Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FTA Cho Oyu 2010 - Final summit push begins & Ecuador Update

from stu in the usa office
Oct 5, 2010

Cho Oyu Update

Fabrizio checked in from ABC to let us know that all is well and that the team will head up tomorrow to C1 with hopes of summiting on the 8th or 9th if the winds will allow!

Our team was having considerable snowfall during the day today and the winds, even at BC, were very strong. They had hoped to move up to C1 today but with such difficult conditions they opted to hold off a day.

The present plan is for our team will to C1 on the 6th, C2 on the 7th and then, depending on the wind at that time, to go for the top on the 8th from C2 or from C3 on the 9th. The reports are not very promising at this time for winds to be sufficiently low to make a bid but our team remains hopeful!

At least 2 other teams have a similar plan and we'll hope that working together they will be able to make a good summit bid. The yaks arrive soon so this will be our last effort for 2010 on Cho Oyu. Wish our team luck!

According to Fabrizio a few other climbers are high up now and are catching very heavy winds. These climbers there now are hoping for the calmer winds expected on the 6th to materialize. We'll know more in the next 24 hours about their progress and it will help our team to fine tune their plan.

Ecuadorian Connection on Cho Oyu

Included in the groups of climbers higher on the hill is Santiago Quintero from Ecuador. Last February one of our Ecuador Volcanoes groups enjoyed an evening with Santiago and he showed our members some amazing local food and music spots. He was a gracious host and piled 5 of us in his car to get us around the busy city of Quito! We enjoyed our time with him and wish him luck on his summit bid!

We had a fabulous dinner with Santiago (on L in pic above) at the restaurant "El Pobre Diablo" and not only was the food great and ambiance wonderful but they had a surprise int he back room. In this room they had every president of Ecuador on a wall with their times in office. Ecuador has a storied past when it comes to leaders remaining in office for brief periods of time and we scoured the wall for the shortest - a single day!


As well the plaque of the current president Correa has a digital clock under his name. When we were they it read more than 2 years which is a long time for an Ecuadorian president. In the last week there was a quasi-coup attempt in Quito and his clock was in peril of being stopped for a very serious few hours.

Correa's day began with confronting an angry group of police officers, progressed to being held captive for more than 10 hours and ended with his extraction by an elite special forces squad. When the day was done there were many hundreds injured in the protest and at least 5 people killed during the extraction. The situation has now settled down but the fallout may continue for some time as arrests are ongoing in connection with the uprising and standoff.

There is quite a lot on www.nytimes.com including the following about the start of th eday:
Mr. Correa had gone to the barracks to address the police complaints in person. A shouting match ensued, and at one point, he loosened his tie and opened his shirt as if to show that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest. "If you want to kill the president, here he is," he said. "Kill him, if you want to. Kill him if you are brave enough.”

We'll all be watching carefully to see how this standoff plays out in political power and the future of Ecuador. It certainly seems that the resolution has been unlike what might have happened a number of years ago when the military might have just taken over. In this case the military clearly supported the power of the elected president and the democratic system in general. As the NY Times noted: "Lessons for Ecuador's fragile democracy seem to be emerging, albeit haltingly."

When our teams arrive in Ecuador for the upcoming season of climbing on the volcanoes I am sure this will still be a topic of discussion with our local guides and staff and a very interesting time to be in Ecuador. Our lead guides for our confirmed Jan 5 trip, Brad Boehringer and Nacho Espinoza (from Ecuador), will be sure to help you understand more about how this standoff has impacted on life in Ecuador by the time another 3 months has come to pass.

Ama Dablam Upcoming

When Fabrizio has come off of Cho Oyu he will take a well deserved 2 week rest in Nepal and then head off to Ama Dablam to lead our team there. We still have a few spaces left for our 6th year in a row on the hill and 9th trip overall. He'll be joined by our lead Sherpa Siddhi (who is on Cho Oyu now!) and together they will lead the team to Island Peak and the Ama Dablam. We look forward to a great trip and hope you'll follow along when we start on the 4th of November!

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