Climbing Tungurahua

Due to Tungurahua is active and erupting,
at the moment is not possible to climb it
 

My glimpses of Quilindaña and Tungurahua were too slight to permit me to speak with certainty, but I believe that there are also glaciers upon those mountains.

Edward Whimper, 1892.

 

Etymology: From the Quechua RAHUA: Crater or Hole.

Tungurahua is an active snow-capped volcano situated about 10 km south of Baños. It has been described as both ‘easy to access and to climb’ and also as ‘one of the hardest climbs in Ecuador’; Both descriptions are correct.

Tungurahua peak
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Departure from Quito early in the morning. After passing Ambato, we will turn to the east in order to reach Baños (The gate of the Jungle), which is one of the most beautiful villages in Ecuador.
From here a dirt road will take us to the community of Pondoa where our backpacks will be packed onto horses. From Pondoa we will pass at several points through tunnels of bamboo and will see orchids and other tropical vegetation. Later on we will reach Nicolás Martínez
Refuge (3400 m – 11,155 ft)
. 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 we will leave the refuge. Following the normal way, which is a very steep
slope, it will take us about 3 hours to reach the crater. One hour later crossing a gentle snow
glacier we will reach the summit. It will take us about three hours to return to the refuge. Late
in the evening we will be in Quito.

Climbing Illiniza Norte

It has two peaks, or rather it is composed of two mountains that are grouped together, the more northern of which is the lower, and is called Little Illiniza. The summits of both are sharp, and during the time of our stay in Ecuador they were completely covered by snow.

Edward Whimper, 1892.

Etymology: From the Atacameño Tioniza which means ‘Cerro Hembra’, or “Female Hill”.

Illiniza Norte is located about 55 km southwest of Quito. It normally is not covered in snow. Its ascension is not difficult though it has some dangerous places and knowledge of the mountains is necessary. The many mouldering rocks, which often fall and break apart, create the necessity for extreme care in climbing.

Illiniza Norte peak
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Departure from Quito in the morning. After passing 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 we will leave the refuge.  Following the normal route, it will take us about 3 hours to reach the summit; beginning at the edge of “La Ensillada” we will climb up
to a place called “Paso de la Muerte”.  Crossing this pass very carefully, we will climb directly to the summit. It will take us about three hours to return to the Refuge. Late in the evening we will be in Quito.

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.

Climbing Chimborazo

At about 11 a.m. we fancied we saw the Pacific, above the clouds which covered the whole of the intervening flat country; and shortly afterwards commenced to enter the plateau which is at the top of the mountain, ….. We were then twenty thousand feet high, …

Edward Whimper, 1892.

 

Etymology: The Incas called Chimborazo URCORAZO from the quechua word URCO which means mountain, and RAZO which means ice or snow: “Snowed Mountain” or “Frozen Mountain”.

The mountain of Chimborazo is located 150 km southwest of Quito. Some 10 km northeast of it lies its sister volcano Carihuairazo. For many years Chimborazo was thought to be the highest mountain in the world and still retains the distinction of being the point on the earth’s surface which is farthest from its centre.

Chimborazo peak
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. We leave Quito early in the morning, and after traveling amongst the Andes of Ecuador we will
reach Ambato. About 60 km farther from Ambato and passing one of the colorful areas of Ecuador, we will reach the Hermanos Carrels Refuge (4,800 m – 15,749 ft). From here, after having lunch, we will hike another hour up to the Whimper Refuge (5,000 m – 16,405 ft). 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 breakfast around 23H30 we will leave the refuge at midnight. Following the standard route, it will take us about 8 hours to reach the summit. The main problem in the ascent is the altitude,
and therefore, a good physical condition and aclimatization are required. Several crevasses
will be crossed. It will take us about 4 hours to return to the Refuge. Late in the evening we will
be in Quito.

Climbing Cayambe

This mountain is one of the most beautiful to ever be seen, and one of the highest in the world; it can be considered one of the eternal monuments with which Nature has marked the great divisions of the globe.

Alexander von Humboldt, 1802.

