Cayambe 5970 m – 5 Days

ECU-15 / 5-day trip / GradeF

Cayambe Climbs 5790 m

Cayambe (5790 m) is a dormant volcano, the highest point of the equator line in the world and third highest mountain in Ecuador. It is beautifully located on the Eastern range, between the valley known as the “Avenue of the Volcanoes” and the Amazon basin.

The British mountaineer Edward Whimper, Juan Antonio Corral, Luis Carrel, Verita and Ceballos made the first recorded ascent in 1880. It has one of the most extensive glaciers in the country, and the climb is quite long, though it is not technically difficult. The glacier crossing has to be done carefully, as it has a few sections that are crevassed and some others that present avalanche risk, which demands a good reading of the terrain.

Due to its location, on clear days the view over the neighboring valleys and volcanoes is stunning . An experience not to be missed!

In line with our philosophy, the programs described below are designed to achieve a degree of acclimatization while enjoying the climb of other summits. The goal is to be well trained and acclimatized, in order to have the best possible options during the summit bid. In this program the ascents prior to Cayambe are progressive and all aim to provide a good overall experience while visiting different locations.

Day 1 Climb: Pasochoa Volcano (4164 m)
Day 2 Climb: North Iliniza Volcano (5126 m)
Day 3 Cayambe – Glacier training (4680 m)
Day 4 Cayambe’s mountain hut (4621 m)
Day 5 Climb: Cayambe Volcano (5790 m)
Day 1

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 transferred (2 h) to a mountain lodge near the town of El Chaupi (2930 m).
Night in the mountain lodge.
Ascent: 516 m / Descent: 516 m / Highest altitude: 4164 m / Activity duration: 5 h
Included meals: Picnic, Dinner

Day 2

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 after a 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 a short break at the hut, the hike continues 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 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 back to the mountain lodge.
Night in the mountain lodge.
Ascent: 1266 m / Descent: 1266 m / Highest altitude: 5126 m / Activity duration: 7-9 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 3

Cayambe – Glacier training (4680 m)
After a good rest and a well deserve breakfast, a 3 hours transfer will take the group to the Cayambe’s Parking area (4350 m). Then a 1 hour hike to the Cayambe’s mountain hut, a short break for a warm beverage, continuing the hike for another 30 minutes, first down and then slightly up, to the low part of the glacier that is located just in front of the hut. Once there (4680 m), 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 parking place and transferred to the town of Cayambe to spend the night at a lower elevation (2600 m) and in the comfort of a cozy hotel, before the summit attempt.
Ascent: 330 m / Descend: 330 m / Highest Altitude: 4680 m / Activity duration: 4-5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 4

Cayambe’s mountain hut (4621 m)
Easy relaxing morning at Cayambe’s hotel and after lunch transfer (1 h) back up to the parking place. Again a short hike to the Ruales-Oleas-Berge hut (4621 m), a very nice refuge with all the basic services as restaurant, toilets and dormitories with bunkbeds. 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 middnight.
Night at the hut in dormitories with bunkbeds.
Ascent: 271 m / Highest Altitude: 4600 m / Activity duration: 1 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Climb: Cayambe Volcano (5790 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 heading up a moraine for about 1.5 -2 hours. Once on the edge of the glacier, 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 climb of Cayambe is quite long and requires endurance and a good deal mental strength. Cayambe’s glacier is on the biggest ice masses in the country and its climb, even though is not technically difficult, it has a series of crevassed areas and some few icy slopes that make the route interesting. The first section of the glacier is a gentle slope until a rocky formation called Picos Jarrin, from there the route goes by a main ridge that leads up to the summit. There are some few icy sections and passages on the ridge. The main obstacle on the higher part of the mountain is the altitude, so perseverance is the key factor. The weather on Cayambe changes rapidly, as it is located on the Eastern range looking down into the amazon, so this is also a determining factor for a successful ascent. The climb takes an average time of 7-8 hours. The summit is just spectacular and with luck, the view worth every step of the way. The descent is done taking back the same way and it usually takes between 3-4 hours. Once back at the huts and after the whole group reunites, the team will hike down to the parking place and drive back to Quito (3 h).
Ascent: 1169 m / Descent: 1440 m / Highest Altitude: 5790 m / Activity duration: 10-12 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

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  • Local English speaking mountain guide during the entire program
  • Local English speaking assistant mountain guide during the entire program from 5 PAX
  • Private transportation throughout the entire program
  • 2 nights in shared double rooms in the Mountain lodge at El Chaupi
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in the town of Cayambe
  • 1 nights in shared dormitory at Cayambe’s mountain hut – Ruales-Oleas-Berge
  • Entry fee to the National parks and natural reserves
  • Group common climbing equipment
  • Climbing assistant guides: for Pasochoa ratio 1:5, for Iliniza ratio: 1:4 and for Cayambe ratio: 1:2
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary


  • Domestic and international flights
  • Personal camping and climbing equipment
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list

CHAUPIHuerta Sacha Mountain Hut or similar

CAYAMBE: Hacienda San Luis or similar

CAYAMBE’S NATIONAL PARK: Mountain Hut Ruales-Oleas-Bergé (no website)


Tags: Climbing, Ecuador, Volcanoes, Cayambe, F, F grade