|June 18, 2013 - FULL|
|December 10, 2013|
|February 11, 2014|
|June 17, 2014|
|December 9, 2014|
"The trip was as close to perfect as you can get. Incredible climbing, a plenty of time experiencing a new country, and great camaraderie. It was something I'll remember forever."
— Dan J. | Read More Testimonials
Set between Ecuador’s coastal beaches and its rainforests rises the greatest concentration of volcanoes in the world. The spectacular glaciated peaks of Cotopaxi (19,348') and Cayambe (18,997'), located in the Ecuadorian Andes, offer exciting and accessible high altitude mountaineering. Climb highlights include:
- Scale two Andean volcanoes over the course of one short climbing expedition.
- Climb with an experienced RMI Guide, benefiting from the background, training, and expertise of our guides as you venture to higher altitudes.
- Expand your climbing experience with multiple ascents that combine high altitude experience with moderate technical difficulty.
- From its glaciers to the vibrant colors of its traditional markets, experience the captivating beauty of Ecuador along the way.
- Take part in an RMI adventure and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Our trip begins in Quito, the capitol city of Ecuador. Located fifteen miles south of the equator and at an altitude of 9,350’, it sits in a high altitude valley that is known as the "Avenue of the Volcanoes." We explore Quito’s mix of colonial and modern streets and rich past while hiking in the surrounding hills to build our acclimatization.
We next turn our focus to Cayambe (18,997’), the third highest peak in Ecuador. Sleeping at the climber’s hut at over 15,000’, we use the mountain’s glaciers to review and practice our mountaineering techniques. On our summit attempt we climb to the only snow capped point on earth sitting on the equator.
Our final destination is the soaring conical shaped volcano of Cotopaxi (19,348’), one of the country’s most famous peaks. With our climbing techniques refined and now feeling properly acclimatized we make our way to the climber’s hut at 16,000’ on Cotopaxi. Our climb brings us up Cotopaxi’s massive glaciers and through its fields of crevasses to the summit perched along the airy volcanic rim.
Cotopaxi and Cayambe offer superb alpine climbing for intermediate climbers. Both climbs involve moderately steep slopes and prior knowledge of roped travel, crampon techniques, and ice axe arrest is recommended; a review of these basic mountaineering techniques is built into the itinerary. This climb is ideal for mountaineers looking to build their climbing skills, climb to new elevations, and take part in the excitement of an international climbing expedition.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels to airport transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.
Our Ecuador climbs are led by RMI’s foremost U.S. guides, who bring years of climbing experience in not only Ecuador but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated.
We use RMI's own climbing equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of safety, quality, and reliability are met. We’ve chosen our lodges and meals to keep our team comfortable, happy, and healthy throughout the climb. We use private vehicles to travel between the different peaks, minimizing our time spent on the road and allowing us to travel more safely. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.
COTOPAXI EXPRESS OPTION
Our standard Ecuador Volcanoes is 11 days and offers climbers a chance to reach the summit of both Cayambe (18,997') and Cotopaxi (19,348'). Our "abbreviated" Cotopaxi Express trip is 9 days and is ideal for climbers looking to complete the challenge of a 19,000' mountain in a short period of time.
Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Ecuador’s Volcanoes. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, daily weather forecasts via satellite, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the trip.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ecuador's Volcanoes Itinerary
Day 1: Depart U.S.A. Most flights arrive in Quito (UIO) in the late evening. Your guide will meet you at the airport and transfer with you to our hotel. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito.
