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At the top there are spectacular views of the Avenue of the Volcanoes and the peaks of Iliniza North, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo.
The Iliniza massive lies (55 km/34 miles) southwest of Quito, in the Ilinizas Ecological Reserve. The Iliniza massive consists of two peaks, the North (5,126 m/16,817 ft) and the South (5,248 m/17,217 ft). Historically the Iliniza massive formed one volcanic cone, however after a massive eruption thousands of years ago the east and west faces of the crater collapsed inward. What remains are two peaks, south and north, separated by a one kilometer wide saddle.
The conditions on the two peaks are markedly different due to the different altitudes. The higher South peak generates more wind and holds more moisture, while Iliniza North is characterized by a rocky peak and the slopes are only sporadically covered with snow during December and January.
The North peak offers excellent acclimatization preparation for the other high altitude peaks in Ecuador on your itinerary. It is also a fun climb with some exciting scrambles well suited for the adventurous hiker. This mountain can be summited in one very long day. However, if your objective is to acclimatize, then it is worth doing this volcano over 2 days and spending a night at the refuge.
Day 1: We begin our day at 8:00 a.m., and drive to the Illiniza Ecological Reserve. At noon we will arrive at the trailhead, then climb three hours to the Nuevos Horizontes Hut (4,650 m / 15,250 ft) located in the saddle, between Illiniza’s South and North peaks.
Grade IV-/AD+; 70-80◦ Incline
Day 2: Today we climb Illiniza South, fully utilizing our technical climbing skills along the way. We will begin our ascent at 3:00 a.m. to ensure we have enough time to navigate the seracs, steep ice walls and loose rocks before the snow softens in the midday sun. The ascent takes roughly 5 to 6 hours, depending on the ice conditions. After our 5 hour descent, we will load our gear and drive to Quito.
Every effort will be made to adhere to the itinerary, but unforeseen circumstances may require last minute changes. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns and the health of climbers can all contribute to schedule alterations. Please be prepared to be flexible when necessary.