Overshadowed by it’s neighbor Chimborazo (the highest peak in Ecuador), Carihuairazo is not an often climbing destination. It’s located past Ambato and about 3 hours away from Quito and it’s also a good acclimatization peak since it rises over 5,000 m or 16,000 ft.
It has lost most of it’s glacier in the past 25 years and it’s expected to disappear completely in less than 10. Climbing this volcano is usually done in 2 days with camping included but we did it in one day with Zona Verde’s Jaime Gallardo.
We left Quito around 4:30am and after stopping for a quick breakfast in Ambato, we started the hike up the mountain at 9:00am. Crampons and harness are not necessarily required anymore as the glacier part is relatively short. However, trekking poles for balance and Gore-Tex boots are definitely a must.
Since the day was clear, we had the opportunity to see both Carihuairazo – Chimborazo perfectly and it took us about 2 and a half hours to reach the actual mountain. It’s not a technical or difficult climb but good scrambling skills are always a plus. After passing the short glacier part, there is short steep part with loose rock. Get past this and you’ll be rewarded with reaching one of the summits.
At the summit, we had incredible views of Chimborazo, El Altar and the surrounding valleys and mountains. The 6-and-a-half-hour expedition was definitely worth it! Climb Carihuairazo soon as the glacier with certainly disappear shorty.