Imbabura (15,190 Feet)

Where: Ecuadorian Andes
When: December 26, 2008
Partners: Andy MacClure
Route: North Ridge (class 4)
Mileage/Gain: 8/5,300

As a basecamp for our ascent of Imbabura, the massive volcano towering over the unique town of Otavalo in northern Ecuador, we settled into a quaint and funky hostal called Casa Aida in the village of La Esperanza. Renting a hut for only $7 a night, and good, albeit small, meals for another $4, the only real drawback to Casa Aida was a rooster than sang all night long. Ugh.

At Casa Aida

Rising one morning and finding a truck to drive us partway up the mountain, Andy and I soon set out on foot and began the longish hike up the mountain. With lush scenery low down below the clouds, upon entering the thick clouds of the upper mountain, we were astounded by the beauty of the local flora. Great stuff!
Heading up the lower slopes of the mountain

After some scrambling, we eventually reached the false summit that marked the beginning of increased intensity in the route. Catching only occasional glimpses of the remainder of the route to the true summit through the clouds, the initial ridge traverse looked exceedingly spicy. But off we went...!
Andy on the traverse between the two summits

As it turned out, the ridge was easier than it had appeared. With only a single class 4 move and a handful of lesser class 3 moves, most of the meandering, undulating traverse was a pleasure. Before long, we stood on the summit.
On the summit

Eventually returning back across the crater rim to the Imbabura's sub-summit, we dropped back down the north ridge and returned to Casa Aida and its rooster. 6.5 hours car-to-car.
On the descent