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…
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.