Sunday, March 02, 2008

Journey to the Middle of the World

U.S. Route 66 has some stiff competition in Ecuador when it comes to roadside attractions. Ranging from cheesy to educational, you will find everything from helado shops with clown face trash cans, fresh fruit stands, grazing llamas and vicuñas and an occasional educational exhibit.

Think you know the highest point on earth? Don't dare to utter "Mount Everest" to an Ecuadorean, since they will likely contend it's Mount Chimborazo. I've seen both mountains but have climbed neither. I won't try weighing in on the issue but will share this explanation from the Physics Factbook:

Though most people have recognized the highest point as Mount Everest, Mount Chimborazo located near the city of Riobamba, Ecuador may also be considered as the highest point on earth. Although it is not as well known as Mount Everest, standing at 6310 meters it is also quite remarkable. Mount Chimborazo can be regarded as the highest point on earth because the planet is widest at the equator. The summit of Mount Chimborazo is then 3219 m further from the center of the earth than Mount Everest, making it what some consider the highest point. On the summit of Mount Chimborazo people will weigh less than any other location on earth.

I didn't really feel any magnetic energy when standing on the hemispheric dividing line, but there was something drawing me to that hombre in the orange hat who offered a nifty explanation of Mount Chimborazo's claim to being the king of all mountains. He had a voice that could melt snow on either of my poles.

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At 7:14 PM, Blogger kimy said...

happy that there are still some glaciers on this rapidly melting planet!

how was the breathing?

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Kim - My breathing was fine.

There are still glaciers in Ecuador, but many are disappearing. One of the key themes of our trip was the impact of global warming on indigenous campesinos. Details to follow...

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Thanks for the information. I find this very interesting. I was going to ask about the breathing as well. When I was in New Mexico (yes, I think it was there) we were warned about the high altitude and the effect on our breathing and it did take me a day or so before I felt myself again. (LOL - "I felt myself" I am such a kid.)

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gary - I am naturally light headed, I guess, but altitude doesn't bother me too much. We were at 9,000 - 12,000 feet. Bolivia is much more intense since you start at 12,00 and go up to 17,000.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger WAT said...

The actual point point of the Equator! Hence, the country's name! Fascinating stuff! I must research this Mt. Chimborazo now, in LA CORDILLERA DE LOS ANDES.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger WAT said...

Yeah, u best stay in San Francisco, 'cause WAR is coming to SOUTH AMERICA!

At 4:46 PM, Blogger jason said...

Well, I don't know about the rest of the class, but I certainly learned something today.

(And a pole melting voice you say?



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