This expedition is a combination of our most popular mountaineering school with Alpenglow’s Rapid Ascent system to create the ideal long-weekend climbing trip. It has never before been possible to safely and comfortably climb to over 19,000 feet in less than a week. This has meant that many busy climbers did not have the time to attempt a high altitude peak. We change that by utilizing Hypoxico pre-acclimatization tents at home for 4-weeks prior to the expedition, along with unparalleled logistics in Ecuador perfected over decades of leading expeditions here. This pre-acclimatization system is the same one used by all of our Everest teams since 2012, successfully shortening their climb by 50%, and increasing our safety and success.
Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano (19,347 feet/5,897 meters), is heavily glaciated and remote yet also easily accessible. It is the ideal peak to learn and practice the skills essential to high altitude climbing, in a long weekend.
Climbers meet in Ecuador’s capital of Quito. After a night to settle in and meet the team, we move to a luxurious refuge high in Cotopaxi National Park. The lodge provides incredible food and stunning views of Cotopaxi while we practice skills and prepare for our summit push. We spend the afternoon of our arrival and the morning of the next day learning and practicing mountaineering skills: crampon and ice axe techniques, rope team travel, snow and ice anchor placement, and crevasse rescue. This training is essential in becoming a competent team-member on Cotopaxi and other peaks in the future.
At this point, we are ready to climb. We wake around midnight and climb in small rope teams, each led by an Alpenglow guide. The terrain varies from hiking on trails, to moderate crevassed glaciers, to a final steep summit headwall. The views from the summit are stunning, encompassing many of the surrounding volcanoes as well as the active crater of Cotopaxi itself. After enjoying the summit, our descent and arrival back to Quito is quick, in time for a celebration dinner with the team before catching flights home.
Our Cotopaxi Rapid Ascent climbs are guided by one or more of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. We combine our guides’ experience with the local expertise of our close friend and expert Ecuadorian logistics operator, Jaime Avila. Jaime is one of Ecuador’s most respected guides, and also guides with us in Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, and Alaska. Our small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (2:1) ensures that you stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.
Alpenglow’s combination of pre-acclimatization at home with the best guiding and in- country logistics has revolutionized Himalayan expeditions. The same system has reduced expedition length on peaks like the Seven Summits by 30-50%. On this Ecuadorian expedition, we utilize the same pre-acclimatization, quality of logistics, and guiding team. We work with you not only on the mountain, but also throughout your pre-acclimatization and preparation. Our goal is for each climber to be healthy, strong, and prepared for their summit climb of Cotopaxi. Join Us.