As part of my “Tourism Management“ studies, I decided to go to Ecuador – and I have to admit that my greatest expectations were beaten by this amazing country.
Especially the last weekend was one of the most memorable and intense experiences I made in this small country which is crossed by the equator line. I climbed the third highest mountain in Ecuador – the Cayambe (5,792m).
As I was working for a tour operator, I had sold these climbs before and I had given advices to clients regarding acclimatization programs and security restrictions. I knew what climbing a glacier was like – well, I thought I knew, but I didn´t.
After a while, the idea of climbing one of Ecuador’s high summits MYSELF was on my mind, so I started training. I ran 3 or 4 times a week until I reached 10-15km every time. I went to different mountains with Ecuadorian friends to adapt to the altitude even better. A few weeks later the day came – MY day. We went to the refuge, which was our starting point at midnight after we slept for a few hours. The refuge was located on an altitude of 4,600m – which means to reach the summit I actually needed to climb another almost 1,200 metres of altitude.
Highly motivated I started with my great guide Willy, whom I trusted totally and who was one of the key factors for the
successful climb. My boss Eran and my colleague Angel started with us, too. In the beginning, until we reached the glacier, we had to climb some rocks. It was full moon and the night was incredible – we didn`t even need our headlights. Less than one hour later we reached the glacier and I started walking with crampons for the first time in my life – what a crazy feeling. After a while I got used to it and we were walking up and up. We found a good rhythm and our proper line in the endless snow. We had strong wind, but no clouds in the sky – just the beautiful summit of the Cayambe, always on my right-hand side. We were still walking up and I couldn`t think about anything. I wasn`t hungry, I didn`t need to go to the toilet (things I had been thinking about before) – I didn`t need anything, except for water and some lovely words from Willy.
I reached a moment when I actually had enough from walking up and I told Willy that I wanted to go back because I knew that I had already reached my „little goal“ of 5,500 metres.
But then he explained that we had already been walking for more than 5 hours, that the summit was just 2 more hours away and that the sun would rise in a few minutes. That was enough for me to go further and further. I felt good, no problems with the altitude. Only my body was getting more and more tired with every minute. I needed more short breaks and walking sticks apart from my ice axe. I started realizing that I could actually make it to the top and I continued walking and thinking about how it would be up there. And then: exactly 2 hours later I did my last steps. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and I got it. 07:00 a.m. Cayambe summit, 5,792 metres.
I was surrounded by .. nothing! There was only the sun, the beautiful blue sky and the summits of some mountains further away. What a breath-taking moment – all the pain and all the efforts were forgotten. So much adrenaline in the body, so much energy in this moment, but all I could do was hugging my guide, Willy. Every minute of training was worth this moment and every doubt had been unjustified within the last 7 hours.
Because of the cold and the time we had to start with the climb down after 10 minutes on top – 10 minutes which belong to the best minutes of my life!
Reaching the refuge again, I felt more tired than ever before and every move of my body was hard work.
I can recommend this experience to everybody who wants an adventure they`ll never forget. The big challenge during the ascent and the moment, when you reach the summit – it‘s definitely possible if you have a good will.
Do it – be brave and try the climb! With Gulliver Expeditions, their experience of climbing and their professional guides you have an incomparable opportunity – TAKE IT!