Even the smaller peaks in Ecuador are higher than most anything in the continental U.S. We got in an early climb of GuaGua before the students came, then went back with all of them a few days into the course. It was full on winter conditions; cold and wet with horizontal snow. The weather was so bad that I didn't even take my camera out of the pack.
Several days later, we headed 60km north to Caymbe, an extinct stratovolcano that tops out at 18,996'. The drive winds up rutted 4WD roads through the Andean highlands, and the amateur ornithologists among us (ok, that's probably just me) were excited to see three Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus)! FYI, it's the only true Vulture in the world, can live to be 50 years old, and has a wingspan of up to 10 feet in width!
We spent two nights in the hut, el refugio, at about 15,000', but fresh snow and warm weather brought high avalanche danger. We made two attempts at the summit, but due to conditions, never got higher than ~17,000'. Translated, that meant a lot of time eating, sleeping, and playing endless games of Gin Rummy.Passing the time in the hut.
Learning snow skills and rope management at the foot of the glacier.
Dawn, high on the rock ridge before the Cayambe glacier. The hut can be seen in the lower right hand corner