This was already our second attempt for Chimborazo as we were not successful 3 days ago and this time, we were on our own (no guide). First we wanted to explore if the snow conditions had changed as 3 days ago, we were taken by our guide in the middle of the night only one hour up the main path to realize that it was too dangerous due to avalanches. At that time, we were really disappointed by these 'findings' as it was known since 10 (!) days that it was not possible to climb due to this situation. So, why did they take us there, if this was cristal clear??? That's why we decided to give it a second try, which meant, that we prepared to beleaguer the mountain for 4 days, wait for the right snow and weather conditions and then give it a try.
Once more, we took the bus from Quito to Riobamba from where one of the yellow taxis brought us to Refugio Carell (4800m). From there we carried our very heavy backbags to the Refugio Whymper (5000m), where we installed us in a room just for ourselves. As we heard from a several people that the conditions were excellent, we walked a little upwards the main track to explore the conditions and decided that we will give it a first try this night.
Interestingly, we must have slept despite the altitude as we woke up half an hour late and that's why we only started at 23:15. Meanwhile our group had increased by one team member, as we got to know a couple from Austria the evening before and unfortunately one of them was too sick to give it a try, therefore we welcomed M. in our team.
The night presented itself with clear sky, although a bit windy. After approximately 45 minutes we took out our crampons and started crossing to the right under the first impressive ice curtain (be careful not to gain too much in altitude while crossing). Then there was a left turn which led us directly to the 'Castillo', where the wind welcomed us with a strong blow. From that point, the way is always straight up the west ridge in a very homogenous steepness (~ 35° - max. 40°). As we started a bit too fast from the hut, we were now suffering the consequences and I think, that's why this turned out to be the most tiring ascent in my life so far. The consistency of the snow was not of much help, as the steps kept sliding backwards and when I raised my head, there was always the same picture of M. stepping continously on this black ridge into the sky. So we continued stepping upwards always with the hope that our will would be strong enough and after a subjectiv endless time, we finally reached Veintimilla.
The way to the highest point (summit Whymper) did not seem to be very long, but I was hesitating as I had a little pain in my lung. However, as the other two did not hesitate a minute, I joined and after 45 minutes, we were standing at 6310m (the highest point in the space one can get on earth) - total climbing time 8 hours. At our big surprise, M. pulled an Austrian flag out of his backbag and thanks to the strong wind, there was no need to wave it ;-) However, the joy on the summit was of short duration as we were bombarded with snow cristalls and were soon looking like ice figures.
For the descent, we made it in one run to 4800m, where we rested briefly. Only now we realised how long the ridge was and as we had to rest a couple of more times, we only reached 'Castillo' at 11:00 which was way too late and we had to jump between rocks spit out by the glacier walls. After having passed this passage, we continued to the hut (4 hours from the summit) and then immediately to the parking lot, where we could join the two Austrian colleagues to Riobamba. From Riobamba we took the bus back to Quito, where we fell very tired at 20:00 into bed.
More information, download of a book about the Andes.