December 07 – December 17, 2019
January 11 – January 21, 2020


11 days in Ecuador
Grade: Beginner


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The Ecuador Volcanoes present an excellent introduction into the world of high altitude mountaineering. The glaciated peaks of Cayambe at 18,997 ft and Antisana at 18,891 ft are respectively the third and fourth highest mountains in Ecuador. Cayambe is a beautiful mountain located near the culturally traditional city of Otavalo in the Cordillera Central of the Ecuadorian Andes. Antisana is one of the most pristine and non-commercialized big peaks in Ecuador. Despite being close to Quito, Antisana has a very remote and scenic atmosphere. After acclimatizing on Cayambe and Antisana, extend your stay and climb Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s most famous mountain due to it’s impressive glaciers and cone like shape. Another option is to climb twenty thousand foot Chimborazo (20,702 ft / 6,268 meters), Ecuador’s highest mountain. Chimborazo’s location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on Earth’s surface from the center of the Earth.

Cayambe and Antisana Climb • 11 Days

Before climbing Cayambe and Antisana, our Mountain Gurus expedition first acclimatizes on two trekking peaks located a short distance from Quito and within the Ecuadorian highlands. After a day of exploring Quito’s historic downtown, we first trek the extinct volcano of Pasochoa at 13,776 ft to the South. The peak offers stunning views of Cotopaxi as well as a chance to view condors and wild horses. The next day we take the cable car from Quito to over 13,000 feet and hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha at 15,696 ft.

We depart Quito and drive North to Cayambe Coca National Park located along the Equator line. After arriving at Ruales Oleas Berge mountain refuge, we begin the mountaineering stage of our expedition. The following morning, we train using ice axe and crampons at the toe of the Hermoso Glacier preparing for our next day’s climb of Volcan Cayambe. The team wakes to an alpine start, roping up and ascending 35-degree slopes. The last final section steepens to the huge summit dome. The group has the option of enjoying our rest day at Papallacta Hot Springs or returning to Quito.

Our expedition now turns its attention to Volcan Antisana, despite being lower than Cayambe in elevation, the peaks remoteness presents its unique challenges. We set camp on the grassy highlands with astounding views of the surrounding Ecuadorian countryside. It’s not uncommon to be the only expedition climbing the peak. Antisana’s deep glacier offers a labyrinth of crevasses especially during dry conditions. The Amazon rainforest lies off to the East from the main summit, replenishing the mountains large glaciers during the rainy season.  The guide leads the team up the rocky moraine before reaching the glacier before dawn, we ascend 20-30 degree slopes until the route flattens near the top of the glacier. We climb a few steep 40 degrees slopes just before reaching Antisana’s large expansive summit.

Cotopaxi or Chimborazo Climb • 3 Days

Before departing for home, and now acclimatized, consider extending the expedition with a climb of Cotopaxi or Chimborazo. The famed Cotopaxi at 19,347 feet is a beautiful cone shaped volcano located just south of Quito in the Ecuadorian highlands. Twenty thousand foot Chimborazo (20,702 ft / 6,268 meters) is often claimed as the highest peak from the center of the Earth.

The Ecuador Volcanoes

If you have been climbing for a while and are ready to expand your skills with a more challenging expedition, consider our climb of the Ecuador Volcanoes. This is the perfect expedition to expand your glacier climbing and crampon skills while preparing for bigger climbs. If your goal is to achieve the Seven Summits, this Ecuador climbing adventure will advance your skills and give you more experience at higher altitudes. This trip focuses on Cayambe and Antisana. Although you also have the option of extending the trip to climb Cotopaxi and or Chimborazo.

For those who are simply looking for a new adventure and have already summited Mount Rainier or other North American peaks, the Ecuadorian volcancoes is a logical next step in your mountain climbing evolution. Because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. Mountain Gurus recommends this climb in winter (December – March) when the weather is driest in Ecuador and safest to climb with a high rate of success.

Why choose Mountain Gurus for your Ecuador Volcanoes adventure?

