Ecuador mountain climbing tours climb volcanos & snowcapped peaks

Sample itinerary mountain climbing tour

The volcanic mountain summits of Ecuador provide easy access to high-altitude climbing with their peaks reaching over 20.697 ft. (6.310m). Ecuador's glacier-covered mountains straddle the equatorial zone of the planet providing relatively warm mountaineering environments and a variety of technical climbing challenges. The Andes is the world's second highest mountain range, spanning from Colombia to the tip of Patagonia in southern Chile.

Conically shaped Cotopaxi is Ecuador's most popular mountain to climb. Technically easy, yet approaching 19.000 ft, this mountain has set personal altitude records for thousands of climbers.

Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak, was once claimed to be the world's highest mountain by legendary explorer Alexander Humboldt, and in one way he is correct: due to the equatorial bulge of the planet, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in the world if you measure from the center of the Earth instead of measuring from sea level.

Cayambe, Ecuador's third highest mountain, is a more technical climb. Located directly on the equator, it is the highest point on the planet that intersects the equatorial line.

Antisana, Ecuador's fourth highest mountain and one of the country's most difficult climbs, is also one of Ecuador's most scenic peaks.

Even though highly accessible, these peaks require a high degree of fitness and some mountaineering skills are necessary for all summit climbs.

We combine our climbing tours in Ecuador with the cultural and aesthetic experiences of the last wild places by the equator. Our experience offers you a safe trip through the most scenic and comfortable routes, scouted for those perfect campsites and unforgettable experiences, to help you discover the best of what's off the beaten track. In all our programs our summits attempts are 85% successful. 

key to enjoying the mountains of Ecuador is proper acclimatization, it is not just helpfull but necessary before attempting any of the summits due to the high altitude of the Andes. In case that you are afflicted by altitude sickness on a climb or you are physically exhausted, there will be no refund.

All climbing tours start and end in Quito and are accompanied and guided by Ecuadorian professional mountain guides, who are trained in rescue and all other aspects of mountain climbing. They are all members and certified by ASEGUIM, Ecuador's association of mountain guides. We also carry on those excursions modern communications, like two-way radio and/or cellular telephones with us in case of emergencies.

In the price of the tours are included all the transport from Quito to the mountains and back, all the refuge and hotel stays, the food provisions while climbing and of course guiding. The usual ratio on the glaciers is one guide for two climbers, extending it in some cases to three climbers.

Below is a sample itinerary that includes themost popular summit climbs in Ecuador with several days of acclimatizing before the first climb.

Day 1 - Quito

Most flights arrive late in the evening. We will meet you at the airport and take you to your boutique hotel.

Day 2 - Quito

We recommend that you take this day to relax, we will go over the equipment list and review the upcoming itinerary. Make any last-minute purchases.

We offer a scenic tour through Quito, a city of contrast between the Spanish colonial displays, pre-Colombian art and Inca culture. We also visit the national ethnological museum, which provides a good introduction to the history of Ecuador, several of the city's most interesting colonial churches, and the busy and traditional central market. Full day around of Quito.

Day 3 - Quito - Acclimatization Pasochoa (4.199m / 13.773ft)

We depart at 8.30 a.m. towards the 30 km south of Quito located Cerro Pasochoa at 4.199m (13.773ft). It is an ancient and highly eroded volcano which has been inactive since the last ice age. We drive up to the car park from where we follow the track as it contours the eastside of the mountain heading towards the rocky peak. This easy ascent will take us 3-4 hours to reach the summit. Rest for one hour, lunch, and hike down to the parking lot in about 2 hours, drive back to Quito in the afternoon.

Day 4 - Quito - Acclimatization Pichincha (4.794m / 15.724ft)

We take our first acclimatization ascent on the 4.794m (15.724ft) peak of the active volcano Guagua Pichincha. Quito is nestled on the slopes of this active volcano. Our primary goal here is to help each team member begin testing his or her response to higher elevation and to give our bodies a chance to get used to altitude, while enjoying the many photographic opportunities. Afternoon drive back to Quito.

Day 5 - Acclimatization Iliniza North Refuge (4.600m / 15.092ft)

After breakfast a mid-morning departure from Quito to Ilinizas and to the parking lot. We travel for the Panamericana high way, passing by very nice agriculture areas full of green pastures and many Volcanoes as part of the scenery. We will  arrive at the remote paramo, an area called la Virgén. From here it is a 3 hour hike up to the refuge, the refuge is situated at 4.600m. Dinner and sleep in the refuge.

