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Ecuador Ring of Fire Ski Expedition

11 Days in Ecuador / (Skill level: Intermediate)

Price per person

$4,750.00
  • Next Available: Jun 06, 2020 - Jun 16, 2020
  • Upcoming: Dec 05, 2020 - Dec 15, 2020

About this trip

Ski two of Ecuador’s biggest peaks, including Cotopaxi the world’s tallest active volcano. Learn high altitude climbing and skiing skills and progress from backcountry skier to ski mountaineer through the skills you learn on this trip. Experience the rich Ecuadorian culture in Quito and Otavalo.

Overview

  • skill level

    Intermediate

  • Duration

    11 Days

Alpenglow is thrilled to be offering the Ring of Fire Ski Expedition. Our high altitude guides are also big mountain ski mountaineers. The combination of their expertise and high-end logistics that have been a priority of Alpenglow’s for over a decade, has us uniquely positioned as the first guide service to offer international, high altitude ski expeditions. We created this program as a perfect segue for backcountry skiers looking to gain the skills that will enable them to ski higher and more technical mountains. This program is for the backcountry skier who wants to become a ski mountaineer, and the ski mountaineer looking to progress to high altitude peaks.

Alpenglow Expeditions’ guides have been climbing and guiding in Ecuador since 1994 and believe it is unparalleled for learning the essential skills of high altitude climbing while also exploring a friendly and interesting culture. These mountains are also the ideal place for bringing your backcountry skiing to the next level. On the Ring of Fire Expedition, we focus on teaching you technical skills that you might not have needed in the backcountry settings you’ve previously experienced. You will be utilizing ropes for glacier travel and on exposed terrain, while also managing the effects of high altitude. Incorporating these elements and skills with your backcountry skiing experience is a significant step in your progression from “backcountry skier” to “ski mountaineer.” Throughout our attempts to summit and ski both Cayambe at 18,997 feet (5,790 meters) and Cotopaxi at 19,347 feet (5,897 meters), we will be preparing everyone on the team with the skills and knowledge needed not just for these peaks, but for bigger peaks around the world.

Our ski expedition begins in Ecuador’s capital of Quito. The city, surrounded by four glaciated peaks, sits at 9,500 feet (2,896 meters), so your acclimatization begins immediately upon arrival. We spend the first day exploring the old colonial center of Quito and enjoying fantastic food and hospitality. We continue our acclimatization by riding the local telepherique to 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) on Rucu Pinchincha and then hiking to its 15,700 foot (4,785 meter) summit.

After spending time in Quito, we move to the town of Otavalo, which is known for its local markets and beautiful culture full of textiles and amazing food. We base out of Otavalo for a couple of days as we continue our acclimatization on day hikes, before we move up to the base of Cayambe.

Once we are settled into the hut at the base of Cayambe, we spend a full day discussing and practicing high altitude climbing and skiing skills on Cayambe’s lower glaciers. This day is essential in becoming a competent team member on this ski expedition. We will cover crampon and ice axe techniques; traveling on a rope team; snow and ice anchor placement; companion rescue; and advanced skinning techniques.

At this point, we are ready to put our skills to use on Cayambe. We wake early to begin our climb and ski. We’ll scramble on scree, skin on mildly glaciated terrain, beginning with low angle touring, and progressing in steepness to the point of transitioning to crampons for the final section to the summit. Cayambe’s terrain will push everyone to utilize their complete skill set, while still allowing us to take in the beauty of the glaciated volcano. Once we ski down, we head back to Papallacta and visit the natural hot springs in the cloud forest of the Eastern Cordillera.

Once we settle into the lodge inside Cotopaxi National Park, we prepare to wake early for our climb and ski descent of Cotopaxi. This is a long day of climbing during which we will spend more time in crampons than we did on Cayambe. This also means that on our descent we will be able to put our more technical ski mountaineering techniques into practice, including belayed skiing. The climb and ski on Cotopaxi are much more demanding than on Cayambe and the team is rewarded with a long technical descent and unmatched views. After skiing Cotopaxi, we head back to Quito for a final day of celebration before departing for home.

One or more of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead/ski guides will guide our Ring of Fire Ski Expedition. The AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our lead guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in South America and know the Ecuadorian volcanoes intimately. Our guide’s knowledge of Andean culture and mountains, and their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember.

