Avalanche on Cotopaxi – school visit in Santiago

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San Jose de Chimbo, Ecuador
Reno Roman invited us to Tambopaxi http://www.tambopaxi.com. Tambopaxi 5682 is the best mountain hostel we have ever been, located on 3750 m, just on the bottom of Cotopaxi, 5897 m. Tambopaxi is a very good example: It proofs that construction can be made in balance with nature. The hospitality of the Tambopaxi team let you feel like heaven. The food is even better than it looks like on this picture and the view from the dining room is absolutely great.
The first day we climbed Ruminayui. Paxi, the dog of Tambopaxi, joined us till 4600 m and it was amazing to find such beautiful flowers in this high altitude.
On the second day we met Patrice and Peter on our way back of our acclimatisation climb. Patrice is the manager of Miss Trinidad. We learned a lot about the Miss Universe Competition, which just taking place here in Ecuador. It is THE event here and all media are covered with stories about it. From Patrice we knew, what these beauties do to become Miss Universe: It starts with removing rips to make the stomach more flat etc.! … and still they can not compete with nature’s work: – Sabine.
Last Monday we started at 1 a.m. from Tambopaxi our climb to Cotopaxi 5699. We saw stars and the moon. A big change to the last days. The mountains were nearly always in clouds and it rained a lot. Unusual weather patterns for this time of the year. When we got to the Cotopaxi refuge on 4810 m nobody was up, – all climbers were asleep, because there was bad weather when they got up at 1 a.m.. We continued our climb up the glacier till 5300 m. Around 4 a.m. still in the dark we turned back to the refuge, because the visibility was zero.
In the hut we slept for 1 h like marmots: As close together as possible to keep the warmth because we left our sleeping bags in Tambopaxi. At 5.30 a.m. the weather was improving and we started climbing again. At the beginning the upper snow layer was holding our weight. But just after 8 a.m. on about 5400 m this holding crust of about 3 cm was becoming weak by the sun and did not hold our weight anymore. A snow profile told us that it is time to turn back: There were big snow crystals under this crust (Schwimmschnee) and I was once more happy to get the experience at SLF.
Back in Tambopaxi we saw a huge avalanche going over our tracks and we were happy that we made the right decision…
On Tuesday we travelled to San Jose de Chimbo to Padre Jose Luis Garcia Silva. He invited us again! In Santiago, about 5 km from Chimbo, we have done a presentation at the primary school “Theodor Wolf”. Beside the class room is a kitchen, where the teachers prepare a hot meal at 10 a.m. for all children; – like the “Pausen-Apfel” in winter in Switzerland.
After our presentation the kids started to paint. The people of Santiago still life in harmony with nature. Girls and boys put their lifestyle on paper. The teachers told us also that the climate is changing. Santiago lives nearly 100 percent from agriculture. The result of less rain and more storms with suddenly to much rain, means more erosion and finally less income and less food for the people they have to life here.- Some students also explained such problems in their drawings.

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