Ice Trekking and Mountaineering Adventure to Cotopaxi - February, 2008


Ice Trekking and Mountaineering Adventure to the Summit of Cotopaxi
Optional Addition: Chimborazo (Option B)

The Goal: Reaching the highest volcanoes in the world:
Cotopaxi at 19,347 feet and Chimborazo at 20,560 feet !!!

Depart: New York/JFK for Quito, Ecuador: Saturday, February 16, 2008
Return from Quito, arrive New York/ JFK: Saturday, February 23, 2008
or Option B:

Return from Quito, arrive New York/ JFK: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

General Itinerary:
Saturday, Feb 16: 10.00 am Depart New York/ JFK - Arrive Quito, Ecuador 5.30pm - Hotel check-in
Sunday, Feb 17: White Water Rafting in the Amazon
Monday, Feb 18: Explore City of Quito & Hike (Elevation Exposure 9,250 to 13,500 ft)
Tuesday, Feb 19: Mountain Biking (Elevation Exposure 9,900 to 15,500 ft)
Wednesday, Feb 20: Cotopaxi Day 1 - Gear check and training (spend night at 15,500 ft)
Thursday, Feb 21: Cotopaxi Day 2 - Summit Push & Descent - Return to Quito
Friday, Feb 22: Cotopaxi Day 3 (Bad weather back-up day) or spend day in Quito, party at night
Saturday, Feb 23: 10.00 am Depart for New York - Arrive JFK 8.40 pm

Pricing: (Full Package, including International Flight!)
$1,895 - if you make deposit by November 15, 2007
$1,995 - if you make deposit by December 15, 2007
$2,095 - if you make deposit by January 15, 2008
To make your $500 deposit and hold your spot:

Land only pricing starts at $1,345
To make your $500 deposit and hold your spot:

Trip Includes:
Airline tickets: ALL international air and local ground connections
ALL overland transfers and accommodations in hotels w/breakfast, all meals while trekking
Professional and certified guides member of the Ecuadorian Association of Mountain Guides.(ASEGUIM)
All park entrance fees and all technical equipment: harness, ice axe and crampons are provided and included

Does not include:
Lunch and dinners in Quito
Plastic boots and other equipment can also be rented

Questions / RSVP:

The Mountain, The Adventure, The Experience:

Article by: Dane Schiller - Express-News Mexico City Bureau
San Antonio Express, TX - Mar 4, 2006 COTOPAXI, Ecuador Climbing...

Climbing snow and ice under a moonless night, I watched the flashlight glowing further up the Andean glacier. It seemed more like a distant star than a one-watt bulb strapped to another mountaineer9s head.

The light — a North Star of sorts for me — was still about 2,000 feet shy of the summit of Cotopaxi, a 19,347-foot mountain widely considered one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.

Americans, Brazilians, French, Irish, Israelis, Swiss and other nationalities come here by the hundreds each year — all drawn by the challenge and romance of scaling the mountain, which is known for its nearly perfect cone shape. In the indigenous language, Quichua, its name roughly translates as "necklace of the moon."

But only about half of those who try ever reach the top. Cotopaxi is a place to test limits, to trudge all night without sleep, to burn muscles until they are nearly useless and finally to gulp for oxygen in air so thin you feel as though you will collapse.

CotopaxiCraterTop.jpg Cotopaxi Crater Top

The experience comes with a mantra: You don9t reach the summit with your legs, but with your heart.

It has been that way ever since it was reportedly first climbed in 1872 by German geologist Wilhelm Reiss and Angel Escobar, of neighboring Colombia.

As with most summits, you have to be willing to risk failure. I9d failed on a lesser mountain: crumbled in exhaustion, vomited on the ice, and slammed ice-encrusted, gloved fists into the frozen turf.

But I was giving it another shot here. With each step, I grew more tired, and the air became more thin. I knew my response time was getting more tenuous. My speech was slurring and balance awkward. And I had to watch for altitude sickness, a life or death situation that requires immediate evacuation.

History says that Cotopaxi greeted the Spanish Conquistadors centuries ago by erupting during a vicious battle with the native peoples. And it9s still an active volcano, capable of spewing rivers of burning lava that could not only devastate villages on its edges, but rage through the streets of Quito — a two-hour drive away.

All I could think about right now was my own destiny. At one of Cotopaxi9s roughest passes, my legs buckled and I dropped to my knees.

CotopaxiVillage.jpg Cotopaxi from a distance...

"Don9t do that again," my Ecuadorean guide, Wellington Basantes, shouted. "Tell me if you are spent and we will head down. If you are too weak, we can not take risks."

Years of hope and months of training down the drain, I thought to myself. Nearly every weekend since August, I9d taken to lesser mountains in Mexico where I hiked, climbed and pushed myself.

