"To see the effort and sacrifice of people who fight for their own summit, and that there’s no better school for life than Mother Nature herself."
- Fernando Campoverde, Ecuadorian Mountaineer and Club
Sangay guide reflecting on why he loves mountaineering.
For those of you that don’t know the first half of the story, Lynsey and I attempted the summit of Cotopaxi last December. If you’d like to read the original entry, you can find it here. To recap, we basically encountered a “perfect storm” of shabby equipment, unprepared lungs and legs, frozen hands and feet, and indescribably sickening digestive gas (from me, to be clear). We didn’t make the summit, and left knowing that we had underestimated the mountain. Nearly a year later, I was resolved to make a return, prepared this time, and see what was in the cards for me in the slopes of this icy giant.
Last year on Cotopaxi I remember being sat down like a child as the guide insisted on putting on my crampons for me. This time the crampons were mine, and I quickly tied them on my boots, had a cookie or two, and was ready to continue. I felt strong, but knew also that this was the long haul, and that only a slow and steady pace would make it to the destination we all hoped for.
Simon, a teammate, had began to struggle in the final hours and was now near exhaustion. I was amazed that the man had made it so far with neither experience nor training for the climb. It was strange and terrifying watching the effects of altitude begin to set in: irritability and sleepiness being the two we noticed most. The fact was, however, that he couldn’t sit down and rest, as more than five minutes without any movement started to put you at serious risk for hypothermia. Simon, though suffering, found his own inner strength that would serve him for the final push.