At Mountain Gurus, we pride ourselves on taking on challenging, thrilling, and safe climbing expeditions. Our climbers enjoy a high summiting success rate, but just as important, we have a flawless safety record. Because we have been climbing in Ecuador for years, we know the terrain, the culture, and how to take care of you as we journey together. Mountain Gurus always adheres to Leave No Trace Principles, so we can minimize the environmental impact of your adventure and keep it pristine for other mountaineers.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Arrive Quito
Day 2 • Tour Quito • 9,350 ft
Day 3 • Hike Pasochoa • 13,776 ft
Day 4 • Hike Rucu Pichincha • 15,696 ft
Day 5 • Cayambe Refuge • 15,300 ft
Day 6 • Training Day on Cayambe
Day 7 • Summit Cayambe • 18,997 ft
Day 8 • Rest Day in Quito or Hot Springs
Day 9 • Antisana Base Camp • 14,870 ft
Day 10 • Summit Antisana • 18,891 ft
Day 11 • Depart Quito

Cotopaxi Climb

Day 11 • Rest day in Quito
Day 12 • Cotopaxi Refuge • 15,750 ft
Day 13 • Summit Cotopaxi • 19,347 ft
Day 14 • Depart Quito

Chimborazo Climb

Day 11 • Rest day in Quito
Day 12 • Drive to Chimborazo • Hike to Camp
Day 13 • Summit Chimborazo • 20,702 ft
Day 14 • Depart Quito

“I went with Dennis Broadwell of Mountain Gurus on a climbing expedition in January 2016 with the goal of climbing Cayambe and other big Ecuadorean peaks – big goals that tested my resolve and conviction and which is a key element for me of a mountaineering trip, regardless of the summits achieved. Over two weeks, I was able to observe Dennis in action – climbing, organizing, keeping things in motion, entertaining his clients — and came away with a strong impression of his commitment, passion for people and mountains, good humor, and competency up high and also navigating the moment-by-moment details of our itinerary. Our travels throughout the country were punctuated with memorable moments and along the way I felt I was with a guide and a friend. Mountain Gurus hits the sweet spot in guide services – experienced locally and globally, but with the boutique size to ensure personalized and dedicated service that isn’t always available with larger outfits. Highly recommended.” January 2016, Ken K



Ecuador Volcanoes

Expedition begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador

Day 1 • Arrive Quito

Arrive Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Ecuador (UOI). Most flights arrive in Quito in the late evening. Upon your arrival in Quito, our driver will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you to the hotel.

Accommodations: Hotel

Day 2 • Tour Quito • 9,350 feet

Our day is spent exploring the old town of Quito which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. We visit the El Panecillo, Independence Plaza and enjoy walking the narrow streets and historical squares, admiring the old colonial churches. Return to hotel.

Accommodations: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3 • Pasochoa • 13,776 feet

Today we trek to the extinct volcano Pasochoa. Our hike takes about 6 hours over hills and fields. On a clear day there is always the chance of seeing Condors and Horses. We will eat lunch on the summit and then return to Quito.

Accommodations: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 • Hike Rucu Pichincha • 15,696 feet

After breakfast we take a short drive from Quito to the cable car (gondola) which will carry us to 13,012 feet at the upper station. Today we will enjoy the first views of three of the highest snow-capped Ecuadorian mountains. Cotopaxi, Antisana and Cayambe. We summit Ruco Pichincha at 15,413 ft / 4,698 meters. We return to the hotel, the afternoon is free to explore the city and organize gear for our departure from Quito the following morning.

Accommodations: Hotel
Vertical gain climbing: 2,401 feet
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5 • Drive to Cayambe Refuge • 15,250 feet

In the morning, we drive from Quito to the Ruales Oleas Bergé mountain hut at the base of Volcano Cayambe. The hut is situated on the southern slopes of Cayambe and has fantastic views of Glacier Hermoso.

Accommodations: Mountainside Refuge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 • Training Day on Cayambe • 15,250 feet

Today we focus on reviewing basic mountaineering techniques that will prepare us for our summit attempt. The lower glaciers on Cayambe offer great cramponing, self-arrest and running belay practice. We prepare to climb the third highest mountain in Ecuador. We settle in early in anticipation of our alpine start.

Accommodations: Mountainside Refuge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 • Summit Day • Cayambe • 18,997 feet

An early alpine start for the summit allows us to take advantage of the better snow conditions and climb more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging but physically demanding. Our route begins by climbing low rocky ridges before stepping onto a crevassed glacier. Once on the glacier, we will rope up. The route climbs directly to the upper slopes of the mountain. The final push to the summit is challenging. Once reaching the huge summit dome, we’re rewarded with magnificent views of the Amazon Rain Forest clouds, the surrounding highlands and mountains such as Antisana and Cotopaxi. We descend the route and return to the hut and transfer our hotel.

