Volcan Chimborazo and Nariz del Diablo

Riobamba Travel Blog

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....or Rioshambles soon re-christened it was a bit of a come down after Latacunga.  Riobamba is a big bustling town that may have every kind of shop you may want but is all a bit tacky and cheap.  Christmas shopping is in full swing and the market is dominated by cards all blaring out conflicting tunes.  Tinsel and plastic ornaments everywhere.  However out focus for our 2 days was a trip up Volcan Chimborazo (unofficially the highest mountain in the world - although only 6310m, the earths bulge at the equator means it is the furthest point from the centre of the earth), and taking the Devils Nose train.

On the advice of a couple of Germans in Chugchilan we booked into a hostel next to the train station (El Estacion) who had very helpful staff and immediately undercut pre quoted prices for Chimborazo and also got the train ticket office to come to us to sell Devils Nose tickets.

The day for climbing Chimborazo was very similar to Cotopaxi climb when we got very lucky with cloud clearing at right time.  However as we got closer to Chimborazo, it looked like going the other way as clouds darkened.  Half way up climb, we couldnt see a thing and the taxi driver must have thought us mad.  At least we had the place to ourselves as we got dropped off at the lower refuge to climb up to the upper refuge.  Marie immediately wrote the climb off as a bad idea.  Dave and I were about to agree when e saw a couple of climbers walking down who showed us where the path was and said the views were intermittent but we could get lucky.  That was enough encouragement and we set off up the final 200m to the upper refuge set at 5000m.

  The path was relatively easy but given altitude and recent exertions, every step was painful.  We made it to the top and still couldnt see anything.  However given a little patience, the clouds moved around and we got a reasonable view of the glacier, although not the peak.  We gave up after 45 mins and walked back down.  Quite sombre when we got back to the lower refuge to find a memorial with a about 50 head stones commemorating people who have died trying to reach the summit. We might have joined them had the driver not been supremely careful and good as I couldnt see the end of the bonnet on the driver back down the side of the mountain.

A 5.30 start today to get up in time for Nariz del Diablo.  This after a shocking night when 43 12-14 year olds turned up at midnight and rampaged around the halls.

  At 1.45 I charged out of the room to sort it out.  Dave later mused that a man in just his pants saying "por favor" to a group of 12-14 year old girls could have been construed an entirely different way, but thankfully it did the job and we got 3 hours sleep !! 

It turned out that the hostel had done us proud and got seats in the best carriage.  One of the most famous elements of the Devils Nose is sitting on the roof but unfortunately this is no longer allowed due to 2 Japanese getting decapitated on some cables above the train when standing up to take photos a few months ago. 

Dave was not in the mood for a 7 hour train journey the following day and used the first half of the journey to sleep.  The earlier scenery was nice but nothing special compared to recent trips.

  Only the last 2 hours is the actual Devils Nose descent and the scenery and shear feat of engineering was much more impressive.  However no sooner had we started the descent of the Devils Nose than on the first corner the train derailed (very common) and spent an hour wondering whether we were going to have to walk back to the previous town and miss Devils Nose.  It got sorted though and the reminder of the journey provided good photo opportunities.  A much needed relaxing day without phsyical exertions and good value at $11.

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photo by: Adrian_Liston