Cayambe & Cotopaxi: Training Expedition

BBE’s High Altitude Introduction Expedition

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This expedition is an ideal choice for trekkers and mountaineers who wish to gain experience beyond the alpine altitudes and experience Ecuador’s spectacular volcanoes.

Upcoming Dates

20 Nov - 29 Nov

4 Dec - 13 Dec

Ecuador is without doubt the land of volcanoes, with more than thirty significant peaks in this small country. This unique BBE program is often also made into a longer training expedition for mountaineers preparing for 8000m peaks, especially Mount Everest, who wish to gain experience and solid skills at higher alpine altitudes whilst enjoying the chance to climb Ecuador’s majestic summit: Cotopaxi. Whichever trip works to fulfil your goals, this is a tough climb, and the effort required to reach the top of this impressive mountain should not be underestimated.

We begin our adventure in Ecuador with an orientation in Quito (9,400 feet – 2,865m), the world’s second highest capital after La Paz, Bolivia. Our time spent shopping and enjoying day hikes serves to acclimatize us before we depart to our first volcano. We then journey to Cayambe where accessible glaciers offer an ideal learning environment. After our summit of Cayambe and a relaxing night back in Quito we drive to Cotopaxi for more tuition and higher altitudes.

You will have a great sense of accomplishment as you stand on top and enjoy the incredible views! In the event that the conditions on Cotopaxi are unfavorable, we have the option to summit Antisana or the Illinizas. As an added attraction to this wonderful trip we will be staying in charming haciendas and enjoying the fine cuisine Ecuador offers its visitors.

Benegas Brothers uses only expert guides and our low climber to guide ratio (2:1) which translates into higher summit success and most important a safer climb. Our gradual acclimatization itinerary including the incredible Condor trek aloud us to explore in the deep of the Ecuadorian rainforest to the mystical altiplano giving us a plenty of time to prepare ourselves for this climb.

  • Cost


    Minimum of 4

  • Duration

    10 days

  • Location

    Ecuadorian Andes

  • Client/Guide


  • Downloads

    Equipment List

Day 1: Arrival in the Capital City of Quito
Quito is South America’s second highest capital (after La Paz, Bolivia). Your guide will be waiting at the airport for your arrival, for transfer to our hotel. Overnight stay in Hotel Quito: 9,350 feet (2,850m).
Travel times: Airport to Hotel: 30 minutes

Day 2: Ruca Pinchincha
Our expedition begins in Ecuador’s capital of Quito. The city, surrounded by four glaciated peaks, sits at 9,500 feet (2,896 meters), so acclimatization begins immediately upon arrival. Taking our classroom to the field, we ride the Telepherique to 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) on Rucu Pinchincha, and then hike to the 15,700 foot (4,785 meters) summit, en route taking a technical knife-edge rock ridge to this summit, learning about rock technique and the use of fixed lines. We also make the most of our time to discuss Leave No Trace principles on this first day. Overnight in Quito: 9,350 feet (2,850m).

Day 3: Quito to Yanachocha Refuge

Our destination today, the Yanachocha Refuge, is located at 11,975 feet (3,650m) on the slopes of Cayambe, and we will spend the next two nights here. After arrival, we start out small with a good acclimatization hike during which we can discuss:

  • Rope skills
  • The “Art” of Packing
  • Equipment awareness and care
  • High Altitude Physiology
  • Acclimatizing strategies
  • Heart rate and oximeter charts
  • High Altitude Physiology AMS, HAPE and HACE: signs and symptoms, treatment, evacuations and common industry standards

Cayambe is also where we set up and practice to an art-form the safe and effective crossing of ladders over crevasses. Overnight at the Yanachocha Refuge (shared dorm): 11,975 feet (3,650m).

Day 4: Cayambe Instruction and Training Day
Today we start out traveling by vehicle further up Cayambe for the an acclimatization hike. We hike to the glacier and begin learning snow climbing techniques. Proper use of the ice axe, traveling in balance, self-belay, and self-arrest will all be covered. The afternoon is dedicated to teaching students the essential skills of glacier travel, such as navigation and route finding, glaciology, and hazard assessment. We will also begin learning about crevasse rescue. Overnight at the Yanachocha Refuge (shared dorm): 11,975 feet (3,650m).

Day 5: Cayambe High Camp Hut
Today we move up to the Cayambe hut after breakfast. We spend the rest of the day resting at the hut and preparing for our summit climb.

Day 6: Cayambe Summit Day
After a very early morning departure, we will climb up the crevassed slopes of the glacier. After 9 to 10 hours we will come to the summit of Cayambe. We then descend to the comforts of Quito for the night. Overnight Hotel Quito.

Day 7: Travel to Cotopaxi
After breakfast we travel to Tambopaxi Lodge, located inside the Cotopaxi National Park (2.5 hours driving). From the lodge, we enjoy truly fantastic views of Cotopaxi. The region around Cotopaxi has the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes. Despite a physical rest we will continue our training today covering topics:

  • Personal maintenance, hygiene and sleeping in cold environments
  • Any concerns the students may have
  • Nutrition, and backcountry cooking techniques.

Overnight at Tambopaxi Lodge (3,766m / 12,356ft).