Day 6 - Iliniza north summit (5.125m / 16.815ft)

Wake-up early in the morning at 5 AM. Breakfast, and departure for our 5.125m day summit attempt on Iliniza Norte. This peak is normally a fairly straight forward climb that sometimes requires for acclimatization days the trail on this mountain is sand and rock almost difficult for most the way, if the weather condition is not bad, with clouds for sure, it is very easy for the last section. On one part of the way we will use a fixed rope to pass or negotiate the famous "Death Pass." After this pass we have the summit. Three hours average to reach the summit. Picture time, Lunch. Descent for one 1,1/2 hours to the refuge, we rest before we go down to the parking lot. Our 4x4 transportation will take us to a historic hacienda near Cotopaxi National Park.

Day 7 - Cotopaxi Volcano Refuge (4.800m / 15.744ft)

Depart from our hacienda in the morning and cross a rich green and fertile valley, commonly referred to as "The Valley of the Volcanoes". After one and a half hours, we head east into The Cotopaxi National Park, where our driving destination ends at the Cotopaxi parking lot, situated at 4.550m (14.924ft) From here we have a forty-five minute hike with full packs up to the Jose Rivas Refuge on the northwest flank of Cotopaxi at 4.800m (15.744ft). After arrival at the hut, we will enjoy a hot tea and a short rest before a training session with climbing rope knots, Pruxiks and good tips for safety climbing in the mountains, rest, delicious dinner relax evening.

Day 8 - Cotopaxi volcano

Cotopaxi Glaciers School day. Wake up at 7 am for breakfast. We continue adjusting to altitude acclimatization. We go on the glacier at 8h30 AM. And engage in the moderate glacier section a good activity. The purpose is to become familiar with the various climbing techniques and working the equipment for climbing. Our guide will help you practice your glacier skills and all of the necessary techniques for climbing the high peak of Cotopaxi. We'll be learning and practicing rope-handling, glacier & snow climbing and basic crevasse rescue skills and safety techniques……. The general procedures for high peak mountains. After 6 hours training we are back to refuge for delicious lunch and resting afternoon, of course we prepare our mountain gear for a midnight departure for the Cotopaxi summit. Early dinner and early to bed, usually by 6:30 P.M.

Day 9 - Cotopaxi summit (5.897m / 19.427ft)

Wake up at midnight. Breakfast and equipment check-up. We leave the refuge at 1:00 A.M. We will pass a group of uniform slopes and ice ramps of 30 and 35 degrees before reaching a glacier platform. We enjoy one of the spectacular color displays in the Andes. From this point we see the valley below us where the morning sunrise welcomes us with incredible hues of color. Our route will pass under a base of rock 400 feet wide called Yanasacha. The quichua name says it all, its 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: Volcano Cotopaxi at 5.897m (19.427ft). Our approximate climbing time is 7 hours. Return to the refuge around 9 or 10:00 A.M. Rest and hike back down to the 4 x 4 where we'll return to our hacienda for a restful night.

Day 10 - Resting Day at hacienda

After Cotopaxi we highly recommending resting day at our hacienda, or if your feeling great, it is possible to visit several nearby attractions like indigenous markets or the Quilotoa crater lake at 3.900m. Overnight at the hacienda.

Day 11 - Chimborazo Refuge (4.800m / 14.545ft)

Depart from our historic hacienda at 10:00 A.M. Drive south of Cotopaxi where we will pass the agricultural towns of Latacunga and Ambato. Five hour drive crossing agricultural and indigenous areas where a picture or two can be taken. We will arrive at the lower refuge at Chimborazo mountain 4.800m (14.545ft).

Day 12 - Chimborazo

Chimborazo, with 5 summit routes, is Ecuador's highest mountain and one massive extinct volcano! We rise at midnight for breakfast and an equipment check-up. Leave the hut at 1:00 A.M. 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. A majestic Andean peak, from here we have a magnificent view of the emerging volcano's that form the eastern and western Cordillera. The volcanos 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 after 3 or 4 hours of descent, short resting in the refuge. In the afternoon we drive back to Quito. Arrival in Quito at 8 or 9 P.M, overnight at boutique hotel.

Day 13 - Quito - ?

Transfer out to your International flight or join a trip extension to Kumanii coastal rainforest lodge or enjoy a Galapagos cruise or Amazon tour

Trip Notes

The above is a sample itinerary prepared for a mountain climbing trip. It can be customized to fit the needs and special interests of your travellers.