miércoles, 2 de abril de 2014

Two Famous Ecuadorians and The Pichincha Volcano

The mountains that surround Quito are a special attraction not only for the visitors but also for its inhabitants. Of course, all of them are volcanoes, more or less active; some have not seen activity perhaps in hundreds of years while one of them erupted just fourteen years ago, and this was precisely Pichincha.

In high school time I belonged to the Club of Mountaineering of Colegio San Gabriel, located just at the feet of Rucu Pichincha, one of the five summits belonging to Pichincha. It was a permanent invitation and we accepted it very often, specially after observing as two of our teachers, young Jesuit students at the time (‘maestrillos’ in the Jesuit argot), used to climb several of the summits in the morning and returned to lunch time!

This is a nice place to remember them: Hernán Rodríguez Castelo y Fabián Zurita. I don’t know if Hernán continued mountain activity upon returning to Ecuador after his studies of Theology in Comillas, Spain, and leaving the Jesuit Order, or if he ever climbed some while studying there. Fabián continued his passion for the mountain during and after his Theology studies in Granada, Spain, quiting the Jesuits afterwards and making mountaineering and education related to it a profession, and he keeps on working with groups that love mountain life and its values. Hernán, in the other hand, is perhaps the greatest humanist ever produced by Ecuador. He has written more than one hundred books and deals with several subjects with great rigor and skill: History, Art, Music, Literature, Theater, etc, and is member of the Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua and Academia Ecuatoriana de Historia. He is in his early 80’s and Fabián in his late 70’s. I remember both of them with special fondness.
I continued cultivating the taste for mountain during university time; however my climbing interests faded abruptly one day in 1967 when with a group of friends decided to go up to Rucu Pichincha’s summit, not through the route of the sandbanks but directly by the rocks that have the form of a backbone. It was not the first time that I had crossed this way, yet this time, as I got to the ‘Aguja’ and ‘Paso de la Muerte’ (Needle and Death Pass), I suddenly realized how dangerous it was and start asking myself what was I doing there! So I decided to go down the rocks through the south face of the Needle –that turned out to be a more dangerous route- and finally got to the summit and meet the other members of our group.

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