 

Etymology: Cayambe in the quitus language means “Origin of the youngless” (CAY: boy; BE: water, origin of the life).

Cayambe, a massive extinct volcano, is located about 65 km northeast of Quito and is both Ecuador’s third highest peak and the third highest peak in the Americas North of the equator. It has the distinction of being the highest point on the earth’s surface through which the equator directly passes.

Cayambe peak
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Departure from Quito. We will reach the Cayambe’s village which lies just below the mountain. From here we will take a dirt road that will lead us to Hacienda Piemonte and will go into the
Cayambe-Coca Natural Reserve. Later on we will be up in the Quebrada de los Mirlos where we will have our lunch and then hike up to the Bergé, Ruales, Oleas Refuge (4,650 m – 15,257 ft).
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 midnight breakfast, we will prepare to leave the refuge. The standard route to the summit, which weaves around crevasses in the glacier, takes about six hours. Once on the summit, on a clear day we will be able to see most of the peaks over 5,000 m (16,405 ft) in Ecuador plus the Amazon basin. The descent to the refuge takes about three hours, and in the afternoon we will be back in Quito.

Climbing Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi’s shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset it seems detached from the azure of the sky.

Alexander von Humboldt, 1802.

 

Etymology: Cotopaxi in the Cayapa language means “Sweet neck of the Sun” (COTO: neck; PAGTA: sun; SHI: sweet) or in the Panzaleo language “Throat of fire”.

Cotopaxi, is the centerpiece of the Cotopaxi National Park, which is located about 55 km south of Quito and whose symmetrical cone can often be seen from the capital on a clear day. It has a circular base of approximately 20 km in diameter, its crater has a circular size of 800 m S/N, and 600 m E/W. Its cracked ice and snow cover goes from the top, down to 5,000 m (16,405 ft). Nowadays the volcanic activity of the Cotopaxi has been reduced to a constant emision of gases and steam that can be observed from the summit.

Cotopaxi Summit
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Early departure from Quito. After driving through the Ecuadorian highlands we will reach the National Park where we will be able to observe the famous Andean Llamas. Lunch break will be at lake Limpios. From the lake we will drive up to the parking lot (4,600 m – 15,093 ft). And start to hike up to the José Ribas Refuge (4,800 m – 15,749 ft) which will take approximatly one hour. Dinner will be served, and a brief explanation about what we will do the next day will be given by our guides.
Day 2. Midnight Breakfast. Following the standard route it will take us about six hours to reach the summit. On a clear day we will be able to see the spectacular crater of Cotopaxi and most of the Ecuadorian peaks above 5,000 m (16,405 ft). It will take us about three hours to return to the refuge. In the afternoon we will be back in Quito.

Sangay: a remote and living volcanoe

A REMOTE AND LIVING VOLCANO
Upon the few occasions that we saw it (Sangay), there were outrushes of steam at intervals of twenty to thirty minutes which shot up with immense rapidity five or six thousand above the top of the mountain.

Edward Whimper, 1892.

In many ways, Sangay is the most exciting and dangerous mountain to be climbed in Ecuador. It is said to be the most continuously active volcano in South America. It is also situated in a very remote region and several days of hard hikes are required to reach its base.

Altar inside crater
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. We will depart from Quito in the direction of Riobamba, driving until we reach the village of
Alao and later the Indian community of Eten, where we will set up our campsite. Dinner will be
served.
Day 2. After breakfast we will pack our backpacks onto mules and start our trek following the edges of
Quebrada Azashuaycu. It will take us about seven hours to reach our next campsite in an area known as Escaleras. Dinner will be served.
Day 3. It will be a very active day hiking along a very up and down trailess way, and constantly climbing rises and crossing rivers, until we reach a flat low area known as Plazabamba, where we will set up our campsite. Dinner will be served.
Day 4. Today we will head southeast on a terrain that becomes increasingly rugged and difficult. Late in the afternoon we will reach a place called La Playa, where there is a red lava flow flanked by streams where we will set up our camps. Dinner.
Day 5. Ascent to the summit which will take us about eight hours. At the beginning the vegetation is thick then slowly changes into a sandy and snowy slope, which will take us to the summit. Return to the campsite and dinner.
Day 6  to 8 The next three days will take us along the same route taken to reach La Playa.
If the stars are with us we will reach Eten by the third day.
Day 9. Breakfast and departure from Eten. There are several Indian markets which may be possible to visit. Late in the afternoon we will be in Quito.

