By Jonathan Cain
Two members of the Irish team decided not to join us on this climb, instead opting to enjoy their remaining time in Ecuador exploring the rainforest. The remaining two members, Eugene and Albert, elected to help me put up the station. Changes in glacier mass will have significant social and economic consequences for cities around Chimborazo and I’m hoping the specially built weather station will shed more light on the climate factors contributing to glacier loss.
The snow was frozen and perfect, but the climbing route was unrelenting. The slope on Chimborazo is remarkably steep and does not level out until you reach the first summit.
But we’re after the second summit (the Whymper summit). It’s a heartbreaking climb that involves a long descent then a sharp rise to the top.
To give the station’s solar panel full exposure to the rising sun we chose to place the weather station just beyond the actual summit on the Eastern side of the mountain. We will anchor the weather station by burying snow pickets attached to guy wires and three 4 ft long t-shaped braces bolted to each leg of the tripod in the snow.
Two hours constructing the weather station is longer than expected and means the descent will be a hot, exhausting affair breaking through knee-high soft snow from the station site all the way down the other side of the summit.
The whole down, I’m reminded that Chimborazo’s glacier and melting snow are critical water resources for hydroelectric power generation and essential use for the lowlands downstream. We hope that data from the weather station and tree study may provide authorities and provinces around Chimborazo clues on how to adapt to this major change.
It’ll be Riobamba tonight and a return to the foot of Chimborazo tomorrow. We’re looking for trees we hope can tell time.