The streets of Quito
Day 2: We meet in the hotel lobby for an orientation meeting and our first team breakfast. The day is spent exploring Colonial Quito with a local tour guide. We visit Independence Square, church of La Compania (1605) and the church and monastery of San Francisco (1535). We will also travel 15 minutes north of Quito to the Equatorial Line where we can jump from the northern to the southern hemisphere. There is also time in the afternoon to relax and recover from our flights. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito. (B)
Visiting Quito and the Equator
Day 3: After breakfast we take a short drive from Quito to the teleférico (gondola) which will carry us to approximately 13,500’. From there we stretch our legs and lungs with an acclimatization hike on Rucu Pichincha (15,696’). The hike is beautiful, with views of Quito and most of the snow covered volcanoes in Ecuador, including Cotopaxi and Cayambe. We return to the hotel and the afternoon is free to explore the city and organize our gear for our departure from Quito the following morning. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito. (B)
Hiking on Rucu Pichincha
Day 4: Leaving Quito we travel north toward the town of Tabacundo. As the cobblestone streets end we make our way to the trail head of Cerro Fuya Fuya (13,986’). The trail takes us through knee-high grass vegetation and achupallas (andean tall pineapples). The climb gradually becomes steeper as we gain altitude. The trail ends at the saddle between Fuya Fuya's two summits. We continue on toward the eastern summit which includes an easy scramble. We return to the vehicle and transfer to Otavalo where we spend the night. Hiking time is approximately 3 – 3 ½ hours. (B)
Acclimatization Hike on Cerro Fuya Fuya
Day 5: We visit the Otavalo Market to experience the local culture, purchase fresh snacks and souvenirs. In the afternoon, we drive to the hut at the base of Cayambe. Hiking time is approximately 1 - 2 hours. Overnight at the climber's hut (15,300'). (B, D)
The markets of Otavalo and reaching Cayambe
Day 6: In the morning we hike out to the toe of the glacier to focus on reviewing basic mountaineering techniques that will prepare us for our summit attempt. We settle in early in anticipation of our alpine start. Overnight at the climber's hut (15,300'). (B, D)
Training on Cayambe
Day 7: Summit day on Cayambe (18,997')! With an early alpine start for the summit, our route begins by climbing through some low rock outcroppings before stepping onto a spectacularly crevassed glacier. Once on the glacier, the route climbs directly to the upper reaches of the mountain, where a challenging final push to the summit awaits us. We return to the hut and transfer to Chilcabamba Eco Lodge, a traditional Ecuadorian farmhouse, located near the base of Cotopaxi where we spend the night. (B, D)
Summit Day on Cayambe
Day 8: Rest Day. Overnight at Chilcabamba Eco Lodge. (B, D)
Resting at Chilcabamba
Day 9: After breakfast, a short drive takes us to the end of the road at the base of Cotopaxi. A 45 minute hike leads to the Jose Ribas Refugio at 16,000'. Overnight at Jose Ribas Refugio. (B, D)
Approach on Cotopaxi
Day 10: Summit day on Cotopaxi (19,348')! With an early alpine start, we use the first hour to approach the glacier. A long, initial pitch gains access to an interesting maze of crevasses on the lower slopes of this beautiful volcano. The ascent then weaves through impressive crevasse fields before ascending the final steep slopes to the summit. The deep, sheer-walled volcanic crater is an incredibly impressive sight. After celebrating on the summit, we descend back to the hut. Upon reaching the vehicles, we leave the mountains and travel back to Quito. Climbing time is approximately 10 - 12 hours. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda. (B)
The summit bid on Cotopaxi The summit of Cotopaxi
Day 11: Early morning transfer to the airport for our outbound flights.
Key: B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Ecuador's Volcanoes: Cotopaxi & Cayambe Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI 2013.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
BACKPACK: A 60+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 0° to 15° F. Either goose down or synthetic.
SLEEPING PAD: Not required for this trip. Pads are provided at the climbers' hut(s).
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm. axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm. axe; and taller, use a 75 cm. axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
CLIMBING HARNESS: A comfortable, adjustable climbing harness.
HELMET: A lightweight climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: The 12-point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. Carry any repair kit/replacement parts and adjusting tools which are specific to your crampons.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should be warm and thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
GLACIER GLASSES: A pair of dark-lensed sunglasses with side shields or full wrap-type sunglasses.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. Additionally, contact lens wearers may find a clear-lensed goggle very useful on windy nights.
Hands Guides' Pick
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves for protection against wind, snow and cold. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
Upper Body Guides' Pick
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top will be used as your base layer. Zip-neck styles will allow for better temperature regulation.
LIGHT INSULATING LAYER: A fleece or other insulation layer.
SOFT SHELL LAYER: A windproof, water-resistant and highly breathable layer.
HARD SHELL JACKET: A jacket made of rain/wind-proof material with an attached hood.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This item becomes of highest importance when we are faced with poor weather. This should be an expeditionary-type heavy parka that extends well below the waist and above the knees. Goose down is recommended versus synthetic fill. It does not have to be waterproof, but that is a nice feature. The parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day and as an emergency garment if needed. When sizing a parka, allow for several layers to be worn underneath; buy it large. The parka must have an insulated hood.