Day 8: Cotopaxi Climbing School and prep for Cotopaxi climb
After breakfast, our transport will take us to the park land on the northern slopes of Cotopaxi (4,600m /15,100ft). From there, we hike for approximately an hour to the Jose Ribas Refuge (4,800m / 15,750ft). Once at the hut, we prepare the climb of the most coveted Ecuadorian mountain: Cotopaxi. Today climbers will also participate and perform all aspects of crevasse rescue.

Overnight Jose Ribas Refuge (4,800m / 15,750ft).

Day 9:  Cotopaxi Summit Day (6,310m)
We begin the climb at about one in the morning. An early start allows us to take advantage of the better snow conditions and thus travel more quickly and safely. The normal route is technically not challenging but physically demanding. It involves climbing on moderate glaciated slopes (generally 30° – 45°). After approximately seven to eight hours of climbing we reach the top where we can enjoy magnificent views of the gigantic crater and of mountains such as Antisana, Cayambe and Chimborazo. After the summit climb, we descend all the way back down to Quito to celebrate. Overnight Hotel Quito.

Day 10: Flights Home
Fond farewells to our Ecuadorian friends and flights home.

Getting There
Several U.S. airlines offer daily flights to Quito, Ecuador (UIO). Flights generally arrive late in the evening on Day 1 of the itinerary. Flights departing Quito may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.

Travel and flight information
It can take months to make your travel plans and to obtain the necessary passport for your trip. We strongly recommend that you begin this process as soon as possible.

Entry Requirements
A valid passport is required when traveling to Ecuador. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa.

We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.

Travel Advisories/ Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.

In Country Transportation 
The provided transportation in Ecuador as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.

Airport Arrival
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, follow the signs to the Arrivals Building. Proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Ecuador.

Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.

After you have gathered your baggage and passed through Customs you will find a desk in front of the exit gate where you can ask for a taxi. Take a taxi to our hotel. A fixed price of approximately $25 to $30 is in place.

Ecuador – country code +593. Most areas will not have mobile access or internet availability.

The current currency of Ecuador is the U.S. Dollar. Check a financial newspaper or for the current exchange rate prior to departure.

You should find that $200-$300 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.

Cash machines are readily available in Quito, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of urban areas.

Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.

Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.

Ecuador has the same voltage as the USA 120 volts, you won’t need a convertor.

All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions trips are a combination of the best local and regional fares along with occasional specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”

Mountain Snacks
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 5 days. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Ecuador, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.

Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.

Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.

Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).

Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.

Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.

Our international trips feature local standard four-five star accommodations in the larger cities and towns. These hotels offer all of the amenities you would expect; room service, laundry, wireless internet…etc. They are often close to the local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets, and offer guests a comfortable place to relax between the trip activities.

During our treks and climbs we will be camping with Style. You might find yourself waking up to a hot tea delivered with a smile right to the foot of your tent each morning, or playing cards in the dining tent during afternoon tea with new acquaintances, or enjoying a fine meal prepared by our cook staff that is present on each trip. Camping will take on a new meaning for you!

Travel Advise 
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travelers’ cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home. Be sure to inform your credit card company as well as your bank you will travel internationally into Argentina. This will eliminate any credit card holds for fraudulent activity.

Resources and

Location: Ecuadorian Andes

Length: 10 Days

Trip Dates: 20 Nov - 29 Nov
4 Dec - 13 Dec

Prerequisites: Backpacking experience; very good physical condition; basic level of snow and glacier travel skills ideal

Primary Goals:

  • Acquire climbing skills on steeper snow and ice. Developed a good sense of glacier travel, self arrest skills, self-rescue skills. Acclimatization with training at Cayambe, summit Cayambe (19,000 feet – 5,790m), then summit Cotopaxi (18,891 feet - 5,758m)
  • Experience Ecuador’s culture and explore is varied ecology

Follow-up expeditions:
Aconcagua Expeditions, Mexico Volcanoes, Bolivian Alpinist, Elbrus

Guide Ratio: 2:1

Group Cost: $4,000 (minimum of 4);   $5,000 (group of 3);    $7,000 (group of 2)

Deposit: $750

Private Guide Cost: $7,500

Trip price includes:

  • BBE Leadership
  • Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
  • All park entrance fees
  • Sight seeing arrangements as indicated in the itinerary
  • All group transportation in country as indicated in the itinerary
  • All group cooking, climbing and camping equipment

Trip price does not include:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
  • Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
  • Meals not included in the itinerary
  • Bottled water and personal drinks
  • Customary guide gratuities
  • Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
  • Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
  • Transfer from Quito Hotel to Airport for outbound flight
  • Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)

* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.

Benegas Brothers 1:1 Everest Training Programs

Contact us today to find out about our 10-day Cayambe and Cotopaxi Express Everest Training Expedition, as well as our 15-day Extended Version, with the additional summit of Chimborazo. Don't just be guided up Everest... learn the skills, practise, excel!

Tailor-made Option

We can organize this expedition on a ‘tailor-made’ private basis for groups of friends, families, clubs, charities or any other group. Depending on your mountaineering experience, you may want a BBE leader or go ‘self-led’ with the assistance of local guides. The cost of going private can be surprisingly reasonable, particularly if you take the self-led option. Please contact us to discuss the itinerary and your preferred dates. We will then send you a quote, with no obligation.