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Ecuador Seminar - Chimborazo

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    $5000 *
    15 days
    Level 3

    *We require that all climbers and guides have received the primary COVID-19 vaccination series (1 or 2 doses depending on manufacturer) to join our programs.


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Ecuador Seminar - Chimborazo

Ecuador Seminar - Chimborazo

Ecuador’s remarkable concentration of high altitude volcanoes offers superb climbing and excellent opportunities to build your climbing skills. Climb three of the best - Cayambe (18,997'), Cotopaxi (19,348'), and Chimborazo (20,703').


  • Scale five Andean volcanoes over the course of one short climbing expedition.
  • Build a solid mountaineering foundation on high altitude Ecuadorian peaks while preparing for bigger mountains such as Denali, Aconcagua, or the Himalaya.
  • Climb with an experienced RMI Guide, benefiting from the background, training, and expertise of our guides as you venture to higher altitudes.
  • Experience the vibrant culture of Ecuador between ascents of three of the country's highest mountains.
  • 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 hike in the surrounding hills to build our acclimatization.

Our acclimatization program continues over the next few days as we attempt to summit two volcanoes, each in excess of 13,000'. Rock scrambling skills will be introduced on these climbs. We then venture to Cayambe (18,997'), the third highest peak in Ecuador. We base out of the Ruales Oleas Bergé climbers' hut at 15,300' and access the nearby glacier to review basic mountaineering techniques. With an early alpine start, our summit climb of Cayambe attempts the only snow capped point on Earth sitting squarely on the Equator.

We continue to build our skills with training and summit attempts on Cotopaxi (19,348') and then Chimborazo (20,703'). We utilize the glaciers of these two peaks to further our technical mountaineering skills including crevasse rescue, fixed line travel, ice climbing, as well as take on the challenge of reaching the summits of both iconic Ecuadorian peaks.

Our Ecuador Seminar program offers superb alpine climbing and is ideal for mountaineers looking to build their climbing skills for future climbing expeditions, climb to new elevations, and take part in the excitement of an international climbing expedition.

Climbing Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo involves moderately steep slopes and prior knowledge of roped travel, crampon techniques, and ice axe arrest is required; review of these basic mountaineering techniques is built into the itinerary.


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 Denali 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 top 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 climb in Ecuador with a 3:1 climber to RMI Guide ratio to provide the important individual attention during training and the climbs. Additionally, joining our programs is an experienced Ecuadorian guide with whom we have partnered for many years. Jaime Avila and Esteban Mena are accomplished guides who have climbed around the world, from Ecuador to the Himalaya.

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.


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, 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 [email protected].

Climber Reviews

Filter By
The mixture of culture and climbing, but also the opportunities to build connections with the team.
Gregory P.

Success in summiting all of the mountains!
Mark C.

Our climbing team quickly became a very cohesive group. I attribute this to our guides organizing group functions early on and spending the time to get to know all of us. The local guides were outstanding as well - very knowledgeable, personable, and fun to be around. It was a great trip to be a part of.
Kevin K.

I enjoy the camaraderie of the climbing experience. The physical nature of our suffering shared by all. Ecuador is a wonderful country with great people.
Ken M.

The guides were terrific and the added aspect of exploring another country and culture made the trip very special.
Justin M.

Well organized, highly skilled guides, and great people.
David G.

I continue to be impressed with RMI as professionals from the front office to the management to the guides. I will continue to use RMI and to recommend to others.
James N.

Well-organized and experienced guides who were committed to safety and who were also outstanding instructors and genuinely good people.
Jason J.

It was an amazing life experience.
Rob T.

This trip offered the perfect combination of culture, training, and of course climbing. Well organized and expertly planned.
Jerry B.

The new friendships formed. When engaging in an activity like mountain climbing with others it creates a bond and I really enjoyed meeting these new people and forming new friendships.
Laura J.

  • Upcoming Climbs

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    Show All
  • Price
    15 days
    Level 3

    *We require that all climbers and guides have received the primary COVID-19 vaccination series (1 or 2 doses depending on manufacturer) to join our programs.

Table of Contents
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Day 1

TRAVEL DAY  •  9,350' | 2,800m

Most flights arrive in Quito (UIO) in the late evening. Upon your arrival in Quito, a taxi ride takes you to our hotel. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito.

