ECUADOR - Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Starting from Iliniza Base Camp (our camp near the "end of the road" at 13,050' near the shrine). Sebastion and Javier were guiding us on this trip - Pepe would pack up camp and haul it to the Hut at Iliniza, at about 15,500'.

Along the way we got a great view of Cotopaxi.

We hiked up to the hut, where we paused for a hot drink and snack (Javier's cooks were there, having hauled our stuff up) then headed up for Iliniza Norte (North) approximately 16,800' (having started at the lower camp at 13,000').

It was a long hard climb, and the top couple hundred feet have some low 5.3-6 moves.

It was great to hit the small summit and then we down-climbed (on rappel) and lowered through the 5.x (hard to climb harder at 16,000') and then made the horrible slog through the loose rock to the hut.

Javier was taking pictures of us for his guiding brochures, so I showed off some, doing a great lieback with a foot-smear on crystals descending a slight roof, then taking a small-hand crack. In my Baturas. Fun fun.

We ate, rested, ate again, and made plans for that night - to wake at 2AM, hit the trail around 3AM, and head up Iliniza Sur (South) at about 17,400'. The guides explained it was a tough itinerary, and that we could bail if we wanted to. No hard feelings. We were all tempted, but I said "Just be honest - when they wake you at 2AM just tell them how you feel."

Again, bed-time around 6PM, since the sun goes down then.