Mountains are big.

Rachel Koltsov - Ecuador


February 23, 2017

Mountains are big.

Traveling alone is scary. Especially in a country where I don’t speak the native language so well. You start to crave familiarity and wish that the words coming out of your mouth were conjugated perfectly and always understood without having to be repeated 3 or 4 times. Luckily I didn’t travel alone.

I traveled with 4 Ecuadorians instead.

We went to Chimborazo during a 2-week break I had at work. One of the women I was traveling with had lived in Argentina for a while and was embarrassed when she couldn’t identify the famous Ecuadorian mountain a teacher in Argentina was showing to her class of first graders.

 

The organization I work for takes a 3 week break in January. It’s a government run organization and during this break performances from the previous year are reviewed. The decisions on which employees have their contracts renewed for another year and which are let go are determined during this break. So no one was working for these 3 weeks. I spent the last week taking care of 2 year olds in a local daycare.

To be quite honest, I don’t think it would have been any easier if I was fluent in Spanish. Toddlers don’t really listen to anyone without instructions having to be repeated 3 or 4 times.

Back to Chimborazo.

It’s the tallest mountain in the world. Not if we start at sea level. Start at sea level and Mt. Everest is almost two miles higher. Start from the center of the earth and account for the equatorial bulge and suddenly Mt. Chimborazo is topping your list.

Anywho, I mentioned January being a bit of a dead month at the organization I volunteer at to explain how we all just decided to take a 5 hour bus to Riobamba to visit this inactive stratovolcano that is believed to have last erupted around 550 C.E..

One of the guys I was traveling with had climbed Chimborazo 7 times and he’d reached the summit 4 of those times.

I only climbed for a couple of hours and the altitude made me question my desire to continue.

We took a taxi from Riobamba to Chimborazo, registered our names at the first refuge and then started our climb from the second refuge.

The guy (his name is Israel), who had climbed Chimborazo previously, assured me that the entire climb was totally safe. I cynically thought to myself, “Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word ‘safe’ that I wasn’t previously aware of.” (a Douglas Adams quote from one of the most relatable fictional characters I have ever encountered, Arthur Dent), as I slipped/climbed up to the third refuge.

Snow.

There was snow. Not like New York. But I missed snow and I was overjoyed while freezing my behind off.

In case you’re wondering why I look so puffy it’s because I was wearing two shirts, a sweatshirt, and a fuzzy jacket with two pairs of leggings and an XL pair of sweatpants rolled up three times at the waistband.

Fun times.

I drank coca tea when the altitude sickness started hitting in. It’s made from the same plant as cocaine. It was very tasty.

I will soon be posting an update with my favorite pictures!

Please donate to the Global Citizen Year scholarship fund at the following link!

It supports fellows in-country and makes it possible for fellows like me to go on this life changing adventure.

https://donate.globalcitizenyear.org/fundraise?fcid=707164

Rachel Koltsov