By Jonathan Cain
After checking into our hotel in Otavalo, we pack for our first acclimatization climb on Fuya Fuya, a volcanic peak with two summits. The climb starts on steep, grassy terrain that turns into a spongy, lush alpine meadow – known as the páramo – after about 1,000 feet. After trudging through the paramo, our route becomes a high-altitude scramble on an exposed rocky granite spine with sheer drop-offs on either side. The surge of adrenaline keeps our minds off the thin air.
What began as a beautiful day turns to rain and hail after we reach the highest summit. Fearing that the weather might become a thunderstorm, we decide to descend rather than continue to the second summit.
Back in Otavalo, we clean up and go out for a large dinner and dancing. During these first acclimatization trips we will be joined by four climbers from Ireland, pictured above.