Ecuador: High Altitude Mountaineering School

Ecuador: High Altitude Mountaineering School

Ecuador is without doubt the land of volcanoes, with more than thirty significant peaks in the small country. BBE’s unique combination programs are ideal for mountaineers wishing to gain experience and solid skills at higher alpine altitudes whilst enjoying the chance to climb Ecuador’s majestic summits Cayambe, Antisana, Chimborazo and Cotopaxi, amongst others. These are tough climbs and members should arrive with a healthy desire for enduring harsh mountain conditions. Nonetheless, Ecuador’s lodges and haciendas are truly outstanding and offer amazing comfort and fine cuisine for in-between climbs, making this an incredible ‘luxury climbing’ opportunity.

Overview

Learn to Climb Cayambe in 9 Days

Skill Level: Introductory 

Pricing: $3,500 per person

7 day extension available for 19,347' Cotopaxi and 20,564' Chimborazo for just $2,450! 

About this Expedition

Benegas Brothers Expeditions guides have been climbing and guiding in Ecuador since the nineties. They consider it an outstanding destination for learning the fundamental crafts of high-altitude mountaineering. 

Overview

Ecuador also offers a friendly and exciting cultural adventure. On this expedition, we will concentrate on education, assembling technical skills, and acquiring mountaineering experience in a shot to summit Cayambe, the third tallest peak in Ecuador. The heavily glaciated Cayambe's volcano highest point is at 18,996 feet (5,790 meters)

Although geographically secluded, the mountain is easily attainable. As opposed to the weeks it demands to travel to peaks in the rest of the Andes or the Himalayas, we arrive, acquire skills, acclimatize, and summit Cayambe in a single week.

9 Day Itinerary + 7 Day Extension

The foundation of the Ecuador Climbing School is in education, and each day of the expedition, you'll be hands-on with new lessons and experiences to add to your climbing tool kit. You've been up a few peaks in the past. You'll be brushing the rust off and sharpening the skillset you've accumulated over the years.

Our itinerary all starts with learning how to acclimatize efficiently. While touring the majestic city and tagging a peak that towers above it in a couple of days, we begin to understand how our bodies react as we prepare for our first peak.

Route Description and Itinerary

The expedition begins in the capital city of Quito, most arrivals happening late in the evening, where your guide will welcome you to Ecuador before transporting you to your hotel for the night. 

The following day the team will be together for the first time over fresh coffee and breakfast before setting out into downtown Quito for a day of wandering the streets and taking in the incredible culture of this Unesco world heritage site.

As our first acclimatization day, the city tour helps us for the following day. The climbing Rucu Pichincha furthers your body's acclimatization process. We gain access to Rucu almost directly from downtown as we ride a teleferico (gondola) up to about 3800m. From the teleferico we hike a beautiful trail to the top of Rucu, which stands at 15,413’/4,698m.

Leaving Quito, we head north towards the town of Otavalo and, ultimately, Cayambe, our next objective. We will be continuing our acclimatization process by climbing Fuya Fuya, toping at 14,000ft (4,263 meters. Giving us incredible views of Cayambe. Our next day will bring us to Cayambe Mountain hut. During our stay will continue our mountain lectures, such as high altitude physiology and climbing skills on Cayambe glacier, crampon and ice techniques, glacier travel snow and ice anchors, and the necessary crevasse rescue techniques. This instruction is critical for your evolution as a capable team partner on the Cayambe climb and future outings. 

With all of the acclimatization and skills work behind us. We'll wake early in the Refugio and climb through the late-night and early morning hours towards our goal.

Shy of 19,000ft (5,790m/18,996ft), the Cayambe summit is a proud accomplishment and offers commanding sights of the surrounding mountains. Off to the south, you can make out the glaciated summits of Artisan, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo. After the descent back to the Refugio, you'll head back down to Otavalo and the welcoming gardens of the Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Extension

Some climbers will leave for home, and some will stay on for the extension to Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Those who stay will be richly rewarded with seven more days and a chance to stand on top of 2 more peaks, one of which scratches the sky at more than 6000m.

The second peak on the tick list is Cotopaxi. Standing at 19,347', Cotopaxi will feel similar to Cayambe and includes a steep headwall providing fun climbing right before the summit rim. After a few high fives, we'll descend to the lodging we left the night prior.

The final peak of the Itinerary takes us further south to the base of Chimborazo. Climbing this peak gives us a chance to build our first camp that we utilize the day before our summit push. 

Layering all of our skills and acclimatization, we'll be tested with a 10-14 hour climb through rocky and glaciated terrain, finding our final summit at a remarkable 20,703 feet (6310) of Chimborazo. This is an excellent end to your expedition and sufficiently equips you to ascend other climbs around the world. 

Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive in Quito City 

Arriving in the capital city of Quito, you'll immediately notice the mountainous nature of the country. A short drive takes you up into the city itself, and you'll meet your team and guides and discuss the upcoming adventure!

