Hike up to Rucu Pichincha (4796 m). We leave from Quito at 8AM after breakfast, and travel to the cable car in Quito to make an initial altitude gain. We ascend at the 4796 m peak of the ancient Rucu Pichincha volcano. From the top we can see the Guagua Pichincha active volcano. Quito is nestled on the slopes of this active volcano. My primary goal here is to help each team member begin testing their response to higher altitude and to give our bodies a chance to get used to altitude, while enjoying the many photographic opportunities. The hike is around 3-4 hours up and 2 hours down to the cable car. We arrive at the hotel around 4-5PM.
Included: Breakfast, Lunch. Hotel not included.
After breakfast we depart from Quito to Ilinizas parking lot. We will leave Quito on the Pan-American Highway southbound where we cross a rich green and fertile valley of Machachi. It’s commonly referred to as “The Valley of the Volcanoes”. After 1:30h drive from Quito we arrive at a remote paramo in an area called la Virgins parking lot at (3900 m). From here we can hike for 3 h to reach the refuge (4600 m). On our hike we can cross the wonderful forest Polilepis trees (also called “árbol de papel” or “quinuar”). In the hike up we see beautiful landscapes. We arrive at the refuge around 3-4PM.
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Refuge
We wake up early in the morning (5-6AM). We leave out to summit day attempt on Iliniza Norte. This peak is normally a fairly straightforward climb for acclimatization. The trail up on this mountain is sound and easy for most of the way when there is no snow. But if the weather is bad, cloudy or snowy, it is very easy to lose the trail. On one part of the route we will use a fixed rope to pass the “Death Pass”. If the conditions are risky, I will give you all the safety to enjoy your climbing acclimatization day. After this pass we continue hiking up until the summit. The average time to the summit is 3 h or less. At the summit, picture time, resting to recover the energy, enjoying the nature, etc. Afterwards we prepare to descend for 1:30 h to the refuge. After 1 h rest we pack our backpack to go down to the car park where our car transportation will take us out for one of our hotel destination near to Cotopaxi National Park for a good rest night.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch. Hotel La Estacion
Recovering breakfast at La Estacion. Then we leave at 9AM from Machachi to Cotopaxi National Park. We continue our altitude acclimatization on the process of climbing Mt. Cotopaxi. The Cotopaxi car park is situated at 4550 m. From here we have a 45 min hike up with full packs to the Jose Rivas Refuge on the Cotopaxi flank North-West (4800 m). After arrival at the hut, we enjoy a hot tea and a short rest before climbing school training. We can go into the glacier around 11AM and work on the moderate glacier section, a good area to familiarize ourselves with the various climbing techniques and equipment. I will ensure you have the necessary glacier skills and all the techniques for climbing the high peaks like Cayambe, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. You’ll learn and practice rope-handling, glacier travel, snow climbing and basic crevasse rescue skills and safety techniques, i.e. the general procedures for high peak mountains. After a 5-hour training we will return to the refuge around 5PM. Lunch at the glacier. Late in the afternoon we go back by car.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch. Tambopaxi Hostel.
In the morning we can take a rest if you feel tired. We stay at the hostel just to relax. If you feel good to make an small and easy hike, we can do it too. We can visit the big spring water that comes out from the foot of the Cotopaxi. We can also visit the Incas ruins (el Salitre). This hike lasts 3 hours. Then we return to the hotel for lunch. Then we can move up to the refuge again to continue our process for climbing Cotopaxi. We arrive at the refuge around 3-4PM. Early dinner at 5:30PM and early to bed, usually by 6:30PM.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch. Tambopaxi Hostel.
We wake up at midnight. Breakfast and equipment check. We leave the refuge at 1AM. We will pass a group of uniform slopes and ice ramps of 30 and 35 degrees before reaching a glacier platform. We will enjoy one of the spectacular color displays in the Andes. From this point we will see the valley below us where the morning sunrise welcomes us with incredible colors. Our route will pass under a base of rock 400 feet wide called Yanasacha. The quichua name says it all, it’s a black wall of impressive size. The Indians called it the route of the moon. Here we start climbing glacier slopes of 35 and 45 degrees, at the top of which we will only have 15 more minutes climb to emerge onto Ecuador’s second highest summit: Cotopaxi (5897 m). Our approximate climbing time will have been 7 hours. Return to the refuge around 9-10AM. Rest and hike back down to the 4×4 in the parking lot and then drive to Latacunga City.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch. Hotel Cotopaxi.
After Cotopaxi I recommend a rest day and visit Quilotoa crater lagoon (3900 m). We spend a full day around the stunning lagoon of Quilotoa. After this visit we can sleep by the small village (Chugchilan) in the afternoon drive down to the hostel.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch, dinner. Mama Hilda Hostel.
We will depart from Hostal Mama Hilda at 8AM and drive south of Cotopaxi where we will pass the agricultural towns of Latacunga and Ambato. It is a 5-h drive crossing agricultural and indigenous areas. At the end of the ride, we will arrive at the lower refuge of Chimborazo (4800 m).
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch, dinner. Refuge.
Chimborazo, with 5 summits, is Ecuador’s highest mountain and a massive volcano! We will rise at midnight for breakfast and an equipment check and leave the hut at 1AM. We move immediately to the huge glacier on Chimborazo’s southwest face where we first traverse moderately angled ice slopes, climb through a series of icefalls and up the steep ice ramps. Climbing simultaneously on moderate grounds belaying up the steep pitches. Our team will rope together in order to cross crevasses and finally make it to the summit. This is the highest point of the Ecuador Andes peak. From here we have a magnificent view of the emerging volcanoes that form the eastern and western Cordillera. The said volcanoes seem to emerge from the clouds below our feet. Our approximate climbing time is 8 to 9 hours. After good pictures and resting on the top of the mountain we will return to the refuge. In the afternoon we drive back to Quito. Arrival in Quito at 7-8PM.
Included: Breakfast, Box Lunch. Hotel Not Included
- 6 nights at La Estacion & Tambopaxi into the Cotopaxi National Park
- 2 nights at refuges.
The information about meals and accommodation included is detailed in the daily itinerary.
Some mountain equipment is included: boots, crampons, ice axe, harness with carabineer, helmet, pants, mitons
ASEGUIM Mountain Guides from Ecuador
We are a group of ASEGUIM certified guides (Association of Mountain Guides in Ecuador) with 20 years of experience in climbing adventures, trekking, rock climbing, cycling, rafting and kayaking in outstanding destinations of Ecuador, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
Our tours combine physical challenges with cultural experiences in the most scenic and wild places of South America. We aim to take you off the beaten tracks, exploring the best locations in a comfortable and safe experience.
We believe acclimatization is an essential factor when approaching high mountains like the Ecuadorian volcanoes. Because of that, we carefully design our programs to provide a good acclimatization through a series of gradual climbs and some training sessions between attempting big objectives.
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