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Ecuador Climbing

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Ecuador Climbing

Postby ndavy » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:15 pm

My wife and I are considering heading to Ecuador, or maybe somewhere else if there is a better place South America, to do some climbing in December. Both of us have done some hiking in the mountains (Rockies, Alps, Cascades and Appalachians) but neither of us have done any real mountaineering. We'd like to do a few days of basic instruction/acclimatization before trying to climb Cotopaxi and possibly Chimborazo. Do any of you know anything about the Moggely guide service? Would 8 days of acclimatization from sea level be enough to climb over 19,000 ft? 11 days from sea level to climb over 20,000ft? Would taking Diamox help/make it feasible? Do you think we would be able to pick up enough skills climbing Cotopaxi and doing a few days of instruction and other acclimitization climbs to make it up Chimborazo or is it too ambitious for relative novices? Any other recommended guide services in Ecuador? Should we look somewhere else in the Andes to start out? We'd like to keep things fairly cheap as our resources aren't unlimited and we only have around two weeks of time. Thanks for all of your help.
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Re: Ecuador Climbing

Postby radson » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:51 pm

ndavy wrote:My wife and I are considering heading to Ecuador, or maybe somewhere else if there is a better place South America, to do some climbing in December. Both of us have done some hiking in the mountains (Rockies, Alps, Cascades and Appalachians) but neither of us have done any real mountaineering. We'd like to do a few days of basic instruction/acclimatization before trying to climb Cotopaxi and possibly Chimborazo. Do any of you know anything about the Moggely guide service? Would 8 days of acclimatization from sea level be enough to climb over 19,000 ft? 11 days from sea level to climb over 20,000ft? Would taking Diamox help/make it feasible? Do you think we would be able to pick up enough skills climbing Cotopaxi and doing a few days of instruction and other acclimitization climbs to make it up Chimborazo or is it too ambitious for relative novices? Any other recommended guide services in Ecuador? Should we look somewhere else in the Andes to start out? We'd like to keep things fairly cheap as our resources aren't unlimited and we only have around two weeks of time. Thanks for all of your help.


I went with Moggley in 2005 and had a great time. Like many in the mountaineering community, the Swedish? owner is slightly eccentric but he ran a good business and offered a lot of flexibility.

I had very similar plans to yourself. I acclimatised on a 4,000m hill, scrambled up Illniza Norte for further acclimatisation before attempting Cotopaxi. This is a fairly standard way to acclimatise and should leave you in good shape for Cotopaxi. You will see a lot of people from Banos etc with no acclimatisation basically dying at the Cotopaxi Hut.

Once I climbed Cotopaxi, I attempted Chimborazo. I was quite intimidated by this mountain and the night prior to ascent, I shared the hut with a trio of german uber-athletes. The funny thing was due to my acclimatisation, I passed them and summit-ed and they had to turn around. So am saying, if you feel good on Cotopaxi, definitely speak to your guide about a shot on Chimborazo, If not, try Cayambe.

I didnt use Diamox on this trip but have on others. Every person is different but after 8 days at altitude and following the recommended acclimatisation schedule you should be in reasonably good shape to climb Cotopaxi. (Listen to your body though, dont rely on other peoples experiences too much)

I think if you are having problems sleeping at night or feel uncomfortable you may want to take half a pill to help you sleep. If you want further information on AMS, I can point you in the direction of some reputable online resources as there are a lot of myths perpetuated on the web.

I think Ecuador is an excellent place to start out as novices. The mountains are relatively close to Quito and infrastructure is fairly good. December might be an 'iffy' time weather wise, you may want to ask Moggley etc about that although from memory July and January are the more stable periods so you might be ok. The rest of the Andes is basically out I think (specifically Peru and Bolivia) so Apart from southern Argentina /Chile I think your best bet is Ecuador. (Not sure about the Mexican 5km mountains)
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Postby eferesen » Sat Aug 29, 2009 10:33 pm

Moggely has an excellent service. I had a guide called Patrico and he was excellent and spoke excellent english.

I did Rucu Pichincha the first day I was there. Granted that I live at 2100 meters. Are you planning on doing Illiniza Norte? 8 days of acclimatization is enough for Cotopaxi assuming you are staying in Quito (2800 meters or so) and have done several acclimatization climbs (Rucu). You can take a taxi to Teleferico and ride up to about 4000 meters and hike up Rucu. (http://www.in-quito.com/teleferico-quit ... ferico.htm)

I attempted Cotopaxi on the 5th day I was there after doing 2 (Illiniza and Rucu) other peaks and was not able to summit Cotopaxi. Exhausted!!! I was warned by summitpost members that the schedule was aggressive but I had already bought my ticket by then.

