November 18, 2011

Climbing the Illinizas, Ecuador

Looking up at the Illinizas from the town of Chaupi.

After three days climbing Illiniza Norte and Sur, Johann and I are back in Quito. We spent one night in the town of Chaupi and then moved up to the Illiniza Refugio at 4800 meters / 15,750 feet. The Refugio has been slightly renovated since my last trip in 2007. The key word here is slightly. If you're looking for a 5 star mountain experience, the Illiniza Refugio might not be for you. But if you're looking for a good place to climb and acclimate near Quito, the Illinizas are tough to beat.

In 1999-2000, during a ten-week stay in Ecuador, I took a bus from Quito to Machachi and hired a camionetta to take me to the Illinizas trailhead. The following day, I climbed Norte and Sur and returned to Quito that evening. The interesting thing is that the route I climbed in 2000 on Sur - La Rampa - no longer exists. Or more accurately, the route has completely melted out. This is too bad because it was a really good route! The standard approach to Sur has also changed. Instead of following the high trail from the hut that is marked "Sur," Johann and I took the path to the Norte Col, then traversed to a low entrance on Sur's  prominent ridge. This seemed to work better than the marked approach because we didn't have to gain and lose as much elevation. The regular route on Sur is currently in pretty good shape. A few pitches of 50 degree snow and ice take you to a flat bench with a steep exit on the left. From here, a final ramp leads to the summit. We had perfect weather for the climb and were treated to awesome views of our next objectives -  Antisana and Chimbo. 

Rene piloting the ship during our second acclimatization hike

I found an old Patagonia fleece that I sold on Ebay ten years ago

The Illinizas from Chaupi

Johann acquires the knowledge

The local swill

Looking up at Illiniza Norte (16,870 feet) from the Refugio

Evening light from the Illiniza Refugio

Good view of Antisana and Cotopaxi

Johann standing in front of Illiniza Sur

On the way down from Illiniza Norte

Still descending Illiniza Norte

Near the summit on Illiniza Sur

Summit Ridge

Johann pats Cotopaxi from the summit of Illiniza Sur


Anonymous said...

We spent one night in the town of Chaupi and then moved up to the Illiniza Refugio at 4800 meters / 15,750 meters.

I think you meant feet as a final word.

Good luck Wex!

-Amigo de Oregon

Andrew Wexler said...

so right sammy! thanks for the keen eye.