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Ascent of Pasochoa on 2008-12-08

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjorstad
Adam Helman
Date:Monday, December 8, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Pasochoa
    Location:Ecuador
    Elevation:4198 m / 13776 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Pasochoa, 4199m, P794m

Stats: 8km, 842mH

Time: Mon 8 Dec 2008: 6h round trip.

Start: From N, trailhead reached via roughish cobbled road (4x4 advised).

Route:
The trailhead is reached by driving S from Quito, then following a steep cobbled road through cultivated land. Eventually it follows a steep mountainside. Near the top, a sharp turn L reaches the trailhead in another 100m.

A rough track climbs S, soon reaching a small house. A faint trail climbs R here, following the W boundary of the house and then heads S, with a fence on the L. A narrow trail then climbs up through dense vegetation, crosses a fence then turns helf-left, with a steep slope rising to the L and a deep valley to the R. Another fence is crossed (gate) then the obvious trail continues S, climbing gradually to a ridge. Another fence is crossed (gate) then the path trends slightly L, contouring around the slope, with a few ups and downs. A fork is reached: climb R for the N ("False") summit or keep L for the easier route which takes an easier, indirect route to the main summit. The steep trail reaches the ridge just S of the N summit. Return to the ridge and follow a trail S along the ridge. This seens to terminate at a steep rocky slope, but a faint trail can be seen ascending L, through scrubby trees, with an exposed traverse (YDS 3, 20m) then climbs though trees to reach open easy ground just below the summit. A final easy 5m rocky scramble leads to the highest point.

In descent, initially follow a trail S then descend L (E - steep tussocky grass, or follow the trail further S for an easier longer descent) and follow a trail which contours N to join the outward route.

Summit:
Compact rocky outcrop reached by an easy scramble from the E, or from the S by jumping across a deep narrow gash (exposed!).

Difficulties:
There are several trails though the upper grassy part of the mountain, so routefinding could be an issue in poor visibility. Approaching the main (S) summit directly from the N summit there is a section of scrambling (c.20m length), quite exposed in places. However, staying low, there is a more round-about route which is grass throughout, albeit steep in places.

Notes:
This was the first ascent of our Ecuador trip - a popular and pleasant acclimatisation hike.

The first piece of drama occurred on the drive up to the start. We were following a large coach, which was making remarkably good progress on the steep, albeit well surfaced cobbled road. Then the convoy came to a halt: a piece of road had fallen away down the precipitous mountainside. There was room for our 4x4 to sneak past (and we later noticed that the coach had somehow got past).

From the trailhead, we were soon at the small house. Beyond it, a young lad on a horse advised us to turn L. This led into a cultivated field, where a campesino was waiting with a view to charging us each 10USD to go through his land! In fact we were off route and this was a simple scam - we didn´t pay, and refound the route higher up, despite the young horse-man telling us it was impossible to reach the summit that way (it was in fact straightforward to regain the trail).

Nice views opened up as the trail continued though typical tussocky grassland, muddy in places with a few small boggy stream crossings. Following our instincts we eventually reached the first summit, which our GPSs indicated was significantly lower than the expected 4199m. We descended steeply to a col and continued S along a ridge trail. The ascent to the S summit wound steeply upwards for a short way though trees, with some scrambling, quite exposed for a few metres. At the summit rock we took GPS readings which were more consistent with the expected elevation.

From the summit, a trail continues S along the grassy ridge, then we took a very steep grassy trail which curved round to the N, bypassing the N summit and rejoining our outward route, which we followed down (except we gave the agricultuiral diversion a miss!). Our driver Diego was there to meet us as we arrived, and we were taken back to our Quito hotel, Casa Helbling.

We had noted that most if not all parties that day visited the first - lower Pasochoa summit only.

Next day we climbed Pichincha - our first Ultra of the trip.

For guiding and trip logistics, see my Chimborazo report

There is a set of photographs on flickr.com

For further details and photographs, see trip reports by Petter Bjorstad www.ii.uib.no/~petter/mountains.html
also Adam Helman's trip report
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:911 m / 2989 ft
    Elevation Loss:911 m / 2989 ft
    Distance:8 km / 5 mi
    Grade/Class:YDS 2 (3)
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Warm, sunny periods
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:901 m / 2956 ft
    Extra Loss:60 m / 197 ft
    Distance:4 km / 2.5 mi
    Route:South ridge
    Trailhead:Normal trailhead (to S)  3357 m / 11017 ft
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:851 m / 2792 ft
    Extra Gain:10 m / 33 ft
    Distance:4 km / 2.5 mi
    Route:South ridge
    Trailhead:Normal trailhead (to S)  3357 m / 11017 ft
    Time Down:1 Hours 40 Minutes



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