All Ecuador expedition dispatches

Ecuador - Day 03 Corazón 03

Acclimatization continued today with the Ecuador team climbing the inactive and eroded volcano Corazón (4790m/15,720ft.).  The plan was to get an early start and the team was ready to go at 5 AM, but no weather was not so good with continual rain coming down.  They tried to wait it out but the rain won, so they finally hit the trail at 7:30 AM with it raining all the way to the summit.

Still, it was a great day, tons of fun, and everyone is feeling strong and having a great time.  Pushing hard they made it to the summit and back down in just about six hours.  Motivation is really high!

The guys are back at the Chuquiragua Lodge in El Chaupi and laying out the plans for what’s next: Iliniza Norte (5126m/16,813ft)!

Ecuador - Day 03 Corazón 01

Ecuador – Day 03 Corazón 01

Ecuador - Day 03 Corazón 04

Ecuador – Day 03 Corazón 04

Ecuador - Day 03 Corazón 05

Ecuador – Day 03 Corazón 05

Our private 12-day Ecuador Volcanoes expedition got started in style today with the first acclimatization hike on the extinct volcano of Pasochoa, just south of Quito.  Today’s hike to the summit at 4200m had some nice weather, some clouds but no rain.  It was a great day of about five hours of hiking up and down.  Estalin and Ronan are looking pretty happy on the summit.

The guys are now relaxing in the Chuquiragua Lodge and getting ready for more acclimatizing tomorrow.

Ecuador - Day 02 Pasochoa 03

Ecuador – Day 02 Pasochoa 03

Ecuador - Day 02 Pasochoa 04

Ecuador – Day 02 Pasochoa 04

Ecuador - Day 02 Pasochoa 05

Ecuador – Day 02 Pasochoa 05

Chimboazo summit!

Our final climb on the Ecuador Volcanoes expedition culminates with 100% summit success on Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador!  Terray Sylvester, expedition leader, provides this final dispatch for this very successful expedition:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition.  It’s February 3rd.  Today we climbed Chimborazo, the last major peak on our trip.  We had a great climb!  100% success – everyone summited.

We left camp about midnight and we had excellent climbing conditions with nice firm snow, just great for cramponing, all the way up the normal route.  So, we all topped out on the Whymper Summit, about 20,500 ft.  Chimborazo is located on the Earth’s equatorial bulge so the summit of Chimborazo is actually the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the center of the Earth – which is a cool fact.

Then we descend back to high camp, packed up our things, and went down and met our waiting tour bus.  Then we came back to Quito.  So we just finished our farewell dinner and we’re preparing for our flights home tomorrow.

Before we climbed Chimborazo, we stopped by a lab in Riobamba and took COVID tests.  We all have our negative COVID results in hand so we will be able to reenter the U.S. smoothly tomorrow.

That wraps up a great trip.  We actually had 100% success on every peak we climbed on this expedition.  We did three acclimatization summits and then climbed Cotopaxi and Chimborazo and everyone made it to the summit on every climb!  So, all in all a successful trip and we are looking forward to coming back to Ecuador!

The route in the alpenglow last night

The route in the alpenglow last night

Early this morning while climbing in the moonlight

Early this morning while climbing in the moonlight

The walk across the saddle between the Veintimilla Summit (false summit) and the Whymper Summit (true summit)

The walk across the saddle between the Veintimilla Summit (false summit) and the Whymper Summit (true summit)

The walk across the saddle between the Veintimilla Summit (false summit) and the Whymper Summit (true summit)

The walk across the saddle between the Veintimilla Summit (false summit) and the Whymper Summit (true summit)

Reaching the summit of Chimborazo

Reaching the summit of Chimborazo

Chimboazo summit!

Chimboazo summit!

Chimboazo summit!

Chimboazo summit!

Chimboazo summit!

Chimboazo summit!

The team back at the bus at the end of the day

The team back at the bus at the end of the day


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The alpenglow at Chimborazo high camp

Tonight is the night!  The Ecuador Volcanoes team is in place at high camp (5329m/17,484ft) on Chimborazo and resting up before starting for the summit and furthest point from the center of the Earth in just a few hours.  Our expedition leader, Terray Sylvester provides this expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition. It’s February 2nd and we are all safely up in Chimborazo high camp (5329m/17,484ft).  Everybody’s doing really well with the altitude.

It had a bit of a cloudy walk-up, kind of in a, just in a fog until we got to camp.  But we just finished dinner and the clouds burned off and we’re looking up at thunderheads, looking out at thunderheads piled up, catching the alpenglow over the Pacific Ocean – beautiful carpet of clouds.  We can see Cotopaxi off to the north over the shoulder of Chimborazo.

