"MAY YOUR DREAMS BE HIGHER THAN MOUNTAINS, AND MAY YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO SCALE THEM."
mountain Expedition Skills, Cotopaxi, ecuador
14 - 23 OCTOBER 2022
If you love mountains as much as we do then you’ll love the Andes. This trip is packed with activities, acclimatisation and excitement. We’ll navigate glaciers, practice our ice axe and crampon technique and treat acute mountain sickness using a hyperbaric chamber; all whilst experiencing the incredible scenery of one of the worlds highest active volcanos.
climb to 5,897m in one of the worlds most iconic mountain ranges
Difficulty: Mountain expeditions present a unique challenge and we highly recommend arriving a day or two early to acclimatise. The city of Quito city is 2850m above sea level so each night spent here will be a great advantage once in the mountains. Some experience of alpine climbing is beneficial though not essential if you have a good level of fitness.
9 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 9 dinners including a celebration meal
9 nights accommodation including 5 nights on the mountain. And as usual we save a bit of luxury for the end.
Quito city tour, ice axe, helmet and harness hire are all included in the price.
And of course there's all the fantastic learning you'd expect from our team of experts.
* will be tailored based on the skills and experience of the cohort as well as weather and mountain conditions. International flights not included.
Day 1 – Welcome to the city of Quito! A UNESCO cultural heritage site squeezed in-between mountain peaks and active volcanoes. Here you get to meet the rest of your group as we dish out gear and swiftly whisk you away to our mountain-side camp (3,000m). We’ll practice the fundamentals of mountain expedition; fire, water, shelter and food. As dusk draws in we gather in the mess tent with a warm cup of Milo in hand, as our instructors brief us on what the rest of the expedition has in store.
Day 2 – Acclimatisation and practical learning - We leave camp early for an acclimatisation hike further up the Pasachoa mountain (4,199m). We'll practice our map reading, GPS location, radio communication and probably a mountain emergency or two. You’ll have one more night to get used to your expedition tents before heading off for Quito the next morning.
Day 3 – Acclimatisation and practical learning – As the sun shines onto our tents we wake up and gather for a hearty breakfast and a cup of mate (the local bitter tea). After packing up camp we travel West of Quito to the Pichincha Massif, consisting of three summits, Guagua, Rucu and Padre Encantado. A cable car takes us to 3,945m where we follow the trails until they thin out and we’re left scrambling over rocks and leftover lava flows to reach the summit of Ruco Pichincha. Looking down on the colourful rooftops of Quito at 4,696m it’s our first real taste of altitude, the air feels thin here and everyone in the group will be feeling it. That night we’re treated to a warm shower and clean sheets back in our hotel.
Day 4 – A more leisurely start today as the transport arrives and we board the bus to Volcán Cayambe, a huge glaciated extinct volcano and also the highest point on the Earth's surface which the Equator passes directly through. From Cayambe Refugio (4,600m) we have views of the Glaciar Hermoso “the beautiful glacier” and in the afternoon we’ll take a sunset stroll to see the it up close, readying ourselves for a day on the ice tomorrow.
Day 5 – Glacier training day – Crampons on and ice axes in hand, we head into the glacier field for a day practicing the skills you’ll need for our summit attempt the following morning. By the end of the day you’ll feel well prepared to tackle one of the true Andean peaks.
Day 6 – Summit attempt of Cayambe (5,790m) - As is customary with alpine climbing we start our summit bid in the early hours when temperatures are low and the ice is at it’s most static. As we move further into the Glacier it’s apparent it’s active and constantly changing, with tall seracs and deep crevasses which can be hidden by fresh snow. We make slow and methodical progress as we pick our way through the labrynth. With luck (and a bit of effort) we’ll all be standing on the summit by sunrise, blessed with a perspective of the world that can only be achieved after climbing one of its giants. By the evening we’ll be back in our hotel in Quito for a hot meal and warm shower.
Day 7 – Recovery – We spend the day in Quito. Use it as an opportunity for rest and relaxation or to explore the amazing culture of this old colonial city. Late in the afternoon we’ll gather for an expedition medicine workshop with your trip doctor.
Day 8 – Flanked by domes of lava we journey South of Quito through the Valley of Volcanoes to José Ribas Hut on Volcán Cotopaxi (4,800m). It’s a 45-minute hike from the end of the trail to our lodgings. From here we will make our summit attempt. We all get an early night full of anticipation for the big day ahead.
Day 9 – Summit attempt of Cotopaxi 5,897m – Head torches, crampons and harnesses at the ready; it’s a familiar routine as our little contingent heads out once again onto the mountain. Following our local guide we navigate snow and ice ramps, belay across ice bridges spanning crevasses, and wriggle up some short ice pitches before reaching the crater rim. A pleasant hike around the rim takes us to the Northern peak where we enjoy views of the surrounding Andes mountains. That evening back in Quito we will re-live the adventures of the last ten days and start planning for the next adventure.
Day 10 - One last opportunity to enjoy Quito before we say our goodbyes. You have the option of joining us for a city tour or exploring the temples, monuments and indigenous markets by yourselves.