Climbing Illiniza Sur

Two glaciers have their origin on the upper part of the southern ridge of Illiniza. That which goes westwards, almost from its commencement, is prodigiously steep, and is broken up into the cubical masses termed séracs. The other glacier, descending towards the east, though steep, is less torrential.

Edward Whimper, 1892.


Etymology: From the Atacameño which means ‘Cerro Varón’, or “Male Hill”.

Illiniza Sur is located about 55 km southwest of Quito. It is one of the most beautiful mountains in Ecuador and always has been an attraction for all mountaineers. Its beautiful walls of ice and snow and its haughty summit have been a constant challenge to the technique and effort of those who love the mountains.

Illiniza South peak
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Departure from Quito in the morning. After we pass by the village of Machachi and a small community called El Chaupi, we will reach a place known as “La Virgen.” After having lunch we will hike up to the Nuevos Horizontes Refuge (4,650 m – 15,257 ft) with all our equipment in our backpacks. Dinner will be served, and a brief explanation about what we will do the next day will be given by our guides.
Day 2. After an early breakfast around 05H00 we will leave the refuge. Following the standard route it will take us about 4 hours to reach the summit. The main problems in the ascent are two slopes of 55-65 degrees; good technique and a knowledge of mountaineering skills are required. Several
crevasses will be crossed. It will take us about three hours to return to the Refuge. Late in the
evening we will be in Quito.