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Sam Kieckhefer’s First Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent™

On November 26 Alpenglow Operations Manager Sam Kieckhefer departed for Quito, Ecuador to join his first Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent™ Expedition. After becoming a member of the Alpenglow staff last spring, Sam has been working on international logistics for nearly a year. Cotopaxi would be Sam’s first opportunity to experience first-hand one of the expeditions that he has been a part of organizing. Furthermore, Sam is an aspiring ski guide, and Cotopaxi would be an elevation highpoint for him.

Sam’s expedition, led by Jaimie Avila, summited Cotopaxi on November 29th at 7am. After he returned from his trip…

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Top 10 Reasons We Love Climbing in Ecuador

Climbing in Ecuador has a lot to offer. We haven’t found the same combination of factors in any other high altitude climbing locations around the world. If you’ve climbed Rainier, Baker, or Shasta in the United States, look no further for your next climbing objective. From world-class climbing guides to unparalleled access to the mountains, and excellent cultural experiences, climbing in Ecuador is hands down our favorite place to test ourselves against high altitude.

 

1. First Love

Ecuador is the first trip our founder and CEO, Adrian Ballinger went to altitude on (1994) and the first high…

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What’s in Adrian’s Closet?

 

“Frostbite is Failure” Interview with Adrian Ballinger: A run-through of every climbing shoe and mountain boot in his arsenal.

Mountain guides may be the most shoe-obsessed people on the planet. From rock shoes to 8,000m boots, every shoe has an ultra-specific purpose. In this interview, Adrian walks us through his favorite La Sportiva footwear for each climbing discipline. Have you ever wanted to take a peek inside Adrian’s closet? This is your chance!

Tahoe Via Ferrata TX4 Approach Shoe

“There are two reasons I really like this shoe for the 

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Family Fun on Cotopaxi – March Expedition

A family that plays together, stays together. At least that’s the way it is for this group of four. David and his three kids are in Ecuador setting their sights on Cotopaxi during this family expedition.

Summit of Rucu Pinchincha with Tikka the dog!

They began like we always do at Alpenglow, with a climb of Rucu Pinchincha rising high above Quito. Lead guide Jaime Avila reported that they all moved super fast, ascending to the 15,696′ summit in 2:10. Even the dogs in Ecuador are pretty darn acclimatized, Jaime’s dog Tikka joined in on the climb and…

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March Ecuador Climbing School Underway

The beautiful Mojanda volcanic lakes in the foothills of Fuya Fuya

School is in Session!

On Tuesday our Ecuador Climbing School arrived in Ortavalo to begin their expedition. This season’s team is led by Ignacio Espinosa, more affectionately known by our team as “Nacho.” A local Ecuadorian, Nacho is an IFMGA guide and has been guiding in the Ecuadorian Andes and the Cordillera Blanca range of the Peruvian Andes for the last 15 years. When he isn’t out in the mountains, Nacho plays in a local punk band.

Topping out Fuya Fuya, our first acclimatization…

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School is in session – Ecuador Climbing School

Class is back in session in beautiful Ecuador! Our entire team arrived 5 days ago and since then everyday has been filled with exploring, acclimatizing and now they are moving on to the meat of the expedition – mountain climbing.

First Day in Ecuador

Our first full day is always spent exploring the sights, sounds and smells of one of the most gorgeous high altitude cities in the world. Quito is known for its vibrant culture and our team was treated to some traditional Ecuadorian music in the streets of the colonial section of town. While this might seem like…

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Glacier Day on Cotopaxi

Our Ecuador climbing team is chugging along and making great progress on both acclimatization as well as learning the necessary glacier travel and climbing skills. Our lead guide in Ecuador, Jaime Avila reports that the mountain has recently been covered in clouds in the morning, and is clearing by mid morning.

Jaime will be evaluating conditions starting tomorrow morning (December 7) and may make the call to begin climbing right away so the team can climb and summit with stunning and clear views. If the weather and conditions are not looking favorable, they will wait until tomorrow night and make their ascent…

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Off to a Great Start in Quito, Ecuador

Photos: Jaime Avila
Our Ecuador Climbing School expedition team arrived safely in Quito yesterday and enjoyed a city tour. Not only is Quito at high altitude (9,350′ / 2850m) it is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

Today the team acclimatized on Rucu Pichincha. Instead of heading straight to the mountain like our Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent expedition team, they will spend a few days in and above Quito acclimatizing before heading to Cotopaxi National Park. Rucu Pichincha stands at 15,413′ / 4698m’ and is an incredible day of hiking with a little bit of rock scrambling to get the…

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South America Climbing Season Coming into Focus

The cold temperatures of fall here in the northern hemisphere reminds us that the Aconcagua climbing season is coming into view. This season Alpenglow Expeditions has eight different expeditions to South America – 2 in Ecuador, 1 in Patagonia, and 5 separate teams heading to the tallest peak outside of Asia, the one and only Aconcagua. We love this time of year as our South American expeditions are truly special to our entire program.

Ecuador is Next on the tick list…

Our first team arriving in Ecuador aims to climb Cotopaxi (conditions dependent, more on that in a moment) in 5 days…

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Successful Summits in South America

Earlier this week our Ecuador Climbing School had a fun acclimatization hike on Rucu Pinchincha (15,700′ / 4785m). The team rode a teleférico from the city of Quito, they hiked for two hours to the rock ridge, and then climbed the ridge to the summit. This climb is a proud peak on its own and it is also important for acclimatization before the other peaks on this expedition.

Today was a successful summit on Cayambe (18,996′ / 5790m) for our Ecuador Climbing School team members, Daniel and Alex. After a midnight wake-up call, they began their climb. Most of the climb was…

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