Lower Body Guides' Pick
1 - 3 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Light to medium weight synthetic bottoms.
CLIMBING PANT: Synthetic climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them alone on hot days, or in combination with the base layer on cold days. The thickness (insulation quality) should be based on how well you do in the cold and the temperatures expected on your climb.
HARD SHELL PANT: A pant made of breathable rain and wind-proof material will be needed. Full-length side zippers are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons in cold, inclement weather.
HIKING SHORTS: Good for lower elevations and warm, sunny days.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Insulated double boots are the preferred choice. They provide the best insulation as well as a more rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Leather mountaineering boots that have completely rigid soles are also adequate, but they will need to be insulated and may still result in cold feet on summit days. Bring one pair of chemical foot warmers if you are using the leather mountaineering boots.
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
GAITERS: A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampons on loose clothing.
3 PAIR SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Some people find liner socks useful for reducing friction.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
EXTRA BATTERIES FOR HEADLAMP: Lithium batteries perform best in cold environments.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
4 - 6 CHEMICAL HAND WARMERS
2 WATER BOTTLES: One-quart water bottles are required. Wide mouth bottles are ideal since their opening is less likely to freeze.
2 - 3 GARBAGE BAGS (Large): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
2 SETS BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.
LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
2 CASUAL PANTS
4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
PEE BOTTLE (PEE FUNNEL FOR WOMEN) - OPTIONAL
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitiude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
2 EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
iPOD or MP3 PLAYER
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: huts, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes, climbing anchors, avalanche probes, shovels, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Participant Information Form to the RMI Office.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
Breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain are included as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. With the exception of hotel breakfasts, most restaurant meals are on your own. Your trip fee does not included bottled water and drinks.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 90 days prior to the program departure date.
You are responsible for your own mountain lunches for 7 days. Lunch items should weigh about 3 - 4 lbs. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Ecuador, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take lunch foods that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars (Kashi, Kudos), hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. One typical main course dinner might be spaghetti with sausage and fresh vegetables. Another meal might be chicken fajitas with cheese, tortillas, onions, and peppers. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
This trip is open to individuals in excellent physical condition who are comfortable with rope travel, the use of crampons, and ice axe arrest. This is a great first trip to altitudes above 15,000 feet.
Simply put, climbers perform better and enjoy the adventure more if they have a high degree of fitness and comfort with basic mountaineering skills. This program’s high altitude and snowy terrain contribute to make this a very worthwhile challenge.
Recommended climbing experiences prior to Ecuador volcanoes include climbs which introduce climbers to basic rope, ice axe and cramponing skills:
- 4-day or 5-day Summit Climb on Mt. Rainier
- Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier
- Mountaineer’s route on Mt. Whitney
- Avalanche Gulch route on Mt. Shasta
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Ecuador, you are preparing for:
- Steep climbing with a 20-25 lb load
- A 10-12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support, both with regards to travel arrangements, evacuation policies and insurance options. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Even if you are a seasoned traveler capable of organizing your own travel arrangements, consider contacting her if you wish to avoid sifting through the variety of evacuation policies and insurance options on the market. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email at email@example.com.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase Travel Insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. The wise traveler, while perhaps able to walk away from the non-refundable cost of an adventure, recognizes that travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Due to the remote nature of this particular program, we strongly encourage participants to consider both cancellation insurance and a separate medical evacuation policy.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Several U.S. airlines offer daily flights to Quito, Ecuador (UIO). Flights generally arrive late in the evening on Day 1 of the itinerary. Departing flights may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Ecuador. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without visa.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Upon arrival at the Quito airport (UIO), follow the signs to the Arrivals Building. Proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Ecuador.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
A private shuttle will take you to our hotel.
An airport departure tax of approximately $40 per person is due at the airport in Quito prior to leaving the country.
Immunizations / Travel Medicine
For the most updated information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
The provided transportation in Ecuador as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.