We combine our ski guides’ experience with the local expertise of our close friend, guide, and expert Ecuadorian logistics operator, Jaime Avila. Jaime is one of Ecuador’s most respected climbing guides, and he guides with Alpenglow around the world. Our small team size and low ratio of skiers to guides (3:1) ensures that you stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of this unique experience.

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Technical Experience

    Skiers must be competent on a variety of terrain and snow conditions. Skiers must be able to link turns in steep terrain (up to 45 degrees) while maintaining control. Skiers must also have basic snow climbing experience including use of ice axe and crampons.

  • Altitude Experience

    It is required that climbers have prior experience at altitudes up to 14,000' and it is strongly recommended that climbers have prior experience at altitudes over 15,000'.

    • 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. (Saturday)

    • Day 2 — Explore and Organize

      Explore the colonial section of Quito. This historical city is famous for its beautiful churches, president’s palace, and ever-present views of the glaciated peaks that surround it. After touring for half the day, we spend the afternoon preparing for our acclimatization climb on Pinchincha, practicing fixed line techniques, and organizing all our ski and climbing gear.

    • Day 3 — Acclimatization Hike

      Our first acclimatization hike. We ride the telepherique from the center of the city to 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) on Rucu Pinchincha. Two hours of hiking brings us to the rock ridge, which we climb, conditions permitting to Pinchincha’s 15,700-foot (4,785 meter) summit. This climb is a proud peak on its own and it is also important acclimatization for bigger peaks.

    • Day 4 — Move to Otovalo

      We move to the town of Otavalo. Otavalo has some of the best food in Ecuador and is renowned for its local markets. We will spend most of the day taking a day hike around Quicocha Lake, a stunning crater lake, and then spend then evening at the Hacienda Pinsaqui.

    • Day 5 — Move up to Cayambe

      We move up to Cayambe and settle into the mountain hut. We spend the afternoon out on Cayambe’s lower glacier. Sitting just below the hut, the glacier is an ideal venue for practicing self-arrest skills and avalanche beacon practice.

    • Day 6 — Skills day on the Glacier

      We spend the morning reviewing the skill set that we will need for climbing and skiing Cayambe. This day includes instruction on crevasse rescue, advanced glacier travel, and ski touring techniques. We spend the afternoon resting, hydrating, eating, and getting to bed early for the summit of Cayambe.

    • Day 7 — Summit and Ski Day

      Cayambe Summit Day! We wake at around midnight, have a hot drink and breakfast, 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. From there, moderate slopes lead to another steep headwall. Often icy, this slope will require all of our climbing techniques to make it to the top. From the summit, we will strap on our skis for an amazing glaciated ski descent off of the summit. Once back at the hut we will descend back to the town of Papallacta. We will spend the evening recovering in Papallacta’s natural hot springs.

    • Day 8 — Drive to Tambopaxi

      Depart Papallacta midday and drive to Hosteria Tambopaxi. Tambopaxi is a beautiful lodge located in Cotopaxi National Park, where we will be set up well for our climb and ski.

    • Day 9 — Rest & Skills Day

      Rest and skills day at Tambopaxi.

    • Day 10 — Summit and Ski Day

      We will wake around midnight and move up to the parking area below the Cotopaxi hut. We will then begin our climb of Cotopaxi starting on a series of trails through the lower scree slopes. We will climb the lower glaciers up to the summit headwall where the terrain steepens as it leads us to the summit. Once on top we will begin our ski descent back down the glaciated slopes. After arriving back in the parking area, we will descend and continue to Quito for the evening. 

    • Day 11 — Weather Day & Departure

      We can use this day as an extra summit day if needed, and end up in Quito that evening. If not, we get an extra day in Quito to explore the city, before catching our flights home that night.

      • Headwear and Eyewear

      • Hat

        Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim - the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding. Recommended: Alpenglow 5-Panel

        $25.00 Add to cart
      • Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Patagonia Beanie Hat

        Read more
      • Neck Gaiter (Buff)

        A multi purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy.

