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Pre expedition - Chakana, Under the Mountain

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

With the acclimatization hike accomplished it was time to hit the slopes of Chimborazo and prepare. We left our river equipment with Fabrizio who stored it for us free of charge. It was nice to have somewhere we could trust 100% with our precious kit. If it went missing it'd be ENDEX for Amazon Summit to Sea before it even started.

Then, we hit the road, stopping at Penipe for the highly anticipated tortillas de maize, expertly prepared by a young lad who was enjoying the 1-dollar tips we were giving him every time we passed.

The lime and chili sauce complimented the tortillas perfectly, we couldn't eat enough of them. Little dough cakes with a feta interior. My mouth is watering while writing this.

We drove through Riobamba and had a look for an outdoor shop which was shut before finding an insanely good pizzeria on Sucre Square. We thought we'd best pile on the pounds, we were about to climb to the closest place on Earth to the sun after all and we were all pleased to admit that pizza is exactly what the body needs prior to such exertion! We gorged.

Yan finished the drive to Chakana, a climbing lodge on the slopes of Chimborazo about 40 minutes north of Riobamba. Chakana is a cool place, sitting on top of a massive canyon boasting some of the best rock climbing in Ecuador. Dad would have loved to have seen it and would certainly have knocked out a few firsts had he been here in his prime. The tiny Rio Chimborazo runs between the narrow cliffs then drops in a 20-meter waterfall into the green cattle pastures in the valley below.

The massive cliffs open up and flank the valley for a further 2 kilometers or so. We settled down for the night in the comfy beds after a meal was prepared for us in the restaurant building up the hill towards the road. It was off season so there was one guy catering for us alone. I suspected he was a local of San Juan, a village downstream from us. He was a warm-hearted mountain man with a ready smile and we instantly liked him although unfortunately none of us ever got his name.

The next morning we were up early and fed by our kind caterer and then we drove to Chimborazo base camp for an acclimatization hike up to 5200meters, recommended by Christian. The plan for Chimborazo was to summit over 4 days from the North side, a much less trodden route which was preferred by all. The base camp that we drove up to on that day is the more commonly used way up the Western Ridge of the glacier. We had a nice, relaxed walk without much weight and enjoy the first glimpses of Chimborazo glacier, peeping out from under a blanket of clouds. There was a lot of avalanche debris which was a good sign, we hope the conditions above remained snow free. We were impressed by a local boxer doing a sprint circuit up above 5000meters. As we left the snow came down suddenly and the 40-minute trip back down to the main road wass complete white out, it had looked like an arid, mountainous savanna on the way up.

That evening Liam gave us a very comprehensive lesson on the medical kit and we all eagerly took notes. He'd managed to achieve sponsorship from M&D Green Pharmacy who had given us all sorts of medical equipment and antibiotics for any eventuality throughout our trip. The only problem was that Liam was only with us for 20 days, so we were glad to draw as much knowledge from him as possible.

The weather for the whole time we were at Chakana was very wet. The longer we were there the wetter our kit became and there's no easy way to dry it there. We had hoped to do a big kit-muster outside with the mountain in the background and go through each piece of kit and properly thank the sponsors. Due to the weather this didn't happen but despite that, we were acclimatizing well and well prepared for the next day of adventure. The following morning we'd be hiking up to Templo Machay, above which, through studying many maps, I hoped we'd find the highest source of the Amazon.

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