They day started out well: Chimborazo’s summit was visible from the hotel — a rare occurrence.
Seven folks and our driver William got into a van, bikes strapped onto the roof rack, and set out from Riobamba.
We stopped several times to marvel at the spectacular scenery.
This juvenile alpaca did not mind when we approached it to take pictures.
We totally lucked out — Chimborazo’s peak remained visible for hours.
From left to right: Maria Jose (Ecuador) and Alejandro (Costa Rica), Juergen and Katja from Germany, me, and David and Laura from New Zealand.
There was a temptation to go all the way to the top…
… but that would have required technical gear, a guide, and adequate experience. For starters, William drove us to the lower mountain shelter at 4,800m. We then hiked up to the higher shelter at 5,000m (also visible above). Although it took us 45 minutes to reach it, we were all surprised and grateful that none of us had any trouble with the altitude.
My GPS tracker was a bit off; nonetheless this is the highest point I’ve ever been to on foot.
One of the many discoveries of this whole Pan-American trip: mountains can be very beautiful.
I wonder what it’s like to be up there.
We started our downhill ride around 1:30PM, shortly after clouds had begun to close in.
Even though 95% of the track led downhill, the headwind was brutal. On occasion it took us over a minute to advance 100 meters. These vicunas seemed entirely oblivious to our suffering.
We biked 43 kilometers in total. Exhausted and exhilarated, we had an early dinner in one of the small villages on our way afterwards and then returned to the tour operator’s office in Riobamba.
Last night Harry got a special treat for waiting patiently in the hotel. I think he enjoyed it.