A week before...
A week before our arrival to Cotopaxi, Raquel (ECU) was the only person that remained in the refuge while the rest of her friends push for the summit at midnight.
I think she eagered to climb that very same night, while she looked at a line of small beams moving up in orderly row by La Rompecorazones
(the heartbreaker slope) in the dark of the night.
Francisco (Raquel's husband) was part of one of the summit teams. Most of them got to the summit the next morning. As soon as all the teams got back to the refuge she told me about her plans of coming back to Cotopaxi again by next weekend and to give it try. So we arranged a way of going back to Cotopaxi 7 days later.
Worst night ever at the refuge.
Francisco and Raquel picked me up at my place in Quito and we drove south to Cotopaxi National Park entrance where we got at 2:55 pm, five minutes before gate closing and drove up to the parking lot (4,600 m / 15,100 ft).
From there we started hiking up towards the refuge (4,800 m / 15,750 ft). The refuge was completely crowded by day hikers and climbers, most of them from the Ecuadorian Army. They, along with their family (wives and children) made all what was in their hands to give us all of the climbers one of the worst nights in the refuge ever.
Well, we all went to bed around 8:00 pm and tried to get some rest for the remaining 4 hours prior to our midnight climb. But a few minutes later, people started walking up and down the refuge, wearing noisy heavy plastic boots, kids started to cry loud and everybody complained about the lack of oxigen in the refuge. The result... nobody shut up an eye during the whole night!
Those four short hours passed fast and my alarm went off. Francisco and Raquel got up and I started boiling some water for our light midnight breakfast. Raquel and I left the refuge at 1:10 am while Francisco remained at the refuge's back yard, looking at us heading to the glacier and passing everybody in our way up.
Once we got to the glacier, we put our crampons on, roped up together and kept climbing up by la Rompe Corazones. This time all teams passed us, and we became the last team moving up slowly but keeping our pace.
Traverse below Yanasacha
Two hours later we reached a huge crevasse that marks the end of La Rompe Corazones and we met again with the Army team that passed us before. They called it a day and started heading back to the refuge. We knew then, it isn't the faster and fit who wins the game, but the one who keep a constant pace, patience and humility.
The sun came out and with it a strong blast of wind coming from the east threating us with blow us away of the mountain like kites.
Soon we reached the last ramp above Yanasacha
(Black Rock) and met with the other teams coming down from the summit. We congratulated to each other and kept climbing up. Crossed a couple of deep crevasses, traversed the last 50 meters below the summit and we made it!
We both were on the top of Ecuador's second highest mountain (5,897 m / 19,347 ft). We felt so happy of being up there, surrounded by an endless sea of clouds, all around us. The views of the active crater beneath us to the east, as well as Tungurahua active volcano steaming at the distance were stunning.
It was so gratifying seeing Raquel, with tears in her eyes and very happy of her accomplishment. She nailed it!
Raquel on the summit (5,897 m / 19,347 ft).
We were the last team to reach the summit. It was 7:50 am when we made it, an amazing day, and surrounded by the majestic Ecuadorian Andes, one of the world's most beautiful mountain ranges. In that amazing moment... I felt so lucky of being born here... in the Andes.
Raquel and I got back to the refuge at 11:30 am. Francisco welcomed us with a smile and a big hug. We all felt so happy of our achievement.
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