Merry Christmas and Happy All Of The Holidays that are happening in the past and next few weeks everyone, from me a co-founder of this astoundingly rad club. Officers past and present, you rock my world, and deep gratitude for rocking the world of thousands of Majestic Members.
In celebration, let’s go get astonishingly high.
While I did already mention this trip concept to current Outdoors at UVA Officers, I had planned to run this detailed description past them before posting. Time escaped me and I wanted to get this out there before Christmas. This trip is subject to approval by current officers, one of whom already expressed strong interest in attending. I have no idea how much if any portion of participant expenses will be covered by the club; that depends in part on how may student club members attend.
This trip posting is just an overview. Together with the help of participants please, we’ll figure out and collaboratively decide upon the details to make this awesome for us all.
Ecuador has many high-altitude volcanoes. It’s on the equator, so high altitude there is warmer than at other places on the planet. Some of the volcanoes are active or dormant, some are extinct.
Glacier trekking is my favorite outdoor adventure. I got a new favorite color when viewing some glacial ice in Patagonia; I call it glacial blue – such an incredibly deep tone that words can’t describe it. Formations on and views from a glacier are spectacular. In Ecuador there are relatively easy opportunities to enjoy that adventure.
The highest I’ve been (altitude-wise) is 17,000 feet, feeling healthy & strong, at Everest Base Camp in Tibet. I know a little something about high altitude, and so have done my best to design an itinerary for this trip, very deliberately ingrained with altitude acclimatization. Those of you who need to gain your parental units’ blessing to attend, feel free to let them know the aforementioned, plus that I’ve led somewhere between 500 and 1,000 outdoor adventures of widely varying types, my profession is wilderness medicine instructor-trainer and primarily teaching wilderness first aid classes, and I’m a Wilderness EMT and Geo Medic. On this trip I won’t be leading the glacier trek portion; we’ll hire a professional local knowledgeable guide service for that (and they’ll provide that relevant equipment for those who need it).
Prior to and in preparation for glacier-trekking up the 19er, we’ll hike up some lower (but still high-up) summits in the region. The plan includes doing hikes 1 and 3 on the following website, and either #4 or Cotopaxi will be our final (glacier-trekking) summit.
Here’s the rough itinerary. Dates are TBD based on when those interested are available to go, and what flights we find. Generally, I’m thinking last half of July 2023, but I also have flexibility to go first half of August. In the weeks leading up to the trip I’ll be hiking as much as I can to tune physical fitness, you’re of course super-welcome to join me.
Key to the below:
# (#; #; #) day’s description.
Day# (Max altitude during day; sleeping altitude this night; cardio activity this day)
1 (9350; 9,350; 0) Arrive Quito (~9.350 feet). Must arrive by this day for acclimatization process.
2 (9350; 9,350; 0) Quito: explore (on own – nothing guided). Zero cardio, for acclimatization.
3 (9481; 9,350; local hike) Quito: Explore city more, or optional 6+mile trail in Quito’s Parque Metropolitano Guanquiltagua, marked trail with side trails, can view Cotopaxi, Cotacachi, Cayambe and Antisuna volcanoes on a clear day.
4 (13451; 13,451; 0) Quito: take TeleferiQo, camp out where the cable car drops us off. Spend day there, do nothing (acclimatize), enjoy views. Horseback riding? Restaurants? Para gliding? https://teleferico.com.ec/product/parapente/
5 (15406; 13,451; hike) Quito: from top of TeleferiQo, non-technical day hike to summit of Rucu Pichincha volcano. Camp out same place.
6 (15090; 15,090; 0) Rent car, drive early for 2 hours? to Nuevos Horizontes Refuge, the base for two treks, including the next day’s trek. Sleep in refugio or camping if they’ll allow it.
7 (16785; 15,090; hike) Hike with rock scrambling – helmet required – to summit of Illiniza Norte. Sleep at same refugio / camping if they allow it.
8 (15760 or 15092; 15760 or 15092; 0) Drive to Refugio Jose Rivas at Cotopaxi OR Rifugio Ruales-Oleas-Berge at Cayambe. Meet our guide and learn/practice ice axe etc. for next day. Official guide required to summit Cotopaxi (It’s the law) and whether or not it’s required for Cayambe we’ll hire one.
9 (19347 or 18996; 9,350; Glacial hike up Cotopaxi OR Cayambe). Pre-dawn departure? for summit bid – Cotopaxi OR Cayambe. If we go up Cayambe and if you’re taller than 4 feet, then that portion of you will have reached 19,000+ feet. Return to Quito.
10 (?; 9,350; ?) Back-up day for summit bid in case weather cancels prior day’s summit bid. Otherwise, cultural visits / small town(s)? while we still have the rental car. Possibility: Latacunga Saturday artisinal market; Papalacta hot springs town in jungle.
11: Fly home. … or maybe some fly on to Galapagos. FYI as for the Galapagos, getting a bed on a private boat and sailing from island to island, is the popular and perhaps best way to visit. Cheaper and what Ana and I did a handful of years ago, was get internal flights to one of the islands and back from another island, and take a scheduled ferry in between.
As the days progress, if you suffer altitude illness or just don’t want to carry on with the higher summits further in the trip, it’s all good, you won’t be required to join us for the subsequent hikes and you’ll be responsible for yourself from then on out, perhaps and hopefully still joining us in whatever accommodations already arranged. At any point on a hike if you’re suffering mild altitude illness, you must not carry on up higher.
Eligible participants are:
> physically fit;
> experienced in hiking up mountain trails like those here in Shenandoah, or elsewhere with elevation gain during hikes at least the same as what’s in these here mountains;
> comfortable with the idea* of trekking on a glacier while wearing crampons and being rope-tied to other participants ahead of and probably behind you too, as a crevasse safety measure;
> not known to suffer altitude illness*.
If you want to chat about any of the above or anything regarding this trip, please email me at matt (at) solowfa (dot) com and let me know your phone number and generally good times to call you, and we’ll arrange a call. (My teaching schedule this January through June is insanely busy.) Sorry this old-school homeboy is not a texter.
*Prior glacier trekking experience is NOT required. Prior high-altitude exposure is NOT required. If you have been to high altitude before and you suffered mild (or worse) altitude illness, let’s chat so I can learn about your experience, what you suffered, how high you went, and what acclimatization happened beforehand — to determine if it’s safe for you and others to join in.
Participants let’s please collaborate in running this adventure.
> Flights search
> Finding and reserving local lodging
> Car rental best deal (and then I can make the reservation in my name / credit card)
> Day 3 night-time has us sleeping in Quito (~9,350 feet) however for acclimatization purposes I’d rather we sleep at somewhere around 12,000 feet. So it’d be great if someone can find a place we can sleep or camp at that altitude near Quito.
> Detailed information for each hike. It’d be really cool if each person has a leadership day on this trip and does the research for their day, one day / hike per person. Then I might co-lead from the rear. I’ll bring walkie-talkies as I always do.
> Research the various guide services’ offerings and reviews, and choose which is best for the 19er we’ll glacier trek. The rest we’ll self-guide (they’ll be hiking, not glacier trekking).
> Determine some cool options for Day 10 if we didn’t need to use it as back-up day for summit attempt.
> Anything else you would you be interested in doing to help out?
Right on, y’all!