Ecuador·February 1 - 12 2024

Ultimate Ecuador Adventure: Climb Cayambe and Chimborazo

Enter the Dreamworld: the Ultimate Ecuador Adventure and Alpine Climbing Expedition with Top IFMGA Guides

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Overview

A very experienced and well-respected American alpinist, is often quoted as saying that, “Ecuador is the ultimate proving ground for the Himalayas,” and while there is plenty of truth in that statement, we also believe that it downplays Ecuador as a place for alpinism. It is perfectly plausible that you could climb all over the Himalayas in your lifetime and still never be as happy as climbing in the ‘Andes Norte.’ Ecuador is a dreamworld. Scenes from a Japanese anime film by Studio Ghibli appear in real life wherever you turn. Vivid colors; greens, whites and blues, snow topped volcanoes, pristine lakes in surreal mountain backdrops and at the centre, Quito, the second highest capital city in the world at just under 3000m, a city of 8m people with a rich cultural and alpine heritage where 4000m mountains overlook the city. We invite you to join us on our Dreamworld Program to wonder at the awe and beauty of these landscapes, experience the famous South American 'onda' and tackle some of the most incredible high altitude ascents on the continent. We have designed a trip that showcases the best of climbing in Ecuador. We hope you will love it and this country as much as we do.

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Highlights

Only the Best Hotels & Lodges

Only the Best Hotels & Lodges

You have come this far so lets get you staying in the best accommodation options while you are here.

An Incredible Itinerary

An Incredible Itinerary

We have designed an expedition which showcases the best of Quito and Ecuador's high mountains.

The Best IFMGA Guides in Ecuador

The Best IFMGA Guides in Ecuador

Our uber-talented guides have the best 'onda' ('vibe') in Ecuador. But beyond that, their absolute priority is your safety and enjoyment.

Experienced High Altitude Medic

Experienced High Altitude Medic

Alejo Laazzati, IFMGA, is a great person, expedition guide and alpinist. He's one of South America's leading high altitude first responders and also teaches first aid at the guide school in Ecuador.

Dedicated Quito-based Operations Manager

Dedicated Quito-based Operations Manager

Our Ecuadorean Operations Manager, Elisa is super experienced and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring your whole expedition experience is a seamless one.

Meet The Team

Oliver Browne ML - Expedition Leader

Oliver Browne ML - Expedition Leader

Oliver is a certified Mountain Leader, experienced adventurer, and alpinist.


The True Summit Adventures founder is also an Ecuador superfan, having spent a significant amount of time in Quito and its surrounding high mountains.


He has climbed most of the region's big peaks, with the exception of El Altar (high on his bucket list) and Cayambe (after turning back due to the risk of avalanche on his first attempt and high winds on his second).

Oliver loves climbing Chimborazo, his favorite mountain is Antisana, but perhaps his best day in 'Andes Norte' was when he ran from his apartment building in downtown Quito to the summit of Rucu Pinchincha and back in 10 hours 45 minutes.


In his opinion this sums up the magic of Ecuador, where it's possible to run from the centre of a vibrant city of eight million people, to the summit of a mountain nearly 5000m, in less than 12 hours.

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Andres Herrera IFMGA - Head Guide

Andres Herrera IFMGA - Head Guide

Quito-native Andres is one of the most-experienced and most-talented IFMGA guides in South America. He is one of only a handful who have full certification, having completed ski seasons in Argentina, the US, and France.


Andres was the 'Director Tecnico de la Escuela de Guias' between 2006 and 2012. He continues to instruct there, and as such is responsible for developing the next generation of IFMGA guides in Ecuador and Bolivia.


A highly talented, multi-disciplined climber, he is equally at home on rock, ice, big wall and the climbing walls of Quito, but his real passion is high altitude ascents via new or difficult routes.


His best day in the mountains was on the fearsome and super technical Cayesh (5721m) in Peru.

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Alejo Lazzati IFMGA - Expedition Guide

Alejo Lazzati IFMGA - Expedition Guide

Alejo is another team member with full IFMGA certification, having done ski seasons in Chamonix, Barriloche and the USA. 


He joins True Summit Adventures as one of the most experienced high altitude first responders in South America.


He has been climbing the high mountains in Ecuador since his early teens, and when not guiding in Ecuador is regularly found in Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia.

alejolazzati
Camilo Andrade Davila UIAGM - Expedition Guide

Camilo Andrade Davila UIAGM - Expedition Guide

Camilo is one of the most-liked and well-respected guides in Ecuador, and after spending a short amount of time in his company, it's easy to see why. 


