High Altitude Mountaineering and Glacier School
Cotopaxi 19,348' / 5897m
Cayambe 18,997' / 5790m
Chimborazo 20,703' / 6310m
10 Day Cotopaxi Climb
2012-13 Dates Coming Soon
14 Day Cotopaxi / Cayambe Duet and Glacier Skills
2012-13 Dates Coming Soon
17 Cotopaxi / Cayambe / Chimborazo or Antisana Triplet
2012-13 Dates Coming Soon
Download PDF of Ecuador Information
One of our most popular trips! The journey begins in the capital city of Quito, located in the heart of the Andes Mountains of South America. After a few days sightseeing and acclimating to the altitude, we will travel to nearby mountains to trek and climb on increasingly higher mountains. During this time, we will practice mountaineering skills on the slopes Illiniza. With one or two lower summits behind us, we should then be well prepared and acclimated to attempt an ascent of the Volcano Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world (19,350') and located within one of Ecuador's showpiece national parks. At this point those staying for the extension trip will decide to either attempt Chimborazo (20,703') or Cayambe (18, 997').
Throughout our stay in Ecuador, we hope to immerse ourselves in local culture as much as possible. Part of the essence of a trip is climbing and/or trekking; the underlying value is the unique opportunity to explore the land and meet the people of Ecuador.
Mountaineering experience is not required.
Ecuadors Avenue of the Volcanoes provides one of the best introductions to high altitude mountaineering in the world. Several mountains rise to over 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) and offer exciting mountaineering challenges to both beginning and experienced climbers. The accessibility, ease of travel, stable weather and friendly people make it the perfect place to expand your mountaineering experience. Our trips focus on climbing and learning important high altitude mountaineering skills.
Ecuador is a beautiful and diverse land that is home to friendly people and and a colorful culture. Ecuador is home to an amazing natural diversity that includes the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon rain forest and the cloud forest. Our trip is designed to make the most of mountaineering opportunities while exploring the land and people of Ecuador.
Ecuador offers year round mountaineering opportunities to mountaineers. You may choose from one of our scheduled trips or book your own customized date and itinerary at any time during the year. If you are limited on time, our trip may be split into segments. Ecuador is relatively inexpensive and easy to travel in. Its only a single day away and in less than two weeks you can attempt several rewarding high altitude peaks.
Acadia Mountain Guides' Ecuador trip includes four to five high altitude ascents and an immersion in Ecuadorian life that will create lifelong memories. The itinerary outlined below is typical of our trips. There are many options for different objectives or activities if desired.
We have found that our glacier school is often more extensive than similar guide services. You can expect to learn many important skills including:
Snow and ice climbing, ice axe positioning, and moving in balance
Self arrest techniques
Snow and ice anchor selection and construction
Ascending and team crevasse rescue practice. Mechanical advantage systems such as C/Z drags and drop loop methods.
Roped glacier travel and route finding through crevassed areas
Glaciology and crevasse pattern prediction
Navigation using maps, altimeters, and compasses
Discussions on high altitude physiology and other related expeditionary topics
Expedition medicine and basic wilderness medical topics
Natural history and Leave No Trace ethics
Tentative Itinerary for 10, 14, and 17 Day Mountaineering and Glacier School Climbing Trip
Day 1: Arrive in Quito and check into our lodging.
Day 2: We visit markets, parks, colonial areas, and museums of cultural and natural history as well as some of the smaller towns surrounding Quito. At an elevation of 9500’, this is an important day to be active and we will walk around both the new and old city exploring the history and culture of Quito. Please plan to arrive in Quito on the evening prior or earlier.
Day 3: Put one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere! A short visit to the equator at Mitad al Mundo is followed by a hike into an extinct volcanic valley housing a traditional village. Alternatively, a visit to the well known Otavalan markets.
Day 4: By day three, its time to pick a peak for our first acclimatization hike. A short bus trip and truck ride take us to beautiful Pasachoa Preserve. Pasachoa is home to over 200 species of birds including the rare American Condor which we have seen twice. Here we will hike as high as we can perhaps reaching the distant summit of Cerro Pasachoa before descending and returning to Quito. Some years we choose from Guagua Pichincha as an acclimatization hike. Pichincha, when not erupting, provides a glimpse into an active volcano and a gentle hike through farmland to the village of Lloa. Other acclimatization options include El Corazon, Imbabura or Cotocachi.
Day 5 - 6: Today we head to the refugio on Illiniza. After a good night rest we rise early to climb Illiniza Norte and descend back to the village of Lloa.
Day 7 - 8: We travel by bus to Cotopaxi National Park home of Ecuador’s jewel peak. A short but steep hike up volcanic rubble brings us to the Jose Ribas Refugio (14,750’). After socializing with other climbers and a hearty dinner we turn in early in preparation for another early morning ascent. Rising just after midnight, we then attempt the summit of one of highest active volcanoes on the planet 19,348’. From the hut we climb steadily upward skirting crevasses and ice towers toward the Yanaschaca wall which is reached around dawn. From here, steeper snow climbing leads toward the summit only a few minutes away.
