Cayambe Conditions – High steps?

  • Creator
  • #62990
    Seth Keena-Levin

    Have any of y’all recently had an athlete go to Cayambe and remark something like the below?
    “The first 820 ft of Cayambe consists of boulders and sand. It’s like doing big box step ups 100 times. Big muscle moves that take a lot of oxygen. I was above 15000 ft and my HR was above threshold for a fair bit of time…”

    I’m curious if this a nuance for this year, like after a big erosion event, or that particular route?

    My thinking is that if it’s ‘normal’, I’d give my athlete some high box steps mixed into the training as muscle contraction at end range of motion is not easy for many people. Probably worthwhile to do some of these for other mountains like Everest/Lhotse, Ama D. to think of some, but not too much as the joint load is high.

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #63033

    Hi Seth,
    I guided Cayambe many (10-20?) times back in the mid-90s. This is normal for Cayambe. From the hut the route ascends a sandy/scree ridge to its end.

    Basically you’re trying to get as much altitude as possible before you get onto the glacier which is quite active and ever-changing.

    That said, I wonder if his guide had a clue as to where he was going because even 25 years ago there was a modicum of a trail. It was a PIA. And I do remember lots of clients turning around because of it. Also sounds like his guide didn’t pace him correctly.

    Cototpaxi is usually a bit better for people because it’s only a touch higher, usually more straighforward (crevasse-glacier travel wise) and for whatever reason, it always seemed to have the best snow/ice conditions for cramponing.

    Chimborazo also has a ton of crummy-volcanic scree hiking to get to the point where you can put on crampons.

    Cayambe is also the most difficult for many because (since it is the lowest) it’s usually the first of 2-3 of these 18,000-20,000 foot peaks that are typically packed into a 2 week trip. Most of the canned commercial trips go something like: Hike to 14 from Quito, rest, drive to 14-ish, rest/skills day, climb cayambe, down/rest, climb cotopaxi, down/rest, drive to chimbo, climb chimbo. With the balance being slush days for weather, sickness, etc.

    Hope that helps.

    MarkPostle on #63498

    Echoing Steves thoughts here. An Ecuadorian guide friend of mine has commented that yes the first part of summit day is hard in that way but not measurably worse in the past years.

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