I met them at the travel agency I was working for. It was a great morning; we loaded up the truck with our climbing gear and stuff and headed south to the village of El Chaupi.
As always, we stopped at Llovizna, my good friend's lodge. His name is Bladimir Gallo. I've been stopping at his lodge since I started climbing Illinizas. We were welcomed by his wife Patricia, she's always nice to me... smiles and gives me a mug of tea or warm soup. All of this, to keep me safe and strong enough for the climb.
We left the extra gear we thought we won’t need for the climb at the lodge and kept driving up towards La Virgen parking lot.
The hike up to the refuge
We hiked by the ridge even more slower for about an hour and a half until we finally got to the Nuevos Horizontes Refuge, located at the northern flanks of Illiniza Sur.
Pilar, Xavi and I chose a bed, placed our sleeping bags on them and started cooking something cause we were starving after the long hike to the refuge. Actually Pilar shew us her cooking abilities making pasta.. mmmh! It was delicious!
An hour later we got more company. The cold refuge got warmer and more comfy. We went to bed early that night. It was a very cold windy night.
A few stops to catch the breath and we kept going up to the long traverse which surrounds the whole northern side of Illiniza Norte.
We scrambled down Paso de la Muerte (Death Pass) and reached the final gully located just below the summit. Kept scrambling up until we finally reach Illiniza Norte's summit (5,126 m/16,818 ft).