Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

Climbing Ecuador’s Pinchincha Volcano

Five years ago I took a couple of months out to do a whirlwind trip to South America. Mainly I had dreamed of seeing the animals on Galapagos Islands and hiking in the high altitude mountains of the Andes. This is the continuation and retelling of that journey. Kris

After an amazing week on a boat around the Galapagos Islands I had some time before my next group adventure began. I befriended an Aussie couple staying at my Hotel and discovered they were just as keen to get their hike on as I was. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it solo and there enthusiasm definitely buoyed me a long the climb.

Just 10 minutes out of the city of Quito, which is at 2800 metres above sea level, you can get a cable car up to an elevation of 4000 metres. From there you climb for about a 6 hour round trip up Pinchincha Volcano to a height of 4680 metres. Even trekking Nepal I hadn’t been that high, let alone in a day. So off we went early, not really knowing what was waiting for us but all feeling really positive.

The atmosphere was numbingly cold, we were wearing every item of clothing we had but the altitude as you got off the cable car was like a slap in the face. For most of the hike up our destination was above the clouds; but the fact we couldn’t see it was probably a good thing or we may have been intimidated.

Imagine a huge valley of volcanoes overlooking a crowded Andean city, as you climb higher your fingers go numb, your heart beats out of control from the altitude, it’s freezing cold but the desire to reach the top and see what happens along the way just keeps pushing you up. It’s an environment I found inspiringly quiet, with clouds below you, lichen and weird scrubby vegetation that gives way to icicles, volcanic rocks and spongy moss.

It was a hard push up to the summit but so empowering and energizing. Once the sparse vegetation ended close to the top of the volcano the landscape turned from tricky rocks to black sand hills. Every 10 metres up took forever and it  was like trying to walk through wet sand surrounded by clouds. We couldn’t see more than 50 metres ahead of us but we were determined to get to the top.

We made it – the view was incredible, the air so fresh, my face a wind burnt mess, and we bounced back down the mountain like children with all the hard work at our backs.

Tomorrow I’ve found some guys to go hiking with around a remote lake that sits inside a dormant volcano.

Ecuador is certainly serving up the nature goodness!

Kris

 

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