Travel Challenge Photo. Day 8/10: Quito, Ecuador.

I was nominated by Liberate Wings to post one travel photo a day for the next 10 days. Each day I will share a photo and challenge someone else to do the same. I also decided that though pictures say a thousand words… There’s always something more to the photo so enjoy each of the mini- stories of these photos over the next 10 days!

This photo was taken in Quito, Ecuador in August of 2012. It was the first climbing day of a two month climbing expedition trip in South America, and yes I am holding a sock.

I signed up to be part of a climbing expedition run by a company called Hot Rock. They had outfitted this truck to hold up to 20 passengers and their gear, plus equipment for cooking meals.  The expedition drives around on a different continent every year for about 9 months, specifically visiting climbing locations. Climbers can pay week to week and stay on as long or as little as they wish. This was the last trip Hot Rock was in operation.

The mountain I was pointing to behind me was called Cotopaxi, an active stratovolcano in the Ecuador in the Andes mountain range. I remember some members of the climbing group had decided to ascend it during our time in Ecuador.

I thought it was really neat to be in 30 degrees Celsius, wearing shorts and tshirts while others were most likely wearing winter apparel braving the cold at the same time as me. There’s different types of climbing and being a mountaineer or alpinist is not my kind of climbing. This is where one would spend several hours and even sometimes days trekking on varied terrain, crossing crevasses just to get to the peak of a mountain. Each step costs a struggled breath and mental motivation. Then just when you think these climbers are over the worst, they have to go back down. Which in truth is really the most dangerous, because of fatigue and elation due to gaining the peak mountaineers can often become complacent.

I’m more a vertical rope climber type. Usually routes and climbs for me range between 20-3o meters and can be completed in 15-30 minutes. Sometimes the climbs are more challenging and may take a few attempts to accomplish “clean,” meaning not taking any falls or rests from the bottom to the top.

On this particular day we had spent over an hour navigating the public transit system in hopes of finding this village on the outskirts of town. We probably had a group of about 6 or 7 people that day and it really gave me a chance to find out which climbers were in my climbing ability.

It took us nearly 3 hours of walking through a little village and asking locals where the climbing was located before we found it. It turns out it was located in the rivervalley below us the whole time.

The trouble with climbing in third or second world countries is that people aren’t really able to indulge in luxury things like vacation and climbing. Which requires money and taking time off.

Many of the locals we encountered would have no clue what we were referring to when asking them about climbing spots or bolts in the rocks. More often than not we would be directed to a peak because they thought we wanted to hike to the top of something. Completely understandable, as in most cases that’s what tourists enjoy doing.

On a trip like this, I was initially intimidated by the potentially strength of the group and wondered if I would be able to keep up.  I figured most of these climbers must have been climbing for years if they were willing to commit their vacation solely to climbing.
It turns out that was not the case and there were only 4 people out of the total 12 climbers that could climb at my level or above, and I am by no means a super strong climber.

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