We’re all just hanging out outhere, taking photos of the alpenglow on false summit of Chimborazo, which is a couple of thousand of feet above us.  We can see our route, it’s in good condition!  Forecast for tomorrow is not bad, so we are hoping for good climbing conditions and we’re going to crawl into our sleeping bags now, get a little rest, and then get up at 11:00 PM, have some breakfast, and start climbing.

So, we’ll be in touch!

A Cloud shrouded Chimborazo

A Cloud shrouded Chimborazo

Climbers hiking to Chimborazo's high camp

Hiking to Chimborazo’s high camp

Climbers transitioning on to snow before reaching Chimborazo's high camp

Transitioning on to snow before reaching Chimborazo’s high camp

Climber at Chimborazo high camp

Chimborazo high camp

The view of distant thunderheads from Chimborazo high camp

The view of distant thunderheads from Chimborazo high camp

Chimborazo high camp

Chimborazo high camp (5329m/17,484ft)


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

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Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador

Our Ecuador Volcanoes team spent the day having fun and resting up in Baños in preparation for the expedition’s culminating climb of Chimborazo.  Here’s today’s expedition dispatch from Terray Sylvester, expedition leader:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition. It’s February 1st.  Today we’re resting in preparation for our ascent of Ecuador’s highest volcano, Chimborazo.  We are in the town of Baños de Agua Santa, which means Baths of Holy Water.  It’s a hot springs resort town at the foot of an active volcano.

We spent all day resting.  We started out the day by doing a one-kilometer long zip-line high above the Rio Pastaza which flows down into the Amazon basin.  Then we checked out the biggest of, just one of dozens of, waterfalls that are in the area.  We did a swing which sent us pretty high above the cloud forest.  It was pretty exciting.  Then we came back to Baños, back into town to have lunch and now we are just resting.

We’ll get to bed and wake up early for our drive through Riobamba and then over to the foot of Chimborazo and our hike up to our high camp, which is at 17,500 ft.  We should have cell reception and, of course, satellite comms from high camp tomorrow, so I’ll be in touch then!

One of the many waterfalls around Banos

Checking out the wallfalls of the Rio Pastaza

Mary Lynne and Jonathan enjoying the scenic waterfalls

The amazing sights of Banos, Ecuador

Ready to do some zip-lining!

Swinging high above the cloud forest


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

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The Ecuador Volcanoes team enjoying Lake Quilotoa

After yesterday’s summit of Cotopaxi, the Ecuador Volcanoes team spent the day sight-seeing and relaxing at Lake Quilotoa and Baños.  Here’s expedition leader Terray Sylvester with today’s expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition.  It’s January 31st.  Today is one of our two rest days before we climb Chimborazo, the highest volcano in Ecuador.  That summit day is planned for Wednesday.

So, today we woke up in Chugchilan in our hacienda.  We had a nice breakfast there and then we drove to Quilotoa which is a spectacular crater lake southeast of Quito.  We had lunch there and admired the view.  We also spent some time browsing through a local handicrafts market.

Now we are in Baños, which is a hot springs resort town right at the base of a 16,000 ft. active volcano called Tungurahua.  We’ll have dinner here and we’ll spend two nights here in town.  There are a lot of spas around, zip-lining, waterfalls tours, and other activities to do.  So, we are looking forward to relaxing and then on Tuesday, we’ll drive towards Chimborazo to head up to high camp.

So all is well and I’ll be in touch tomorrow with another update.

Quilotoa is a 3 km/1.9 mile-wide water-filled caldera and has accumulated a 250m/820ft deep crater lake

Quilotoa is a 3 km/1.9 mile-wide water-filled caldera and has accumulated a 250m/820ft deep crater lake

Comfortable rest day

Comfortable rest day

Good eating in Ecuador

Good eating in Ecuador

Enjoying lunch on a beautiful rest day

Enjoying lunch on a beautiful rest day

Lovely hacienda

Lovely hacienda


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

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Climbers on the summit of Cotopaxi in Ecuador

Congratulations to our entire Ecuador Volcanoes team for reaching the summit of the second-highest peak in Ecuador, Cotopaxi!  Here’s the details from expedition leader, Terray Sylvester:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition on January 30th.  Over the last two days we had a great climb on Cotopaxi, the second highest volcano in Ecuador.  It’s 19,347 ft. (5897m).

Yesterday we went up to the Jose Rivas refuge at 16,000 ft.  In the evening, before going to bed, the clouds opened up and we had great views of alpenglow on Antisana and Cayambe.  We started climbing at about midnight and we had just great weather.  We climbed under a full moon with perfectly starry skies and then got to the summit with beautiful blue skies and headed back down.  The whole climb took a little less than nine hours, which was just a great time.

