A fairly easy peak suitable for training and acclimatisation in the build-up to the bigger peaks. Conveniently close to Chimborazo.
This is the highest peak in Ecuador and has the distinction of being the point on the earth’s surface which is furthest from the centre of the earth (owing to the equatorial bulge). It is slightly higher than Mount McKinley and as a result there are no peaks higher than Chimborazo to the north of it in the Americas. As the refuge is at an altitude of only 5000m it is a very long climb on the day.
Cotopaxi is the 19th highest peak in Ecuador and is reputed to be the world’s highest active volcano (although it is possible that there are higher ones in Chile). At the top, it is possible to look down into the smoking caldera. The mountain is situated a conveniently short distance from Quito in the Cotopaxi National Park, although we approach it from Riobamba. The hut is situated at a height of 4800m so again it is a long climbing day.
Iliniza Norte (5126m)
Although somewhat lower than the main peaks this one offers slightly more of a challenge as it is mainly rock near the summit. The final ridge is a bit of a scramble. Again, a good training peak.
Close enough to Quito to be accessible by jeep. It is possible to drive to the car park at 4150m, climb the peak and return to Quito in the day. Good altitude training.
Rumiñahui Central (4634m)
Situated in the Cotopaxi National Park, this peak is ideal for training acclimatisation for Cotopaxi. It is possible to drive from Quito, do the climb and return to Quito in the day. There is a small campsite from which the climb can be made in a few hours. One can then return to Quito or continue up to the refuge on Cotopaxi.
Our climbing programme
We normally incorporate the climbing programme into a multi-activity trip. Usually we will have spent some time in the country before starting the climb and we would include in the preparation period either one or two climbs of the training peaks or a trek such as the Inca Trail or the Chimborazo-Carihairazo traverse. See Multi-activity page for more details. For Cotopaxi or Chimborazo we would spend two days on the climb. On day 1 we drive from Riobamba to the refuge and spend some time in the afternoon familiarising the clients with the equipment and practising techniques. We leave the refuge between midnight and 2.00am depending on the peak, arriving at the summit in the early hours of daylight and return to the refuge, hopefully by about noon. We then return to Riobamba in the afternoon. We use local guides who are well-qualified and experienced and have climbed the peaks many times. This saves time on the actual climbs as they know the routes so well. Our parties are usually accompanied by our own leader who is also a very experienced mountaineer.