Up Pichincha we go again. New students means lots of excitement and a good mixture of fear thrown in. 

 

First stop: the cable car which will take us up into and through the clouds on a 20-minute scenic view of the city before depositing us at 12,900 feet high.

 

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 This little guy decided to join me for this adventure. It's his first trip up and he knows he doesn't have the option to be the one to give up. All smiles 20 minutes in. (Actually all smiles til about 4 minutes before we reached our goal but a push through, a sandwich and 15 minutes of break time were enough to have him back up and running.)

 

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Our summit for the day. We lovingly coin the last group up the mountain "Team Despacio" as they slowly make their way up. I had the privilege of leading this group this trip up and it's truly my favorite. Though summiting always feels good, working at the back to encourage others through the struggle is such a sweet time to get to know the students. It becomes a team in a way that the frontrunners don't. Kyra, generally quiet and on the edges of a group, became an incredible leader with tricks and tips to keep the others pushing forward. Steph kept a smile going, despite her asthma making it really difficult to breathe. Sweet Raquel looked at me about 30 minutes in and wasn't sure she'd make it further. But for 3 more hours she put one foot in front of the other until she reached the cave ... where she couldn't even lift her head for a picture! This was an incredible crew to walk beside!

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