Now we have made our way to the little town of Chugchilan where we checked into our hacienda.  Tomorrow we are looking forward to exploring the crater lake Quilotoa and heading on the the hot springs town of Baños.  We’ll be in touch!

Enjoying the José Ribas Refuge at 4800m/15,750ft

Enjoying the José Ribas Refuge at 4800m/15,750ft

Heading up Cotopaxi!

Heading up Cotopaxi!

Above the clouds and going for the Cotopaxi summit

Above the clouds and going for the Cotopaxi summit

Climbers on the summit of Cotopaxi in Ecuador

Team on the summit of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi (1/30/2021)

Specular ice formations on Cotopaxi

Specular ice formations on Cotopaxi

The happy descent on Cotopaxi

The happy descent on Cotopaxi


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

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There is no connectivity currently for our Ecuador Volcanoes expedition team, but our expedition leader, Terray Sylvester checked-in today with a quick inReach satellite communicator message:

Hello from Cotopaxi. We’re sipping coca tea in the Jose Rivas Hut (4855m/15,928ft) and resting before beginning our climb around midnight.

Sounds like good living!  Godspeed team as you make your way tonight to Ecuador’s second-highest point, the 5897m / 19,347 ft. summit of Cotopaxi!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear our guide’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

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Krisli enjoying the summit of Illiniza Norte

Acclimatization wrapped up today with a successful climb of Ecuador’s Iliniza Norte (5126m/16,813ft).  Next up is Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.  Here’s guide Terray Sylvester’s recap of the two-day climb of Iliniza Norte:

Hello!  This is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition on January 28th.  We are just about back to the parking lot after successfully climbing Iliniza Norte over the course of two days.

Yesterday we hiked up to the New Horizons Refuge (Refugio Nuevos Horizontes) at just about 15,500 ft. (4724m) and had a restful night there plus a great dinner of fried trout and guacamole and soup and fresh pineapple.  Then we woak up early this morning – a couple of hours before dawn – and climbed up to the summit of Iliniza Norte, which is 16,800 ft. (5126m).  It’s the eighth highest peak in Ecuador.  It was a great climb, the clouds parted and gave us views of three of Ecuador’s major volcanoes:  Antisana (5704m), Cayambe (5790m), and our next objective, Cotopaxi (5897m).

So now we are right on scheudle to be back at our hacienda for lunch.  We will relax the rest of the day and then tomorrow we will drive into Cotopaxi National Park to begin our ascent.  We’ll be in touch!

Photos by Terray Sylvester @terray_s

Misty conditions on the hike up to Refugio Nuevos Horizontes on Illiniza Norte

Heading up to Refugio Nuevos Horizontes on Illiniza Norte

Enjoying the comforts of the Refugio Nuevos Horizontes at 15,500 ft. elevation on Illiniza Norte

Pre-dawn start for the Illiniza Norte with the lights of El Chaupi and Polivio in the distance below

Heading up Illiniza Norte

Woohoo!  Summit of Illiniza Norte!

Woohoo!  Summit of Illiniza Norte!

Krisli soaks it all in on the summit of Illiniza Norte

Topping out on Illiniza Norte

Cokie surveys the commanding view from the top!

So many Ecuadorean volcanoes in sight.  Cotopaxi, you are next!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear our guide’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

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Climbers topping out on Corazón

On day three of our 12-day Ecuador Volcanoes expedition, the team continued their acclimatization by climbing the Corazón volcano (4790m/15,700ft).  Here’s expedition leader, Terray Sylvester with today’s audio dispatch:

Hello, this is Terray calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ecuador Volcanoes expedition.  We are back down at our hacienda in El Chaupi after successfully climbing Corazón volcano today.  That was another beautiful acclimatization hike.  We started out through the lush Ecuadorian highlands, just like yesterday.  This was a fun climb because we gain a rocky ridge about half way up, and some scrambling and a little bit of rope work took us up to the summit at 15,700 ft. (4790m).

Then we returned down to hacienda and the team just finished enjoying a soak in the jacuzzi and some time in the sauna and now we are all just sort of relaxing and waiting for dinner.  So another good acclimatization ascent!

Tomorrow we head up to the refuge between Iliniza Norte and Iliniza Sur where we will spend the night before climbing Iliniza Norte the following day.  So, we’ll be out of touch for a little less than 48 hours until we come back down to El Chaupi and have access to Wi-Fi and cell reception yet again.

Getting going up Corazón

Deep into the mist on the slopes of Corazón

Damp, misty, rocky ridge to the summit of Corazón

Happy Corazón summiteers with a canine friend

Enjoying another great day out acclimatizing


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear our guide’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

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