2 days - March 2019
We touched some eternal snow and exceeded our altitude record: 5,100 meters!
The Chimborazo monster rises to 6,263 meters and can be defined as the highest peak in the world, considering it as the furthest summit from the center of the Earth (we would have been lied to in Nepal then ?!)
If we did not climb the summit (you must be an experienced climber) the short climb was not that easy.
But first of all the arrival in the city where it is located -Riobamba- was just as epic.
It takes 6 hours by bus to reach Cuenca - Riobamba. We are in the midst of carnival celebrations and here they take the celebrations really seriously. Ecuadorians have holidays and take the opportunity to travel. We go through small villages where there are parades of horses, the locals are celebrating, there are many livestock markets and most importantly water fights where everything is allowed!
In Riobamba we arrive in the middle of a war zone, there are guns and basins of water everywhere. Teenagers and children attack everyone! We run in the city, we hide behind tree trunks, in restaurants. If we are safe and sound the first night imploring the pity of adolescents, the next day Cédric is rinsed off!
Let's go back to this famous Chimborazo. Many superstitions and rituals surround all volcanoes in Ecuador. Arriving on the flanks of the monster, we must ask him to go up, protect us and respect him because he can push the elements to turn against us! Our guide explains to us very seriously that it picks up the waste precisely to avoid the wrath of the volcano and especially the lightning that it can create …
But why do we have a guide by the way? Because we will go down the flanks of the volcano by bike!
We start to climb from the parking at 4,800 meters to reach the refuge at 5,000 meters first. A headache can be felt for both while in Nepal we didn’t get altitude sickness at all, we clearly climbed too fast. It is breathless that we walk in this lunar landscape and approach eternal snow. Arrived at the refuge, we continue to climb to 5,100 meters, the Chimborazo plays with the clouds but we still see it. 20 minutes later, we are there, it's beautiful. Well we do not have the same feeling of accomplishment as in Nepal where we had to walk 115 km to get there against max 1 hour here.
We descend to the parking at 4,800m and we rided our bikes to go down by 2,800 m in altitude- 37 kms’ ride. Well that’s actually what Cédric did because on my side I quickly gave up ... The fog rose, the cold was biting (2 degrees), the path was very steep with huge rocks everywhere, the fear to pass over the bike coupled with altitude sickness, I gave up!
Cedric on his side got so much fun and ran down the ashes of the volcano at high speed and in the middle of vicuña and lamas who were as curious as him! He scared himself a bit but the champion didn’t break anything!
In the descent we go through many indigenous villages, also celebrating and attend many celebrations with music and always loads of water :)
# Riobamba-Cuenca: 6 hours by bus for $ 8 USD
# The hotel supply is rather limited in Riobamba and with carnival celebrations even more. We stayed in Los Alamos and we do not recommend it at all! $ 34 USD a night
# Bike tour: we went through Pro Bici who have good equipment. $ 65 usd per person if group of 4, otherwise $ 75 usd but we negotiated at $ 70 usd. Be ready to spend 2 hours in the boss's office, he talks a lot ....!
# It is possible to go to Chimborazo on your own. A bus from Riobamba drops you off at 4,400m then hike to the car park and refuge or "guides" offer the return trip to the parking for $ 5 USD per person.
# there are many crepes restaurants in the city (why we don’t know!) but honestly it's not worth our French crepes!