Sincholagua…Good mountain for acclimatization…
The allure of this peak besides its acclimatization, was the fact it is very little climbed, and its close proximity to Cotopaxi at about 13km away as the condor flys. We were lucky to have beautiful views of Ecuador’s second highest summit and world famous volcano, which is still active.
As far as altitude goes Sincholagua is 16,100ft, so it’s getting up there. The vertical ascent feet from where we parked to the summit was 2,850ft.
Now getting there was half the fun and from where we went into 4×4 mode on the vehicle it was about an hour of said fun. The potential problem for some folks is a locked gate on the other side of a log bridge over a glacial fed river. We were lucky enough to have the “current” key, as it gets changed often. Without the key it would have added an additional three hours each way, as we would have to have hiked to the starting point.
Once we made it to our starting point, we geared up and headed out, walking along a spine of a ridge strewn with various sized rocks. Overall it is heavy on the rocks and also had plenty of scree. Once the ridge met the meat of the volcano it was basically up and up some more. Following cairns at times to keep close to the route we zigzagged our way up. There were many areas of exposure with many hundreds of feet not an exaggeration. Combine that with the scree and putting your faith in your boots gripping and your trekking poles holding, well a tad unnerving at times. Just keep looking for the next step.
Once we had reached 16,000ft it was the final section to the summit. An 80ft wall with a pinnacle at the top with enough room for maybe a queen sized mattress to fit on. The exposure if you were unlucky enough to go over the side appeared to easily be a thousand feet or more. But I digress…Our guide Diego who also owns our guiding company “Andes Climbing” (this being the third time I have used them) pulled out the rope at the base of the wall, our final push to the top. Diego started up the rock followed by Dana and I (clipped into the safety line rope). At the summit we were afforded amazing, stunning, incredible views of the valley and of the extinct volcano we were now sitting on top of. We got the obligatory summit pics with our flags, enjoyed lunch, kicked back a bit, then started back down. Remember the summit only means you are half way done.
So once back on rope, we down climbed the wall after which Diego double roped and rappelled down, then did a pull down of the rope. The trek back was pretty much the same as the way up, spectacular views, spectacular exposure, rock hopping and sliding on the scree. I have to say that this little climbed volcanic peak is one of my favorites. The views are unsurpassed and with Cotopaxi dominating the skyline on the way back to the car, with its glaciers sloping down from all sides and blue skies, well that’s just the icing on the cake. Happy return to Diego’s hostel.
“Article written by our friend and faithful client COLIN from USA”.