Carihuairazo (5018 m / 16463 ft) is the second volcano in the Chimborazo Reserve. Compared to its big brother Chimborazo it may not impress you at first sight, but actually this mountain is a great option to get prepared for the summit attempt of Ecuador´s highest peak. It enables you to achieve a better acclimatization and practice basic climbing skills on the small glacier.
This collapsed volcano is located in a remote part of the Chimborazo Reserve, home to herds of alpacas and vicuñas. It has beautiful moorland scenery on its lower flanks and – with clear weather – magnificent views of Chimborazo from the summit.
Climate change is the main reason that the glacier of Carihuairazo is shrinking little by little, so climb this fascinating peak while it is still possible!
This climb is a combination of an easy trek on paramo highlands with a relatively short glacier ascent. It requires a good physical health and a basic height acclimatization. You do not need previous glacier experience, but be aware that the ascent does involve some rock scrambling and a short technical ascent just before summiting.
The Quichua words Cari-huai-razo refers to Male-wind-ice – be prepared for according weather conditions. If you are lucky enough to hit the summit on a clear day you will enjoy the best views of Chimborazo!
Departure from Riobamba a at 10.00 and drive for about 1,5 hours to Mechahuasca. This indigenous community has a privileged location between Carihuairazo and Chimborazo. In the afternoon we will take a short hike on the paramo moorlands to observe the herds of vicuñas that live in this protected ecosystem, and enjoy great views of the snowcapped volcanoes. After the introductory briefing and dinner, we will crawl into our sleeping bags early.
Wake-up call at 2.30 and after a light breakfast, we venture out at 3.00 a.m. The approach to the glacier takes about 2 to 3 hours, mostly on paramo grasslands. At the entrance to the glacier, (4750 m / 15583 ft) we rope up and put on crampons for the final ascent. Depending on the snow conditions, the final 20 meters before reaching the summit may be more or less technical. From the summit you will enjoy great views of Chimborazo. Descent to the camp where we will have a brief rest and a hot soup, before returning to Riobamba. Arrive at about 13.00 p.m.