Monday, March 26, 2012

tick for sunday: highest mountain on earth

This is Chimborazo:)
Mount Chimborazo - 6310m high, is, because of it's location to the ecuator.. the highest mountain in the world! Well I guess you'd be the furtherest point from the centre of the earth when you are on top of that sucker.

before you wonder, no I didn't climb it, but I did have a wander up the beginning slopes. It amazes me, that I wake up in a biggish town, and 1 hour later we are slipping our way up a fresh snow laid road up to the base camp. the vista has opened up, there's vicuna's daintily on alert to the car noise, and sitting majestically in front, is Chimborazo.

to summit, it's about a 9 hour climb, and I got a free lift there as a couchsurfer I had contacted runs an agency and was picking up some other mountaineers. we met them on their way down - they didn't quite summit due to a storm, but were pretty elated at having got so close.

we started up the snowy path, and although Sabrina (a Danish girl I had met last night) started feeling really sick, after taking her back down I got up to the other refugio and caught up with Marcos, a German guy who we had given a lift to on the way up.

quick sidetrack - what was also crazy was the cyclists!! that were riding up the snowy road too! Later I was to see why...

Marcos and I ate lunch, chatted with the Refugio guard, did some pics and then, I walked a bit further up, had a play around in the snow, and then because it started snowing, decided to start my way back down. then... woah!!

I encountered about 40 people from various tour groups - totally inequipped with tiny water bottles, converse shoes, huffing their way up on the promise of a hot chocolate at the next refugio. You can drive up to 4800m to the first refugio, and then 200m more up to 5000m at the Whymper Refugio which is where they were heading. the path had gone from compact snow to gravel and slush, and the clouds and fog had rolled in. I was sad they had missed the glorious blue sunny hot morning but wished them luck.
I guess the proximity and ease of access makes for a popular day trip from Riobamba, and it continually amazes me that people here are just up for anything and don't fuss about all the 'gear' that we love to fuss about, and usually, make it up steadily.

It was a quick walk back down tot eh other refugio, and then I started the 8km walk back to the main highway. I was enjoying it, but the snow got heavier, and so was kindly picked up by a Hondurus family that lives in Riobamba. We had a really nice time chatting on the way down, and then they invited me to a tasty, but cardiac arrest lunch back in town. They are really enjoying living here - they feel so safe, can walk around the streets at night, and the kids aren't at risk of getting roped into gang/guerrilla warfare. i'm not sure how much I like it here, but i guess in comparison, when family safety is at risk, it's a good move.

A mini heart attach lunch...
This is: fried potato, fried egg, fried chorizo sausage, sauce, with avocado and beetrot to balance it out...

it's now 5pm, i've watched 2 episodes of meerkat manor on the cable tv in my hotel ($6 for private room with cable:) but shared bathroom and Marcos thinks he got bed bugs from the opposite room), taken a turn around the very very quiet town (it's a sunday) and there's some thunder cracking above the loudspeaker and horns blaring.

pretty good for 1 day I think! especially that I got to do something pretty special like play around at the feet of the highest mountain on earth:)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Susan,

    thanks for your recent blogs.
    They got me interested how far you actually were from the centre of our planet, or sticking out into space, give or take a few meters !

    Let x = polar radius = 6357 km. Equatorial radius = 6378 km = 6357 + 21 km
    Assume also that bulge of earth surface (sea level) increases evenly between poles and the equator.

    Everest: 36 degr N and 8.85 km above sea level
    sea level radius = x + 21( 90 - 36 degr.)/ 90degr = x + 12.6
    Thus from earth's centre x + 12.6 + 8.85 = x + 21.45 km

    Chimborazo: 1.5 degr S and 6.3 km above sea level
    sea level radius = x + 21(90 - 1.5 degr)/ 90 degr = x + 20.7
    Thus from earth's centre x + 20.7 + 6.3 = x + 27.00 km

    Huascaran (Peru): 9 degr S and 6.77 km above sea level
    sea level radius = x + 21(90 - 9.0 degr)/ 90 degr = x + 18.9
    Thus from earth's centre x + 18.9 + 6.8 = x + 25.70 km

    Thus even at the first Chimborazo refugio at 4.8 km, you were already x + 25.5 km
    from the centre of the earth and 4 km further into space compared to standing on the summit of Everest !!! (Any difficulties in breathing ?)

    Cheers (and take it easy, let nature do it for you !)