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Peru with Mountain Madness

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!

  • Moun­taineer­ing Course
  • Vol­ca­noes Expedition
  • 9‑day Cotopaxi

(all pho­tos from pre­vi­ous expeditions)

Illiniza Sur

Illiniza Norte