We stood at the memorial at the base of Chimborazo Mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes. The wind whipped across the land and snow grains pelted our faces. The mountain was completely socked in. It had been like that for six days straight and no break in sight. No climbers were summiting, or even attempting to do so. It was July and supposed to be the dry season. My body shivered as I studied the number of plaques of people who had perished on the mountain. I wasn’t just shivering from the cold, but from my depleted body torn by a wrecking stomach virus.

“It may not be a success, but always an adventure.” It’s a quote I came up with when I finally sat down to write this article. It took me months to come up with something that inspired me to write.

In June my brother, father, and myself made final payment with a local guide. Within a month we were off to Quito, Ecuador. We set our sights on climbing a couple of smaller peaks to acclimate, then to top it off with Chimborazo. Chimborazo is an amazing 20,564 feet peak,the highest in Ecuador. My goal was to climb and hit that 20,000 feet mark. I was going to climb that mountain and reach the altitude I had set my sights on!

It was supposed to be the perfect time to climb, but Mother Nature had her own ideas. It rained every day we were in the country. Volcano Alley had much more snow on its peaks than what was usual for that time of year. No problem! We persisted! We reached all of our acclimatization goals in good times even with the extra ice layer on the rocks.

Two days prior to heading to Chimborazo base camp, I developed a stomach virus. I figured out what it was after blowing through tons of Imodium Ad and a prescription of Travelers Diarrhea pills. My dad bought some medication from a pharmacy, and they were a life saver! I ended up being on the medication for ten days, but I felt the relief instantly after taking the pills.

When we arrived to Chimborazo base camp, it was completely engulfed in clouds. The winds raged on the upper mountain at 60 MPH. Nobody was making any attempts to top out. We never even saw the mountain.

As I stood at the memorial at Chimborazo base camp, the snow pelting against my face, and my weakened body, I felt a sense of failure come over me. I knew the climb was over without even sinking an ice axe on that mountain. I wasn’t going to get a chance to reach my 20,000 ft. goal. My trip was over.

“It may not be a success, but always an adventure.” Three months after the climb I had a completely different perspective of the trip.

On one of our acclimatization climbs I got to summit an amazing 17,281 ft. peak with my brother. It was Illinizas Norte, a beautiful peak with amazing views of vast green lowlands surrounding it. The mountain had a lot more snow and ice on it than we had anticipated which made the adventure that much more epic. From the top we celebrated our summit with high fives, chocolate and pictures as we looked out over the valley with a majestic view of Cotopaxi in the background. It was a great day! My brother and I even celebrated the fact that he had never climbed to that altitude before in his life.

As I looked back, it was even more special to have my 73-year-old dad with us. My brother and I got to spend time with my dad on the summit of a 13er (Pasachoa) in the middle of South America. A crazy thought! Especially since a year prior that wasn’t even a possibility. My dad never even had a passport until about six weeks before the trip. Now to have that adventure with him and my brother – I find that priceless.

The final objective of standing on top Chimborazo was never met, but I wouldn’t trade the journey for anything, not even the summit. This piece didn’t turn out to be the destination piece that I thought. But it became a piece about perspective that can be applied to every expedition, trip, journey, vacation, day hike or even a stroll around the block that didn’t necessarily go as planned. Sit back and enjoy it!

IllinizasNorte

 

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