I was obsessed as I learned the ropes of mountaineering and trained my muscles, weakened by years of desk duty and medical ailments. I9d overcome multiple spinal surgeries four years earlier and the consequent physical and even mental stagnation to get to this point.

If I pushed too hard, I would risk my life. If I didn9t finish, Cotopaxi would haunt me for years, even if it is not always supposed to be about reaching the summit.
Basantes knew all about that. And about limits.

Now 50, he had climbed Cotopaxi at least 200 times. As I was learning, he had little tolerance for climbers unprepared for the mountain9s rigors.

Climbing a mountain isn9t like running a marathon, where if you have to bail out, you can simply plop on a curb and call for medical assistance. At high altitude on risky terrain, you can9t wait until your muscles turn to putty before calling it quits.

Because there9s no one to help you if you do. Ascending Cotopaxi, we were too high for most helicopters and impossible to be rescued by a jeep or even mule.

Jamming my ice ax into the snow, I pushed off the frozen face and rose to my feet.
Satisfied by my effort, Basantes promised that as long as I had the will to keep going, he9d lead me to the summit.

At the same time, Basantes said he hated the younger generation of guides, some of whom seemed to quick to pull the plug on expeditions, saying clients were too tired to safely continue or the snow so fresh it could trigger an avalanche.

Seeing the monster Six hours after we started, dawn illuminated Cotopaxi, and I got my first glimpse of the otherwordly monster we9d been climbing in the dark.

Ice caves and crevices glowed with bluish hues. Icicles looked like jagged teeth. But I was in no shape for gawking. Trudging up a 45-degree slope, breathing and aching, all focus was on my next step.

I9d take two. Then stop. Breathe, breathe. Two more steps. Stop. Breathe. Breathe. Step again. Stop. Gasp for air. Step again.
As I looked toward the mountain9s top, I saw the first glint of sunrays, a signal that the summit was near. It also meant the most dangerous part of the climb would soon begin — the descent.

Most mountaineering accidents happen on the way down, when climbers have already used up all their energy and they no longer have the psychological advantage of striving for the top. And with daytime temperatures softening the snow, it is far easier to slip.

But first things first. The peak was still above us. Again, we pushed on.
Step. Suck air. Step. Suck air.

Two days after first setting foot on the lower reaches of the mountain and seven hours and fifteen minutes after leaving base camp, I staggered to the top.

Strangely, it was almost windless. I could look down on clouds and lower peaks all around.
I dropped my ax and crumpled onto the snow, and again, gasped for air. I could hardly move, but I9d never felt more alive. I was on top of South America, and because so close to the equator, perhaps at that moment closer to the sun than anyone on the planet.

Sunglasses hid my tears. Nothing could hide my grin...

Detailed Itinerary:
Saturday, Feb 16: 10.00 am Depart New York/ JFK - Arrive Quito, Ecuador 5.30pm
Transfer, check-in, and welcome dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda
Pool side party or option to check out Quito at night

Sunday, Feb 17: White Water Rafting in the Amazon
Unforgettable Adventure in the Amazon:
Spend the day rafting technical Class III & IV rapids
During the day, Lunch Box provided
Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda

Monday, Feb 18: Explore City of Quito & Hike (Elevation Exposure 9,250 to 13,500 ft)
Visit the City of Quito (elevation 9,250 feet) and trek up to the North Ridge of Quito (13,500)
After lunch, spend the day shopping and exploring Quito
During the day, Lunch Box provided
Dinner in the city

Tuesday, Feb 19: Mountain Biking (Elevation Exposure 9,900 to 15,500 ft)
Get a first view of our Goal: Cotopaxi
Start at 15,500 ft and bike down and into the rolling hills of Cotopaxi National Park
Spend most of the day active and exposed to altitude at 9,900 ft
During the day, Lunch Box provided
Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda

Wednesday, Feb 20: Cotopaxi Day 1 - Gear check and training (spend night at 15,500 ft)
Morning: Gear check and transfer to the Cotopaxi Refuge:
We will leave Quito in the morning by car and after one and a half hours, we will reach Cotopaxi National Park.
We will hike one more hour until we reach the Jose Rivas refuge (15,850 ft)
Afternoon: Technical Skill Checks:
After some basic mountaineering exercises in the glacier, we will have dinner and prepare for the ascent
Evening: Dinner & Rest
12.00 midnight: Summit Push

Thursday, Feb 21: Cotopaxi Day 2 - Summit Push & Descent - Return to Quito
Weather, skill, and fitness permitting, we will summit between 7.00 and 8.00 am:
We depart the refuge at midnight and will reach the summit after 7 hours of climbing
After the descent, we will rest a bit in the refuge and then return to Quito
Transfer back to Quito & Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda
Alternate Scenario: Spend day at Refuge - Evening: Dinner & Rest
12.00 midnight: Summit Push

Friday, Feb 22: Cotopaxi Day 3 (Bad weather back-up day)
Transfer back to Quito after Summit Push
Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda
Open day in Quito, party & celebrate at night and dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda

Saturday, Feb 23: 10.00 am Depart for New York - Arrive JFK 8.40 pm
After breakfast, transfer to airport for return flight home.