His enthusiasm and sense of fun is infectious and he is a great addition to any expedition or team.


Camilo has been traveling and climbing as long as he can remember. It was this passion which led him to study tourism at university before completing the UIAGM International Mountain Guide Program.


He has been working as a guide in Ecuador and Peru since 2012, loves photography, creating new adventure itineraries, climbing novel routes, and helping people turn their climbing dreams into a reality.


Camilo lives in central Quito where he dotes on his one daughter.

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Itinerary

In this expedition we have distilled what we consider to be the best of the Ecuadorean high mountains into an action packed 12 day adventure culminating in the ascent of the great Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain. Good acclimatisation is key to this trip and we have structured the itinerary in such a way as to give you the best chance of summiting all the mountains on our schedule. As such, we start by easing into the trip with a city tour of Quito, the first ever city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978.

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February 1st - Day 1: Arrival in Quito, 2850m. JW Marriott, Quito

On arrival in Quito, you'll be met at the airport by a True Summit Adventures team member and taken to the Marriott hotel. Our base in the city's Gonzalez Suarez neighborhood, it's very close to the famous Avenida Isabel Catolica, home to some of best of Quito's restaurants and bars, as well as frenetic Plaza Foch.

The hotel has a pool, gym, and spa, so whether you want to push yourself with some last-minute training or acclimatise more gently with a massage, we have you covered.

In the evening of day one we meet as a team for dinner, where you'll be introduced to the guides, recieve an expedition briefing, and undergo a gear check.


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February 2nd - Day 2: City Tour, 2850m. JW Marriott, Quito

Explore the first city UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our acclimatisation begins in central Quito (2850m), the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. This was back in 1978 in order to protect the city's incredible eighteenth-century architecture, priceless colonial treasures, and its living traditions and culture.

Our city tour takes in Quito's culturally important sites, including the cathedral, and Plaza Grande. We then stand on the equator line, where you can try to balance an egg on a nail or watch as water spins clockwise on one side of the imaginary line and anti-clockwise on the other.

Our evening meal will be at one of the most fashionable restaurants in the La Floresta neighbourhood.

Cuicocha

February 3rd - Day 3: Hike Cuicocha, 3500m. JW Marriott, Quito

Lake Cuicocha acclimatisation hike.

Today we dive straight into some of the most beautiful scenery in Ecuador with an acclimatisation hike of Cuicocha.

The hike covers around 11km in five or six hours, and varies in elevation from 3000 to 3500m.

The scenery is extraordinary, encompassing a 3km-wide 'crater lake' at the foot of Cotacachi volcano.

Rucu

February 4th - Day 4: Climb Rucu Pinchincha, 4700m. Chuquiragua Lodge

Rucu Pinchincha hike.

Day four is our first chance to get to some serious altitude as we climb the famous Rucu Pinchincha, nestled on the outskirts of Quito.

The climb is not technical although there are some steep scrambles in places as we reach 4700m and enjoy amazing views across the city.

After the climb we board the transport and head out on our expedition proper.

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February 5th - Day 5: Hike to the Illiniza Refuge, 4700m.

Explore the volcanoes of Illinizas National Park

Following a two hours drive from Quito we reach Illinizas National Park. Although it teems with springs, streams, rivers and lakes, it's best known for its twin volcanoes of the same name - Illinizas North and South.

We leave the vehicles at 3950m for a 3-4 hour hike through upper moorland, with beautiful and far reaching views of the park. Mules and ponies will transport our main bags, so you're free to appreciate nature at its best.

In a saddle between the twin volcanoes is our day's destination, the Nuevos Horizontes refuge which sits at 4700m.

It may be one of the more basic refuges in Ecuador, but the food served here by "Gato", its custodian (named after his cat-like eyes) is amongst the best.

On arrival we settle in for some warm tea, food, lots of story sharing and rest for the incredible climbs ahead of us.

Illinizas

Fevruary 6th - Day 6: Summit Illiniza Norte, 5125m. Chuquiragua Lodge

Stand above 5000m

Today we tackle Illiniza Norte, our first 5000'er, leaving the refuge at around 5am following an early breakfast.

The route comprises some excellent scrambling and continued acclimatisation, not to mention stunning views of the Avenue of Volcanoes as we arrive to the summit at 5125m.

We then descend over the opposite side of the mountain. Here we meet the vehicles and continue on to Chuquiragua Lodge for showers, a big dinner, and a warm bed.

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February 7th - Day 7: To the Cayambe Refuge, 4600m

Being the ascent of Cayambe

In years gone by we would have climbed the great Cotopaxi, the second highest mountain in Ecuador. However, volcanic activity beginning in 2022 has forced the closure of the mountain to climbers for the forseeable future. 

