So . . . did I summit Chimborazo?

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chimborazo.pictureAnd the answer is . . . no.  But . . .  I am completely at peace with the outcome because it was an amazingly beautiful (and challenging!) weekend.  Here’s a play by play for you.  Also, after you read the chain of events from the weekend, check out the pictures at the end of the post that show you more details about the journey.  (By the way, if you have no idea what I am talking about so far, read this post first.)

Friday, June 21

  • 2:30pm: I was driven to Casa Condor (about 30 minutes away) by a friendly taxi driver named Roberto.  Ironically, he ended up being the father of one of my previous students here in Riobamba.  I stayed at Casa Condor because it is at a higher altitude (3800 meters/12,400 feet) than Riobamba and it’s wise to slowly acclimate to the higher altitude of Chimborazo.
  • 4:00pm: I went on an incredibly challenging “walk” to acclimate to the higher altitude (this was suggested by my taxi driver).  The place I walked was so steep, it was quite a challenge!  Here’s a video of me while I was resting on my walk.  As you can tell, it was a bit windy!
  • 6:00pm: I went to scope out the kitchen in the hostel so I knew where I’d be cooking my dinner.  That’s where I met two other guys that that I learned would be hiking with me the following evening.  They are both from Australia and their names are Garrick and Ron.  They are nice guys and as it ended up, I was really glad that we all took this journey together.  That evening, we made a pasta dinner and talked a bit to get to know one another, since we’d be spending plenty of time together over the next 36 hours.
  • 8:00pm: I went back to my room and was asleep by 9:00pm. 🙂

Saturday, June 22

  • 8:00am: I got out of bed after reading for awhile, took some pictures of the beautiful countryside, and made breakfast.
  • 10:45am: Garrick, Ron and I went on a walk around the community where we were staying.
  • 12:30pm: We were picked up by our guides and drove to the first refuge (4800 meters/15,700 feet) of Chimborazo.
  • 2:30pm: We drank Coca tea (apparently helps with altitude sickness) and soup at the refuge.
  • 3:00pm: We went to rest/sleep to let our bodies get ready for the upcoming demands of the evening.
  • 4:30pm: We woke-up and ate “dinner” and then hiked to the second refuge (5000 meters/16,400 feet).
  • 6:30pm: We arrived at the second refuge and got ready for bed.  We were supposed to sleep from 7:00pm until 10:00pm to rest for the hike.
  • 6:45pm: I walked outside to see an amazing sunset and filmed a short video before going to sleep.  Watch it here.
  • 10:00pm: We were woken up and to eat “breakfast” and then got dressed and ready to leave for the hike.
  • 11:30pm: 3 hikers (me, Ron, and Garrick) and 3 guides (Fabian, Raul, and Alberto) left to begin the journey up Chimborazo.

Sunday, June 23

  • 12:15am: After hiking for about 45 minutes, we stopped to put crampons (equipment you put on your shoes in order to hike in snow and ice) on our boots for the rest of the journey.
  • 12:20am: I had no idea how to walk with crampons.
  • 1:00am: I started to partly understand how to walk with crampons.
  • 2:00am: Our group of 6 discussed our progress at that point.  We were pretty exhausted already.  Our guides decided that at our current pace (apparently rather tortoise-like), it would take about 6 more hours to summit Chimborazo.
  • 2:15am: Two of us decided to go on and continue to hike onto the glacier.
  • 3:30am: My guide, Fabian, told me that we still had about 5 hours until the top.  At that point, I needed to stop about every 30 seconds to rest and I didn’t foresee that getting better as the altitude increased.  After hiking through a lot of ice and snow, I decided to call it quits (5700 meters18.700 feet) and surrender.
  • 4:00am: We started to descend and head back to the refuge with another hiker and his guide.
  • 6:30am: We arrived at the second refuge and tried to get a couple of hours of sleep.  (This was very difficult because it was freezing!)
  • 9:000am: We walked down to the first refuge, were picked up and driven back to Riobamba to end our adventurous journey.
This is where I stayed on Friday evening . . . obviously an amazing view.

