Ecuador’s Tropical Volcanoes

ECU-11a / 9-day trip / Grade: F

PEAKS: Pasochoa (4164 m) – Guagua Pichincha (4784 m) – Iliniza (5126 m) – Cotopaxi (5897 m)

CLIMBING ECUADOR
OVERVIEW

The highest volcanoes of Ecuador are ideal for climbing for several reasons. Firstly, because of their sheer beauty – rising like giants in the otherwise green Andes region right along the Equator line. Secondly, because their proximity to Quito make them very accessible to mountaineers. The surrounding Andes region with its beautiful landscapes, gorgeous nature and exotic indigenous villages and cultures, make this climb an experience of a lifetime.


Day 1 Arrival in Quito
Day 2 Quito – Full day City Tour (2850 m)
Day 3 Climb: Pasocha volcano (4164 m)
Day 4 Climb: Guagua Pichincha volcano (4794 m)
Day 5 Ilinizas – Nuevos Horizontes hut (4677 m)
Day 6 Climb: North Iliniza (5126 m)
Day 7 Cotopaxi – Glacier training (4990 m)
Day 8 Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m)
Day 9 Departure
ITINERARY
Day 1

Arrival in Quito
Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Quito: Full day City tour with “Mitad del Mundo”
Full day private city tour in the historical part of Quito, including La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and El Panecillo Hill. We leave the hotel by our private transport and will see the transformation from the new part of the city to the absolutely beautiful historical and colonial part of Quito. We will make some stops during the tour and visit all the interesting churches, plazas etc., but also will have time to simply soak up the local atmosphere, the many shops and sellers. Afterwards, we continue to “El Panecillo”, the hill in the center of Quito overlooking the city and the historical center. From here, on clear days, we may observe several of the snow-capped volcanoes surrounding Quito.
 After lunch, visit to “Mitad del Mundo” where you can stand on the equatorial line and do some fun experiments.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3

Climb: Pasochoa Volcano (4164 m)
Pick-up at hotel in Quito and transfer (2 h) to the head of trail, located at an altitude of 3848 m. From this point a very well marked trail will lead the way by farm land up to the a paramo area. Here the trail heads southwards ascending progressively until the base of the crater. The last section is the steepest, following a mountain trail up to the crater rim. The last meters to the summit are done by the edge of the crater with nice views down to the valley of Machachi also known as the “Volcanoes Avenue” and the highlands to the west. On clear days there is a perfect view to the Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Rumiñahui and Artisana volcanoes. The descend is following back the same trail. Back at the starting point the group will be taken back (2 h) to Quito.
Night in hotel.
Ascent: 516 m / Descent: 516 m / Highest altitude: 4164 m / Activity duration: 5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 4

Climb: Guagua Pichincha volcano (4794 m)
The Pichinchas are three summits located on the Western range just above Quito. The Guagua Pichincha is the highest and the youngest of the summits, the other two are the Rucu Pichincha and the Padre Encantado (Enchanted father) and both of them lower. Guagua is also where the last eruption took place in the year 1999, but it is considered safe to climb by the geologist. The Guagua and the Rucu are very popular ascents, due to their location on the outskirt of the capital and their convenient access.
Pick-up at the hotel in Quito and transfer (2 h) to the head of the trail to a parking place at 4150 m. From the parking place, the hike will ascent by a “paramo” area finding it way through changing vegetation up to the moraine. The ascent is very straight forward, but the distance to cover is anyway considerable. There is a big gain in altitude during the hike, which works great as a preparation for higher summits. The trail back is the same of the ascent. From the parking place there is a 2 hours drive along the beautiful “Volcano Avenue” to a mountain lodge located close to the town of El Chaupi (2930 m).
Night in the mountain lodge.
Ascent: 644 / Descent: 644 m / Highest altitude: 4794 m / Activity duration: 6 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 5

Ilinizas – Nuevos Horizontes hut (4677 m)
The climb starts after an 1 hour transfer from the mountain lodge up to the parking place located at 3680 meters. From here, the group will follow a trail by the “paramo” (Andean highland), which changes as it gains altitude into a rocky moraine. The terrain gets steeper reaching a well marked ridge that ascend to a valley that divides the twin peaks and where the Nuevos Horizontes hut (4677 m) is located. After arrival the mountain guide will give the pertinent instruction for the next day’s climb and will help to prepare all the needed gear. The Nuevos Horizontes hut is a very, very basic accommodation with one big area, where both the bunkbeds and the kitchen are located. The hut has the basic services as kitchen, dinning tables and toilets.
Night in dormitory with bunkbends.
Ascent: 817 m / Highest altitude: 4677 m / Activity duration: 3-4 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 6

