With its perfect snow-capped cone, Cotopaxi is the most famous volcano for mountaineering in Ecuador. With 5897 m, it is the second highest mountain in the country. It is located in Cotopaxi National Park, 55 km south from Quito, and you can go either from there or from the city of Latacunga. Climbs can be attempted year round and there is a refuge at 4800 m.
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Cayambe is another beautiful option, with much less people than in Cotopaxi.
It is the third highest mountain in Ecuador (5790 m), and located 65 km northeast from Quito. The “Glaciar Hermoso”, easily accessible from the refuge at 4600 m, is a great place to learn and practice climbing techniques in snow and ice.
It can also be climbed year round, but the best time of the year to do it is from October to January.
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Chimborazo is the highest point in Ecuador. Once considered the highest mountain in the world, with 6268 m it is the farthest point from the center of the Earth.
The normal route to reach its summit is in the southwest face. To avoid clouds and rock fall hazard, the ascent in the summit day must begin around midnight.
Chimborazo is climbable year round however, the best climbing months are June and July and December through early January. February through May is known for bad weather, especially in the month of April.
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Placed in a majestic setting, Antisana is one of the least climbed volcano due to its reputation as a difficult mountain. But this is compensated with spectacular views of Cotopaxi and Cayambe, and the usual presence of Andean condors. Located in the eastern range of the Andes, next to the Amazon-basin, it can get quite cloudy, so the best season to go there are the dry months between December and February.
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Off the beaten track, El Altar is a demanding climb that can be an exciting challenge for experienced mountaineers. Its nine summits offer many technical routes, and unlike the other mountains, trips to El Altar require a week. The reward is the vast, impressive scenery, which you’ll enjoy almost on your own.
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This was our choice, of course. Feel free to suggest any location to climb in Ecuador you think we might have overlooked!
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