I spent the month of February exploring the wild diversity of Ecuador. Paige and I took our piece-of-crap rental car across what felt like every inch of Ecuadorian soil, from the Amazon Jungle to the tops of 4000 meter peaks and all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. The landscape in Ecuador is about as diverse as it gets and by the end of it all, our heads were spinning from the journey.
Our time spent on the equator was jam packed with rock climbing, road tripping, and working directly with one of our favorite Lead Now Tour non-profit partners, Heifer International. Heifer works to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development and we spent time with a family that raises alpacas and visited a farm that sustainably grows products that are sold in local markets.
I put together a collection of images from our trip that tell the story best so take a look and if you ever get the chance to visit the most bio diverse country on earth, don’t hesitate, you will never forget it.
We started out in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
The locals loved having their photos taken…
We visited the equator and saw some shrunken heads.
Paige did a slideshow and video night with Tattoo, a local gear shop in South America.
We made a quick stop into the local radio station for a chat and then hit the road in search of world class rocks to climb on.
First thing we saw was this lamb. Awww.
Then we got to sample some amazing, high quality granite at the entrance to the Amazon Jungle. La Guerica has lots of problems established already and piles of projects on every wall. Here, our friend David Gomez works on a nice v10 ish project.
Crux gaston thumb press to slab dyno.
I snagged the 2nd ascent of “Pachinko” (v8) and we hit the road, looking for sport climbing projects.
We met up with our road trip tour guide Christian Medina and he took us straight to a nice limestone mini cliff to work some projects. Just before any sending went down, the Ecuador mist rolled in and we were soaked.
Paige going for it on the project.
The team made a pit stop at the Tungurahua volcano to watch an eruption and capture some lava on film.
It was as rad as this photo makes it look. Ground shaking, ash spewing, growling mountain awesomeness.
Next stop was El Acantilado at the base of Chimboraso, the largest active volcano and mountain in Ecuador. We were blown away by the rock quality, the landscape and the routes! Here, Christian warms up on one of many classic 5.12s. The potential here is mind blowing with enough room for hundreds of high quality routes up and down the canyon.
Spectacular colors in the valley.
Paige made quick work of “Cinco Ocho” (5.13b) at nearly 13,000 ft.
We made our way to Cuenca to meet up with friends and check out some more projects at Cajas National Park. This is the view from our porch and you can see up into Cajas behind the C-Tres climbing gym!
We teamed up with Ecuadorian superstar, Margarita Cardoso to get to work on some projects. She is seen here working out the moves on what would become “Middle Earth” (5.13+).
Paige went to battle with the Middle Earth project for a few days and pulled off a heroic first ascent. This route sits right at 4000 meters elevation (13,000 ft). Technical 5.13 crimping leads to a hard credit card crimp face of 5.13+ with a 40 foot section of gently overhanging 5.13 at the top. Full value diverse climbing all the way to a powerful v5 exit boulder problem at the chains.
Check the video for all the action!
One of the main reasons we were in Ecuador was to work with Heifer and the farmers who benefit from their support. This woman shows off her guinea pig mamma, ready to give birth.
Guinea pig, called “cuy” in Ecuador, is a delicacy and we were invited to cook and eat a feast of the little guys. Paige and Marga cooked with the women and got the full experience.
Paige about to dig into a cuy leg for dinner.
We spent a day filming with a family that raises alpaca for wool which is spun into yarn to make clothing and other products to sell in local markets.
We got a full demo of spinning techniques from a master…
Our time spent in Ecuador was unforgettable and we made so many new friends that helped us on our journey. Working with Heifer was really special and it was a great way to connect directly with local families and experience the real side of Ecuador. To support Lead Now’s $10,000 fundraising goal for Heifer, visit crowdrise.com/leadnowtourecuador