Volcanoes Mountaineering

Ecuador Volcanoes Mountaineering

(9, 12 & 16 days)




Join MGI for guided climbs of Cotopaxi & Chimborazo!

The Ecuador volcanoes offer a special opportunity for individuals interested in developing mountaineering and high altitude climbing skills, all amidst one of South America’s most colorful cultures!

Ecuador contains a diverse array of cultures and biology. With an area just slightly larger than that of Great Britain, travelers in Ecuador have opportunities to trek in lush green mangrove swamps and scrub forests, hike the dense “cloud forests,” climb high alpine peaks, explore the Galapagos Islands, and explore the Amazon basin. All closely spaced in a country that is relatively simple and inexpensive to travel in. The mountains of Ecuador offer a perfect introduction to high altitude mountaineering with ascents ranging in difficulty to accommodate a range of desires and experiences. For climbers the adventure doesn’t have to end after the climbing expedition as Mountain Guides International offers extended journeys to the various attractions around the country.

In 16 days we attempt three of Ecuador’s highest Volcanoes: Illiniza Norte (16,818 ft/5,126 m), Cotopaxi (19,347 ft/5,896 m), and Chimborazo (20,701 ft/6,268 m). These climbs require no previous experience. Successful ascents of the Ecuador Volcanoes give climbers a strong sense of individual accomplishment and the distinction of standing amongst the highest equatorial peaks in the world!

Ecuador has an abundance of spectacular acclimatization climbs and snow capped peaks. The exact itinerary may vary depending on weather, climbing conditions or other variable factors. This flexibility allows us to put together the highest quality mountaineering program for our guests.


About the Climbs

ILLINIZA NORTE (16,818 ft/5,126 m) Illiniza is a moderate climb and a great place to hone your mountaineering skills. It also aids in acclimitization before heading to the higher peaks.

COTOPAXI (19,347 ft/5,896 m) The second highest of the Ecuador Volcanoes, Cotopaxi, is a beautifully symmetric volcanic cone. The climb includes challenging glacier travel and crevasse navigation as well as sections of thirty-five to forty degree snow.

Moderate snow/ice climbing on Chimborazo.

CHIMBORAZO (20,701 ft/6,268 m) As Ecuador’s highest peak Chimborazo represents and excellent climbing opportunity for the aspiring climber. We operate on two different routes on the western side of the mountain. Both climbs are relatively straightforward glacier climbs with slope angles of thirty to thirty-five degrees sustained for over four-thousand feet, including steeper sections towards the summit.

We will spend a day driving south to the mountain and one or two more days resting and acclimatizing before our climb to the summit at 20,701 feet. This climb is the most challenging of the three and features exposed climbing amidst a stunning backdrop. One or two days will be spent on the route depending on current conditions.

Chimborazo was believed by many to be the highest point in the world up until the early 1820’s. Because of this great distinction, many international mountaineering teams traveled to Ecuador to climb. However it wasn’t until 1882 when Edward Whymper, an Englishman, reached the summit. It was also during this same expedition that Whymper summitted Ecuador’s second highest peak, Cotopaxi.


INCLUDED: Transfers, hotel, local transportation, park and hut fees, food while climbing, group climbing and camping equipment, and guides.

NOT INCLUDED: Restaurant food, bottled water, alcohol, and airfare to and from Quito.

LENGTH: 9, 12, and 16 days available; Quito to Quito.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate to difficult trekking at altitude, with moderate snow and ice climbing.

SEASON: Because Ecuador is Equatorial there is little seasonal variation. Additionally, wet and dry seasons are difficulty to predict.

Additional Highlights

QUITO: the capital city of Ecuador and the beginning and ending spot for our trip. Quito is a beautiful city nestled into the foothills of the Andes at 9184 ft. we will spend two days here at the beginning of our trip acclimatizing and exploring the cities fascinating history and culture.

OTOVALO: we will spend the day in this captivating town north of Quito exploring one of Ecuador’s most colorful village markets and acclimatizing for our climb of Cayambe.

Marketplace in Quito.

CUICOCHE LAKE TREK: A wonderful day spent trekking around the rim of an ancient volcano crater with a beautiful blue lake in the bottom. More acclimatization up to 12,000 ft.

BANOS: A beautiful town with incredible hot springs. We will spend the day here after our climb of Chimborazo.

TUNGURAHUA: While in Banos we can make an optional climb of this 16,452 ft volcano.


Ecuador has a rich history extending for thousands of years. Most notably, around 500 years ago, the Inca Empire spread its influence to this region conquering the various indigenous groups along the way. Before the Incas, the Carsas people were the dominant force in the region and the Incas utilized there skills to help build the transportation network known as it Inca Road to link Cuzco to Quito. Because of this, many relics of Incan Empire can still be found throughout Ecuador.

Taking a break at 18,000′ on the Chimborazo descent.

When the Incas were crushed by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1530’s Ecuador became subject to the colonial influences of Spain. In many aspects this was very beneficial to the people of Ecuador as agricultural output was vastly increased as modern farming techniques were imported from Spain.

In 1822 after a very bloody revolution Ecuador was able to secede from Spain under the leadership of Mariscal Sucre.

Today, Ecuador is a rare mix of Spanish colonialism, European traditions, and Incan heritage. Catholicism is still the dominant religion, but many peoples of Ecuador still believe and practice elements of the Incan mythology. Join us for an exciting climbing adventure and cultural experience of a lifetime.

DATES/PRICES: Please see our schedule for current dates and prices information about climbing the Ecuador Volcanoes.