Day 9: From Quito we journey north to Cayambe to visit the famous Otavalo markets and gather gifts for our friends and family back home. This also provides us a backup day for Cotopaxi should weather preclude an ascent on the 11th.
Day 10: Departure day for those on the 10 day trip. For those staying on, today we head to the refugio on Cayambe at 4800m. We have always felt this was the best hut in Ecuador with a friendly guardian, spacious, clean quarters and few people. Well, others have discovered it now so don’t count on the few people but it’s a great setting overlooking the glacier flowing down from Cayambe just meters away. On the glacier we will begin our snow and glacier school. We have found that our glacier school is often more extensive than similar guide services. You can expect to learn many important skills including:
• Snow and ice climbing, ice axe positioning, and moving in balance
• Self arrest techniques
• Snow and ice anchor selection, construction, and equalization
• Ascending fixed lines and team crevasse rescue practice. Mechanical advantage systems such as C/Z drags and drop loop methods.
• Roped glacier travel and route finding through crevassed areas
• Glaciology and crevasse pattern prediction
• Navigation using maps, altimeters, and compasses
• Discussions on high altitude physiology and other related expeditionary topics
• Expedition medicine and basic wilderness medical topics
Day 12: A little more time to fine tune glacier skills in the AM the some rest in anticipation of a midnight departure for the summit of Cayambe (18997’). The climb begins with a scramble over a rock ridge to the base of the glacier. Increasingly steep slopes lead toward the steep summit cone, which is reached early in the morning. We will descend in two hours what took us 8 – 10 hours to ascend. After a cat nap in the hut and a meal we will catch a ride to Quito.
Day 13: We descend from Cayambe in the AM and return to Quito for a well deserved rest day. Plan on departing for home from Quito on the 10th if you are unable to join us for another mountain.
Day 14: Travel to Refugio on Chimborazo or Antisana base camp. Departure day for those on the 14 day trip.
Day 15: Prepare for a midnight departure for the summit. In recent years glacier changes have made the route more challenging with greater potential for ice covered slopes and avalanches increasing the difficulty and danger. Late in the day we return to Quito or Riobamba.
Day 16: Relax in the hot springs of Pappalacta or chill in downtown Quito. A day to unwind, reflect, and take it all in.
Day 17: Depart for home.
Difficulty & Pre-requisites
The majority of routes follow easy to moderate glacier slopes with occasional sections of 40-50 degree snow/ice before reaching summit ridges. The trip is suitable for both beginning and intermediate level mountaineers. Participants should have previous backpacking experience and be in excellent physical condition. Some climbing experience is preferred, but not necessary. Recommended reading for skill sets: Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, published by The Mountaineers Books.
Tuition and Reservations
10 day program
$2595.00 per person
$2195.00 full time student fee
14 day program
$2995.00 per person
$2595.00 full time student fee
17 day program
$3295.00 per person
$2995.00 full time student fee
The fee covers:
All meals and hut fees while on climbs
lodging and breakfast meal while in cities and towns
all in country transportation
Common group gear : stoves, cooking utensils, ropes, etc.
Guiding and instructional fees
Related administrative, preparation, park fees
The fee does not include the following:
getting to and from the designated location in Quito
Airport / exit taxes
Lunch and dinner meals while in cities and towns
Excess baggage charges
Travel insurance or charges incurred from situations beyond our control
Gratuities for guides, service personnel, hostels, etc.
Reservations, Refunds, and Cancellations
A 50% deposit is required for registration. Balance is due forty five days (45) before the beginning of program. Fifty percent (50%) of deposit is refundable if cancellation is made more than 45 days in advance. No refund of deposit will be given for cancellations made forty five (45) days or less prior to start of program. Extreme weather, avalanche conditions, inadequate personal fitness or difficult terrain may make it impossible to achieve our stated objective of the summit. No refunds will be made in anticipation of inclement weather or for not reaching the summit. If, for any reason, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School must cancel the course, a full refund will be made. There is a $20.00 charge for returned checks. MC, VISA and Discover accepted. Space is limited, reserve now.
Clients receive a 20% discount on any items purchased for the trip through our retail store Alpenglow Adventure Sports and a 15% discount on all future purchases. We also accept mail orders.
Expedition Leader / Ratios
This trip will be led by Jon Tierney an internationally licensed IFMGA certified mountain guide and veteran of over fifteen mountaineering trips to Ecuador. There is a 4:1 client to guide ratio for the technical portions of the trip. Maximum group size is ten.
Designing Your Own Trip
Our Ecuador programs are also offered on a custom basis throughout the year allowing you or your group of friends to design your own schedule and hand pick climbs.