You can´t climb like that. You will die” , Enrique Veloz, our guide told me at base camp: “I have never met a more insane person than you.”
His reasoning came from the fact that I had no proper alpine climbing gear. We stood at the foot of the perfect volcano, Chimborazo, 6262 meters high. A perfect cone. I was dressed in trainers, with two halfs off a crampon on each foot, mums home made sweater, mums home made knitted gloves and knitted hat. I could only afford the hiring of an ice axe, which i had no idea how to use. Temperature at base camp was around -15 degrees C. This was 1986, when things were stil possible to become a classic. Meaning no safety tech of today. Like satellite phones, Garmin GPS:Es or PLB:S.
“I take the responsability”, I said. Why all this gear I thought.
We shared the lodge at the basecamp with teams of real alpinists which had all the necessary equipment. But I had cycled from the start of the continent to the base of the volcano, and I thought, that wuld be enough to get up. I was the only one to believe that.
At midnight we all set off. It was damn cold. The pro´s set off like rockets and those who didn´t would pass us with speed later during the climb. Every time Enrique would say:
“These are real alpinists!”
We had a very nice humble German with us, who paid for it all more or less, Cosmo i called him, he was to say the least slow. When we reached the plateau of the volcano, the other teams where back in camp. I remember I was really cold, since my gear was useless, and tired, so when Enrique asked if we wanted to to go to the top, both me and Cosmo said no, but Enrique laughed and said:
“You are not real alpinists!”
So we slogged the last hour up to the top and then went down. It took a long time. Cosmo was tired. I was tired. My trainers were just…not good enough and I now had the crampon on top of my shoe. Enrique just said:
“You are just not real alpinists!”
He was not that nice to Cosmo and we had an argument about this. Never critizise the one who pays your bills I said. I didn´t go down well.
I tell you this story because I egt a lot of emails from people who think they need all this kit to be able to do things, This story proves that is BS.
By the way, I have been given three medals of bravery since this, Enrique. But I am still no real alpinist!
PS. This climb was done 1986 when I was 24. It is certainly not recommended to do it this way. Neither back then or today. DS