But fear not, a worthy substitute awaits as we turn our attention to Cayambe instead; the third highest mountain in Ecuador and possibly the most beautiful.

We overnight at Cayambe refuge at 4600m, ready to summit this mighty mountain tomorrow.

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February 8th - Day 8: Summit Cayambe, 5790m and to Casa Ilayaku

Summiting Mount Cayambe

With over 1000m in altitude to climb we leave the Joleas-Ruales-Berge hut just after midnight.

The climb is deceptively long, and also much steeper than portrayed by the map in the refuge canteen, so you'll need a healthy amount of determination to reach its peak.

Having done so, we descend back towards Quito for a night at the wonderful Casa Ilayaku.

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February 9th - Day 9: Rest Day and Transfer to Chimborazo Lodge, 4000m

Transfer to Chimborazo.

Today we transfer to the incredible Chimborazo Lodge, located at 4000m at the base of the Chimborazo volcano, in the historic Totorillas Valley.

Chimborazo Lodge is surely one of the most incredible mountain accommodations in the world with a unique character and history. Built and owned by famed guide Marco Cruz, the hotel is part mountain lodge and part museum! Don't forget to ask to see the Reinhold Messner suite, and admire the original ice axe used for his Nanga Parbat ascent.

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28th January - Day 10: To Chimborazo 'High Camp', 5400m

Scaling Chimborazo.

This afternoon we leave our vehicles and hike for two hours over mostly scree and rock to the high camp at 5400m.

The high camp is semi-permanent and looks like part of the set of the original Star Wars film with its white domed tents.

In good spirits and with excitement for the experience to come, we rest and prepare for the summit night ahead.

We encourage everyone to eat and rest as the night's trek will be long and arduous.

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29th January - Day 11: Summit Chimborazo, 6300m and return to Quito. JW Marriott

Summiting Chimborazo

Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and the furthest point from the centre of the Earth, surpassing Mount Everest by 2km due to the planet's equatorial bulge. 

Reaching its lofty peak is therefore a huge experience. It's one which takes patience and endurance, but unlike the much climbed Cotopaxi, is rarely considered by Ecuadorians. It's highly likely we will have the route to ourselves.

Galapagos

30th January - Day 12: Departure day or to the Cloud Forest or Galapagos

Time to say our goodbyes. 

We hope your memory of Ecuador and its beautiful mountains and mountain culture lives long in the memory.

Drivers will be on hand to take you to the airport, should you not be taking the opportunity to explore the Galapagos Islands too.



Where you'll be staying

JW Marriott

JW Marriott

Our base for our time in the capital is the JW Marriott in the fashionable Gonzalez Suarez neighborhood. It's adjacent to La Floresta, where all the best restaurants and bars are located.

Refugio Nuevos Horizontes, 4700m

Refugio Nuevos Horizontes, 4700m

The Illiniza's refuge is basic, but homely, with accommodation in a communal bunk room. The refuge's custodian, "Gato," produces some of the best high altitude food in the Andes.

Chuquiragua Lodge

Chuquiragua Lodge

Chuquiragua Lodge is the best mountain accommodation in the Illinizas area, making it the perfect place to decompress after our first 5000'er.

Ruales Oleas Berge Refuge, 4600m

Ruales Oleas Berge Refuge, 4600m

The Cayambe is one of the best refuges anywhere in Ecuador. Boasting a modern European style, it's known for great food and comfy beds. Accommodation here is in small, private dorms.

Casa Ilayaku

Casa Ilayaku

A home away from home, Casa Ilayaku is a warm and cosy boutique hotel. Its beautiful gardens keep the hotel's superb kitchen packed with fresh produce.

Chimborazo Lodge

Chimborazo Lodge

Another great accommodation pick, forming an almost dream-like Andes escape. Built in the shadow of Chimboazo, alpacas roam the surrounding grassland, and the stars shine brightly each night. Part mountain hotel and part museum, the Meissner suite contains the ice axe the great man used to conquer Nanga Parbat.

Chimborazo High Camp

Chimborazo High Camp

The Chimborazo High Camp is a semi-permanent camp situated at 5400m. It consists of several dome tents housing the accommodation and communal eating areas.

