unseasonable rains and mountain snow in January. the weather cleared for my attempt, but the snow above Castillo was too deep and created ridiculous avalanche conditions. turned back at 5800meters. still an amazing experience, and a personal high. I will be back.
Climbed the normal route solo, both Cumbre Whymper and Cumbre Ventimiglia. This was during the rise of the indians and getting around the country was almost impossible. First attempt to get close to the mountain together with some German climbers in a very old bus ended in gun fire and a stay with local indians that were surprisingly friendly to me. Finally I found a taxi driver that knew the back roads very well and managed to bring me to the base of the mountain safely. Had a great climb.
My last climb of the year was my highest elevation to date and my first 6,000 meter peak! We climbed the Whymper Route which was the FA (first ascent) route pioneered by Edward Whymper, Louis Carrel and Jean-Antoine Carrel on 1/4/1880. We started at the Carrel Refuge (the lower of two huts). This route is rarely climbed anymore due to rockfall. Luckily for us the rock was nice and frozen until around 10 am due to recent snows and cold temps. This approach is shorter than the standard route, the Normal route via the Castillo, and they meet up high on the mountain. We reach first the Cumbre Veintimilla then the true summit of Cumbre Whymper at an elevation of 20,561 feet.
I highly recommend this climb for someone just getting into high elevation climbing.
Started at 11.00 pm from Refugio Carrel and made it to the summit of Pico Veinimilla for 7.00am the next morning. A tough climb, especially the last 200 metres. Weather a bit cloudy but still spectacular views. Back to the refugio for about 10 am.
I didn't make it, but my two partners did. We had great weather, great trail conditions. I reached 19,600ft and got really sick and bailed. But my two partners pushed through and made the Whymper summit. I'm bitterly disappointed and know I'll have to come back some day to knock it off my list. It's a beautiful mountain. It just wasn't my day.
If you go, use John from Andean Adventures. He runs the refuge, is very straightforward and knowledgeable, and treated us very well. He cares a lot about the safety, success, and comfort of his guests. He is also the best priced. We saw a lot of climbers come through and the ones that were climbing with Andean Adventures were generally more successful and better prepared. Everyone in our group agreed he was the best guide service we've ever deal with.
Climbed this way back in the day with John Fischer. It was in December 1987, don't remember what day of the month.
My 5th attempt to climb this peak and finally successful. Still hard & long as the corredor was not possible and up there a hell of ice seracs. Looking forward to coming back soon - via South Face to Wympher summit.
It's quite hard a climb considering the 1,400m altitude gain if you start yr summit bid from Refugio Carrel; well it's all about acclimatization & fitness, isn't it.. I'll need to train more.
It took us 8 hrs from Refugio Carrel to Cumbre Veintimilla starting at 11pm.
Our guide didn't let us zigzag on the glacier due to the avalanche risk so we had to walk in a straight line, which I found a bit difficult.
We were discouraged to make an attemp on the Whymper summit due to too much snow among the penitentes. Well, I wasn't unhappy not having to walk more this time.
Refuge still closed. Slept in the caretakers cafe with guides.
Started at 10:30pm after a lucky snow dump. Snow made the route much easier. Coming down was another story. Dodging rocks there and here.
Stomach issues all week kept me from the top. Very phsucal climb. I will be back...
A very physical summit even for well conditioned people. At nearly 21,000', it is understandable... Despite good weather the night before, the wind ended up picking up most of the night. Mostly very icy conditions from a previous storm. Far less than 50% of people had been summitting (at least since the storm).
Went with Andean Adventures. Competent guides, equipment included, and the owner, John, is very friendly.
It is mandatory to go with a guide.
But there is not park entry fee to go and acclimate beforehand.
As of Aug 2014, the second refuge is still under construction with no sign of being completed any time soon.
