Today Giorgio and Alessandra, two Italians from Milano are going to climb Illiniza North, the 5125 m high twin volcano of Illiniza South. They are inmidst the 11 days – 5 volcanoes program, so the hiked volcano Corazon (4784 m) yesterday and Pasochoa (4200 m) the day before yesterday and are acclimatized very well already.
After some coffee and a delicious breakfast in the Cafe Andes Alpes we are ready to go. The hike starts from the parking lot “la virgen”, which is located at 4000 m in the Illiniza Natural Reserve. The hike starts with a gentle ascent through the grassy landscape of a Paramo, After some time we are hiking into clouds and wind so we are happy to see the Refugio Nueva Horizonte, the oldest high mountain Refuge of Ecuador, appearing out of the fog after about 3 hours of hiking. Here we prepare ourselfs some tea to warm up and eat some fruits and biscuits, before the most difficult part up to the top starts.
From now on we put on helmets and harnesses are hiking as a roped party for safety reasons and soon we find out why. For about 15 minutes we are hiking at ridge, where the wind suddenly gets cold and stormy, making it hard to walk straight. Luckily the view clears up a bit allowing some glimpses of the mighty mountain, that lies ahead.
Soon some parts of scrambeling and non-technical climbing are following. The rocks are icy so we are happy about our gloves.
An especially adventurous part is the “pasaje de los muertes” (pasage of the dead), which got it’s name, because when the sun comes out and the ice is melting there are sometimes ice blocks and rocks falling down. We walk careful but steadily and luckily nothing happens.
The last part to the top is quite steep again, a welcome adventure for our mountaineers from Italy. Finally we arrive and have a well earned break eating our box lunch, prepared by Teresa in the Café Andes Alpes.
We are heading down a different route than we got up, which is second to none in terms of adventure. After rappeling down some ice rocks we are half walking, halk sliding down a steep sandy slope. The weather gets better and better, so we are heaving a great view of Pasochoa (4200 m) and Corazon (4748 m), which Giorgio and Alessandra hiked the days before, as well as Cotopaxi, which still lies ahead and therefor is hidden by clouds.
Back in the Café Andes Alpes we are all exhausted but happy of another amazing moutain-day with Cotopaxi-Travel. Now it is time for a hot shower and home-cooked dinner.