A bit icy around 18,200, otherwise ok. Came down castillo, the last bit of frozen scree with no complete snow cover was tedious.
Climbed with my bighornmonkey and had a great time...except for getting stuck in the tent during a storm -after- we finished the climb. The electricity in the air buzzing all things metal was freeeaaaaky!
I wasn't there mentally... what can I say??? I just have to go back and try again.
Made it to the Veintimilla (6267m), then the Whymper (6310m) summit under good conditions. It took 1 hour to do the round trip between the two summits. We climbed the direct route.
It snowed on us on the way down.
Wet weather left a good amount of new snow on the mountain. We made it to 6000m before turning around due to high avy danger.
Made it to the Ventemilla summit. Great conditions, except for poor visibility on summit.
Standing on the summit of Chimborazo on Christmas with the sun rising and volcanoes smoking in the distance is something I will never forget. The climbing conditions were perfect...just a high altitude snow climb. Whymper to Whymper in 6.5 hours...back in Quito for Christmas dinner by mid-afternoon.
Normal route, 11:30 pm start. Veintimilla summit right at sunrise! Pretty incredible! Great snow conditions on the entire mountain. We heard that ice screws or pickets have not been needed in a year and a half! But that could change quickly...
Extreme conditions, strong winds, very cold, iced route, no visibility and finally dust from Tunguragua eruptions cover many areas.
Me and other 20 persons tried with this hard conditions, but finally all dicided to quit after many hours fighting with the wild nature.
Extreme cold sent me direct to hospital with facial muscle iced. At the same time, sadly a climber from Venezuela dies that day, check newspaper note (in spanish)
Left the hut at 12:30 am, solo, but behind a few guided parties, since I´d heard that the Castillo section was pretty tough routefinding. Made great friends with all the guides so they didn´t mind me following their headlamps at all.
If you know your way through the Castillo (like the guides), its pretty straightforward. After that, prepare yourself for about 900 meters (2800 ft or so!) of slogging up a giant volcano.
Summitted the Ventimilla at 5:30 and the Whymper Summit just after 6am. With the sunrise slowly creeping out as we crossed the summit plateau, I fondly recall smiling widely and having lots of fun the whole way. Back at the hut by 9am, just as the sun was warming up the Castillo.
At this time the route whas in bad conditions. Only ice, you need to be very careful. Not an mountain that I will recomand.
Fun peak, but a long day. Very exciting to watch the considerable volcanic activity from Tungurahua from this route.
Beautiful, blue skies at 0715, when we topped out on the Veintemilla summit. Of course, it was cold and windy as hell! Our feet were cold the whole night, so the sun was a welcome help--thawed us out pretty nicely. The El Castillo route is a seriously mind-numbing climb, perhaps the Glacier route would be more interesting. Trip report
Climbed with great weather and perfect snow/ice conditions. Edgar, Ran (Israel) and I got to Veintimilla's summit in about 4 hours from the refuge. Great views of Cotopaxi, Illinizas, Antisana, Cayambe and Sangay.
We continued up to Whymper 6,310 m (20,561 ft), this time with soft knee deep snow. Got to the top in a good time, but clouds rolled in pretty fast.
We made our descent by the same route. Rock fall danger from El Castillo to "el corredor".
It snowed all afternoon and all night. The obvious decision was to call it quits, too much snow and subsequent avalanche danger. A guide and client team tried to go up anyway and encountered nasty snow, ice and avalanche conditions. The turned around about 1/3 of the way up.
Chimborazo wasn't in very good condition and in my opinion wasn't that fun when compared to the other peaks I climbed in Ecuador. Lots of falling ice and falling rock on all routes due to the dry weather I guess. The "normal route" El Castillo has been plagued by rockfall. The Wymper Route has falling ice and was shooting baseball size rocks at us.
