Success on the Illinizas!
Great success in Ecuador as the team summits the Illinizas! Chimborazo turned them away with unfavorable weather, but these beautiful alternatives gave them a great experience nonetheless. Tino is on his way back to the US after an incredibly 6 week experience in South America. Congratulations to his team for all of their successes in Ecuador!
“After climbing both Cayambe and Cotopaxi in great style our team ran into a bit of a uncertainty surrounding Chimborazo, our final objective for the Ecuador Volcanoes Expedition. We had received reports that conditions on Chimborazo were not great. Conditions on Chimborazo tend to change quite fast, with some snow coating the loose volcanic rock being ideal to freeze the rock into place. At the same time too much snow creates potentially dangerous avalanche conditions. So we decided to eliminate some of the uncertainty and change our final objective to the Illinizas — not the giant of Chimborazo but more technical and a great way to put the team’s skills to test one last time.
“In changing our final objective to Illiniza there was still some uncertainty. The conditions on Chimborazo were not ideal, and the weather was unstable. Would the weather hold for Illiniza? Would we have enough energy left to climb a third 5000m peak in little more than a week? Would we find similarly poor conditions on Chimbo? As we packed up the night before the climb in yet another hospitable and cozy Ecuadorian hacienda rain pattered the roof all night long. Would there be too much snow on the Illinizas to safely climb. As the case always is, we would have to put these questions off until the next day, waiting to find the answers on the mountain.
“The morning of the climb started with yet another question mark. It was drizzling — would it be snowing up on the mountains? Regardless, we buried these feelings of uncertainty and began the approach. As we got higher, the temperature got colder and the skies got clearer. We relearned a valuable mountain lesson — even when you think conditions may not be great, it is always worth it to have a look. There was a bit of new snow on the ground, just enough to keep things frozen together but not enough to make avalanches a concern.
“The group split up with some folk heading to Illinaza Sur — a more technical glacier climb consisting of steep snow and a section of mixed climbing — and some folks heading to Illiniza Norte — a mountain highlighted by a rock scramble near the summit which in it’s present snow covered condition was quite alpine.
“I can only speak for the group on Illiniza Sur. It was a SUPER fun climb. A pitch of snow covered rock to get on to the glacier. Steep glacier snow with some big crevasses to cross. Finally, a summit ridge where we were blasted by wind and snow to reach the summit, our third of the trip.
“Chok, a climber on the team that headed to Norte, described the climb as very exciting in it’s current condition. There was an airy traverse on snow, very exposed below, that lead to the snow covered rock scrambling to the summit. A very enjoyable climb in decidedly alpine conditions.
“Snow covered rock, a little bit of marginal weather. The Madness could not be stopped! In the end, our various teams summited both Illinza Norte and Sur with a total of 7 climbers and 4 guides. A fantastic way to cap off a great trip. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people from around the world. And I am grateful for the experiences I have been able to share with all the people that I have come in to contact with over the past 6 weeks. Mountain Madness seems to attract people who are captivated by the simple joy of being in the mountains. We, at Mountain Madness, pride ourselves in “Making it Happen.” But it is truly a symbiotic relationship between the guides and our clients. We “Make it Happen” together.”
~ MM Guide Tino Villanueva
There is still time for you to join us in late January or February for the following trips or join us when the season starts up again in May!
(all photos from previous expeditions)