Day 11: Volcano Chimborazo – Ascent to 5.005m

From Riobamba we took an early morning drive to volcano Chimborazo. The way this time went along the western chain of the Andeans and we crossed a much more dry and more rocky landscape, with sometimes clearly visible soil / lava layers giving a zebra like picture. 

Or drive was guided by lamas, alpacas and vikunias. The lamas as we learned were actually named after the Spanish term “commo te ilamas” asking for the name of the animal when it was brought to South America. Whilst the alpacas exist in several colors and are same as the lamas domesticated, the vikunias in contrast are much smaller and live wild. Actually they have only with help been able to be relocated to their initial living place at Chimborazo because they disappeared during the time of active mining. The vikunias actually have the thinnest animals hair (not counting suede) as their wool is even more expensive (about 600 USD per kg) than from the cashmere goat. Interestingly we also saw how tectonically active the area is as volcano Sangai was spitting out an ash cloud putting a slight foggy curtain on the sky.

On Chimborazo we arrived at the Carell shelter hut at 4.800 m. Due to the flight force of the spinning the earth actually has no ideal / perfect ball shape but is about 2.600 m wider at the equator compared to the width area the himalaya is located in. For this reason Chimborazo with an above sea level elevation of 6.310 m is in fact the highest mountain on earth if counted from its center. This was the reason why early explorers like Alexander von Humbolt have been focussing on it rather than on Mt. Everest.

The about an hours ascent of 200 m was due to my more stable condition much easier than the Cotopaxi hike and we made on top of 5.000 m !!! The view was not the best as it was a little cloudy when we arrived, but this did of course not stop us to take the obligatory proof picture at another shelter as well as take home a lava stone to memorize the event. Unfortunately not everybody made it and some of us got heavily affected by the height, so we tried to speed up the picnic lunch prepared by Gabriel at the lower shelter.

We spent another night in Riobamba and due to our a fairly early arrival some time was left to explore the city n foot for those that still had some energy left…

Boris Kuster