The Twin Peaks of Ilinizas form a famous landmark in the Volcano Avenue: two pyramid shaped summits rising in the Western Cordillera. As relatively small fivethousanders, these are considered ideal climbs to train and acclimatize for Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, offering superb views of Cotopaxi.
The volcanic twins are far from identical. Iliniza Norte (5126 m/ 16817 ft), the remnant of the ancient volcanic edifice, is a rocky mountain with no permanent snow. This is one of the less technical climbs in Ecuador, apt for beginners. Iliniza South (5263 m/ 17267 ft), a younger volcano formed by a lava dome after a powerful eruption, has permanent glaciers with a very technical route. A great alpine climb for advanced mountaineers!
The ascent of Iliniza Sur is a challenge for experienced mountaineers, with steep sections (up to 75 degrees) of ice and snow, and many crevasses. You need to have very good alpine climbing skills, including glacier travel, rock and ice climbing, use of technical ice axe and front pointing.
The difficulty of the route may vary, depending on the snow conditions.
At 9.00 a.m. we depart by car from Riobamba to Ilinizas Ecological Reserve. After about 3 hours arrive at the La Virgen parking lot (3900 m/12795 ft). A pack horse will be waiting to take the heavy gear up to the Nuevos Horizontes refuge, so all you need to carry is your daypack. The 3- to 4-hour hike leads along a beautiful meandering trail with grasslands and Polylepis trees, to the Nuevos Horizontes refuge at 4650 m. / 15.256 ft. right in the saddle between Norte and Sur. Briefing and dinner.
At 3.00 a.m. we have a light breakfast and get ready for the ascent. From the saddle, we hike up to the glacier. Depending the amount of snowfall in previous days, climbing the steeper ramps will be more or less technical. Several crevasses have to be crossed. The steep sections are alternated with flatter platforms where you can regain your breath for the next stretch. Reach the summit at sunrise, enjoy the awesome views of Cotopaxi and Iliniza Norte, and descent to La Virgen. On the way back to Riobamba we will have lunch in a restaurant. Arrive at about 16.00.