MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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February 13, 2013

January Ecuador Climbing School & Expedition Successful!

Coming up: Feb. 20 Ecuador School; Bolivia Schools starting in May, & June 29 Ecuador School.

"I could go on forever about how good a guide Topo was. He was patient, kind, a very good teacher and a fantastic person. I am an older climber (66) and I never felt out of place or a burden to the group. Topo builds and bonds together a good group of teammates. Coming from Wisconsin and not being a downhill skier, I found the downhill climb on scree slopes challenging. Topo was never impatient and hung in there with me. I have been on climbs with other companies and none compare to the experience that you get from Mountain Madness. Last summer we did the Mount Baker 4-Day with Tino. Again, it was a first class experience with Tino fitting the high standard that you find with Mountain Madness"

~ MM Climber Dave S.

On top of Guagua Pichincha. All photos by Topo

The Mountain Madness Mountaineering Course in Ecuador met with great success in January. MM guide Esteban Mena, affectionately known as Topo, met the group at the hotel and off they went. An acclimatization ascent on one of the Pichincha peaks above Quito and a visit to the colorful markets of Otavalo starting the process of adapting to the rarified Andean air. 

Looks like dog, but its pig cooked in firewood oven in Otavalo market.

After several days of instruction on the glaciers near the Cayambe hut, the group was ready for the climbs. With what Topo called acceptable conditions, the group reached the summit of both Caymabe and Cotopaxi. Congrats to the team!

On summit of Cotopaxi.

Cotopaxi summit crater.

Next up was Chimborazo, which the group didn’t summit due to the dry, somewhat icy conditions followed by a snowstorm. After several different strategies, including a longer safer route, it was clear the mountain was not going to cooperarte. Topo describes the process as follows; “When we got to the hut, the dry conditions were obvious and we decided to start at 4 am on the next day via a longer but much safer route. But, at 4 am I checked the weather and confirmed that the visibility was poor and a front of bad weather was coming in. Also during the night we got 3cm of snow on the normal route, which was not the best of conditions on to[p of the ice.” 

On the way to the summit of Coto.

Descending Guagua.

After waiting it out the next day, it became obvious that it was not to be as a big snowstorm came in shutting out the possibility of an attempt. The group returned to Quito with a couple of successes and great memories of this fantastic Andean adventure.

Descending Coto.

Dave S. and Topo on the summit of Cotopaxi. Esteban Mena photo