The flight of the Condor

THE FLIGHT OF THE CONDOR
The length of the lava-stream of Antisanilla can hardly be less than seven to eight miles. I clambered to the top, and got little reward, for the farther side, as well as its upper and lower extremities, were lost in mist. Its red colouring is probably superficial, and the nucleus of the mass, I conjecture, is a very dark and compact lava, specimens of which were broken out with some labour.

Edward Whimper, 1892.

From Antisana it is a 3 day trip southeast towards Sincholagua and Cotopaxi’s Volcanoes.

A Condor flying free
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. Departure from Quito to the east on a road enriched by a spectacular landscape, we will cross a 4,100 m (13,452 ft) pass and immediately descend to Papallacta village, where we will set up our
campsite. There will be some time to enjoy natural hot springs, the best in Ecuador. Dinner will be served.
Day 2. After breakfast we will pack our gear onto horses, then we will head southeast towards Rio Tambo, until we arrive at Laguna Volcan, where we will set up our campsite. Dinner will be served.
Day 3. The day will begin with a rather long uphill hike, bringing us to the western flanks of Antizana. A wide variety of wild flowers and plants as well as birds including The Great Condor can be seen. Campsite by a fresh water stream, dinner.
Day 4. Today we will continue southeast on a gentle trail, towards Sincholahua peak. Some birds of prey as well as large herds of sheeps will be seen. Campsite and dinner.
Day 5. After breakfast we break down our campsite and prepare ourselves to hike up in the direction of the saddle betwen Sincholahua and Cerro Chico and immediately descend to the shores of Rio Pita. After crossing Pita River we will reach Cotopaxi National Park, where our vehicles will be waiting for us to bring us to the José Ribas Refuge (4,800 m – 15,749 ft) where we will spend the night. Dinner will be served.
Day 6. Midnight Breakfast. Following the standard route it will take us about six hours to reach the summit. From the summit on a clear day we’ll be able to see its crater and most of the peaks over 5,000 m (16,405 ft) in Ecuador. Down to the refuge it will take us about three hours. In the afternoon we will be back in Quito.

Cotopaxi: the way of the condor

THE WAY OF THE CONDOR 
… As there is not much probablility of considerable error in any of the determinations, it would seem that Cotopaxi has materially increased its elevation in the course of the last century and a half.

Edward Whimper, 1892.

The history of Cotopaxi’s activity is the most dramatic in Ecuador, it has caused the most death and destruction. Records of its eruptions date back to 1534, 1742, 1743, 1744, 1766, 1768, 1853 and the last one in 1877.

 

Near to the summit of Cotopaxi
Suggested itinerary:

Day 1. We leave Quito early in the morning and arrive at a recreation area within Cotopaxi National Park
called “El Boliche”. From this point we will start to hike upwards towards a ridge which we will follow until the base of Rumiñahui. Here we will take a brief lunch break and afterwards turn south along a gentle ridge and eventually reach our camp where we will spend the night.
Dinner will be served.
Day 2. After breakfast we will cross over flat plains for approximately 3 hours. We will arrive at some
archeological ruins called Pucara Salitre where the guides will give a description of the ruins. Lunch will be served, and from this point we will drive up to the parking lot (4,600 m –
15,093 ft) and start to hike up to the José Ribas Refuge (4,800 m – 15,749 ft) which will take approximatly one hour. Dinner will be served, and a brief explanation about what we will do the next day will be given by our guides.
Day 3. Summit attempt. Midnight Breakfast. Following the standard route it will take us about six hours to reach the summit. On a clear day we will be able to see the spectacular crater of Cotopaxi and most of the Ecuadorian peaks above 5,000 m (16,405 ft). It will take us about three hours to return to the refuge. In the afternoon we will be back in Quito.