Volcan Iliniza North

The Ilinizas is a volcano that blew out the east and west sides of the crater leaving a permanent snow and ice-capped south peak and a rocky north peak. The regular route, which we followed to the north summit, took us to the refugio and then into and across the crater to the south rim and then up to the summit.
This was my second visit to this volcano and despite not reaching the summit it was probably the hardest climb I have done and the most rewarding in terms of accomplishments. The first attempt was not at all successful but I learned from that experience and was much better prepared the second time. So during this second attempt as we were making our way along the ‘ridge of sighs’ we paused at a large boulder – the place where I had stopped the first time. After relieving myself on this rock we pushed on to the refugio for lunch.
From the refugio it was an easy traverse to the crater rim and then the ‘fun’ began as we slip-slided across and up the sandy slope of the inner crater. This had to have been the worst part as we basically zig-zagged back and forth because the strain on the downhill leg was pretty intense. Eventually we made it to the rim and a couple thousand foot view down the steep other side. Following the ridge we continued upwards at very steep angles but not really rock climbing – yet.
The serious part came when we reached a traverse where Edison had me rigged to a rope as we crossed a cliff face with an impressive view – down! From there we wrapped around the summit to the outer wall of the volcano and then went vertical for the final climb. We were on the east side of the summit as the Sun was setting, so it was starting to get dark, I was getting worn out, and had just received an eyeful of dirt dropped on me from Edison’s boots.
After a brief discussion we began our descent from around 16,500 feet.


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