Climb: North Iliniza Volcano (5126 m)
This morning’s goal is to climb the North Ilinza, one of the twin summits of the Iliniza massive. The north summit is the easier of the two from a technical point of view, but still a demanding physical ascent. The climb starts from Nuevos Horizontes hut (4677 m), the hike heads towards the col and then up to the north. The climb in it self is very panoramic, as it follows the southern ridge of the mountain with spectacular landscapes on both sides. During the ascent there will be short easy scrambling sections before reaching the summit. Depending on the logistics, weather conditions and the physical shape of the team, the descent can be done by the same trail or following the northern ridge, down a big scree area making it into a circular route. Back at the parking place, the team will be transferred (3 h) to Cotopaxi National Park for a good rest after the climb.
Night in dormitory with bunkbends.
Ascent: 449 m / Descent: 1266 m / Highest altitude: 5126 m / Activity duration: 8 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Cotopaxi – Glacier training (4990 m)
After a good rest and a well deserve breakfast, a 2 hours transfer will take the group to the Cotopaxi’s Parking area (4587 m). Then an 1-hour hike to Cotopaxi’s mountain hut (4847 m), a short break, and then continuing the hike for another 45 minutes up to the low part of the glacier (4990 m). Once there, the team will gear up and follow the guide’s instruction in the use of crampons, ice axe, rope and all the appropriate technical gear for the climb. This is in no way an alpine course, just a brief introduction into the technics need for the ascent. This activity will also improve the acclimatization due to the physical activity in altitude. After the training, the team will head back down to the hut for the night (4847 m). The rest of the afternoon is for the climb’s preparations. The guides will do a detailed briefing about all the aspects of the ascent and help with all the gear. An early dinner will be serve and then rest, until the guides call for breakfast, usually around midnight.
Night at the hut in dormitories with bunk beds.
Ascent: 403 m / Descend: 143 m / Highest Altitude: 4990 m / Distance: 1.2 km one way / Activity duration: 4 – 5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Climb: Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m)
The summit day starts very early; departure time will be set by the mountain guides, according to the team’s physical condition and the weather-forecast, usually in the range between 11 PM and 2 AM. Breakfast will be served 1 hour before the scheduled departure. The team will begin the ascent from the hut following a well marked trail that gently ascents over a fine stoned moraine for about 1 hour. Once on the edge of the glacier (4990 m), the group will gear up and divide, in case of a big group, into smaller teams in a range of 2 clients for 1 guide. The Cotopaxi’s climb requires endurance and a good deal mental strength. Cotopaxi’s glacier is quite save and the climb not technically difficult, but there are a few crevassed areas and some few icy slopes that make the route interesting.
The first section of the glacier is a gentle slope that gets steeper as it goes higher, there is a series of switchbacks know as “Heart Breaker”, being the toughest part of the ascent due to its demanding steepness and continuity. After this a very nice ridge gradually gains altitude, passing close to the prominent rock face know as “Yanasacha” at about 5630 m. From this point a relatively long traverse to the right before another set of switchbacks that lead up to the crater’s rim and few meters later to the main summit. The climb takes an average time of 7-8 hours. Cotopaxi’s summit is one of the most spectacular ones, looking down into the double rim crater and, on clear days, it is possible to see most of the neighboring volcanoes as: Antisana, Cayambe, Ilinizas, Chimborazo, El Altar and the active Tunguragua. The descent is done following back the same way, taking between 3-4 hours. Once back at the huts and after the whole group reunites, a short hike down (20 minutes) to the parking place and drive back to Quito (3 h).
Night in hotel.
Ascent: 1050 m / Descent: 1315 m / Highest Altitude: 5897 m / Distance to the summit: 2.47 Km & Distance from summit to parking place: 3.22 Km / Activity duration: 10-12 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 9

Departure
Time to leave the volcanoes of Ecuador!
Pick up at hotel and transfer out to Quito’s Airport (1-2 h) – End of services
Included meals: Breakfast

PRICING
ECU-11a – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.


INCLUDED

  • Local English speaking mountain guide during the entire program
  • Local English speaking City tour guide on day 2
  • Private transportation throughout the entire program
  • 4 nights in shared double rooms in hotels in the city of Quito
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in the Mountain lodge at Iliniza’s Park
  • 1 night in shared dormitory at Iliniza’s mountain hut – Nuevos Horizontes
  • 1 night in shared dormitory at Cotopaxi’s low mountain hut – Tambo-Paxi
  • 1 night in shared dormitory at Cotopaxi’s high mountain hut – Jose Rivas
  • Entry fee to the National parks and natural reserves
  • Entry fees to museums and sights mentioned in the program
  • Pasochoa, Pichincha & Iliniza volcanoes assistant mountain guides ratio: 1:4
  • Cotopaxi assistant mountain guides ratio: 1:2
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary

NOT INCLUDED

  • Domestic or international flights
  • Separate airport transfers in case of multiple arrival/departures
  • Insurance
  • Personal climbing and camping gear
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list
HOTEL LIST

QUITO: Hostal Fuente de Piedra 1 & 2  or similar

CHAUPIHuerta Sacha Mountain Hut or similar

ILINIZAS NATIONAL PARK:: Mountain Hut Nuevos Horizontes (no website)

COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK: Low Mountain Hut Tambo-Paxi  or similar

COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK: High Mountain Hut Jose Rivas (no website)

MAP
GALLERY
Tags: Climbing, Ecuador, Cotopaxi, Iliniza, Pasochoa, Pichincha, F, F grade, Cotopaxi’s National Park