baños very early and head to Cotopaxi National Park, where our tour to Sincholagua shall start.
material check – Sincholagua
It’s the 24th of December, the staff of the national park tells us, that the entry shall be open and that we can go up with the car … that’s great! We arrive at the bridge and yes, the door is open BUT, they forgot to tell us, that there are huge rocks on the other end of the bridge and that crossing is impossible – result: starting point at approximately 3.600 m and maaany km away from the summit, so we get prepared.
While Sincholagua tries to hide behind the clouds, we are walking up the path through the grass lands and enjoy marvelous views.
After a long hike we arrive at the ridge of Sincholagua were we get equipped with harness, helmet and rope, let’s rock the mountain! There is quite a lot of loose material in the route and also many loose rocks, so we have to take care.
Soon we arrive at the summit … thinking that this is our target, until Jaime tells me: the main summit is over there … uffff and now, it’s already late & foggy but we are so close. Headlamp is in the back bag, so we’ll give it a try: First going down and crossing over to the next ridge, going up a snow field before we enter a 30 meter wall. Jaime is climbing upwards, stones are coming down and I’m securing. It does not take too long until there is the sign, that I can follow and here we go, a few minutes later I arrive at the top, where Jaime is securing me. We are just 2 meters below the main summit … yes, we made it!!!
A great Christmas present, the summit of Sincholagua. Satisfied we are walking down again and mentally preparing for our next target: Antisana.
It’s December 25, 2014 and we enter the Antisana National Park, a wonderful area, mainly famous for bird watching, but there is also one of Ecuador’s beautiful, real mountains, Antisana with its 5.704 m. We drive up to the base camp, where we set up our tent and have a nice dinner.
The weather is not bad, but also not good. Nevertheless, there are still some hours to go and we are keen on the summit. We have a rest once it’s getting dark, scheduled time for wake up: 11 p.m. It’s so cozy in the tent that it finally takes until 11.30 p.m. till we get up. Surprise, surprise, the night is clear and the sky full of stars, amazing! We have breakfast and get prepared, at 00:20 h we start the ascent. First a hike up to the glacier, enjoying the clear night. We can hear loud noises produced by the wind but still we are not worried.
After approximately 1 hour we arrive the glacier, the weather changes immediately. It’s getting windy and wet but we keep going, climbing up the ice walls between the crevasses. Ice and snow are in perfect conditions, climbing is a joy, besides the strong wind and the ice and snow hitting our faces and eyes. We maintain a good pace, going constantly higher. Wind and weather are getting worse, it’s hard and we are covered by a 1 cm ice layer. We are already quite high. I don’t ask, how far it is or how high we are because it’s getting insupportable. I just tell Jaime that I cannot continue in these conditions, knowing that, if there was a realistic chance of getting to the summit, Jaime would not go down with me. It’s 4.30 a.m. we are on approximately 5.500 m and start the descent. A hard decision and like this Antisana stays my project for 2015.
We hope you enjoyed your Christmas days as much as we did … living our passion. We wish you all the best for the upcoming 2015, with many summits and marvelous moments. Hope to see you soon in Ecuador.
Elisabeth & Jaime, your andean summit adventure team
… we share your passion & realize your dreams …