Published: October 15th 2007October 14th 2007
A heavyweight battle for the ages:
In the red corner, the Colorado Comrades, the Sultans of the Second City, the Jobless Journeyers weighing in at a combined 270lbs: the McSeelye Squad. Yaaaa! Woooo!
In the blue corner, the reigning champion, Ecuador´s second highest peak weighing in at a billion tons with a height of 19,350 feet: The active volcano Cotopaxi. Booooo!
The battle begins:
The parking lot alone is higher than our peaks at home at 4,500 meters (14,700 ft) and we climbed up to the refugio for the first night which is at 4,800 meters (15,750 ft). We hiked up to the glacier with our guide on Friday afternoon and messed around with the crampons and ice axes to get prepped for the climb the next day. At this point all was well and good. Just a few jabs to the ribs from the mountain. We had some dinner around 5 p.m. and were in bed at around 6. This was when then mountain started dropping some big sucker punches on us. Liz and I both got pretty bad headaches and I couldn´t keep my dinner down while we were trying to sleep. Not only were
Liz y Marco
Practice day at the base of the glacier
we not feeling well, but the guy sleeping next to Liz could have been dying judging by the noises and prayers that were coming from his direction. This guy doesnt fight fairly. Anyway, we all woke up at midnight and had some breakfast before we hit the trail at 1 a.m.
Round 2: We knew this was going to be a tough climb and we did some really tough hikes the week before to acclimitize, but we had no idea. There were 3 groups making a go at the summit for a total of about 15 headlamps bumping along up the trail in the total darkness. After about 30 minutes, we hit the glacier, roped ourselves together and strapped on the crampons.
We quickly realized that our route was going to be straight up the face of the mountain at about a 40 degree angle. After 2 hours or so, Liz and I both decided that there was no way we could do 4 more hours to the top. After Marco, our man-beast who they called a "guide", helped us remember why we were here and why we should go to the top, we decided to just break
Not sure where I am
This has a good view of the sulfur-spewing caldera behind us.
it up into chunks and take some more rests. M is definitely for Marco. In fact, the whole Alphabet of Manliness may have been written about Marco. We started counting steps and took a rest after every 100 steps. The whole thing seems like a daze and I dont really know what happened for a while. Luckily we were climbing in the dark because I´m sure if we´d been able to see the never-ending incline, we would´ve said forget it. The last hour was basically a vertical climb/clawing crawl to the top with our ice axes, and our guide Marco had to coax us up with yells of Vamos Liz, Vamos T (because nobody can pronounce my name here I am eternally referred to as T), Vamos Colorado, Vamas los Estados Unidos! Five and a half hours after the start of our climb and countless descansos (breaks), we were the first that day to hit the summit of Cotopaxi at 5,897m or 19,350 feet. We arrived just in time at 6:30 a.m. to see the sunrise.
Round 3: Great you got up it, but can you get down without killing yourself? We hung out at the top for 15
minutes and did not ponder much because neither of us had the brain capacity. I would bet I could not have recalled my social security number if you had asked me. We put any energy we had left into painfully climbing down the mountain. It was a bit warmer, which was nice and after what seemed like forever more but was only about two hours we were back at the refugio. It was a great feeling to get back and revel in our summit success to the group of Ecuadorians who attempted the climb. These were the ones who were doubting us the night before because they called our Colorado mountains "pequeñas" (small) and they didnt believe that we could do it. They bragged about climbing 30 peaks in the Andes before this trip. In the end, they didnt even make it halfway up!
McSeelye wins.... a whip-snap and the beast was done!
This was easily the hardest thing we have ever done, Chicago Marathon included. At least we were mentally prepared for that. It was incredibly beautiful and gave us a great sense of accomplishment. Plus we made a great new friend in Marco, who can now
Mount Crumpit over our shoulder
Mount Crumpit is just north of Whoville and is also home to the Grinch. Take a peak and you may recognize it.
take us up any peak we ever want to climb. He really wants to come to Colorado some day to see the Rockies.
Check out the video of us completely out of it and babbling at the top!
There are more photos below