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Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

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Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby bvbellomo » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:36 pm

I am leaving for Ecuador (alone) after Christmas, and plan to be there through early January. I want Chimborazo to be the highlight of my trip, to visit the Galapagos afterwards, and to do some lower mountains first. I know this is a lot for 2 weeks, but if the Ecuador is what I expect, I will return for a 2nd trip anyway, so it won't ruin my vacation if I don't do everything, including putting off Chimborazo for next time.

I have little experience, and no gear. I am in great physical shape; I ran 2 marathons in October, lift weights, climb walls (literally and metaphorically), etc. I have lots of outdoors experience at low altitudes, and am comfortable sleeping outside in single digit (F) temperatures or any conditions, hiking all day, etc. I can understand Spanish, but not speak conversationally. I have read almost everything I can on Ecuador. My ancestors lived in the European Alps, and my cousins are great climbers, so I am hoping that means my body will acclimatize better than most.

I want to know what gear to buy and bring on the trip. I have no problem buying gear in Quito if it is available and reasonably priced - 1 more souvenir and 1 less item for the airline to lose. I do want to be prepared, and leave here with everything I might need and can't buy.

Any other advice would be appreciated.
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby astrobassman » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:04 pm

A good place to see what the typical gear required for a standard climb like the Ecuador volcanoes is the guiding websites such as Alpine Ascents. Check out their Ecuador trip and click the gear list.

Have you read trip reports on this site and searched the forums? There is a lot of good information on this site.

Have you been to altitude before? Just because you're in great shape doesn't mean your body will handle altitude well. Make sure you acclimate on lower peaks such as Cotopaxi before you try Chimborazo. I personally got up to Chimborazo on day 7 of my trip to Ecuador, but would not recommend attempting anything like that for someone who hasn't been training at altitude. For the 2 months prior I was above 13k feet every weekend training. It might be difficult for you to get everything in in only 2 weeks, but either way you'll have a great time.
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby bvbellomo » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:30 pm

I live in Ohio - the closest I can get to training at altitude is cleaning out the gutters on my roof.

I will plan hikes depending on how I feel and what guides are available and I will climb Cotopaxi before Chimborazo. Best case, I will climb Cotopaxi towards the start of the trip. Worst case, I may not even be able to climb Cotopaxi at all, let alone Chimborazo.

I have read a lot of gear lists. They vary, and they seem excessive. Will I be able to find a guide to take me up Chimborazo if my gloves aren't real Gor-Tex? If not, and if Quito sells gloves my guide approves, why not buy them there?
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby bvbellomo » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:44 pm

Here is the gear list from the guide I was going to use. I don't know how I will adapt to altitude, so I am going to hire a guide after I am acclimated.

- Thermal underwear. 1 pair top and bottom. Capilene, Polipropileno or other synthetic material or wool. Not cotton
- Mid or heavyweight fleece jacket and pants. (Fleece)- (Polartec 200-300). Frontal closing to everything long.
- Gore-Tex shell jacket and pants. The jacket with hood and frontal closing to everything long. the trousers with side closings to everything long.
- Light trekking shoes
- Double plastic or leather climbing boots for automatic crampons.
- automatic crampons
- Harnes
- Ice Axe
- Helmet
- Gaiters
- Wool and liner socks - 2 pairs.
- Two pair fleece gloves
- One pair mittens with Gore-Tex over shells..
- Internal frame backpack. 55 liters capacity
- Balaclava.
- Fleece hat.
- Sun hat.
- Head lamp- light with bulbs of restored and batteries (AA).
- Glacier glasses with side protectors - 100% UV, IR.
- Sleeping bag. Rated to at least –10 Celsius.
- 1 water thermos bottle


I don't want to buy and bring an ice axe unless I am sure I need it and can't buy one. Do I really need 3 pairs of gloves/mittens, 2 sets of boots, 6 different types of head covering including a headlamp light?


