Cayambe (5789 m / 18.994 ft) is Ecuador’s third highest peak and the third highest in the northern hemisphere of the America´s. And finally, it is the highest point on the world´s surface through which the equator directly passes.
Even apart from these claims, Cayambe is a must-climb-mountain: this beautiful glaciated volcano with active glaciers, huge snowfields, crevasses and snow bridges, offers a very enriching glacier travel experience. After this climb you will understand why climbing is not just about adding another summit to your list, but about enjoying the way to the summit!
Cayambe is located northeast from Quito in the Cayambe Coca Reserve, where the Andean condor still can be spotted.
In addition to a proper acclimatization and physical fitness, for the ascent of Cayambe we recommend to have some previous mountaineering experience. You should be familiar with rope travel, and the use of crampons and ice axe.
Cayambe is influenced by the humidity of the Amazon, with unpredictable weather conditions, this means that the snow and ice conditions are subject to variations as well.
Departure from Quito a at 10.00 and drive for about 2 hours to Cayambe Coca Reserve. A 4 wheel car will take you all the way to the refuge at 4650 m / 15255 ft (depending the road conditions, sometimes a short hike is necessary). In the afternoon the guide will give an introductory briefing and check your glacier skills. After an early dinner, you can sleep for a few hours.
After a light breakfast, we start the ascent at midnight. A rock slope leads to the huge glaciers. We will hike on large snowfields with average slopes of 30 – 40 degrees, and traverse several large crevasses. Before summiting at sunrise, we have to climb a steeper section (up to 45 degrees) with more crevasses and impressive seracs. From the summit you can admire the views of Antisana, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, and the Amazon region to the east. The descent to the refuge takes about 3 hours. In the afternoon return to Quito, with a stop on the way for lunch. Arrive at about 14.00 p.m.