My friend Daniel and I attempted the summit from the parking lot on this night. We went via la ruta de las aristas due to the lack of snow. We first encountered snow above 5,400m I believe, before that it was all rock and ice. We turned back at 5,600m. I post this today because tonight I am going for my second attempt. I hope we can use the normal route!
PS. Aristas route is bloody beautiful! Loved it.
Conditions weren't fantastic but made the top, (2011) thankfully the saddle didn't have too much snow. My guide was a machine, didn't sit down for the whole 8hr climb
Both refuges were under construction, so camped by the parking lot near the lower refuge. Left the parking lot at 11 p.m. and reached the Whymper summit at 7:20 a.m. The route was not in great condition, with a lot of unconsolidated snow above El Castillo making progress difficult. High winds made for cold climbing. On attaining the Veintimilla summit we were greeted with a sea of ~1.5m high penitentes extending all the way across the summit plateau to the Whymper summit. These would have been exciting and maybe even enjoyable to navigate at a lower altitude. On descent we avoided the El Castillo corridor, and instead followed the El Castillo ridge all the way down to just below the parking lot. An easy variation for avoiding the famous rockfall. A fantastic climb but a bit more strenuous than I expected it to be. Climbed with Ecuadorian guide Pato.
Both refugios are closed for repairs, teams are sleeping at the entry to the park where the guardians live (has kitchen and beds, appears to be free?), get up earlier and drive further up with the car. Our party consisted of two teams of each two climbers/guide. Started from 4800m, below the first refugio, at 11:30pm; a gringos from Condor Trek and his guide decided to turn back because of supposed bad weather (cloud cover). Good conditions ascending; frozen enough to get through the mixted terrain, cloudy but not too cold, snow firm all the way up the endless ramp. Reached the Veintimilla summit, clear path through the penitentes all the way through to the Whymper summit with good conditions, so we made a leisurely traverse before heading down. Late start heading down but started to snow on descent, so the corredor was still pretty frozen and no rockfall to report.
Climbed in good weather, but bad snow condition: very soft and loose, it was hard work going up, like climbing in sand. Stopped at Veintimilla at 6:40 AM due to snow condition: no party had reached the main summit since 15 days.
Left the hut at 11. Temps were above freezing (rain and drizzle). At the end of El Corridor we started hearing a lot of rockfall. Was then followed by a loud avalanche. Had no idea where it would hit so we ran for cover behind a large rock. Proceeded to gtfo and get back to the hut. Even at our high point it was still raining.
we arrived in ecuador on the morning of january 11. we were only spending 8 days here and wanted to acclimatize and climb chimborazo and cotopaxi.
having finished our decent of cotopaxi less than 36 hours ago, we started at 1145pm under clear skies. the guards had warned us that due to icy conditions and increased rock fall danger, we would need mucho suerte. we reached the whymper summit at 6am and were back to safety by 845. the conditions below the glacier was uncomfortably icy scree but we never felt like we were in danger. the glacier was steep the snow was soft and we were able to move as fast as our sea-level hearts would take us.
in the end, we topped off our 5th volcano in 7 days (pasachoa, rucu pichincha, el corazon, cotopaxi, chimborazo).
Started from the lower refuge at 23:00 under clear weather. Both refuges were open but no beds. Got to the Veintimilla summit at 4:25am. Got to Whymper at about 5:15 and waited an hour for the sunrise. Fantastic views. Going up and down, the guide took us to where we never were directly below a rockfall area. I saw the ice with hanging rock, but we never got close enough to need helmets.
Arrived at the hut under foggy weather and no visibility. Got up at 22h to clear skies and pretty much no wind, and decided to give it a go. In under 2h and about 5350m wind picked up and rock fall started, scary! Stones the size of marbles hit my helmet strongly while other people saw larger stones pass by. Had to run down quickly. Seems to me this route is no longer a good choice, a better option would be to climb from the ridge that starts near the first hur and therefore skips the dangerous El Corredor, although adding 2h to the climb.