Day 2

QUITO TOUR  •  9,350' | 2,800m

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 miles north of Quito to the Equatorial Line where we can jump from the northern to the southern hemisphere. There is time in the afternoon to relax and recover from our flights. (B)

Day 3

ACCLIMATIZE RUCU PICHINCHA (15,354' | 4,680M)  •  9,350' | 2,800m

After breakfast we take a short drive from Quito to the teleférico (gondola) which will carry us to approximately 13,000’. From there we stretch our legs and lungs with an acclimatization hike on Rucu Pichincha. 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. (B)

Day 4

ACCLIMATIZE CERRO FUYA FUYA (14,039' | 4,279M)  •  8,441' | 2,573m

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. 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 a relaxing evening at La Casa Sol. (B)

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. (B, D)

Day 6

CLIMBER'S REVIEW  •  15,300' | 4,663m

In the morning we hike out to the toe of the glacier to focus on reviewing basic mountaineering skills and techniques. We use the remainder of the day to learn knots and other rope skills back at the hut. (B, D)

Day 7

SUMMIT DAY CAYAMBE (18,997' | 5,790M)  •  8,960' | 2,730m

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 Guachalá, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, where we spend the night. (B)

Day 8

JOSE RIBAS REFUGIO  •  16,000' | 4,877m

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'.  (B, D)

Cotopaxi - Jose Ribas Refugio

Day 9

TRAINING DAY COTOPAXI  •  16,000' | 4,877M

Today is for training. We will practice fixed line travel and team and self-rescue techniques. We also spend some time preparing for our summit attempt. (B, D)

Day 10

SUMMIT DAY COTOPAXI (19,348' | 5,897M)  •  13,400' | 5,897m

With an early alpine start we make our summit attempt, 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 to Hacienda La Cienega,one of the oldest colonial properties in Ecuador, where we spend the night. Climbing time is approximately 10 - 12 hours. (B)

Cotopaxi Summit Day

Cotopaxi Summit and Descent

Day 11

TRAVEL TO CHIMBORAZO  •  13,123' | 4,000m

After breakfast we drive south towards Chimborazo. We check into Estrella de Chimborazo and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. (B, D)

Day 12

CHIMBORAZO HIGH CAMP  •  16,564' | 5,500m

A short drive takes us to the Carrel Hut where we grab our packs and gear and begin a two and a half hour walk to our high camp, Stübel Camp. Once at high camp we spend time preparing for our summit attempt. (B, D)

Day 13

SUMMIT DAY CHIMBORAZO (20,703' | 6,310M)  •  13,123' | 4,000m

With an early alpine start for the summit, our route climbs towards the west-northwest to reach the base of a rock formation called "El Castillo" (The Castle). The route continues along the western ridge until we reach the Veintimilla summit. With the technical challenges behind us, we continue to the main summit. After enjoying the views, we begin our descent to high camp. We meet our vehicles and return to the Estrella de Chimborazo for the evening. (B, D)

Day 14

RETURN TO QUITO  •  9,350' | 2,800m

After several long days of climbing, we enjoy a leisurely morning before returning to Quito for our celebration dinner. Overnight at Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito. (B)

Day 15


We transfer to the airport for our outbound flights.



Key: B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.

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What You’ll Need

A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as: seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.

The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.

RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item, thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check, when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.

Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list closely so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!

  • Whittaker Mountaineering 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 when they use code RMI2022 at checkout. This offer excludes sale items, rentals, meal packages, and Feathered Friends.

Shop Your Equipment List // Rent new equipment for your climb

Equipment List


      A full-length closed cell foam pad, used in combination with the inflatable sleeping pad.

    • Image of ICE AXE
      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.


      We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat, or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.


      For traveling on fixed lines. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.

    • Image of ' ACCESSORY CORD

      7 mm cordelette in one continuous length OR one 240cm dyneema sling.

    • Image of GLACIER GLASSES

      Glacier glasses are protective sunglasses that provide close to 100% frame coverage (wrap-around frames and side shields ensure no light can enter from the top, bottom, and sides of the glasses) and transmit less than 10% of visual light.

    • Image of GOGGLES

      Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.

  • Hands

    Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

  • Guide Pick™

  • Upper Body

    We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light, and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, softshell, down, and synthetic options.

  • Guide Pick™


      Your expedition-style heavy parka must extend below the waist, have an insulated hood, and be able to fit over the rest of your upper body layers. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it also serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill.

  • Lower Body

    We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.

  • Guide Pick™


      A light weight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.


      We recommend modern hybrid double boots for this climb because they provide the best balance of weight, comfort, and insulation. Insulated single mountaineering boots are also adequate but might result in cold feet. Bring one pair of chemical foot warmers per summit day if you are using single mountaineering boots.


      DOUBLE BOOTS: Insulated double boots designed for mountaineering. Plastic-shelled models are acceptable, though modern synthetic models are lighter and more comfortable.


      We recommend you speak with your physician about which medications you should have for high-altitude climbing. These medications are only used in emergency situations, and if someone is showing symptoms of HAPE or HACE, our standard protocol is for immediate descent. We do not take any of these medications prophylactically, and please talk with your guide before taking medications.

      We require each climber to have the following medications:


      Broad spectrum antibiotics for respiratory and gastrointestinal problems like Azithromycin (250mg tablets).


      125mg tablets for the prevention or treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness. A normal prescription is 125mg tablets, twice a day. Recommend 15 - 20 tablets.


      4mg tablets for the treatment of altitude illness. Recommend 12 tablets.


      30mg slow-release tablets for the prevention or treatment of high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Recommend 8 - 10 tablets.


      Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, cough drops, basic painkillers, an antacid, an anti-diarrheal, and personal medications.

    • Image of MEALS & SNACKS

      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

    • Image of BOWL

      Packable plastic bowl. Collapsable models can work but must be handled carefully to avoid unintended collapsing. A lid is a great feature.

    • Image of INSULATED MUG

      Insulated outdoor-style mug. We recommed a model with a removable lid, which helps retain heat and prevent spills. You may also choose to use 0.5L insulated bottle or a 0.5L nalgene.

    • Image of SPOON OR SPORK

      A spoon or spork made of durable plastic or anodized metal. A long-handled spoon can be nice, especially if eating from a freeze-dried meal pouch.

    • Image of WATER BOTTLES

      One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic).


      Heavy-duty trash compacter bags for use as waterproof pack/stuff sack liners. You can also use a a waterproof pack liner.


      Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.

    • Image of SUNSCREEN

      We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

    • Image of EAR PLUGS

      Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.

    • Image of CAMERA (OPTIONAL)

      Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.


      For charging personal electronics while traveling internationally.

    • Image of TRAVEL CLOTHES

      We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.


      Valid for six months beyond your return date.


      The first two pages of your passport.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Reserve rental equipment.

    • Be in the best shape of your life!

Provided Equipment

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.

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covid-19 procedures

We require that all climbers and guides have received the primary COVID-19 vaccination series (1 or 2 doses depending on manufacturer) to join our programs. You will need to upload a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Card into your RMI Account before you can be confirmed on the program.

We also require climbers read, sign, and agree to RMI's COVID-19 Operating Procedures and complete two Health Screenings (one 14 days before your program date and one upon arrival) in order to participate in the program.

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Is it safe to travel in Ecuador?

We hold the perspective that travel to Ecuador (and any developing nation) includes risk, but not high risk. In order to safeguard our trips:

  • We have hired a professional tour operator to coordinate our in-country logistics.
  • We hire local guides familiar with the language, roads, customs, etc.
  • We follow popular tourist thoroughfares, using private vehicles (not public transportation).
  • We travel in groups and have tourist safety protocols in place (not flashing cash, not wearing expensive jewelry, etc.).
  • Our guides are well-versed with our program and are accustomed to travel in a foreign country.

Take some time to visit the consular and travel warning pages at the U.S. Department of State. These pages offer good information and should be revisited occasionally as trip departure dates approach.

How does RMI approach these climbs differently from others so as to maximize the probability of reaching the summit?

We approach the climbs in three notably different ways:

  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 plan an appropriate amount of climbing and culture for the length of a trip.
  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.

What is the food like on the mountain?

Our mountain meals are hearty and include fresh local fare where possible. Please see our Food details for an example of meals while on the mountain.

Is the water okay to drink?

We strongly advise against drinking tap water in Ecuador. Both bottled and boiled water are readily available and should be used for drinking water. Personal water filters or water treatment tablets are not needed.

How much weight am I carrying in my pack?

Most days, backpacks should weigh approximately 20 to 25 lbs as we only carry the day's snacks, water, clothing, etc. as needed on our acclimating hikes or summit climbs. The approaches to high huts/camps are the only exceptions. Then we may carry up to 50 lbs depending on the amount of group gear needed for the summit attempt.

What is the pace like?

We use an easy to moderate pace throughout the trip, depending on whether we are on an acclimating hike or on a summit climb. While the distances we cover on a daily basis are relatively short, the altitudes to which we travel are very high and the days of hiking and climbing are still challenging. Overall, our guides set a reasonable pace - at the appropriate speed to cover the distance we need that day without going too quickly or too slowly.

What are the huts like?

The Refugio Ruales Oleas Bergé at 15,300' on Cayambe is set in a spectacular location, directly at the start of the climbing route. It has a cooking area/kitchens, as well as bathrooms away from the main sleeping quarters. The Cayambe hut is comprised of smaller, separated rooms with bunk arrangements. The Cotopaxi hut is comprised of larger dormitory style rooms with multiple bunks per room.

What are the toilets like?

Toilets are available near the hut on Cayambe. On our acclimating hikes and summit climbs, where no toilets exist, we use bio-bags to collect our solid waste so that it may be transported off of the mountain. We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer to use after visiting the toilets.

How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?

We suggest bringing a smart phone or a WIFI-enabled device and using it where WIFI and internet services are available, as in Quito. On the climbs, however, WIFI access is not available. Cell service is widely available across most of Ecuador, see below.

Should I bring a cell phone?

Sure, cell phone coverage is generally available in and around towns. Check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer international coverage in Ecuador and make sure you have the appropriate international plans and understand the associated rates.

RMI carries a satellite phone with the group through the entire trip for emergency use.

Do iPhones function well at high altitude?

Yes. However, the cold can impact the battery life making it necessary for it to be charged a few times on the trip.

Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?

Yes, but if you wish to take it up on the mountain you will likely need to recharge it once in a while. We recommend downloading all of your desired books before arriving in Ecuador.

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