Cayambe Disappointment Inversion

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December 30, 2013

Today we planned to finally summit the volcano whose glacier we had spent the past week playing on. Sadly, Cayambe had other plans--as our guide Alejo wisely said, there is a reason it's called mountaineering and not summiteering.

Waking up around midnight, the mountain was blanketed in clouds and high winds. Combined, these would make for difficult navigation, treacherous terrain and dangerously cold conditions: after several hours hoping for an improved outlook, we dejectedly called off our summit attempt and returned to sleep.

Upon waking, we packed up the car and made our way back to Quito to prepare for our trip to Cotopaxi, one of the highest still-active volcanos on Earth and our next planned climb. Along the way, we stopped by a monument on the Equator, celebrating the many achievements of early Ecuadorians in recognizing the significance of their location. Indigenous Ecuadorians had built structures close to 1000 years ago marking the Equator and recognizing the importance of the equinoxes and solstices, described and expanded upon at this site. They also described an alternative solar-based map projection and the advantages such a projection could have.

Still arriving in Quito significantly earlier than planned (a cancelled summit attempt will do that...), we stopped by Alejo's self-built home to pick up his wife and some extra gear before heading to a local crag for a bit of rock climbing--Alejo sure knows how to turn a sour note into a quite fun day.

Also, while driving around today we were introduced to a special Ecuadorian custom for this time of year: effigies representing the "old" are on display that will be burnt to bring in the New Year. Many of these are strapped to the front of cars and many more are seen along the streets, ready to be sold to celebrating customers.

Returning to the Hacienda Rumiloma for the night, we were treated to a stunning starry sky above and beautiful view of Quito shining below us. Far from a bad day, especially starting from such disappointment.

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