Avalanches on Illiniza Sur
Avalanche. Illiniza Sur.
After summiting Cotopaxi
(5,897 m/19347 ft) Trevor
(UK) and I went back to the refuge, packed all our stuff in our backpacks and got ready to go back to town.
We met Japhy
(NEPAL) in the refuge who had climbed up to the top the previous day. Talked and share experiences while we were getting ready to go down to the parking lot, where our 4WD truck was waiting at for us.
Our next plans were to go back to Quito and to stay there for a couple of days in order to relax and get ready for our next mountain.
So we drove south to El Chaupi, a village located at the foothills of Illinizas. As soon as we got to the refuge located at the saddle of both peaks we noticed that Illiniza Sur had a huge accumulation of fresh new snow. We were concerned about it, so Trevor and I approached the closest possible to the peak. We saw huge avalanches rolling down from the highest points of the mountain. Trevor and I spent 10 minutes there, took a few pictures, made a video and headed back to the refuge.
Once at the refuge we met with Japhy and we talked about the possibility of climbing Illiniza Norte instead of Illiniza Sur. We all agreed on that, and after having dinner, we all went to bed early and tried to relax for our next climb the next day.
Paso de la Muerte. Illiniza Norte.
We woke up at 6 am, had breakfast and headed up towards the saddle. Once at the saddle we started scrambling up by the eastern ridge of the mountain. The snow became harder due to the eastern winds that hit the ridge of the mountain. So we decided to put crampons on. Suddenly a black object rolled down to the void. It was a down jacket brought by Japhy. We saw it roll down for half a minute until it stopped besides a big rock thirty meters below us. It wasn't a cold day so we looked very carefully where the jacket stopped at in order to pick it up on our way back to the refuge.
Japhy, Trevor and I kept climbing up, using our crampons, ice axes and hands. Illiniza Norte was pretty snowed, more than normal. Got to the first summit above the ridge and continued on until we got to the first traverse. We down climbed Paso de la Muerte
(Death Pass) and kicked steeps on the snow until we got to an icy gully. It took us only 15 more minutes to get to the top (5,126 m/16,818 ft). Finally at the top we congratulated to each other, snapped a few pictures and headed back to the refuge.
Japhy and Trevor on the summit.
We passed by the very same place where the down jacket stopped. We searched everywhere, but we couldn't find anything.
The afternoon became cloudy, so we got back to the refuge after thirty minutes of searching for the jacket.
Trevor and I got back to Quito by late afternoon while Japhy stayed in the mountain looking for his jacket.
At the end it was a nice experience. The mountain and the three of us sharing those great moments up in the Andean mountains.
Japhy rode his bike all the way down to South America, while Trevor traveled to Peru and climbed a few more high mountains in Cordillera Blanca.