Rio Bamba and the closest point to the Sun

Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why bother climbing K2 or Mount Everest when the closest point to the sun is really Chimborazo in Ecuador?  If you are a mountain climbing enthusiast, Ecuador should be your next destination.  Riobamba is the launching point for those who wish to climb Chimborazo. 

Chimborazo is now extinct but maintains a glacier covered peak of 20,561 feet above sea level.  While we recognize that this is not the highest peak in the world, but because of it´s location on the equator, it IS the closest point to the sun.  We are not mountain climbing enthusiasts, but we did want to get close.

Lucky for us, you can reach the first refuge below the peak by car.  A 40-minute hike later and you reach the second refuge at 16,500 feet.  From this point, you can see the edge of the glacier and the peak of the mountain.  Close enough for me, but for those of you interested in the summit, a guide and the equipment rentals will run you about $140 with a midnight departure to reach the summit before the ice gets too slushy in the morning.

Altitude affects everything!  On our travels we have been bouncing between ten and twelve thousand feet on a regular basis.  A full day of activity seems to be about 5 hours, at least to us.  Maybe we´re getting old?  We have toyed with the idea of taking a guided summit attempt at either Cotapaxi or Chimborazo, but if 16,500 feet is an indicator of what´s possible, forget it! 

After our hour drive from Riobamba and our 40 minute hike to the refuge, we sat while our brains swelled for about ten minutes and headed down.  Amazing views throughout the day, this will probably be the closest I ever get to the sun.  On our way home, Laura could not keep her eyes open.  Our guide kept asking us questions and wanted to stop so that we could take pictures.  But, I was dizzy and having trouble breathing and Laura was constantly falling dead asleep.  Mountain climbers we will never be!

My ipod is getting altitude sickness too.  It self activated and freaked out overnight in Salinas and we heard the same thing again today.  Set in the off position, the machine started making loud scraping noises and heated up without ever being activated.  Once it's hot and the battery dies, it goes to sleep.  Returning to low altitude and recharging the batteries sets things right again.  Does Apple make an Everest edition?
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