The landscape around Chimborazo resembles the high desert in parts of the western United States. The terrain approaching Chimborazo is arid and rocky in appearance, with mostly small grassy and shrub-like vegetation growing on it. Finding trees large enough to sample above 4000 meters was, needless to say, a bit of a challenge, but they do exist.
Vanishing Tropical Glaciers Archives - State of the Planet
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.
Because of Cotopaxi’s almost perfectly conic shape, the climb appears be a straight line to the top. It isn’t. In fact, the climb winds past spires of ice and vast blue crevasses the size of small canyons. Cotopaxi is a beautiful mountain.
The night is spent enduring the constant pinging of text messages, music and lights being turned on in the sleeping area every time someone comes or leaves. One thing to avoid before an Alpine Start (12.30am) is a night without sleep.
Today was a much longer climb up Imbabura, passing through more páramo until reaching our first Polylepis trees. Conveniently, they were marked by a little wooden sign. These are the trees that I hope to sample next week on Chimborazo.
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.
I am staying with a friend’s family in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and tomorrow will meet up with my climbing partner, Pablo Puruncajas, to prepare for our expedition. I am here to collect tree ring samples and put up a weather station on Chimborazo, Ecuador’s tallest peak, to provide climate data about this region, which relies heavily on Chimborazo’s glaciers for water.