Ascent of Volcán Pichincha on 2018-11-11

Climber: Alex Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, November 11, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Volcán Pichincha
    Elevation:15696 ft / 4784 m

Ascent Trip Report

Very cool hike! I only caught tiny glimpses of the sun, but miraculously never got rained on. Visibility fluctuated throughout the hike, ranging everywhere from 50 ft to 5 miles. I hiked from the Teleferico as usual (I'm starting to get familiar with this trail!) but rather than summit Rucu I dropped over the saddle to continue the distinct, well-marked trail. The red and white blazes make navigation a simple task, even in fairly low visibility. As clouds occasionaly parted, I could see tall lava spires, rolling green hillsides, and distantly, the summit of Guagua Pichincha.

Lots of cool sights awaited me including numerous pasqueflowers, wild horses, a species of high-altitude hummingbird, and a larger bird I suspect might have been a Caracara. Once I passed Padre Encantado, I made a sort of loop out of the summit- I first followed the marked trail around the base of the southeast ridge, and ascended past a little building at the end of the road that climbs the south side of the peak. A well-defined trail leads to the crater rim, which can be followed easily to the false summit. The true summit is another hundred yards further along the rim and the final 60 vertical feet is a fun and fairly exposed class 3 scramble. Very fun moves here. I was glad to have perviously looked at Petter Bjorstad's off-site trip report, particularly the picture of the true summit- had I not seen this the false summit might have tricked me as that's where the summit marker is. The true summit, when visible, is noticably higher and is small enough that only one person can fit on it at a time. Cool!

From the saddle between false and true summits, it is possible to follow an unmarked path down the cindery slope of the east face of Guagua. This is very easy, and with good visibility it is a simple and very direct route back to the main trail, cutting off significant backtracking. From there, the hike was pleasant and straightforward, although the climb back up to the Rucu saddle was a bit of a slog. All in all it was a pretty quick day- I started hiking from the Teleferico at 9:45 and got back there at 3. I felt good about that as this was the longest distance I'd hiked at such sustained altitudes. On the teleferico ride down, I met a girl who was also from Wyoming- a fun coincidence to cap off a really cool day.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4806 ft / 1464 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2100 ft / 640 m
    Round-Trip Distance:17.4 mi / 28 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4806 ft / 1464 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2706 ft / 825 m; Extra: 2100 ft / 640m
    Loss on way in:2100 ft / 640 m
    Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km
    Start Trailhead:12990 ft / 3959 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km

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