My list reads something like this:

-Climbing gear I can't buy, very important to research this!
-More than enough non-cotton clothing
-1 pair of boots, whatever is most appropriate
-sleeping bag
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby bvbellomo » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:46 pm

I am also worried about being robbed. Will they steal climbing gear? If so, I need to know where to buy it.
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby paisajeroamericano » Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:55 am

ok - lots of questions to answer

generally gear and anything else that is imported (electronics and cars, for example) anywhere in south america is more expensive than in the usa - i understand that your options for retail stores in ohio will be limited, but mail order should do the trick and, if you start early, you will even have the opportunity to return stuff, in case you order the wrong size

plus, if you don't have a whole lot of experience and don't even own crampons/axe/etc, then i assume you will be hiring a guide anyway - you will not have any trouble finding a company from which you can rent certain gear items, particularly those that are technical in nature (don't expect to rent long underwear)

personally, i would recommend purchasing any clothing needs ahead of time... long johns, jackets, goggles, etc and renting the technical equipment once you are there - no reason to make major gear purchases in ecuador, it would probably just end up being a waste of time and money - better to spend your acclimatization time in quito researching guiding services and enjoying the city and its surroundings, in general

as far as safety is concerned in quito, just be smart - pay the couple of bucks for a taxi at night, be mindful at the bus station, and find a hostal or hotel or whatever where you feel comfortable leaving your gear - things can get stolen anywhere, but most common thieves aren't looking for climbing gear - if you're really concerned in the refugios, pay somebody you trust to keep an eye on your stuff

as you already know, coto and chimbo and galapagos is alot for a two week trip - in theory, if you had a full 16-day (2 work week) vacation, you could plan about 10 days on the mainland and then do a 5-day galapagos trip and do it all - if you skipped the galapagos, you would probably have plenty of time for the volcanoes, if you really want to do both, you should probably should 'settle' for cotopaxi - it is objectively much easier and safer than chimbo and a better introductory mountain... at this time

good luck...
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby paisajeroamericano » Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:03 am

more specifically, i do not recommend bringing a harness, crampons, an ice axe, or plastic boots - those will probably all be provided by your guiding service... i assume that you will need to bring everything else yourself...
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby bvbellomo » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:00 am

I wanted to know the only issue is cost and anything I don't have can be bought if needed. I will buy most everything in Ohio, especially non-technical and more expensive items. Cost isn't always the only issue - a $0.05 cigarette lighter is worth a lot 100 miles from civilization on a cold night with no other way of making a fire.

I can't think of a worse target for robberies than outdoors people - physically fit with little of monetary value. I guess people are after pocket change and old cameras if they don't want climbing gear.

The Galapagos will most likely be a 2nd trip. I would much rather climb Cotopaxi and Chimborazo and have more time in La Sierra. Quito itself is close to the highest altitude I've been at, so I want to keep my iternary flexible in case I have trouble.
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Re: Ecuador trip, Chimborazo advice

Postby Boriss Andean » Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:16 pm

Your climbing list is good, there'd be a few small items you may not need here though. I think a couple weeks will be enough if your goal is Chimborazo. Climbers coming from sea level normally start with spending at least a couple days in Quito (9,000 ft), then with low climbs such as Rucu Pichincha, Pasochoa or Imbabura. Then with higher climbs as Illiniza Norte and Cotopaxi. Allow to all these climbs a few resting days between climbs and you'll be all set for Chimborazo.

However, if you are planning to climb up to Chimborazo or even Cotopaxi in a single week, you'll need to be very well acclimatized. As Astrobassman said "Just because you're in great shape doesn't mean your body will handle altitude well". I agree. So the main thing is to acclimatized yourself slowly by climbing each time higher and relaxing between climbs. That's key for succesful climbing here in Ecuador and in other expeditions.

Regarding safety, a traveler could avoid being a target for robberies by keeping an eye on their items, especially while traveling in buses and by avoiding walking alone at night by desolated streets. Don't worry about being robbed in refuges or while climbing to the main peaks. Refuges has lockers so you can store your belongings.

Have a great trip!
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