Climbing snowy mountains of Ecuador

Last Updated on December 2, 2023

Hiking in the mountains of Ecuador is a true survival experience. There are many inactive peaks and volcanoes that are covered in snow. It is necessary to climb in special clothing: warm socks, waterproof pants, jacket, helmet, leggings, gloves. And it is also necessary to use special shoes, metal jacks (just before the climb to the glacier), mountain leggings. According to the rules, all tourists are tied together and attached to the guide at a distance of 1-2 meters, each with insurance.

Ecuadorians live in high mountains, sometimes conquer the volcanoes every week getting to know them again. For them it is common, the body is more or less accustomed to the lack of oxygen to live near Quito at an altitude of 3000 meters. The nation can boast that the Ecuadorians who conquered Everest, all climbed without supplementary air.

Ascent to Cotopaxi 5897 m

Climbing Cotopaxi is an experience that any traveler should have if he does not have health problems. At the moment this is not possible because Cotopaxi became active again. Before the tourists made a long way in a mountaineering expedition.

Climbing the Mountains

The road to the mountain begins in the national park near the village of Latacunga from where you can climb the Cotopaxi and the Rumiñahui. A small car goes up to the entrance of the park (where one has to register with the guide) at an altitude of about 4500 meters where the Refuge is located. It is necessary to spend the night in the tent there to acclimatize. At this height, it is quite cold. The food should be light and nutritious – rice, fish, nuts, chocolate, and water in large amounts.

During the day I slept in a small tent at the foot of the mountain. You have to get used to the altitude. At 11-12 o’clock in the evening (depending on weather conditions and the level of the climbers) the walk begins. It is important to reach the summit no later than 6 am – after this time the snow begins to melt and is very dangerous.

It is a long and windy road with blocks of ice and spaces for stops. Always keep the same pace of walking and breathing, follow the guide and make stops every 30 minutes.

The higher, the harder it is not to stop. It seems that for the next puff there is not enough air at all, it feels hot and weak. A short break but it only lasts a few minutes! Then, after 5-10 minutes of movement, the discomfort reappears. In general, because I was not very experienced, I had to tolerate this horrible state. I was lucky to do pole dance for the last 2-3 months in Quito for almost 4 hours every day. If not – I could not hike so long.

Snowy Mountains in Ecuador

In the end, the route becomes harder to climb. The good news is that we were a few meters from the crater. My guide was a very good person. He had to watch me during these 6-7 hours of perfectly calm ascent. I was complaining, crying and not behaving nicely. He spoke to me with all the reason and serenity.

Also, just that day I felt sick and weak. For me, it was a great surprise that I was able to overcome the mountain in a similar state. But it’s what I really wanted, and what I was dreaming about for the last two weeks before I started running a few hours at Itchimbia park (downtown Quito). The advantage of the park and the city, in general, is that it goes up and down all the time. You can practice running exercises by accelerating speed.

In the upper part, we spent 10-15 minutes – I was cold and I felt miserable. The temperature around 0 degrees Celsius. We went down for two hours. I was afraid to go down. I’m afraid of heights, on the other hand, looking down from the top always scares even more. I was more nervous during the descent. But everything ended well for us and other tourists (about 100 people in the different groups on the day of December 8, 2013). In total, the Ecuadorians, the French, the Germans, someone else. We even met a couple at the age of 65 – Alpine mountaineers!

Ascent to Chimborazo 6310 m

This is the highest point of Ecuador, an inactive volcano. In comparison with the main summits of other countries – Huascarán, Peru 6768 m, Ojos del Salado, Chile 6893 m, Sajama, Bolivia 6542 meters, Nevado del Huila, Colombia 5750 m – Chimborazo (Chimbo) is accessible and easy to do. It is located just south of the city of Ambato, south of the capital of Ecuador.

To get to the entrance you must travel by bus for 3 hours, so you wake up very early. We stopped at the crossroads and then we waited on the road trucks that took us to the entrance of the national park. Here, of course, there is no movement as it was on Cotopaxi before it erupted.

This is due to several reasons. First of all, because of the height of the mountain: it is only a little higher but you can feel it during the ascent. Secondly, the road is more difficult. Of course, it is for people with not much experience but with good physical abilities. On the tourist route where I and other followers were, it is not necessary to use the experience of climbing. It is a common road but the climb is much steeper than on Cotopaxi. Therefore, the path is short but very hard.

Mountaineering in Ecuador

When we arrived at the entrance to the park, we continued walking for 20-30 minutes with backpacks to the place where we spent the night. Then we camped, ate (rice, tuna, tea, nuts, chocolate). The road started at 11:30 on the night of November 28, 2015. We had to leave even earlier … I was preparing for the climb but I did not do pole dance at that time. Also, I was in Quito for only three weeks. Maybe I was less motivated but I did not get to the end. I was 200 meters from the summit when we turned back. That is, I made 6110 meters. It was hard for me to climb, so we walked slowly. Also, in the end, the guide told me that the ice melts at 6 in the morning, and on the way, there is a dangerous place. I was scared and I got really tired. I think it was possible to take the risk but it is good to lose sometimes.

Volcanoes in Ecuador

In total, I’m satisfied with the ascent. This time I had only one month of trips through Ecuador but I managed to almost break my limit – Chimborazo. It was nice.

Normally the climb costs $ 100-150. The part of that money is paid directly to the guide. Another part is to buy food, gas and rent equipment. The guide gave me his jacket and warm pants, gloves, helmet, sticks to walk. The road usually costs around $ 3 if you take the bus. If the route is long, take a car that costs $ 10-20 depending on the number of people. To compare, Aconcagua costs $ 700 for foreigners.