Ecuador Country Facts
Ecuador is named for the Equator, which crosses through the northern reaches of the country. While it is the smallest Andean country, it has four remarkably distinct and diverse regions: the coastal plains, the Andean highlands, the jungles of the upper Amazon basin, and the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador grows enough bananas to make the country the world's largest exporter of the fruit. The Andean highlands contain beautiful and productive farmland, often seen in a classic patchwork pattern. Oil from the rich eastern jungles enriches the economy. The volcanic Galapagos Islands bring tourism revenue with its unique reptiles, birds, and plants.
The country is divided ethnically as well as regionally. About 10 percent of the population is of European descent, about a quarter belong to indigenous cultures, and the rest are of mostly mixed ethnicity.
The capital, Quito, is the second highest capital in South America. Quito is set beautifully in a highland valley at 9,000'.
By the beginning of the 16th century Quito was ruled by the Incas and was the northern capital of their empire. When the Spanish arrived, the area was razed by a general of Atahualpa to make certain it did not fall into Spanish hands. Thus the colonial city was built on the Inca ruins in 1534 by a lieutenant of Pizarro. The current layout of the old city dates back to the 18th century, complete with cobble-stone streets, parks, plazas and colonial architecture.
The weather in Quito and while traveling to and from the mountains can be very warm. We recommend bringing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. For current weather conditions, check Weather Underground.
The western mountains, which include Cotopaxi and Pasachoa, experience two dry seasons. The first is from July through August, and the second is in December and January.
The eastern mountains, which include Cayambe, are best climbed from October through January. The wettest months of the year for this peak are June, July and August.
While these mountains are climbed throughout the entire year, the best mountain snowpack on both Cotopaxi and Cayambe is often found between October and June.
While there can be no guarantees of perfect weather in the mountains, our expeditions take full advantage of both the weather and snowpack conditions for both these peaks, and utilize those months for optimal climbing experiences.
The current currency of Ecuador is the U.S. Dollar.
You should find that $200-$300 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Quito, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Travelers often suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using any bathroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe dry excess moisture in drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Food - If you can cook it, boil it, or peel it; you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat
Electricity in Ecuador is the same as in the United States: the ungrounded two-prong plug is used for 110 volt, 60 hertz appliances. Appliances with three prongs or an enlarged prong will require an adaptor.
Excellent care for minor illnesses and injuries is readily available. In the event of more serious illnesses or injuries, we recommend transport to any of the Level 1 care centers in Quito.
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories / warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber, Ecuador: The Bradt Climbing and Hiking Guide. Bradt Travel Guides, fifth ed., 2004
The authors have combined many years of Ecuador experience into a useful, readable and comprehensive guide.
A deposit of $1,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program. Final payment may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send you a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $750 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 90 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 90 days before your program.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
Included are the following:
- RMI Leadership
- Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary
- All park entrance fees
- Sight seeing arrangements as indicated in the itinerary
- All group transportation in country as indicated in the itinerary
- All group cooking, climbing and camping equipment
Not included are the following:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Bottled water and personal drinks
- Customary guide gratuities
- Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
- Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
- Transfer from Quito Hotel to Airport for outbound flight
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
* Single Travelers: If you wish to share accommodations, we will assign you a roommate. If you wish to stay alone, a supplemental fee will be charged for a single room. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
Are there distinctions between climbing in Ecuador in December/January versus June/July? There are few distinctions. The dates we offer attempt to take advantage of both the best weather and the best snowpack for climbing in Ecuador. You will find that, regardless of the time of year, Cayambe is a substantially more challenging objective than Cotopaxi. Cayambe has historically proven a bit more elusive as it is influenced by both the upper Amazon jungle and the Pacific Ocean, whereas Cotopaxi is principally affected only by the Pacific. This complicates the weather and the snowpack conditions on Cayambe and, consequently, makes it quite rewarding when we do summit.
How does RMI approach these climbs differently from others so as to maximize the probability of reaching the summit?
1) Our tried and true “ascent profile” (i.e., our incremental increase in sleeping altitudes over time to allow for proper acclimatization) is a good match for the length of our trip. This allows the group to be in the best possible condition to go for the summit.
2) We tackle the right peaks in the right time frame; not too much down time or, conversely, too many tough peaks on a given program.
3) Our world-class guides: their leadership and experience make a huge difference and are the primary reason we have so many repeat customers. Check out the RMI Difference on the Description page.