We arrived in Riobamba on Sunday & quickly found the company we wanted to climb with. After a brief meeting with John the owner of Andean Adventures it was decided we would try climb on wed night.
We left John & went to the supermarket to stock up on food as we were unsure what to expect at the refugio. After a quick shop we hightailed it out of Riobamba at 3pm headed for the Volcano. As you would expect it was all uphill.
We camped in a small hut on the side of the road after 4 hours of climbing. It was at least protected from the wind & rain. We rolled out at a leisurely time of 8am content with just cruising the remaining 16 ish km to the refugio at 4,800mtr.
John drove past us & let us know he would be waiting at the cafeteria to take our panniers the remaining 8km so we could ride the dirt without any problems.
Bloody brilliant it turned out as there was a fairly hefty headwind/crosswind blowing us all over the place. Another magnificent day though, you could see the summit & my thoughts drifted to thinking if anyone was coming down.
Chimborazo continued to grow as we got closer. The summit seemed to get further away but was also tantalisingly close. The glacier on top gleamed in the morning sun just as pretty as a picture.
We spent the next 2 days being fed watered & doing a few treks up to 5,300mtr for acclimatisation. It was pretty boring stuff until the afternoon before the climb.
Click here for a 360 degree pic, just so you can feel like you are there!
So we sorted the rest of our gear & most importantly the snacks ( mostly lollies ) before turning in at 4pm for a nap.
We were woken at 10pm & got our gear on Leaving the refugio slightly after 11pm on a perfect night. The sky was clear, the moon shone so bright you could make out the glacier on the volcano & most importantly, there was no wind.
We hiked up somewhat clumsily through the rocks & a 30-40 degree slope until we hit the ice & frozen ground. We put our crampons on & were told we needed to move fast through the next section as it was the rockfall section.
This was somewhat funny to James & I as we had never used crampons & new there was nothing fast about the way we were moving. My climb was hindered by the fact that my ice axe had no loop in it, meaning if I let go it will drop all the way back to the bottom some probably 800mtrs away. Hard to tell in the dark.
We moved up a 45-50 ish degree slope of frozen ground & ice. We were not tied in or instructed on how to use the crampons so it made for slow going.
It was also pretty scary at this point because I knew if I fell it was a long way down. I was a little unsure of how much I could trust my crampons & it took a lot of will power to stop the wheels from spinning in my head & keep control. It's what I love about this kind of challenge. Overcoming your mind.
I got through that section & began to feel a bit sick & a headache. We had a break behind a huge boulder out of the slight breeze that had begun to pick up. It was a perfect night, still & warm.
The reflection of the ice was so cool. Glimmering bits of volcanic rock in the moonlight was something I will never forget.
We finally roped up to climb a small 4-5mtr rocky outcrop. Harder than it sounds with an ice axe in one hand and wearing crampons.
I got over that & we continued up another few hundred metres before resting again. I was at this point feeling really sick & my head was seriously pounding.
I stood up & nearly fell over but managed to keep on hiking. We finally hit the glacier where I had to sit down again. I was feeling really bad & all I could think of was " how the hell do I get down "
Dave & James pushed on ahead a bit & told me the hike was a little easier as the snow was soft. I told them I was stating to feel really bad & probably won't go on.
I told my guide I was not doing great and he gave me some time. I tried to walk two more times, the words I had learnt earlier " poco mas " ( a little more ) came in handy.
Unfortunately I was tripping on my own feet & trying not to vomit. After some deliberation & being told it was another 3 hours to the summit ( only 400mtr vertically ) I decided it was over for me.
Super stoked to get to around 5800-5900mtr & to experience using ice axes & crampons. We began the trudge back the way we came.
When we hit the rock climb then the steep ice section I knew I had made the right decision. I was crushed & it was a serious challenge to get back down. My crampons both came very loose & fell off just before the end of the ice section. I was glad to be off that.
All the way down I was having to stop & cradle my head & still trying not to Vomit. I was back to the refugio at 5am feeling absolutely horrible :)
After some water & Powerade I laid down with a head I was sure was going to explode & got an hours sleep. I was up at 7 still feeling rubbish but determined not to miss the boys coming down & to get a few pictures of them.
They rolled in at 10am totally exhausted but also elated to have reached the summit.
I am incredibly proud of making it to where I did & in no way regret my decision to come down. It was a serious baptism into the world of mountaineering & I feel I have gained some great knowledge.
I am super excited to have another crack at another mountain soon.
I am also extremely stoked for the boys. Dave & James killed it. Well done on as far as I can tell a pretty bloody hard climb boys. Hats off.
I/o Merino for my amazing thermals keeping me super toasty.
La Sportiva for the new Akasha's. Great for trekking around volcanos.
Bogong Equipment for most of my gear.
The boys for hanging out. Dave & James congrats again on a huge effort. Check them out on FB @Southwardbound.