Rucu Pichincha. Via de las Agujas.
Quito as seen from Rucu
Rucu Pichincha, a 4,787 m peak (15,706 ft) that towers over Quito, is one of the first chosen mountains by climbers looking to acclimatize in preparation to attempt high ecuadorian peaks such as: Cayambe, Chimborazo, Illinizas, Cotopaxi...
As most of climbers do, I came back from the US and needed to climb a mid-altitude mountain, and then keep on climbing higher ones.
I met with my friends Pablo and Verónica and together planned a weekday scramble to Rucu.
Pablito scrambling up
Next day, after taken the teleférico (cable car) up to Cruz Loma (4,100 m), we started the 1 and a half hour hike to the base of Rucu.
, an experienced high altitude mountain guide, Vero and I decided to do something different, so we opted to climb straight up to the top instead of the normal route.
The 3 of us started scrambling straight up very carefully, avoiding a few exposed passes until getting to a sandy section above the base of the mountain. Walked for about 10 minutes and got to a steep wall called Paso de la Muerte
. We descended it very slowly (didn't bring a rope with us) and crossed it over. Once in the other side, the summit soon came into view. Fifteen more minutes and we made it!
We came back down by the normal route and eastern sandy slopes of Rucu, and then traversed south until getting to the ridge which ends up at the Antennas de Cruz Loma (teleférico).
Paso de la Muerte
Climbing down Paso de la Muerte
Four months later, Colón Falconí died at the age of 33 at Paso de la Muerte while retrieving a fixed rope. Wet and loose volcanic rock are common factors and one of the main causes of fatal accidents in this mountain section.
Remembering my friend.
Colon, one of my very best friends. Our long great friendship started back in kindergarden and primary school in Quito. As time went by, I moved out to another city. We didn't know from each other for long until our paths joined us in an andean refuge, Cotopaxi. Great feeling!, we both guiding a couple of american climbers each.
We shared great times while guiding. Early climbs to the summit, hot tea from his huge grey thermos on the way up, snacks, spare gloves, jokes, tiredness, and of course... the summits!
A warm hugh followed by a picture taken in the kitchen's refuge in Cotopaxi, and the promise of meeting each other in the States in order to hit some peaks is something I still have in my mind. The last time I saw him.
Colon's memories will come to live on every mountain top I may stand at. His love for great outdoors and enthusiasm will keep his soul higher, above the valleys, where we belong.
See you at the top friend!
(Nov. 17 / 74 - May. 05 / 07)