November 21, 2011

Climbing Antisana 18,875 ft and Hanging at Papallacta

Looking up at Antisana from Base Camp. Anti is the 4th highest peak in Ecuador and  is way more remote than Cayambe, Cotopaxi and Chimbo. There is no refugio on the mountain and just getting to BC requires solid 4x4 piloting.

I must admit that I have something of a love / hate relationship with Antisana. From a guiding perspective, leading a client up Antisana is significantly more involved than the other popular peaks in Ecuador. For starters, there is no cell service so if you need to call for a rescue or arrange for a date in Quito, you must do so with a SAT Phone. Furthermore, there is no refugio on the mountain so camping is necessary. And as if all this isn't enough, Antisana attracts more bad weather than neighboring Cotopaxi, is significantly more crevassed than the higher peaks, has a rugged morainal approach, and has one of those broad summit ridges that lasts forever. But here's the thing, because of all this, hardly anyone climbs the peak. The mountain is pristine, the views are second to none, the tent is a lot cleaner than the huts, and when you do manage to scrape (or more likely, break heinous trail) up the mountain, it feels pretty good. Especially when you know that you'll be spending the night at Termas de Papallacta.

Back in Quito now and enjoying a few hours of r+r before heading to Chimborazo tomorrow.

Antisana put on one of the more memorable evening light shows I've seen in a while. Of course, my camera managed to break down during this time and I missed most of it. After throwing a small tantrum, the camera came back to life for a few shots. Sadly, no amount of aggressive tapping or swearing could get it to work on summit day.

Antisana from our camp.

Johann at camp with Cotopaxi in the distance.

Evening light on Cotopaxi.

Low down on the mountain. Notice the red picket sticking out of my pack. This is one of the newer Yates designs that I found to be practically worthless in the snicy conditions typical in places like Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. The pickets works great in snow, but I'm going to stick with the classic Coyote or SMC designs in the southern hemisphere. Johann M photo.

Looking out at Coto, Cayambe El Altar and Sangay reminded me of the rolling blue hills of a Cormac Mccarthy novel - interspersed with occassional 5000 and 6000 meter peaks. Johann M Photo.

Johann on the summit after almost 6.5 hours on the go. Our next climb, Chimborazo (20,560 feet), can be seen in the background.

Three hours after returning to Base Camo, we found ourselves here @ Termas de Papallacta.

Papallacta should be on everyone's tour of the Avenidas de Volcanes.

Pools range from hot to cold. This one was hot.

The main building at Papallacta.

Cool doors.

This may look like breakfast but it was actually a midnight snack.

A much more civilized view of Antisana.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

perhaps you could forward some of the photos of las termas to parks canada.... future design concepts for the banff upper hot springs?