Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end. (Edward Whymper)
Edward Whymper lived from 1840 to 1911 and was an English mountaineer, author, and explorer. He is very well known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 and the Mont Blanc massif.
After his exploration in Greenland in 1867, he started to organize his expedition to Ecuador, where he wanted to collect data for the study of altitude sickness and the effect of reduced pressure on the human body. But in reality, he also wanted to succeed a few first ascents in the High Andes. His expedition to Ecuador started in 1879 in Guayaquil, where he arrived by ship. After his arrival, he set out for Quito with his companions. On the way, he always checked his barometer to see, what is happening to his body, when the pressure sinks.
On 4th January 1880, Whymper made the first ascent of the Chimborazo (6,267m), which is the highest volcano in Ecuador. “When we others arrived at the second camp, we ourselves were in good conditions […] but in about an hour I found myself lying on my back […] and incapable of making the least exertion. We knew that the enemy was upon us and that we were experiencing our first attack of mountain-sickness.” Whymper wrote this in his book while explaining his situation in the second camp of the Chimborazo. His description to the altitude sickness was the following: “We were feverish, had intense headaches, and were unable to satisfy our desire for air, except by breathing with open mouths.” But at this point, Whymper was not accustomed to the thin air because he just came from the lower land.
He never experienced this before, since he has never been to this kind of height and it was frightening, but also exciting for him. They stayed two days on this height and suddenly felt a lot better and could move on.
After this ascent, people doubted that he actually made it to the summit, so he climbed this volcano again with two Ecuadorians by choosing a different route. With this prove, he was the first noted man who reached the summit of Chimborazo. Before that, Alexander von Humboldt and Jean Baptiste Boussingault have tried it but failed. During his year in Ecuador, Whymper also spent a night on the summit of the Cotopaxi (5,897m), the highest still active volcano in Ecuador. Besides climbing these two volcanoes, he also managed to do the third highest volcano Cayambe (5,796m) and the fourth highest Antisana (5,753m), as the first in history. That was not enough for him, so he completed half a dozen first ascents to other peaks.
To honor his success, the highest summit of Chimborazo is called nowadays Whymper. These results were published in a volume called “Travels amongst the Great Andes of the Equator”.
The expedition to Ecuador was really interesting for him and brought him a lot of fame in the old and the new world. He experienced the altitude sickness and described it perfectly in his book, that everyone could be warned and prepared to climb a mountain of that height.
Summarized, the mountains in Ecuador are ideal for beginners because you don’t need much of experience, but with a really good acclimatization.
Gulliver expeditions invite you to challenge yourself with your own expedition.
You can check about acclimatization program and consult about glacier conditions in our website.
If you want to follow the footprints of the famous explorers Edward Whymper and Alexander von Humboldt and you want to see the Ecuadorian mountains with their eyes, come and visit us in our beautiful country!!!