Day 2: Quito City Tour 

Today, your guides will show you their city. From the high bell towers of the Basilica to the vivid culture of the historic district, Returning to your hotel in the early afternoon, you will have time to rest, enjoy the scenery, and prep your gear for tomorrow's acclimatization climb on Pinchincha

Day 3: Acclimatization Climb 

Today it's time to push out acclimatization. The wildly scenic "teleferico" gives us a 2,800' boost to start our hike of Rucu Pichincha. This 4,698m/15,413ft peak is the easternmost summit of the more prominent stratovolcano named Pinchincha, and delivers expansive views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. A quick descent brings us back to Quito and a tasty dinner.

Day 4: Move to Otavalo- Climb Fuya Fuya. 

Leaving Quito behind, you head north towards the town of Otavalo and the ancient stratovolcano known as Mojanda. Towering above the lake that fills the old crater of Mojanda lies the craggy summit Fuya Fuya (4,263m/13,986ft). Marking another wildly beautiful acclimatization hike on our path to the glaciated giants. Descending back to the famous textile town of Otavalo, you will be treated to historic luxury at the 18th-century Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Day 5: Skills Training

You are ready to head up to our first giant. Driving east from Otavalo, you will wind up the lower flanks of the massive Cayambe (5,790m/18,996ft). The rugged stone edifice of the Refugio perched on the ridge will give you shelter and warmth during the days to come. After settling into our bunk rooms, you will spend the afternoon up on the glacier, learning about the fundamentals of footwork, balance, and other techniques needed to climb these prominent peaks. You'll be welcomed back to the Refugio with hot drinks and fantastic food prepared by the excellent staff.

Day 6: Skills, Lectures, Rest 

Up early, you'll spend another training session on the glacier to further practice your climbing skills and learn about more complex topics such as ropework. The group will return to the Refugio midday to rest and pack for the big climb. You will spend the afternoon resting, hydrating, eating, and then an early bedtime in preparation for the big climb.

Day 7: Cayambe Summit Day 

Your preparation and training are ready to be tested. After an early wakeup and hot drinks and snacks (typically around midnight), you'll move up the rock steps and onto the vast glaciers above. The rhythmic crunching of crampons, the sway of the rope, and the first inklings of morning light from high above the clouds are all classic aspects of mountaineering and will frame the first several hours of your climb. Higher, the glacier becomes complex and challenging. Your team will navigate around huge crevasses and drop-offs on your way to the top. Cresting shy of 19,000ft (5,790m/18,996ft), the summit of Cayambe is a proud achievement and offers commanding views of the surrounding mountains. Off to the south, you can make out the glaciated summits of Cotopaxi, Antisana, and Chimborazo.

After the descent back to the Refugio, you'll head back down to Otavalo and the welcoming gardens of the Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Day 8: Rest Day

 Head back to Quito, stopping at the famed Saturday market. Otavalo is renowned for its colorful textiles, and the kaleidoscope of vivid colors at the Saturday market is the place to see them. You'll see many different vendors selling everything from textiles — and clothing to spices and other foods. A fantastic place to find a few souvenirs from your time in Ecuador. After you've seen the sights and sounds of the market, it's time to return to Quito and your flight home. The fun is only getting started for those staying on for the extension!

Day 9:  Return Home or Transfer to Cotopaxi 

Cayambe team members depart Quito for home. Climbers staying for the extension head to the flanks of Cotopaxi and prepare for their climb in the coming days.

Cotopaxi and Chimborazo Trip Extension 

Day 10: Check Climbing Route and Rescue Skills Practice.

Waking up in the beautiful Tambopaxi lodge, you'll be treated to incredible views of Cotopaxi rising across the valley. Today you'll hike up the flanks of Cotopaxi and receive training in more advanced climbing and rescue techniques and ideas. Returning for an early dinner and warm bed, it's time to climb the second peak of the trip.

Day 11:  Cotopaxi Summit Day 

Waking up around 1 am, you'll have some hot drinks and snacks and set out for the summit of Cotopaxi. This climb will use all the skills you learned on Cayambe as we travel on snow and ice up to the volcano's rim. The final section of climbing will be the most difficult before you are rewarded with a stunning summit. After descending and packing up, you will drive to the beautiful Hacienda La Cienega.

Day 12: Drive to Riobamba Abraspungo Lodge  

We travel by bus to the Abraspungo Hostelry (2,750 m/9,022 ft.) Near the city of Riobamba and Chimborazo. We will drive south along the “The Avenue of the Volcanoes,” which are the high valleys separating the two Ecuadorian mountain chains. In the afternoon, we will reach Abraspungo. This comfy accommodation in a breathtaking setting gives us another chance to rest and prepare before our most challenging climb.

Day 13: Move to High Camp 

Today, we transfer to the El Castillo camp in the footsteps of El Castillo Ridge, 2 hours hike from the car. This camp is perched high on the mountain and gets its name from "El Castillo," the castle-like rock formation adjacent to the camp. You will see the glaciated route to the summit rise in front of you from camp, giving the team plenty of time to scout a good route across the ice.

