CONGRATULATIONS to all the Challengers on our first six Charity Challenges of 2011, biking from Guatemala to Honduras, the inaugural Nicaragua Volcano Challenge, Brazil's Chapada Diamantina Challenge , Guatemala's first Caribbean Kayak Challenge, Perú´s Cerani Pass and Ecuador's Volcano Challenge. Nicaragua's second volcano Challenge is set for 3rd-6th November and the third Guatemala Volcano Challenge dates are set for 27th November -2nd December.

Click on the following for our most recent official project reports for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Perú and Brazil.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ecuador Challenge - done, with more than a dusting of snow!

Go Phoenix Ecuador! The first challenge completed, 3 volcanoes and a crater lake, over 4700 metres, ice, snow, cloud and a fantastic fundraising effort by all! Between the 19th and 22nd of August, a team of 8 volunteers, plus Marcel (our guide) set about conquering 3 of the volcanoes surrounding Otavalo, the base town for the GVI Phoenix Ecuador project.

Day 1, began with a slightly nervous but excited group heading up to Laguna Cuichoca (Guinea Pig Lake) at the foot of Cotacahi and circumnavigating the great crater at approximately 3.300m. A sunny day to warm up our limbs to view all 3 volcanoes that we would be summiting in the following 3 days and raising a few eyebrows, Cotacachi - its peak covered in snow and ice, breathtaking and in awaiting our climb on day 4.

On Day 2, we set out early to catch the best light and weather on Fuya Fuya. Up at Laguna Mojanda the 4.200m summit of Fuya Fuya loomed above us as we set off at a gentle pace. High gradient slopes and pampas grass a plenty, the team, where rewarded with some great views, birds of prey, clouds, and a short rock climb to the summit!

Day 3 saw us heading out at 6am to begin a mammoth hike up the north east face of Imbabura, the crater filled with snow from the night before. Up long steep-inclined, slippery grass slopes with the last 2 hours involving some tricky rock climbs, snow and even a small snow man! Thrilled at reaching the summit, covered in cloud, the team stopped to celebrate the 2 peaks before descending once again, with slipping, sliding and in some cases some spectacular falls - but without injury! It was 5pm by the time a very tired team clambered back on the bus ready for a full night sleep ahead of the final challenge - Cotacachi!

Day 4 - Up at 5am for breakfast and a 5.50am start on the icy and windy sloped of Cotacachi, beginning at 3600m. layered up, harnesses and helmets packed for later the team headed up the south face with 4 guides. The first 2 hours involved a gentle climb through more pampas grass, clear views up to the ever beckoning snow line and some amazing views down towards Quito, and the ‘Valley of the Volcanoes’. A full panorama of all volcanos complete with snow, Cotopaxi, Cayambe and even Chimborazo (the highest volcano as measured from the earths centre!)

After a quick stop for lunch we proceed to don our helmets and harnesses. Tied in groups to the guides we began a steep climb up into the clouds, finding holes in the snow and rocks to manouver ourselves upwards. A challenge in a true sense and involved some strong team work. Crossing crevices of rock, snow and ice for about 3 hours we managed to get up to 4,750m (about 100m from the actual summit!) where wind, snow and melting ice meant that we had to turn around.

Here on the ledge you can see us all, tired, happy and amazed at the sheer beauty of nature around us. Some 1500m below the kids and the rest of the volunteer team were below enjoying another day of summer school. Now the downward challenge... ropes, rappelling, laughter, near tears, more falling down and some keen sprints back to the van! By 4pm the team were sat enjoying a well earned beer, digesting the experiences of the day and toasting their success!

Thanks to all the team for their valiant efforts, team spirit and laughter and all of you that have supported and followed our progress on our first Challenge. A great 4 days for a fantastic cause - the education of the kids and communities here in Ecuador! As a team we have raised just over $10,000, all of which is going straight into the further education of the children in Larcacunga, Huayrapungo and Muenala. Cheers everyone - its been a blast!


How does GVI Phoenix make a difference?

The following film was made in Guatemala, though the message is the same across all GVI Phoenix projects