(ENG) and I got to José Ribas refuge (4,800 m) at 2.00 pm, along with two Spaniards and a French.
We left our climbing stuff in the refuge's lockers, chose a bunk bed and headed up to the glacier for ice practices.
Trevor's plan was to spend an extra night in the refuge, following the acclimatization program that helps you climb a mountain safely and guarantees you a higher success on reaching a summit. So we both remained in the refuge while everybody headed to the top at midnight.
Here with Japhy (NEPAL) at the refuge.
Next day, we could hear climbers coming back to the refuge during the first morning hours. A few of them (3 climbers) were those who quitted in their attempt for the summit, but most of them, were those who made it. I could see their happy faces hidden behind the tiredness left for the tough climb. But the good weather and the perfect snow/ice conditions were with them, and it made their ascension easy and very enjoyable.
I met Japhy
, a very friendly Summit Post
member from Nepal. He climbed the volcano solo, leaving the refuge at 2:00 am. He made it in only 3 and half hours. It was great to have a long conversation with him at the refuge, while he was waiting for a ride back to Quito.
We talked about mountains, Ed Viesturs and mostly about his adventures through Latin America... His almost 15,000 km ridden on his bike solo from CA to Argentina.
Japhy arrived to southern Argentina (Patagonia) in July. Check his reports out at California to Patagonia Cycling Expedition
Germans - Trevor
Meanwhile, Trevor spent most of the day inside his sleeping bag; that's life!.. I thought he was hibernating!. Anyway, we both had a nice relaxing second day in the refuge.
Dinner time, and Diego (another mountain guide) invited Trevor and me to join his German clients at the table. We all had a delicious menu for dinner and a nice conversation with the Germans. It was a big German family formed by mom and dad, three sons, one daughter and a friend of them.
They shew us their brand new climbing gear bought only with the purpose of climbing Cotopaxi... what a sophisticated gear... so light and shiny!.
By midnight, Trevor and I woke up while other team members were doing the same. After having a light breakfast with the Germans and an hour later (1:20 am) we left the refuge.
Trevor (ENG) wind blasted on Cotopaxi.
It started snowing as soon as we get out of the refuge. We kept hiking up at slow pace towards the glacier, put crampons on and roped up together. We passed the other teams while climbed on very soft snow.
Fernando (Pele) on the summit.
Five hours later, after constant climbing on 2 feet of fresh snow we reached Yanasacha (Black Rock in Kichwa) 100 meters below the summit. Had a short break and kept going up behind the first team led by Fernando Iza
I wondered how hard his job could be... breaking trail for his clients and the other teams coming up after him. But my thoughts lasted a few seconds, 'cause as soon as we got to the steep wall beside Yanasacha, his tracks were erased by the strength of the wind. So we climbed on knee deep powder snow, traversed above Yanasacha's steep face and met with the Germans who gave up climbing.
Trevor did his best to reach the top. My heart slowdown its beats and my cheeks felt the coldness of the wind against my face (I felt so lucky of being working here). The steep slope wasn't steep anymore... we were just a few meters of reaching Ecuador's second highest elevation.
Trevor and I on Cotopaxi summit (5,897 m/19,347 ft)
Finally, we made it. Hugs and congratulation words to each other. Fernando's hug is always a joy, it comes with our usual fake crying... almost like a scream of joy, it's almost like our ritual, the happiness of being once again up there together, doing our job.
We couldn't see the crater, but the endless Andean mountain range partially clouded.
Despite the hardness of my job as a mountain guide: midnight climbs, chilly temperatures, tiredness and my sore body ... I still enjoy those great moments while climbing, getting to a summit and sharing with my clients. I feel so lucky of being up here, with my buddies, my co-workers and my client who is my good friend now.