Day 1: We take our first acclimatization ascent on the 4.800m/ 15.744 ft peak of the active volcano Guagua Pichincha. Quito is nestled on the slopes of this active volcano. Our primary goal here is to help each team member begin testing his or her response to higher elevation and to give our bodies a chance to get used to altitude, while enjoying the many photographic opportunities. Afternoon drive back to Quito.
Day 2: Today we depart Quito at 10:00 a.m and head south through the valley of the volcanoes on the Panamerican Highway. After one and a half hours we will enter the Cotopaxi National Park where we will pass through a pine forest that was introduced in the area many years ago. Another hour and we arrive at our first camp site which is located near the beautiful Limpiopungo Lagoon. After lunch and organizing the campsite, we will take a 2-3 hour hike near the foot of Volcano Ruminahui. Dinner and sleep at 3.800m/ 12.464 ft.
Day 3: We wake up early and eat breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Afterward, we'll depart for the central peak of volcano Ruminahui at 7:00 a.m. We will have a very interesting hike through the park as we pass through Paramo and up to a small ridge. After 4-5 hours we will reach the summit which is situated at 4.631m/ 15.200 ft. Lunch and return to base camp to prepare ourselves and get our gear ready for the next days big adventure.
Day 4: Breakfast at 8:00 a.m, break camp and drive as far as the road will take us which will be around 4.550m/14.924 ft. From here we have a forty-five minute hike with full packs up to the Jose Rivas Refuge on the flank of Cotopaxi situated at 4.800m/15.744 ft. After arrival at the hut, we will enjoy a hot tea and a short rest before heading out to the glacier for an afternoon of technical training and equipment familiarization. Supper late in the afternoon and then early to bed at 6:30 p.m.
Day 5: Wake up at midnight. Breakfast and equipment check-up. We leave the refuge at 1:00 a.m. We will pass a group of uniform slopes and ice ramps of 30 and 35 degrees before reaching a glacier platform. We enjoy one of the spectacular color displays in the Andes. From this point we see the valley below us where the morning sunrise welcomes us with incredible colors. Our route will pass under a base of rock 400 feet wide called Yanasacha. The quichua name says it all, its a black wall of impressive size. The Indians called it the route of the moon.
Here we start climbing glacier slopes of 35 and 45 degrees, at the top of which we will only have 15 more minutes climb to emerge onto Ecuador's second highest summit: Volcano Cotopaxi at 5.898m/19.348 ft. Our approximate climbing time will have been 7 hours. Return to the refuge around 9 or 10:00am. Rest and drive to La Cienega, a beautiful country-side hacienda located at the base of Cotopaxi.
Day 6: Depart from La Cienega at 10:00 a.m. Drive south of Cotopaxi where we will pass the agricultural towns of Latacunga and Ambato. Five hour drive crossing agricultural and indigenous areas where a picture or two may attract you. We will arrive at the lower carrel refuge of Chimborazo 4.800m/15.744 ft. at 3 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Overnight at the lower hut, dinner and sleep.
Day 7: Breakfast 8:00 a.m. This day we will need to rest and acclimatize for a higher altitude climb. We begin the day with a forty-minute walk with full packs up to the Whimper hut on the
Chimborazo flank situated at 5.000m/16.400 ft. Later we will take a short 2 or 3 hour hike around the ridge and then return to the refuge where we will rest and prepare ourselves for the early morning departure. Early dinner and once again we will go to bed as early as 6:30pm.
Day 8: Chimborazo, with 5 summits, is Ecuador's highest mountain and one massive volcano! We rise at midnight for breakfast and an equipment check-up. Leave the hut at 1:00 a.m. We move immediately to the huge glacier on Chimborazo's southwest face where we first traverse moderately angled ice slopes, climb through a series of ice falls and up the steep ice ramps. Climbing simultaneously on moderate grounds belaying up the steep pitches. Our team will rope together in order to cross crevasses and finally make it to the summit. This is the highest point of the Andes and from here we have a magnificent view of the emerging volcanoes that form the eastern and western Cordillera.
The said volcanoes seem to emerge from the clouds below our feet. Our approximate climbing time is 8 to 9 hours. Return to the refuge around noon. Lunch and return to Quito, arriving in the hotel in Quito at 8:00 p.m.
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