Chimborazo

The tallest, grandest and most vast volcano of them all in Ecuador.  Chimborazo, located north west of Riobamba, is the largest volcano, or even mountain I have ever seen in my life.  It is quite magnificent even when half of its peak are hidden in the cloud.  You can feel it’s power as you approach it in the bus and when you see it from close yourself.  The volcano has many peaks with Ventimilla being its highest peak and toughest to get to.  Standing over 6300m, Ventimilla is highest point on earth from the earth’s center due to Chimborazo’s proximity to the equator.  I really wanted to summit this peak but it is rather difficult and you need the blessing of the weather gods. 
I didn’t have such blessing.  When I arrived in Riobamba that evening, it was raining and talking to some guides there isn’t an expedition in shitty weather.  Given that I need to be back I. Quito on Sunday morning, I only had Friday to spare and my hope of climbing Chimborazo was cut short by the weather. 
However, that will not stop me from seeing Chimborazo and maybe jump on an expedition on the mountain, hoping someone might have extra ice picks.  The next morning I went on a bus to Guaranda, which passes by the Chimborazo park entrance.  You are allowed to go up to 5100m before you need a guide due to glacier melting, ricks falling and other dangers present.  Looking out the window, the bit of Chimborazo and surrounding area puts me in an awe that Cotopaxi couldn’t.  Prominent and magnificent are words I choose to describe it, no wonder Ecuadorians are so proud of their mountains. 
Once arrived upon the Parque entrance at 4300m, you can get a truck up to the first Refugio, Refugio Carril or you can walk.  I chose to walk because it was my last hike in Ecuador and I wasn’t going to take the easy way out.  The land is vast, windy and cold.  You can see tornadoes forming occasionally.  On the side of the round, there are the endangered vicunas deers eating dried grass.  The walk was hard and I got to the first Refugio in an hour.  From the first Refugio you hike up to the second refugio, Edward Whymper, named after the guy who first climbed Chimborazo.  The second refugio is located at 5000m and I got up there is about 20 minutes.  Once I got there and I realized it is snowing on the mountain and the cloud became more dense.  A bit more hike leads to Condor Concha, which is a glacier pond, with ice water mixed with red clay colors.  There wasn’t much water because Chimborazo hasn’t seen much snow till right now.  The pond stands at 5100m, and further than that is prohibited.  I’m pretty glad I finally reached above 5000m without getting altitude sick or any problem at all, but quite sad I’m going to leave Ecuador without seeing a glacier summit. 
I was at the Refugio for 3 hours because I got up quite fast, waiting to see if I can get a clear view of Chimborazo.  However, the cloud just seemed to become more dense that I couldn’t find the trail head back.  That’s when I hitchhiked with a family from Guayaquil.  They are really nice and ended up giving me a ride all way back to Riobamba.  It is people like these that makes me love South America so much.  They are helpful, and unselfish, it doesn’t hurt to know more of these people.  I’m sure there are such people all over the world and I’m so very fortunate to have met so many. 
Riobamba is a pretty cool city.  It is very different than the others I have been.  The outside area has great views of mountains and greeneries.  The inside boosts the trains station that cost so much.  The city center is fill with shops and people are seen walking through the street in the evening.  There are many older architectures but they are all hotels or restaurants etc.  Parque 21 de abril boosts the best view of the city, but the city has been quite cloudy until this evening. 
I also had the second best food off the street here.  It was an old lady selling grilled whole pig, like the lechonas but without the rice.  She gave me cheesed potatoes with Incan corn, pig meat, salad and fries and it was delicious.  Maybe Ecuadorian food scene isn’t all dead yet. 
Tomorrow I’m going back to Cali for two days before heading out to Portland, Seattle and Canada. 

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