Our trip begins in Quito, the capitol city of Ecuador. Located fifteen miles south of the equator and at an altitude of 9,350′, Quito sits in a high altitude valley that is known as the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.” We explore the city’s mix of colonial and modern streets and rich history while hiking in the surrounding hills to build our acclimatization.
We next turn our focus to Cayambe (18,997′), the third highest peak in Ecuador. Sleeping at the climber’s hut at over 15,000′, we use the mountain’s glaciers to review and practice our mountaineering techniques. On our summit attempt we climb to the only snow capped point on earth sitting on the equator.
Our final climbing objective is the soaring conical shaped volcano of Cotopaxi (19,348′), one of the country’s most famous peaks.
With our climbing techniques refined and now feeling properly acclimatized we make our way to the climber’s hut at 16,000′ on Cotopaxi. Our climb brings us up Cotopaxi’s massive glaciers and through its fields of crevasses to the summit perched along the airy volcanic rim.
Cotopaxi and Cayambe offer superb alpine climbing for intermediate climbers. Both climbs involve moderately steep slopes and prior knowledge of roped travel, crampon techniques, and ice axe arrest is recommended; a review of these basic mountaineering techniques is built into the itinerary. This climb is ideal for mountaineers looking to build their climbing skills, climb to new elevations, and take part in the excitement of an international climbing expedition.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Denali and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels to transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.
Our Ecuador climbs are led by RMI’s top U.S. guides, who bring years of climbing experience in Ecuador and on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated. Additionally, joining our programs is an experienced Ecuadorian guide with whom we have partnered for many years. Jaime Avila, Freddy Tipan, and Esteban Mena are accomplished guides who have climbed around the world, from Ecuador to the Himalaya.
We use RMI’s own climbing equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of safety, quality, and reliability are met. We’ve chosen our lodges and meals to keep our team comfortable, happy, and healthy throughout the climb. We use private vehicles to travel between the different peaks, minimizing our time spent on the road and allowing us to travel more safely. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.
Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Ecuador’s Volcanoes. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, daily weather forecasts via satellite, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the trip.
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.
We meet in the hotel lobby for an orientation meeting and our first team breakfast. The day is spent exploring Colonial Quito with a local tour guide. We visit Independence Square, church of La Compania (1605) and the church and monastery of San Francisco (1535). We will also travel 15 minutes north of Quito to the Equatorial Line where we can jump from the northern to the southern hemisphere. There is also time in the afternoon to relax and recover from our flights. (B)
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)
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)
We visit the Otavalo Market to experience the local culture, purchase fresh snacks and souvenirs. In the afternoon, we drive to the hut at the base of Cayambe. Hiking time is approximately 1 – 2 hours. (B, D)
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. (B, D)
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)
Relax and enjoy the Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. (B, D)
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′. (B, D)
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)
We transfer to the airport for our outbound flights.
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.