Ecuador, Trip Plan, Jan 2003


Oyacache Gorge: Trekking (Part 1)

Iliniza Norte: Mountaineering (Part 2)


Leaders: Roy Smith, Jules Roy


Roy Smith:

Roy Smith was a mountain guide in East Africa leading groups to the summits of Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and the Mountains of the Moon.  He has also guided on Mount McKinley in Alaska, in the Andes of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and  Iceland. 

He led National Geographic supported expeditions in Alaska and Africa.  In Alaska his team made the first winter crossing of the Brooks Range, a 500 mile journey on skis pulling sleds, from the Arctic Circle to the Arctic Ocean. He also led a team that made the complete descent of the Omo River from its headwaters in the north to Lake Turkana in the south, a 600 mile, three month journey. 

In 1968, Roy led a team that made the first crossing of the Sea of Cortez in kayaks from Bahia Los Angeles to Kino Bay.  He was also member of the British expedition that made the first ascent of the north ridge of Alpamayo, the last un climbed 20,000’ peak in the Andes of Peru. 

His mountaineering guiding has taken him to most of the worlds mountains including the Himalayas.  This will be his sixth trip to Ecuador. On previous trip he led groups to the summits of Cotopaxi, Illiniza, and Chimborazo, and on various multi-day treks in the highlands and cloud forests. 

Jules Roy:

Jules Roy will be co-leading this trip.   Jules has been a US Air Force Pararescueman for 10 years (NREMT-Paramedic). He has an Associate Degree in rescue and survival and is a graduate of the Pararescue medical school. He has led groups to the summits of Mt. Rainier, El Pico De Orizaba in Mexico, Illiniza Norte, and  Cotopaxi in the Andes of Ecuador, plus ascents of more than 40 other lesser known peaks.  He is an AMGA trained rock guide – one of the most difficult and rigorous guide programs in the United States.  He has eight years of rock and ice climbing and guiding experience in North and South America.  Jules is a graduate of the Air Force NCO leadership Academy.  Jules was with us on our last trip to Ecuador in 2002 and led a team to the summit of Cotopaxi.

Dates: January 1 – January 14

Cost: Joining fee to Quest, $600

Other costs: Include, airfare, accommodations and meals

Travel arrangements:
The cheapest flight at $584 was with LASCA departing JFK at 5:25 AM and in Quito at 1:30 PM.
Continental Ticket price was $695. 

Accommodations in Quito:

We have reservations for our group at the Crossroads Cafe and Hostal in Quito. When you arrive at Quito Airport you should tell the taxi driver that you want to go to the Magic Bean. Our hostal is directly opposite the Magic Bean.  

We will be returning to Ecuador at the end of this year to complete a trek into the cloud forest we reconnoitered on our 2001-2002 trip.

We arrive in Quito the capital of Ecuador on Wednesday January 1, 2002. We will spend two nights in Quito allowing an opportunity for sightseeing and acclimatization.

From Quito we travel north, towards Cayembe, to the small mountain town of Oyacachi that lies just to the south of Nevada Cayembe a 19,000 foot glaciated volcano. Our trek into the Cloud forest begins in the cool highlands around 10,500 feet, on the banks of the Rio Oyacachi, and ends four days later in the frontier jungle town of El Chaco, a descent of 5000 feet. 

The trail we follow is believed to quite old. Part of the trail is paved with cobblestones similar to the Inca Trail in Peru, though the exact age in not known.

The trail will take us through the heart of the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and is truly wilderness trekking. We will cross the Rio Oyacachi on two occasions using cables that were strung across the river after an earthquake collapsed the bridges in 1987. We will use pulleys, harness and ropes to make the crossings safely.

 The vegetation becomes more dense as we descend into the cloud forest. The coolness of the highlands gives way to the humid, warmth of the Amazonian lowlands. 

On our return to Quito we will depart for the Illiniza mountains located some 40 miles south of Quito. We’ll overnight at comfortable lodgings in the small village of El Chaupi. Using mules to carry our packs we’ll hike up to the Refugio Nuevos Horizontes at 15,000 feet, where we’ll spend two nights before making the spectacular hike to the summit of Illiniza Norte, 16,800 feet.  

From the summit we will see the towering, glaciated peak of Cotopaxi, 19,381 feet and other Andean giants. After a rest on the summit we’ll descend to El Chaupi and travel back to Quito that evening for a well earned rest.


Itinerary for Oyacachi trekand Illiniza climb, Jan 2002

Detailed Itinerary

  1. Arrive Quito. We will meet at the Crossroads Hostal.
  2. Day in Quito, sightseeing/prepare for trek.
  3. Depart AM for Oyacache, camp.
  4. Begin trek through the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.
  5. Continue trek following the Rio Oyacache.
  6. Continue Trek.
  7. Continue trek. Arrive at El Chaco. Bus to Quito, night in Quito
  8. Day in Quito, night in Quito.      
  9. Depart for El Chaupi at 11,200’ at the base of the Illiniza’s. 
  10. Hike from El Chaupi to the Refugio Nuevos Horizontes, 15,000’.
  11. Day in vicinity of Refugio Nuevos Horizontes to acclimatize
  12. Hike to the summit of Illiniza Norte, 16,700’ then descend back to El Chaupi and on to Quito for a well earned dinner.
  13. Day in Quito
  14. Depart Quito AM for return to USA


Trip Costs

Quest charges very little compared to larger commercial outfitters. The trade off is that you are left to fend for yourself a little more often, which fro me is the perfect situation. I get to hang out with different people and be in a group atmosphere, take part in some of the planning, but still get the benefit of a bona fide professional guide.

Note: This cost is $600 for the climb AND the trek. So essentially, it was $300 for both. Great deal.

Also, remember that you can eat like a king, or a peasant. In a developing country like Ecuador, we ate like kings for about 20 bucks a day. The most expensive thing was probably the 4 to 5 liters of water I drank a day to acclimatize.

The airfare I paid probably could have been a little less, but I wanted to fly Continental since that's where my Frequent Flier miles are. But 695 is damn good to be flying to another continent. Know what I mean.

** Adventure sports are guaranteed to cost you money. The gear is expensive. The good thing is that most of the time, they are one time costs. After you've made the initial investment, you never have to spend that much money again. Unless you're a gear hound like me and fully expect to be spending money on the latest and greatest till the day you die!!!

Guide: $600
Flight: $695
Food: $280
Total: $1,575

**Gear: $3,850

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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