On the Glacier
April 7, 2006
Lauren Jenks, Lyndon State College, Adventure Programming Student
Woah! OK. What day is it? Friday. So Wednesday we took the three-hour ride in a tight but rugged van, stopping along the way at the Supermaxi for our food at the hut. After the long ride through the Cotopaxi National Park we arrived at the parking lot. We strapped on our gear and started up the one-hour hike to the hut at the base of the peak. Immediately we felt the effects of the altitude. We huffed and puffed and finally reached the hut with headaches and lack of hunger. It was pretty dead because of the rainy season and the fact that no one had submitted in over two weeks. I made (with the help of John and Brad) a delicious vegetable stir-fry with roasted potatoes and some sautéed chicken. We tried to eat but the altitude made it difficult. We drank tea and Tang to keep hydrated and called it an early night, although many of us had a hard time sleeping due to the fact the our hearts were beating much faster than usual.
We spent the next day practicing some technical skills that we would need for the long climb later that night. We picked out rope teams and practiced walking together roped-up and with our crampons on. This was something I had never done before and I found it frustrating, especially since I had very little energy in me. We quit early and headed back to the hut to eat and take a nap before dinner.
After a quick pizza dinner and a short three-hour nap, we woke up at 11:30pm to start up Cotopaxi. When I woke up I felt great and was ready to get as close to the summit as possible. The first 45 minutes went fast and as we reached the glacier we tied up to our teams. Austin and John were tied in front of and behind me. We reached a steep section and decided we didn’t need out crampons because the snow was so deep. I was still feeling good although I needed to go to pee. This would be difficult and dangerous because I would need to take off my harness (something the boys don’t have to deal with) and the hill was so steep that I could fall down. We continued up and my stomach began to hurt and every step took a toll on my bladder. Also, John was starting to lose energy as well so Austin made the decision to turn around.
We didn’t make it to the top but we still reached 17,500ft, which is higher that I have ever been in my life. At first I was disappointed for not reaching the summit or at least going as far a possible. After more thought, I realized I had worked hard, as did the rest of the group, and this whole trip has been full of new skills and amazing culture. I think the summit was never the main goal for me. I was after the experience, which has been amazing and will continue to be with our trip to the market in Otavalo tomorrow.