With Cotopaxi done, Parofes and I had planned Cayambe. However, illness derailed that plan for Parofes. After talking with Dan, I decided to try Iliniza Norte.
We hiked in after getting dropped off at 7:15 am. It was a great day and we had beautiful views of the mountains during the approach. The whole hike in we saw dangerous clouds on Sur, but our target, Norte, was cloud free! The only concern was the fresh snow, which can make what is a technically straight-forward and fairly easy climb much more dangerous.
After a long approach, we began the ascent. After about an hour and a half, we reached the Paso del Muerte (Death´s pass, or the Pass of Death). Normally not all that dangerous, the fresh snow and ice meant we had to get out our crampons, snow boots, and ice axes. This was a fun section, requiring us to tread carefully.
I made it through this section and then quickly rushed by another group begining their descent. And then I was there, the summit! The photo below is looking down the rock ridge from the summit.
But where was Parofes? Since he had been ill, he had gone a little slower. As we weren´t roped in, I had managed to get a bit ahead of him. I waited on the summit until clouds pushed me off out of concern over a storm. I had to descend looking for him, which was a little harrowing in the white-out conditions of the cloud. I was happy to find him back near the start of the Paso del Muerte, but I was concerned as to what had happened. It turns out that group I passed had been kicking loose all kinds of snow, ice, and rock, making for dangerous falling debris. The result, he couldn´t summit! The photo below is him climbing back up the Paso del Muerte in the clouds.
A little bummed by that, we descended out of concern for the soft snow and ice and the changing weather. Then it was back to Quito for a big dinner at Tio Billy´s!