Critical Points:
1) You will be trained in basic technical mountaineering skills: you will learn these in one hour !!
not a big deal, our expert guides will train us and you will be fully prepared to use the gear provided !!

2) Our local guides have climbed these mountain several (hundred) times...
We will use the same guiding company as the author in the above article, which mentions
one of their chief guides who has climbed Cotopaxi some 200 times...
3) ALL technical equipment - Ice Axe, Crampons, ropes, etc - is included and will be provided !
4) NO camping required: hotel and mountain refuges will be our accommodations.
5) Temperature: Quito and Ecuador, mild spring temperatures, 609s F; on the mountain it will be colder of course...
6) NO porters needed, all heavier equipment will be transported by jeep...

Questions / RSVP:

Option B: Chimborazo:

Saturday, Feb 23: Transfer to Chimborazo - Chimborazo Day 1
Gear check and training - spend night at 15,500 ft - Summit Push & Descent - Return to Quito Sunday
We will leave Quito in the morning, heading south for the Avenida de los volcanes until we reach the Hermanos Carrel refuge (15,850 ft).
From there we will walk another 45 minutes to the Whymper refuge (16,500 m), where we will relax, eat dinner and prepare for the midnight ascent.

Sunday, Feb 24: Chimborazo Day 2 - Bad weather back up day
Summit Push & Descent - Return to Quito Monday:
We will get up at midnight  and being to climb.  After 8 hours we will first reach the Veintimilla summit (20,000 ft)
and afterwards the Whymper summit (6310 m).
Around midday we will be back in the refuge, where we will relax a bit before returning to Quito.
Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda

Monday, Feb 25: Bad weather back up day... 
and/ or  Open day - Explore Quito, shop, relax...
Dinner at our Mountain Inn Luxury Hacienda 
Party and celebrate at night...!!!

Tuesday, Feb 26: 10.00 am Depart for New York - Arrive JFK 8.40 pm

Questions / RSVP:

* * * Chimborazo...

Chimborazo_from_southwest.jpg ...from South West

The Chimborazo is an extinct volcano located in the Andes mountains of central Ecuador, 150 kilometres (93 miles) south-southwest of the capital Quito. Its summit is the spot on the surface farthest from the center of the Earth.

Although the summit of Mount Everest reaches a higher elevation above sea level, the Earth9s diameter at the equator is greater than at Everest9s latitude (nearly 28° north), with sea level also being elevated. The summit of Chimborazo is just one degree south of the equator. So despite being 2547 meters (8457 feet) lower in elevation above sea level, it is 6384.4 km (3968 mi) from the Earth9s center, 2.1 km farther than the summit of Everest. Chimborazo is higher in elevation above sea level than any other mountain in the Americas north of it.

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was thought that Chimborazo was the highest mountain on Earth (measured from sea level), and such reputation led to many attempts on its summit during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1802 during his expedition to South America, Baron Alexander von Humboldt, accompanied by Aimé Bonpland and the Ecuadorian Carlos Montúfar attempted to reach the summit. From his description of the mountain it seems he reached a point at 5,875 metres, from where he and his companions returned suffering from altitude sickness. At that point they had reached the highest point attained by any human being in recorded history. Finally it was climbed by Briton Edward Whymper and the brothers Louis and Jean-Antoine Carrel in 1880. As there were many critics who doubted that Whymper had reached the summit, later in the same year he climbed to the summit again choosing a different route with the Ecuadorians David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña.

Chimborazo is the highest peak in Ecuador and surely one of the most demanding climbs and requires ice climbing equipment and basic technical mountaineering.

* * *

Flight Service with Lan Ecuador:
1  XL 539 S 16FEB 6 JFKGYE HK21  1020 1700   *1A/E*
2  XL 516 S 16FEB 6 GYEUIO HK21  1800 1850   *1A/E*
3  XL 517 S 23FEB 6 UIOGYE HK21  1205 1300   *1A/E*
4  XL 538 S 23FEB 6 GYEJFK HK21  1410 2040   *1A/E*

Cancellation Policy:
If you cancel more than 60 days before the date of travel, you would receive a refund minus $200
If you cancel less than 60 days before the date of travel, you would receive 75% refund
If you cancel less than 45 days before the date of travel, you would receive 50% refund
If you cancel less than 30 days before the date of travel, you would receive 25% refund
If you cancel less than 15 days before the date of travel, there won9t be a refund possible unless we find replacement for you !
(We always highly recommend to take out travel insurance:

Name Sales End Price
Ticket to an Amazing Adventure to the Summit of Cotopaxi - 2008 Ended $500
Double Top: Cotopaxi & Chimborazo Ended $500

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