This is where I stayed on Friday evening . . . obviously an amazing view.

After going on my "walk," I relaxed by listening to some music at the top of the hill and looking at Chimborazo.

After going on my “walk,” I relaxed by listening to some music at the top of the hill and looking at gorgeous Chimborazo.

Several cute sheep hanging around the hostel.

There were several cute sheep that lived next to the hostel.

The incredible view from my room . . . for only $12/night.

The incredible view from my room for only $12/night.  Amazing.

These are the two guys from Australia that I met.  We all hiked together with our guides.

These are the two guys from Australia that I met, Garrick and Ron. We all hiked together with our guides.

Here is the food I bought for dinner, breakfast and hiking.  Note the Hershey bar that cost $1.50!  That was quite a splurge!

Here is the food I bought for dinner, breakfast and hiking.

This is the first refuge.  We ate downstairs and rested here for awhile before walking up to the second refuge.

This is the first refuge. We ate downstairs and rested here for awhile before walking up to the second refuge.

This was the sunset from the second refuge.  Look at how cool it was that we were above the clouds!

This was the sunset from the second refuge.

Ron, Garrick and I getting ready to embark on the journey up (part of) Chimborazo.

Ron, Garrick and I getting ready to embark on the journey up (part of) Chimborazo.

My wonderful guide, Fabian, who hikes Chimborazo 2 or 3 times each week!

Here I am with my wonderful guide, Fabian.  He hikes Chimborazo 2 or 3 times each week!  Holy cow!

You wondered what crampons are?  They're the spiky things that are on my boots here.

You wondered what crampons look like?  They’re the spiky things that are on my boots.  Interesting, huh?

Here I am - looking a little chilly.  But, I want you to notice that I was expected to walk through those rocks behind me - with the crampons on.  Yeesh!

Here I am – looking a little chilly.  I want you to notice that I was expected to walk through those rocks behind me – with the crampons. Yeesh!

Here is the picture of me after I surrendered to the mountain and decided not to hike anymore.  At least I was still happy!

Here is the picture of me after I surrendered to the mountain and decided not to hike anymore.  At least I was still happy!

We had a perfectly full moon during the hike.  This picture is at about 6:30am, when the sun was coming up.  The moon is amazing and you can see how high we were since the clouds are all below us.

We had a perfectly full moon during the hike. It was so bright, we didn’t have to use our headlamps.  This picture was taken at 6:30am.  The moon was still amazing and you can see how high we were since the clouds are all below us.

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21 responses »

  1. I am in awe of you! You are amazing. I can’t think of any other way to say it. So proud of you. Congratulations on all you have accomplished on this adventure.

    • Pam . . . thank you for these sweet words. They mean more than you know. I look forward to hanging out with you when I get back to the U.S. in a two, short weeks. Have a great trip visiting colleges!

  2. Just think of all the people there are out there who can’t even say they TRIED to summit a mountain in their lifetime!! What a great experience you have had. You went into this with the right attitude, and you have come out of it strong and at peace. I admire you, and I have enjoyed reading about your adventures. Thank you for writing and sharing with us.

    • Aww . . . Emily you are too sweet. Thank you for your kind words. It was a beautiful experience, albeit hard. 🙂 I am glad you have enjoyed learning about my time in Ecuador these past several months – sometimes I have no idea what people think! I know you have a personal investment with your daughter in another country as well. If you are ever around Robinson next year, please stop by because I’ll be there! 🙂 Have a great week!

  3. Hey Turken, Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve commented. Please know I’ve been reading 🙂 WOW! What can I say – the view was breathtaking! And who needs to get to the top – you climbed a mountain! AWESOME! The picture I can’t wait to see is Hannah when she sees you again 🙂 It has been fun following your adventure. Thank you for taking the time to share it with all of us. Way to go!