Accommodations: Hotel
Vertical gain climbing: 3,743 ft / 1,139 meters
Climbing times: Cayambe hut to Summit Cayambe: 8 hours
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

*** Day 8 option to depart for home after climbing Cayambe ***

Day 8 • Papallacta Hot Springs or Depart Quito

Today we enjoy a rest day in Quito or the group has the option of transferring to Papallacta hot springs, the most beautiful hot springs spa in Ecuador, Termas Papallacta at 11,800 ft. Papallacta has private hot pools filled daily with perfectly clear hot water from their natural hot springs. The spa is also available for massage.

Accommodations: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 9 • Drive to Antisana Base Camp • 14,870 feet

After breakfast we travel to Antisana Base Camp. Base Camp is located at 13,405 ft in the remote highlands and is home to wild horses and lamas. Few people visit this area and we usually have Antisana all to ourselves. Our cook and staff prepare camp as we do an acclimatization hike up to advance base camp at 14,870 ft. It’s possible we overnight at Advanced Base Camp depending on the group.

Accommodations: Antisana Base Camp
Climbing times: Antisana Base Camp – Advance Base Camp: 2 hours
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 • Summit Day • Antisana • 18,891 feet

We rise before mid-night. Our cook will have breakfast waiting. Antisana has challenging glaciers where we climb small steps to avoid the larger crevassed areas. We wind around towers of glacier ice and as the sun rises to a most spectacular of a dozen volcanoes throughout all of Ecuador.

Accommodations: Tent
Vertical gain climbing: 4,021 ft / 1,225 meters
Climbing times: Base Camp to Summit Antisana: 8 hours
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

*** Day 11 option to depart for home after climbing Antisana ***

Day 11 • Rest day or Depart Quito

Today we arrive back in Quito for another rest day before heading to Cotopaxi or Chimborazo. Or take a short taxi ride and visit Ciudad Mitad del Mundo the Equator line.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Depending on flights home, we may have time to explore some of historic downtown Quito. Transport to Mariscal Sucre International Airport for flights home. Many flights depart Quito (UIO) in the late evening.

Cotopaxi Climb

Or continue to Cotopaxi for a climb of Ecuador’s most famed mountain.

Day 12 • Cotopaxi • 15,744 feet

After breakfast we gear up and travel south to the Cotopaxi parking lot. From here we hike to the Jose F. Rivas refuge at 15,744. After lunch we get settled and if time allows go for a short hike to the edge of the glacier. (B, L, D)

Day 13 • Summit Day • Cotopaxi • 19,347 feet

Today is summit day on Cotopaxi. We leave the refuge around 1 am for a six-hour climb. From the hut we ascend moderate glacier slopes. We cross snow bridges and crevasses as the climb steepens. After passing through a heavily crevassed section of the glacier, we reach the final summit slope. Here a challenging section of 35-40 degree snow leads to the abrupt finish of the climb on the crater rim of the world’s highest active volcano. At the top of Cotopaxi you can look inside the crater and see its sulphur fumaroles. The crater rim measures approximately 800 m / 2,600 ft in diameter. The view from the summit is spectacular. Descend and return to Quito. (B, L)

Day 14 • Depart Quito

Transport to Mariscal Sucre International Airport for flights home. Many flights depart Quito (UIO) in the late evening.

Chimborazo Climb

Or continue to Chimborazo for a climb of Ecuador’s highest mountain.

Day 12 • Drive to Chimborazo Refuge • Hike to High Camp • 14,870 feet

We travel south towards Riobamba and Chimborazo. There is a chance to view Ecuador’s big ten volcanoes. Chimborazo’s location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. It does not matter from which side you look at Chimborazo, it will impress you by its size and beauty. A short drive takes us to the trail head and Hermanos Carrel refuge where we grab our packs and begin a two hour walk to our high camp, Stubel Camp 16,567 feet / 5,050 meter. Porters will help carrying group gear to high camp. Vertical gain during the day: 650 feet / 200 meters (B, L, D)

*** We often overnight at Hermanos Carrel refuge instead of staying at high camp depending on group and snow conditions ***

Day 13 • Summit Day • Chimborazo • 20,702 feet

With a midnight alpine start, our route climbs to the west-northwest to reach the base of a rock formation called “El Castillo” (Castle Saddle at 18,044 feet / 5,500 meters). This new route is free from dangerous rock fall making it a much safer ascent. From the Stübel Camp, it normally takes eight hours to get to the Whymper summit from where you will enjoy one of the best views in Ecuador. After returning to camp, we pack and descend to Riobamba town. Vertical gain climbing: 4,135 feet / 1,260 meters. Return to Quito. (B, L)

Day 14 • Depart Quito

Transport to Mariscal Sucre International Airport for flights home. Many flights depart Quito (UIO) in the late evening.

