A Volcano Trip in Ecuador

The Avenue of Volcanoes in the high central region of Ecuador includes the world’s highest active volcano, the Cotopaxi. Enthusiastic mountaineers can develop the skills and experience here to climb high altitude mountains successfully and safely. You need to be in excellent shape and have some basic mountaineering skills to do this trip though no glacier experience is necessary. By the end of the trip, under the expert guidance of the trip organizers you would have got it.

Cotopaxi is the world’s highest active volcano at 19,348 feet. It is located in the Cotopaxi National Park, a scenic area with alpine lakes, pine forests and plenty of wildlife. The mountain soars above with its striking cone shaped symmetry- a stunning sight in the surrounding stark paramo landscape.

Our volcano trip begins at the Pasachoa National Park. The hike to the rim of the now extinct volcano is perfect for acclimatization. There are well maintained hike trails here and the trek up to the rim of the Pasachoa is the highlight of the day. A night’s rest at a hotel in the nearby town of Lasso rounds it up.

The next day we make a day trip to Illiniza Norte. It is short but rough drive followed by a hike to the saddle below the mountain. A climb to the summit of Illiniza Norte at 16,813 feet is a straightforward hike but can be strenuous because of the altitude.

It is one of the best peaks in the country for acclimatization and a good place for a run up to the climb to Cotopaxi on the next day.

A pretty arduous hike to the Jose Ribas Hut at 15,000 feet on the Cotopaxi brings us to the perfect place to rest before the big climb. You can also learn or practice glacier skills here and generally get acclimatized to the altitude. The ascent begins at midnight and in a few hours we cross the Yanasacha Wall. We ascend the steep but fairly straightforward climb, past a moraine to moderate glacier slopes. The climb is interesting because of the snow-bridge crossings and complex crevasses. A challenging climb brings us abruptly to the rim of the crater.