On a different note (personal preference) the Cordillera Blanca (Peru) was way more fun. It is an actual mountain range is second to none, however the climbing season is from May to September.
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Postby ndavy » Sun Aug 30, 2009 12:29 am

Thanks for the helpful information.
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Postby Woodie Hopper » Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:51 am

eferesen wrote:Moggely has an excellent service. I had a guide called Patrico and he was excellent and spoke excellent english.

I did Rucu Pichincha the first day I was there. Granted that I live at 2100 meters. Are you planning on doing Illiniza Norte? 8 days of acclimatization is enough for Cotopaxi assuming you are staying in Quito (2800 meters or so) and have done several acclimatization climbs (Rucu). You can take a taxi to Teleferico and ride up to about 4000 meters and hike up Rucu. (http://www.in-quito.com/teleferico-quit ... ferico.htm)

I attempted Cotopaxi on the 5th day I was there after doing 2 (Illiniza and Rucu) other peaks and was not able to summit Cotopaxi. Exhausted!!! I was warned by summitpost members that the schedule was aggressive but I had already bought my ticket by then.

On a different note (personal preference) the Cordillera Blanca (Peru) was way more fun. It is an actual mountain range is second to none, however the climbing season is from May to September.


"Pato" is great. I highly recommend him, and Marco too by the way if he still guides for Moggely.
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Postby CBakwin » Sun Aug 30, 2009 1:46 pm

Everyone acclimatizes differently. Your body cannot fully acclimatize until 3+weeks. Everyone is different and even , every trip is different. Listen to your body. That said, your schedule seem very reasonable and certainly sounds doable, don't overdo it. I have gone up to 22K in a couple days with very little problem, but the chances for problems if you rush yourself are greater. Why not bring diamox, You have outlaid so much time and resources to get to the mountain, why not lower the risk of problems......
There are so many things out of our control, that it behooves us to eliminate as much risk that is within our control as possilble with things like the right gear, the right training and even with diamox.....(half a pill I think is best).
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Training for Ecuador

Postby ndavy » Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:13 pm

Just how intense physically should my wife and I expect Cotopaxi and Chimborazo to be? I've looked over a number of blogs and trip reports from people who have climbed it and have read stories of extremely fit individuals struggling a great deal and some of those who seem less fit who make it up (according to their trip reports) quite easily. Acclimatization of course seems to be the key factor, and my wife and I plan to take plenty of time with climbing several smaller peaks first and taking plenty of time at elevation before beginning Cotopaxi no earlier than the period of darkness in between our 8th and 9th days, possibly our 9th and 10th day. That being said what kind of training regimine do you recommend so that the experience is not completely miserable and the most grueling experience of our lives? We have about 4 months before we'll attempt the climb. We are both busy so we are probably going to be limited to about 4 hour long workouts a week, with a few longer hikes thrown in about two months out. The final month (actually from about 5 weeks out to 1 week out) we'll be able to get in some longer hikes, hopefully in the Appalachain mountains and not just on rolling hills. Do you have any advice as to benchmarks in our training, how heavy a pack to prep with for these mountains, balancing cardio and strength training? Also how long and exhausting of a summit day should we expect assuming we are acclimatized as proposed and in say good enough shape to do a 10 - 12 mile day hike in the Appalachain mountains with 20lb (for her) and 45lb packs?
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Re: Training for Ecuador

Postby Haliku » Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:34 pm

ndavy wrote: Acclimatization of course seems to be the key factor...

Nothing you can do about this one other than stay hydrated and hope AMS doesn't punch your ticket this time.

ndavy wrote: We have about 4 months before we'll attempt the climb. We are both busy so we are probably going to be limited to about 4 hour long workouts a week, with a few longer hikes thrown in about two months out.

This will help. Cardio and and leg strength are your key needs. The trips are from a hut so heavy pack work isn't part of the picture. I find forward/reverse lunges are great.

ndavy wrote:The final month (actually from about 5 weeks out to 1 week out) we'll be able to get in some longer hikes, hopefully in the Appalachain mountains and not just on rolling hills. Do you have any advice as to benchmarks in our training, how heavy a pack to prep with for these mountains, balancing cardio and strength training? Also how long and exhausting of a summit day should we expect assuming we are acclimatized as proposed and in say good enough shape to do a 10 - 12 mile day hike in the Appalachain mountains with 20lb (for her) and 45lb packs?

What you need here is hours of conditioning. 1 hour workouts don't condition the body for an all day climb. My time on Coto was tough but that was because of AMS with my partners and the weather. Plan for at least a 12 hour day. Drink, snack and rest (~10 mins) each hour to maintain your pace.

Ecuador is a great place to climb and to visit. Good luck!
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