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Cotopaxi Climb: $1095
Chimborazo Climb: $1095

Rates are quoted based on a minimum of two participants sharing double hotel accommodations.

Deposit and Payments

  • $700.00 deposit includes a $500.00 non-refundable registration fee, due with application.
  • Balance due 120 days prior to start date.
  • The balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, or by credit card with a surcharge of 3.0%

Price Includes

  • Park fees
  • Scheduled land transportation in Ecuador
  • Hotels in Quito
  • Refuge and tented accommodations
  • Guided sightseeing tour
  • Scheduled meals during the expedition
  • Professional mountain guide
  • All group equipment for the expedition (tents, stoves, group climbing gear)

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare and meals during travel
  • Non-scheduled airport transfers
  • Non-scheduled meals
  • Snack food during the expedition
  • Personal gear
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Papallacta Hot Springs $200
  • Single room supplement (hotels only) $500
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Early departure fees
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool/ synthetic, one that covers the ears.
  • Buff or Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields. A category 4 lens is required.
  • Goggles: Dark lenses to help with snow and wind.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: One synthetic long-sleeve shirt. Hoods for sun protection are strongly recommended.
  • Mid-layer Top: A synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: A fully waterproof shell. GORE-TEX© or equivalent. Hoods are required.
  • Insulated Jacket: Heavy weight down. 700+ fill or higher required.


  • Lightweight Gloves: One pair (WINDSTOPPER© is recommended)
  • Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove or mitten with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: One pair. Synthetic, no cotton.
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated.
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants. Full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.


  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible. Double plastic mountaineering boots or Heavy weight synthetic/ hybrid mountaineering boots are required.
  • Approach Shoes: Light hiking boots or sturdy trail running shoes.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to 0ᵒ Fahrenheit).

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 65-75 liter pack for personal gear. Should have an effective waist belt, fit properly and provide good support while carrying 45-60 lbs.
  • Liner Bags: 1 large plastic contractor bag.
  • Duffel Bag: One large, waterproof PVC duffel bafor transporting gear.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice axe: 55-75 cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (2) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-Locking Carabiners: (2) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Nylon Slings(2) 60 cm nylon slings


  • Water Bottles: Two, 1L wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs



Program Location:
Begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador

Visa/Entry Information:
A valid passport is required for American citizens to enter Ecuador. American citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 30 days for tourism.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Ecuador

Flight Travel Information:
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UOI), Quito, Ecuador

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the countries destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Ecuador Volcanoes Fitness & Training

Climbing Grade: Beginner   

Our climbs will start at high altitude huts and lodges allowing us to acclimatize and rest between summit climbs. Due to the high altitude nature of these climbs we recommend climbers to be in good physical condition with previous climbing experience.

Prior to the expedition we recommend climbing a Cascade Volcano to master the skills essential to reaching the summit.

Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting the Ecuador Volcanoes:

  • Northwest Climb (Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan)
  • Glacier Mountaineering Course
  • Mexico Volcanoes, Mount Elbrus

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need prior mountaineering experience?

Prior mountaineering experience is not required, and anyone in strong physical condition is welcome to join the climb. You will participate in a climbing school to help you become accustomed to your ice axe and crampons. Climbers have benefited from taking our 3-Day Mount Baker Intro to Mountaineering Course to gain experience prior to the climbing in Ecuador.

What are the accommodations like?

You will be staying in a shared two-person hotel room in Quito and will be in camping in a shared tent or refuge while on your expedition.

When is the best season to climb?

The best time to climb in Ecuador is between November – February.

How much will my pack weigh on summit day?

Generally, pack weights will range between 20-25 lbs. This will include extra layers, food, and water for the summit push.

What is the guide to climber ratio?

Our local IFMGA certified guide Henry Moya leads our Ecuador expeditions. We strive to maintain a 2:1 climber to guide ratio. Additional assistant guides or American guides will be present for larger groups.