What's Included

What's Included

Airport transfers

All accomodations

Welcome drinks party

All meals for the duration of the trip

IFMGA guides, max 2 clients per guide

Park entry and climbing permits

High altitude first responder

Expedition logistics manager

All expedition transport

Iridium Satellite Phone

International flights

Travel insurance

Kit hire

Alcoholic drinks

Lunch on arrival / departure day

Add Ons

2 Day Pre Trip Acclimatisation

2 Day Pre Trip Acclimatisation

Come early for some extra acclimatisation; hike Cerro Las Puntas and climb Pasochoa

PRICE$714.84/pp

FAQs

Ideally you would have completed a high altitude trek to Kilimanjaro or Aconcagua, or have experience of a lower but more technical mountain like Mont Blanc. If you have very good fitness, endurance, or are an experienced adventurer, but lack altitude or alpine experience, please contact us to discuss if this is the right expedition for you.

Ecuador is an amazing country and its people are very friendly. However, like most Central and South American countries there are some risks posed by extreme poverty and economic migration. It's best to be careful when traveling in Quito at night. By all means ask our team if in doubt about visiting anywhere in Ecuador.

We strongly recommend you visit the Galapagos Islands while visiting Ecuador. Our logistics manager Elisa will be more than happy to assist you with planning and booking this part of your journey.

Chimborazo is a big mountain and like any 6000'er has a high altitude gain between the high camp and summit. A good level of fitness and perseverance is required to reach its summit.

Ecuador has a long history of alpinism and, like its refuges, has some of the best guides in South America. Our team are all seasoned professionals and IFMGA guides.

Absolutely. We will organise this for you.

Trip Tips

Bring US Dollars

Bring US Dollars

The US dollar has been used in Ecuador since 2000, when it replaced the sucre after a long period of economic instability. Bringing dollars saves the need to exchange currency in country.

Come Super Fit

Come Super Fit

The high mountains in Ecuador take some climbing. Please come fit and ready for long days to give yourself the best chance of summiting the higher mountains.

Come Equipped

Come Equipped

Climbing equipment is expensive in Ecuador due to sales taxes on imports. It's better to arrive with everything you need.

Reviews

Waynenew

I am thrilled to share with you the incredible experience I had with True Summit Adventures on my trip to Ecuador! This company truly exceeded my expectations and provided me with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that I will never forget. The highlight of my trip was undoubtedly the mountain climbing expeditions. We tackled some of the most stunning peaks in the region, including Ilinize Norte, Cayambe, and Chimborazo volcanoes. Each climb was a unique and unforgettable experience, with breathtaking views and challenging but rewarding trails. The expertise and guidance of our guides were crucial in ensuring our safety and success, and I felt completely supported and confident throughout the entire journey. Apart from the mountain climbs, we also had a fantastic sightseeing tour of Quito, where we got to learn about the rich history and culture of the area. The city is a beautiful mix of colonial architecture and modern amenities, and we were able to explore some of the hidden gems that only locals know about. The lodges we stayed at were also top-notch, and I especially loved the Chimborazo lodge. It was cozy and comfortable, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. We were able to relax and recharge after each climb, and the accommodations were a perfect balance of comfort and ruggedness. Lastly, I have to give a shoutout to Ollie, the owner of True Summit Adventures, who joined us on the trip. He was an incredible guide, knowledgeable, personable, and made sure that every aspect of the trip was exceptional. His enthusiasm and passion for the outdoors were contagious, and he went above and beyond to ensure that everyone had a great time. Overall, I can't recommend True Summit Adventures enough. This company provided me with an unforgettable adventure, and I came away from the trip with a newfound appreciation for the beauty of Ecuador and its people. If you're looking for an exciting and challenging adventure with knowledgeable and friendly guides, True Summit Adventures is the way to go.

Wayne Mills-Kidals

JackyBoy

I was really excited about this expedition but I was also nervous, after going to EBC it had been 3 years since being at altitude but also having never done Alpine climbing before I didn't know what to expect. The kit list was broken down very well and helped me pack accordingly. The journey from arrival to attempting to summit the largest peak was very well planned and gradual, climbing larger and larger peaks as the trip went on, the locations we stayed in were stunning and Oliver and the guides were exceptional and encouraging. Ecuador is an amazing place and the trip has made me more confident in doing alpine expeditions and I can't wait for the next one! Big thank you to Oliver and the True Summit Adventures team!

Jack Aston-Hull

EDKB

Had an excellent trip to Ecuador with True Summit. In the the different climbs in each area progressed and built well on the previous climbs. While we were in Ecuador the accommodation was great with Casailayaku and the hotel in Chimborazo particular highlights. The trip was adapted as per the needs of the group with an excellent group of guides! 10/10 would definitely recommend!!!

Ed Kelsey-Browne

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Ultimate Ecuador Adventure: Climb Cayambe and Chimborazo

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