Day 14: Chimborazo Summit Day 

Your final and most challenging climb. The route quickly ascends the glacier, on which the ice is often broken by many crevasses and almost vertical ice steps. Eventually, you will reach the Castillo ridge and follow it over the moderate ground to the summit. After taking photos and enjoying the views from the tallest point in Ecuador,  The descent to the Castle Camp takes three hours. After returning to camp, we will pack and descend to Plaza Roja, then travel to Riobamba town. The Abraspungo Hostelry gives us beautiful Andean scenery at the end of our climb

Day 15: Riobamba – Quito

After breakfast, we will drive back to Quito. Goodbye dinner in the evening.

Day 16: Depart Home

Sadly enough, our journey has come to an end. It’s time to fly home.

Our Certified Guides 

Benegas Brothers AMGA/IFMGA-certified lead guides manage our Ecuador Ring Of Fire Climbing School. This certification is the most prestigious globally, attained only by the most experienced and dedicated guides. Our lead guides have traveled and climbed extensively throughout South America and possess intimate knowledge of the area. A thorough understanding of the culture combined with a passion for developing climbers into competent mountaineers guarantees an experience you won't soon forget.

We combine our guides' experience with the local expertise of our Ecuadorian guide team. This team, based in Quito, are some of Ecuador's most reputable guides, and they have also guided in Nepal, Aconcagua, Peru, and other international regions. Their local knowledge is essential to the experience. Our low ratio of two climbers per guide and small team sizes ensure a more personal education and relaxed adventure. 

Are You Ready for This Expedition?

Technical Experience

No technical climbing background is required.

Altitude Experience

No prior experience at altitude is required.

Fitness

Climbers must be in ideal physical shape to join this expedition. We cannot emphasize this enough -- fitness is the fundamental factor of high-altitude climbing. To develop the necessary level of fitness needed to climb big mountains, you must adapt to a demanding, constant training regime months in advance. We suggest a structured workout program at a gym or a private trainer. Don't hesitate to contact us for more information on physical training.

FAQs

Do I have sufficient experience for this trip?

Yes! The Ecuador High Altitude Mountaineering School is an entry-level program that teaches you all the essential skills to begin your High Altitude Mountaineering career. While you do need outstanding all-around fitness, no climbing experience is required.

Will this trip give me the necessary experience to climb more significant and challenging peaks?

Yes! The immediate goal of our climbing schools is to provide our guests with the required skills and experience to embark on more significant goals worldwide.

What is the longest day I can anticipate?

Your most challenging day will be the summit climb on Cayambe. We awaken early in the morning, employing headlamps. Climbing steadily through the night, we find ourselves high on the mountain. After achieving the summit, we descend back to Otavalo. You can anticipate 12 to 15 hours of continuous movement.

I don't have all the required equipment. Do you rent gear?

Yes, we supply the following gear at no charge for our mountaineering schools. Helmet, harness, crampons, ice axe, boots, and carabiners/ cord. This gear is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so please make your reservations earlier!

Do we sleep in a mountain hut, or are we camping?

For the Ecuador Mountaineering School, we use mountain huts while on Cayambe and Cotopaxi, and we establish a campsite while climbing Chimborazo. 

Do I need to buy trip and rescue insurance?

We require purchasing trip insurance, and we also require rescue insurance on all expeditions. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. We recommend Ripcord for both types of insurance.

Are Covid vaccinations required?

Our leadership has required all participants to be vaccinated for international travel. We have made this safety measure to protect our clients, our guide team, and the local people we interact with during our expeditions. We desire to do our utmost to mitigate the risk of Covid disrupting our expeditions, and keeping our teams immunized has become a vital part of our risk management system with international travel. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or issues regarding this decision. We'd be happy to hop on a call and discuss this further.

What does the cost of my trip include?

The cost of your trip include land costs (excluding in-town meals), this includes:

  • Certified guides
  • All lodging is according to Itinerary, including double occupancy lodging while in town and group lodging in mountain huts. 
  • Breakfasts in town, all meals while on the mountain.
  • Group camping and climbing equipment.
  • All park/climbing permits.
  • Scheduled in-country transportation.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Covid testing arrangements for re-entry into the home country (does not include the test cost).

The cost of your trip does NOT include:

  • Flights to/from the country where the expedition begins.
  • Extra nights in a hotel beyond the itinerary.
  • Single supplement charges
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Airport taxes
  • Visas
  • In-town meals 
  • Immunizations
  • Gratuities for guides or local staff
  • Travel and insurance
  • Evacuations or hospitalization costs
  • Alcohol and drinks 
  • Other personal expenses  
  • Antigen/PCR Covid test cost
  • The costs of delays or changes to itineraries beyond the control of Benegas Brothers Expeditions or its agents are not included.

From: $3,500 per Person

Type: 
Expeditions

Location: 
Ecuador

Group Size: 
4 people

Duration: 
9 days + 7 days (Chimborazo Extension)

Skill: 
Beginner to Intermediate, good fitness encouraged

Activities: Expeditions

Season: 7/23/2023-8/8/2023

Pricing (per person)

Pricing is a typical estimate, final quote will be provided after receiving your inquiry.

9 days / 1 Person $3,500