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Cotopaxi Expedition

Cotopaxi at sunset during a guided expedition with Alpenglow Expeditions.
0.180653° S, 78.467834° W
A view from the summit of Cotopaxi into the mouth of the volcano during a Cotopaxi Expedition with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent™ Expedition

Intermediate 5 Days Ecuador
Cotopaxi has reopened for climbing in 2024! Climb Cotopaxi in just five days! On this Cotopaxi Expedition, you will be able to fly to Ecuador and be on a high-altitude glacier within 2 days. Our highly experienced Ecuadorian guides lead the expedition and will ensure your safety on the mountain while providing climbers with an authentic cultural Andean experience. Optional 4-day Chimborazo Extension Available!
Upcoming: Nov 17, 2024 – Nov 21, 2024Optional Extension through Nov 24th
A mountaineer throwing his hands up in triumph on Cotopaxi during an expedition with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Climbing Cotopaxi is the Ultimate Long-Weekend Climbing Trip.

This Cotopaxi expedition utilizes our Alpenglow’s Rapid Ascent™ system to climb a glaciated (near) 6,000m peak in just 5 days. Until recently, it has never been possible to safely climb to over 19,000 feet in less than a week. This has deterred busy climbers from attempting to ascend high-altitude peaks. Alpenglow solves this problem with the use of innovative Hypoxico pre-acclimatization tents.

Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. We cannot stress this enough — fitness is the most important aspect of high altitude climbing. To develop the necessary level of fitness needed to climb big mountains, you must adapt a challenging, consistent exercise regime months in advance. We recommend a structured training program at a gym or with a personal trainer. Please contact us for more information on physical training.
Rapid Ascent™ expeditions require a minimum altitude experience of 16,400ft/5000m. If you do not have this experience we recommend joining us on one of our traditional expeditions to gain the necessary experience required for Rapid Ascent™.
No technical climbing experience required.
A rainbow in front of Cotopaxi during a guided expedition to climb Cotopaxi with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Cotopaxi Expedition Itinerary

Take a look at the door to door itinerary for the expedition.

Day 1
Day 1 — Arrival

Arrive into Quito (9,500 feet/2,896 meters) in the evening. Our guides will pick you up and bring you to our hotel, a local family-run place close to excellent restaurants and the tourist center of the city.

Activity: Arrive in Quito
Sleeping Elevation: 9,300’
Lodging: San Jose Del Puembo
Meals: None

Day 2
Drive to Tambopaxi

After a big breakfast, we drive to Tambopaxi, at about 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) in Cotopaxi National Park. From the dining room of this beautiful lodge, we have a perfect view of our entire route on Cotopaxi. In the afternoon we practice a full gamut of big mountain skills including rope team travel and crevasse rescue. We also prepare all of our equipment for the climb.

Activity: Drive to Tambopaxi
Moving Hours: 1.5 hours
Sleeping Elevation: 12,300’
Lodging: Tambopaxi Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Day 3
Skills day on the Glacier

We wake early to hike about an hour to the toe of the glacier on Cotopaxi. We spend the morning practicing glacier travel skills, most importantly self-arrest with an ice axe and efficient climbing techniques in crampons. We descend back to Tambopaxi for lunch, rest, and to prep for our summit attempt.

Activity: Skills Day
Distance Covered: 3 miles
Moving Hours: 4-5 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +/- 1,500’
Sleeping Elevation: 12.300’
Lodging: Tambopaxi Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Day 4
Summit Day

Summit Day! We wake at around midnight, have a hot drink and perhaps a snack, and then begin our climb. The route takes us across scree to the glacier, and then winds up through progressively steeper slopes and heavily crevassed areas. By dawn, we should be below the final headwall, 800 vertical feet (250 meters) of the steepest climbing on the mountain. In daylight, we work our way up this slope until we are standing on the edge of Cotopaxi’s crater, with stunning views in every direction. After a few photos, we descend back to the refuge, and then continue our descent all the way to our hotel and a well-deserved celebration in Quito.

Activity: Drive to Otavalo
Hike Distance Covered: 2.5 miles
Moving Hours: 2 hr drive, 2-3 hr hike
Elevation Gain/Loss: +/- 1,500’
Sleeping Elevation: 8,300’
Lodging: Hacienda Pinsaqui
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5
Head Home!

Depart Quito for home. Flights generally leave early in the morning and arrive home in the afternoon.

Activity: Fly Home


Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent Packet

Our Cotopaxi Guides

Alpenglow has many different guides that we climb with in Ecuador, get to know who you might be climbing Cotopaxi with.

Cotopaxi Questions

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions about Cotopaxi