Alpinism in Ecuador
An extinct volcano, Carihuairazo offers an astonishing view from its summit at 5020 m, including a close up of the giant Chimborazo which is only 10 km away. No previous experience is necessary to climb Carihuairazo; due to its height it is generally preferred by those with little experience who wish to start the learning process, in order to later take on higher mountains such as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.
The standard route takes two days to climb, leaving from Riobamba and arriving in the Mechahuasca community the first day. That night will be spent in a refuge at 4200 m and from there we will begin our climb to the summit.
Chimborazo is an inactive volcano and the highest mountain in Ecuador; at 6263 m.a.s.l. its summit is in fact the furthest spot on the Earth’s surface from its center, due to the equatorial bulge. The mountain has a hut, access by road and offers several routes that take from two to four days to complete, depending on the weather conditions. None of the traditional routes require advanced technical knowledge, however it is important to fully acclimatize before the ascent. All these factors make it a very popular mountain, perfect for beginner climbers and mountaineers who want to test their skills in high altitudes. In order to acclimatize beforehand, we will spend some time at the base camp or hiking around the lower altitude volcanoes of the region.
Cotopaxi (5897 m) is an active volcano and the second highest mountain in Ecuador. Its deep crevasses and sustained slopes make this mountain one of the most beautiful climbs of the country. The standard route does not require much experience or technical skill in order to advance across the glacier, but it is important to know how to protect the key passes while one ascends in a zigzag pattern between huge ice walls. This makes for an unforgettable experience, but the best is still to come; once we reach the summit we can peer into the active crater. Cotopaxi is the most popular mountain to climb in Ecuador, especially to acclimatize before an ascent of Chimborazo. The average climber, with good weather conditions, only requires one day to climb Cotopaxi from the Refugio José Ribas.
Illinizas North and South
The Illinizas (North, 5126 m.a.s.l and South, 5248 m.a.s.l.) are located 55 km south of Quito, and are ideal for acclimatization ascents before taking on any of the higher or more technical mountains of the region. From Chaupi village we will head to the Refugio Nuevos Horizontes, the base camp for the two peaks. The Illinizas are not technical climbs, but are known for the high chance of electrical storm close to the pyramidal summits; it is essential to go with a guide who is extremely familiar with the weather conditions.
Popularly known as El Altar (5310 m), this mountain range formed following the explosion of a huge volcano that is now extinct. A stunning emerald green lake now nestles in the former crater. Due to its unique shape, which resembles an altar, the colonists named the peaks using religious terms: the Nun, Canon, Tabernacle and the Bishop. The approach to the mountain is a beautiful hike through a valley among colourful lakes formed by cascades of water falling directly from the glacier.
The admiration the Spaniards held for the volcano was also shared by the Incas, who named the mountain Capac Urcu, meaning “almighty mountain”, and it comes as no surprise; to be in front of El Altar is a majestic experience. It offers us the opportunity to attempt high level climbs and to approach its awe-inspiring glaciers as well as to complete hikes around the crater surrounded by jagged peaks, waterfalls and inhospitable valleys.
Another inactive volcano, Rumiñahui stands at 4721 m.a.s.l. and forms part of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is located in the Cotopaxi National Park, and boasts three distinct peaks, with the central peak (4600 m) being the most climbed. The northern and southern peaks can be climbed by more experienced alpinists. This climb will only take us one day, so is ideal for those wishing to acclimatise before attempting higher altitude climbs. Contact us to plan your ascent of Rumiñahui.
Walking on the slopes of a volcano is a great experience, but climbing to the summit of the most active volcano in the country is truly an expedition. Ecuador is a land of volcanoes, but Sangay is a different story; its name comes from samkay, which means “scare away” in the local indigenous dialect. In order to reach the base we must cross rivers, remaining attentive to the water level which changes constantly with the rain. The mountain is covered by a dome of smoke above its symmetric conical shape, product of the constant eruptions, however, over time the eruptions have formed drainage channels and this allows us to ascend without so much risk. At 5330 m.a.s.l. it is another excellent acclimatization climb before attempting the higher mountains, but not only that; it is also a unique trek through the wild rainforest.
En desarrollo de lo dispuesto en el artículo 17 de la Ley 679 de 2001, la agencia advierte al turista que la explotación y el abuso sexual de menores de edad en el país son sancionados penal y administrativamente, conforme a las leyes vigentes.