    • Keno . . . yay! I love hearing from you and am so glad that you have kept up-to-date with Ecuador. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the beautiful pictures of Chimborazo . . . it really is breathtaking . . . especially in the midst of it at 2:00am! I, too, am very excited to see little Hannah than two weeks. I’ll let you know how she responds to me. Thanks for being excited about that too! You are very sweet. Have a wonderful week my friend!

  4. Rachael, Wonderful account of a HUGE adventure. I could hear those crampons on that rocky route. Not sure how anyone would get to climbing like that 2-3 times a week–what are their lungs made of?? So wise of you to know your limits, and to understand how the miscalculations occurred. “Down” here, where we never run out of breath, it’s impossible to imagine needing a breathing stop every 30 seconds. I know you have tons of pictures and memories that will forever mean you went head to head with a beautiful mountain–and didn’t lose a thing! Love you with pride, joy, and much humility.

  5. Wow, Rachael! I am so proud of you for even attempting to hike a summit! The pictures are beautiful. I am looking so forward to seeing you back at Robinson soon! Happy and safe travels to you?
    Mary

    • Hi Mary! Thanks for your sweet comments. It was quite an attempt . . . albeit it rather challenging. And yes, it is incredibly beautiful. I, too, am excited to see you at Robinson. Did you know I am living in Kirkwood too? Fun that I will be able to WALK to work. 🙂 See you SOON! Love Rachael

  6. Turken, your experiences always leave me smiling as I read. I am so happy for all of your adventures! This climb though, wow. That will be a special memory for years to come! The pictures were magnificent. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I so admire your physical feats as well your emotional feats. It is such a personal thing to do these incredible things and to be vulnerable enough to share them too. You are one tough cookie! Bravo! Can’t wait to hear more stories in person sometime. 🙂 Maria

    • Maria . . . you are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words and I am glad you have enjoyed my journey in Ecuador. I, too, look forward to talking face-to-face one of these days. Take care. Love Turken

  7. Well, you never cease to amaze me! Great pictures and videos, thanks for sharing. Memories, aren’t we lucky to have them? And you have so many memories and adventures still to make:)

    • Hello my Spanish friend! Thank you for your kind words. I will be back in St. Louis in less than two weeks and hope we can catch up. We can share our many memories over the past year . . . and the new ones we want to make. Talk to you SOON.

  8. Wow. I am proud of you. That is so much further than most people would have ever gotten, or better yet…most people would have ever tried. I love your blog b/c it feels like we got to go with you!

    P.S. I have decided I really don’t like the word crampon. But I’m glad you posted a picture because you can guess the two words that kept coming to my mind as I read that word…

    • Hello my friend! Thanks for your encouraging words after not making the climb. I am trying to still feel peaceful about the climb, which is much harder now after I have regained my energy and made it past my sleep deprivation. But . . . I am still happy I gave it a shot. Keep reminding me of that, ok? Also, yes the word crampon. It’s a horrible combination of words, huh? I’m glad you called that one out. 🙂

  9. I am in awe of you! The pictures left me cold and breathless – I can’t imagine the hike. I want to hear about your adventure. I wish you would come to Houston!!!

    • You are so sweet Brigid! I miss seeing you and feel like it’s been FOREVER since we have talked. Maybe we can talk on the phone one of these days when I come back. Have a wonderful week!

  10. Rachael, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but we met at the Leadership Summit right before you left last year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living your year with you – thanks for letting me share in that. I just met a friend of a friend who is leaving for Equador to teach Biology for a year. Her name is Katie (and I don’t even know her last name) and is 26. I forwarded your post to her so she could follow your ups and downs, trials and triumphs. She was extremely grateful! I wanted you to know this in case she contacted you, but also so you know that you are blessing others by the time and effort you put into your blog! Blessings on your transition back to the states.

    Kay Hodges

    • Kay . . . good morning! Thank you for your kind words and for “living” in Ecuador with me this past year. Also, I am glad that Katie has found my experience helpful for her upcoming adventure. I hope you are well and maybe we will meet up again this year at the Leadership Summit. 🙂

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