After reaching some serious avalanche danger (we also heard but did not see a huge avalanche in the dark on the way up), we had to backtrack 1000 feet/300 meters down the mountain (very tiring at almost 20,000 feet or around 6000 meters) and do an icy traverse over to the upper Castillo Route in order and reclimb the elevation lost to reach the Veintimilla summit. It made our elevation gained 1615 meters/5300 feet that day which made me very tired at that altitude. Hopefully conditions will improve. It used to be a straight forward ascent but conditions weren't good for our trip. On the other hand, the weather was great.
Was about 1 minute away from getting crushed in a rock/ice avalanche in the rocky section of the Castillo route. Then it was very hard ice in the two steep couloirs on the ridge. Ice axe wouldn't go in and we had to front point up two 50 foot sections. I bonked hard after the steep ice at about 18,000 feet. Unfortunately after the avalanche it was unsafe to go back down so I had to climb up to 19,000 feet so I could traverse across and go down the Whymper route. Why the hell we didn't go up the seemingly much easy Whymper route is still a mystery to me. Local guides didn't serve us well today....
Climbed the Castillo route Jan. 5 and 11, and I was surprised at how much snow melted off the bottom section. In my opinion, the bottom is dangerous due to loose rock to trip over and frequent rock fall. I think it would be better approached starting left up the Castillo ridge, but there is not a road or hut there.
6.5 hours to Whymper and 3.5 hours down. It only took 1/2 hour from Vientilla to Whymper.
Made it to Veintemilla summit, but I would have liked the Whymper summit. Conditions were cold, windy, and cloudy all up the ridge and REALLY cold and windy at the Veinemilla, so I called it good enough.
Whymper summit or Veintemilla summit via the El Castillo route; choices, choices...
some thoughts for what they are worth:
Several people told me that it can take 3+ hours (round trip) to get from the Veintemilla summit to the Whymper summit when the penitentes are exposed. Conceivably, This might add up to three hours to your climb if you started at the Whymper Refugio. One safety consideration on the El Castillo route is getting down below the obvious lower section (that is prone to rockfall) before 10:00 am. The tradeoff may be that you need to leave earlier than say 12:00 am to allow for more time cross the penitente field between summits as well as making it down below the lower section by 10:00 am. The key seems to be getting a good estimate on how long it will take your party to make that "round trip" from Veintemilla to Whymper and back and then leaving that much earlier before 12:00 am. This approach also puts you on the very upper part of the mountain at the coldest time of the day and also might mean that you are still approaching the Veintemilla in the dark of the morning.
We had a party of three fairly strong and acclimatized climbers on one rope that left the EW refugio at 12:00 am. We summited the Veintemilla at ~6:15 am and were back at the EW refugio at 9:30 am. So we made it down below the rockfall-prone section at before 10:00 am, but probably wouldn't have made this "cut off" time if we had gone for the Whymper summit. There had been a bit of snow over the previous week on Chimborazo and the penitentes were fairly covered, but the snow didn't look too consolidated on the summit plateau. My guess would have been that it would have taken a bit of negotiating to get over to the Whymper. This would have no doubt eaten into our time frame of getting down the El Castillo route to try and avoid potential rockfall on the lower section.One work around for this slim-time-margin scenario might be to put a high camp on the route so that a party would have more time on the upper mountain to get over to the Whymper summit. But this would mean carrying full loads up to the ridge above the El Castillo. Hmmmm...
On a different note, I wouldn't skimp on handwear on this route. For example, I brought Black Diamond Guide gloves (retail $154) thinking they would be overkill on this mountain. They turned out to be ideal for the conditions we encountered. Something like an 8000m mitt would be probably be overkill, but would advise beefy, warm gloves/mitts for the upper mountain. I would also definitely recommend plastic double boots instead of leather w/ supergaiters. I used the newer model Koflach Arctis Expe boots and actually had cold feet very briefly near the summit. Weird.
Anyway, just one crazy alpinisto's opinion....:)