Heading to Cotacachi
My friends: Edgar, Katy and I left Quito early in the morning (4:00 am) and drove north to the Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve entrance. We got to Laguna de Cuicocha at 7:30 am, an active volcano lake located at the foothills of Cotacachi mountain.
Heading up to Cotacachi
We reached the trailhead by car 30 minutes after our arrival to Cuicocha.
We traversed by the western grassy flanks of the mountain, and then we reached the saddle located right beneath the first couloir. We walked up for 20 more minutes until we got to a steeper area with an inclination of 55 degrees and fully covered by soft snow.
First couloir Climbing up the chimney
Edgar led this knee deep snow section, while Katy and I followed his boots prints left on the snow. Once we passed the first couloir we got to the second one right away.
The second couloir was a bit steeper and with softer snow. We climbed the couloir with waist deep snow this time. Thirty minutes after arduous climbing we reached a small flat platform with a tall rock chimney above it. It looked almost vertical and mixed. Sections of berglass and mud were visible half way of it and loose wet rock as well.
So, we roped up together and I started climbing it up to the very base of the summit in order to set an anchor and belay my buddies from up there.
Once at the base of the summit we continued scrambling up through a rocky section which ended up at the summit ridge. We traversed a few more meters and finally we reached the top (4,939 m/16,204 ft) after 7 hours of constant climbing.
Being up there with my two buddies was just great despite of the chilly temperatures and almost zero visibility. We took a short rest, snapped some pictures and boggied on down the mountain. We got to the truck just minutes before sunset.
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