Day 1 - TRAVEL DAY • 9,350' | 2,800M
Depart U.S.A. Most flights arrive in Quito (UIO) in the late evening. Upon your arrival in Quito, a taxi ride takes you to our hotel. Overnight at Mercure Grand Hotel Alameda in Quito.
Day 2 - EXPLORE QUITO • 9,350' | 2,800M
We meet in the hotel lobby for an orientation meeting and our first team breakfast. The day is spent exploring Colonial Quito with our friendly and knowledgeable guide. We start by heading northwest out of Quito to arrive at Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World). Here we visit that Intinan Museum and experience the Coriolis Effect firsthand. After attempting to balance an egg on a nail, we explore the Museum's exhibits on the first peoples of Ecuador.
We return to Quito for a walking tour of Old Town. We visit at El Panecillo, a sculpture of Quito's Madonna, and take in the breathtaking 360 degree views of the city of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We continue our tour of the colonial architecture and streets such as the Calle La Ronda, Carondelet Palace, Independence Square, church of La Compania (1605), and the church and monastery of San Francisco (1535). There is time in the afternoon to relax and explore. (B)
Day 3 - ACCLIMATIZE RUCU PICHINCHA (15,696' | 4,784M) • 9,350' | 2,800M
After breakfast we take a short drive from Quito to the teleferico (gondola) which will carry us to approximately 13,500'. From there we stretch our legs and lungs with an acclimatization hike on Rucu Pichincha. The hike is beautiful, with views of Quito and most of the snow covered volcanoes in Ecuador, including Cotopaxi and Cayambe. We return to the hotel and the afternoon is free to explore the city and organize our gear for our departure from Quito the following morning. (B)
Day 4 - ACCLIMATIZE CERRO FUYA FUYA (13,986' | 4,263M) • 8,441' | 2,573M
Leaving Quito we travel north toward the town of Tabacundo. As the cobblestone streets end we make our way to the trail head of Cerro Fuya Fuya. The trail takes us through knee-high grass vegetation and achupallas (andean tall pineapples). The climb gradually becomes steeper as we gain altitude. The trail ends at the saddle between Fuya Fuya's two summits. We continue on toward the eastern summit which includes an easy scramble. We return to the vehicle and transfer to Otavalo where we spend the night. Hiking time is approximately 3 - 3 ½ hours. (B)
Day 5 - CAYAMBE CLIMBER'S HUT • 15,300' | 4,663M
We visit the legendary Otavalo Market. Woven wool textiles, jewelry, art, spices and local food overwhelm our senses as we experience the local culture and practice our bargaining skills. After lunch, we drive to the hut at the base of Cayambe. Hiking time is approximately 1 - 2 hours. Overnight at the hut. (B, D)
Day 6 - CLIMBER'S REVIEW • 15,300' | 4,663M
In the morning we hike out to the toe of the glacier to focus on reviewing basic mountaineering techniques that will prepare us for our summit attempt. We settle in early in anticipation of our alpine start. Overnight at the hut. (B, D)
Day 7 - SUMMIT DAY CAYAMBE (18,997' | 5,790M) • 11,400' | 3,475M
With an early alpine start for the summit, our route begins by climbing through some low rock outcroppings before stepping onto a spectacularly crevassed glacier. Once on the glacier, the route climbs directly to the upper reaches of the mountain, where a challenging final push to the summit awaits us. We return to the hut and transfer to Chilcabamba Eco Lodge, a traditional Ecuadorian farmhouse, located near the base of Cotopaxi where we spend the night. (B, D)
Day 8 - REST DAY • 11,400' | 3,475M
After several days of travel, acclimatization, and climbing we are rewarded with a bit of rest in preparation for our next objective. Chilcabamba Eco Lodge is the perfect place for our rest day. Climbers can choose to explore the local area on foot, horseback, or bicycle. Some may spend time enjoying a book in front of a fire or take a nap. (B, D)
Day 9 - JOSE RIBAS REFUGIO • 16,000' | 4,877M
After breakfast, a short drive takes us to the end of the road at the base of Cotopaxi. A 45-minute hike leads to the Jose Ribas Refugio at 16,000'. We settle in early in anticipation of tomorrow's summit day. Overnight at the hut. (B, D)
Day 10 - SUMMIT DAY COTOPAXI (19,348' | 5,897M) • 9,350' | 2,800M
With an early alpine start, we use the first hour to approach the glacier. A long, initial pitch gains access to an interesting maze of crevasses on the lower slopes of this beautiful volcano. The ascent then weaves through impressive crevasse fields before ascending the final steep slopes to the summit. The deep, sheer-walled volcanic crater is an incredibly impressive sight. After celebrating on the summit, we descend back to the hut. Upon reaching the vehicles, we leave the mountains and travel back to Quito. Climbing time is approximately 10 - 12 hours. (B)
Day 11 - TRAVEL DAY
We transfer to the airport for our outbound flights.
Key: B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.