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Ecuador's Volcanoes Grade

Grade: Demanding

Ecuador's highest mountains can be climbed by most fit and active people, but they are physically demanding. You’ll need a good level of cardio-vascular fitness coupled with physical and mental toughness to succeed here.

Previous experience of mountain travel at high altitude and the use of technical equipment is not necessary as you will be well looked after by a qualified guide.

What to expect

  • The climb to each summit will usually involve a long, tough slog with about 1000-or-so meters of vertial height gain.
  • The 'smaller' peaks such as Illiniza can usually be climbed in 4 - 5hrs (up and down from the hut). Expect to spend 6 - 8hrs climbing Cotopaxi. The terrain is mostly easy angled, with the occasional steep or icy section and crevasse crossing.
  • These expeditions do not cross technical terrain, but the use of crampons, ice axes, harnesses and ropes is necessary.
  • These are high mountains. Expect to experience some of the symptoms of altitude such as headaches and disturbed sleep.
  • With high altitude comes extreme weather and conditions. Specialist equipment will be required to deal with temperatures of minus 15c (and below). Ecuadors unpredictable weather often adds to the fun, and can make conditions on the hill tougher still.
  • Pack animals will carry equipment and provisions most of the time and you will only need to carry a small rucksack for all of the climbs except Cotopaxi. There's a 1hr flog up to the Jose Rivas refugio on Cotopaxi and you will be required to carry all of your equipment, food and clothing.