Equador: Where Lows Are Highs

The Quito airport sits at just over 9,000 ft, so the moment you get off the plane, your lungs feel it.  Our accommodations varied in elevation; the highest of which was just over 15,000′ and the lowest being around 6,500′: still higher than SLC.  You could say we were high the whole trip.  Stats include: 6 clients, 2 awesome guides, 16 days, 2 acclimatization hikes, 200+ empanadas, countless cervezas, 5 historic Haciendas, 3 volcanoes, and the curveball: 0 summits.

Cayambe, Antisana, and Chimborazo; each mountain refused to let us summit.  We would’ve been stoked to bag all 3 in perfect conditions and share summit high-fives, but instead we faced heavy snow, high avalanche danger, and gaping crevasses.  But with each successive denial, we found ourselves less and less affected.  Our spirits stayed high because we were doing our best.  We found contentment within our effort and peaceful agreement with our guides’ decisions to pull the plug.

I’m pretty damn competitive…and as Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”  So it took a bit of mind shift to realize that a failure to summit was nowhere near an overall failure.  My tail was not tucked, my head wasn’t hanging, and I was still stoked!

Beauty and freedom lies in the effort; not necessarily the end result.

“…an artist derives more pleasure from painting than from completing a picture.” -Seneca

Speaking of pictures, here are my best…

smack dab in the middle

Our guide Romulo….Legend Status

first acclimatization hike

killer hat

hike 2: Imbabura

crazy plants

spongy ground cover


our guide Emily. Rarely serious. Always a bad ass.

said goodnight to this….

…and woke up at 11pm to this

downtime entertainment

one of the haciendas

after 7 hours of uphill, first light on Antisana

The Flabongo….Legend Status

a new day dawns on Cotopaxi & Chimborazo in the distance


Ry at 18,200′

sexy lines

steer clear of the void, bros

Ry leads the descent

dodging crevasses

rode some horses. saw some condors

met a local photographer and checked out his archives

He had a house made with hay as the primary insulation

He also had a great dane

got some hats like Romulo’s!!

having a blast on Chimborazo; a couple hundred feet from turning around

the night was kind of a blur

3am….back at the hut. Tired, cold, and strangely happy.


Safe to say we’ll be heading back to Equador; a return trip is already in the works.  We’ll get our summit high-fives.



About the Author

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Photographer. Pilot. Traveler. Skier.



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