Vilcabamba to Baños:


For a few days in Vilcabamba a lovely retired couple put me up on their farm. In exchange I picked coffee for a few hours in the mornings, and did a bit of painting in a flat they are renting out. Then I loaded up the trusty steed and headed for the Panamerican. It rained most of the way to Loja and from there most of the way to Cuenca.
Weird that it is so cold so close to the equator. But then I was still cycling along above 2000m. Camping in an unfinished house that a shop owner said I could use kept me out of a biting cold wind. The next night I found a Wild West themed restaurant out in the middle of nowhere and the owner let me camp outside. There must have been something about the clay hereabouts as I saw many little brick factories as I climbed up, up, up.

Cuenca is a delightful old colonial city and so it is also quite expensive. I got my fill of architecture and slept in a bit too much comfort. Then I headed on towards Riobamba. Nice campspot in a corn feild with a beautiful sunset. Met a huge gaggle of cyclists heading south. Fully supported. There website is Check out the price 8400 euros for 129 days. Phewy!
Also met Ewan McGreggor. Or at least someone who looked a bit like him...
Got to Riobamba and found my couchsurfing host, Wladimir who had also fixed me up with a climbing partner and guide to have a crack at Chimborazo. Dean and I got a bus to the national park and hiked up to the refuge at 5000m where we spent 2 days eating, playing cards, warming ourselves by the fire, eating, drinking tea, eating and waiting for Ediverto, our guide, to show up. Occassionally we went and lay down pretending to sleep. The weather outside shook the refuge and we saw nothing of the mountian we intended to climb. All this time we saw groups arrive and looking at the conditions, turn back. There was much discussion about an accident earlier in the week in which a climber was injured by a rock fall/avalanche. Very few even left the refuge. Also, a slightly creepy Russian bloke, called Igor, started probing us with questions. It was soon clear that he intended to follow us when we set off. Bit cheeky seeing as we'd paid for a guide and he hadn't.

Ediverto showed up and at 11pm we set off. The sky was clear now but it was very windy. The fresh snow, warmed up by that blanket of cloud, was described by Ediverto as suave (soft or gentle) and later on loco (crazy). I began to get the impression this wasn't going to happen. As we headed up we saw that Igor was following us. Then, as we stopped to have another good look at the snow, he overtook. At the base of "the corridor", the site of the accident, we couldn't see Igor above. Ediverto said he was very worried about him as it was a very dangerous part to be on your own. He decided that the risk of rockfall in this spot was too high especially with the strong wind. And higher up the chance of avalanche was also strong because of the poor snow conditions. He explained all this to us and we had to accept his decision. As we walked down he was very worried about Igor. Soon we saw his head torch following us down.

Back in Riobamba I got a full day's sleep and then set off again. Due to my lousy sense of direction, and Ecuador's lack of sign-posts, I ended up going up a very long hill in not quite the right dirrection. I ran out of water and had to top up from a village tap, bit risky. Then got some dry bread to eat for lunch. In the end I managed to work out roughly were I was and the bonus of all that climbing was I got to freewheel for thirty odd kilometres down to Baños.

Next, I head for the jungle town: Puyo...

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  1. Hi Peter,
    On your website, there is a photo of Reinhold Messner. Where did you get this from? I work for a film company and we would like to license the rights to use this photo in one of our films. Could you help point us in the right direction?

    Ned Warner
    Sender Films


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