Josef Hollerbach from Sindelfingen, close to Stuttgart, visited Ecuador for 14 days. Since he is an experienced mountaineer, his plan was to do five peaks within these two weeks. This is his passion and and it keeps him in shape. For many years he travels around the world to hike up mountains. He already went to the Kilimanjaro in Tansania and to the Himalaya. His next step was the famous volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador. He booked a full preparation and acclimatization program, where he wanted to summit the volcanoes Guagua Pichincha, Rumiñahui, the Quilotoa Lagoon, Illinizas Norte, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. During his program, I was able to do some interviews with him, to tell a bit of his story. He is the oldest registered passenger who tried to climb the Cotopaxi, this year. Although he has an advanced age, he is experienced in climbing high mountains, the first two peaks were actually no problem at all. But because it rained a lot during these days, these climbs were harder and just thanks to his good equipment and to his ambition, he was able to manage all the challenges.
On the next day, he wanted a short rest and went to one of our cultural day trips, the Quilotoa Lagoon. He first visited the Pujili Market, which is a colorful indigenous market and a place worth visiting to understand the Ecuadorian culture a lot better. Because Mr. Hollerbach likes to travel a lot, he is also very interested in the cultures and the languages of other countries. While he visited Argentina before, he learned some Spanish.
He mentioned: “This part of the tour was really interesting and let me dive in the culture of the Quechuan folk.” Since he got some rest and new energy, the next day was a perfect day for him to climb the Illinizas Norte with his guide Marco Aza. Although the Illinizas is not extremely high, it has got its difficulties. Especially the steep part close to the end, where you need to scramble, was hard for him. But because of that, it was also one of the greatest experiences, that he has made so far. He also mentioned: “My guide, Marco Aza, is excellent. He is experienced in climbing these mountains, helps me through the tough parts and motivates me to go further.” The day after, was already the special climb of Cotopaxi. He was not nervous at all and meant: “The Illinizas was technically even harder than the Cotopaxi. The Cotopaxi is just difficult for its glacier and its height. I think, I will reach the summit.”
He started his climb of Cotopaxi on midday and went with Marco to the refuge, where he was advised for the equipment and had the chance to sleep some hours, before starting the climb of Cotopaxi. It was close to midnight, when the two of them and another couple continued to the parking lot, where they started their ascend. It is necessary to have one guide for two persons, when you want to climb the Cotopaxi. Therefore they made their way to the refuge, where they could relax a little bit and get used to the height. After the short rest they continued their way towards the summit. Unfortunately he and the other members of this small group needed to stop 450m before the peak. Although the Cotopaxi seems to be technically not too hard, many climbers can not make it to the top. And most of them do come to their limits, even if they have a lot of experience.
Marco Aza, who enjoyed his climbs with Josef, said: “It was amazing, that for his age he was able to climb the volcanoes, like if he was 20 years junger. He also learned a lot of Spanish during this trip, while talking to me only in this language. These days were a special experience for both of us.”
During most of the climbs, he was staying in PapaGayo, our Hacienda in the Avenue of the Volcanoes and said: “Besides the great food and the friendly staff, it is also the perfect place to start the mountain tours in Ecuador.” He spent the last days in the beautiful Andes walking around the Chimborazo and climbing the Corazón. Within all of his hikes, he was able to see the beautiful surroundings of the “Avenida de Vulcanos”, where many volcanoes are located.
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