        Recommended: Alpenglow Expeditions Buff

        $20.00 Add to cart
      • Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours. Recommended: Patagonia Balaclava

        Read more
      • Sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies). Recommended: Revoi Guide II

        Read more
      • Goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired. Recommended: Smith I/O

        Read more
      • Hands and Feet

      • Lightweight Gloves

        All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

        Read more
      • Midweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be your main glove for the trip until summit days, or when it gets especially cold. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

        Read more
      • Heavyweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitude and are need to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired. Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Glove

        Read more
      • Liner Socks (optional)

        A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON. Recommended: Ice Breaker Hike Liner Crew

        Read more
      • Hiking Socks

        Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in- town. NO COTTON. Recommended: Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks

        Read more
      • Hiking Shoes

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. Recommended: La Sportiva Bushido Hiking Shoes

        Read more
      • Upper Body Apparel

      • Lightweight Top

        Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

        Read more
      • Long Sleeve Base Layer

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution IR 1/4 Zip

        Read more
      • Warm Layer

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

        Read more
      • Synthetic Top

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

        Read more
      • Hard Shell Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

        Read more
      • Soft Shell Jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Sandstone

        Read more
      • Down Parka (5-6k Peaks)

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Downlight Hooded Jacket

        Read more
      • Expedition Equipment

      • Duffle Bags

        2 Duffle Bags - At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big - between 90L and 120L. You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don't recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It's common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Maximus Duffel

        Read more
      • Sleeping Bag (0°)

        Rated to 0º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack

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      • Day Pack

        Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). Recommended: Eddie Bauer Bacon 2.0 Pack

        Read more
      • Hydration System (optional)

        Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube

        Read more
      • Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp. Recommended: Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

        Read more
      • 1L Nalgene (2)

        Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

        Read more
      • Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle

        Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle. Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene

        Read more
      • Technical Equipment

      • General Mountaineering Axe

        One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. Recommended: Petzl Summit

        Read more
      • Mountaineering Crampons

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. Crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

        Read more
      • Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Petzl Meteor Helmet

        Read more
      • Harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. Recommended: Petzl Altitude *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Read more
      • Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best. Recommended: Petzl Attache

        Read more
      • Non-Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine. Recommended: Petzl Spirit

        Read more
      • Prusik Cord

        20’ of 6mm. This will be used to make prusiks. This cord should be uncut and not kevlar. Recommended: Sterling Ropes

        Read more
      • Belay Device

        Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes. Recommended: Petzl Reverso

        Read more
      • Miscellaneous Items

      • Miscellaneous Items

        - Passport (with visa, if necessary)

        - 2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)

        - Non-cotton underwear

        - Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace

        - Heavy duty garbage bags (at least 4)

        - Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear

        - Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)

        - Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)

        - Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)

        - Toiletries 

        - 3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels) 

        - Hand Warmers

        Read more
      • In Town Items

        - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000.

        - Ear Plugs

        - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment

        - Language Phrase Book

        - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries.

        - Compact Binoculars

        - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

        Read more
      • Optional Items

        - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000. - Travel wallet pouch (waist or neck) - Leatherman/ Swiss Army Knife (Recommended: Leatherman Juice C2) - Zip lock bags (large size, for organizing small items and waterproofing) - Pee Funnel (optional for women) One popular model is the Freshette. - Ear Plugs - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment - Language Phrase Book - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries. - Compact Binoculars - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

        Read more
    • Would you consider doing a custom Ecuador Ski expedition?

      Absolutely. We always consider doing custom itineraries. Call or email to get started!

    • What sort of experience is needed for the Ring of Fire?

      This trip is suitable for advanced backcountry skiers and riders only. You must be very comfortable on steep terrain, and have significant touring experience. While having mountaineering experience is preferred, there will be time on this expedition devoted to learning the necessary skills to travel in the high mountains, on glaciers, and on steep terrain.

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • Do you rent gear for the Ring of Fire?

      For a trip of this magnitude, we recommend and find that most climbers already own personal climbing and skiing gear. If needed, Alpenglow can provide harness, helmet and crampons, reservations required. Participants must have their own backcountry ski equipment, and be very familiar with its’ use.

    • Do I really need to buy Travel and Rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance, and we require rescue insurance on all expeditions. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend Global Rescue for both types of insurance .

Gaspar Navarrete

Gaspar hails from Ecuador, and has been guiding for over 18 years, and climbing since he was 12. He has extensive experience in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Patagonia, Aconcagua, the Himalaya, the Cascades, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Gaspar has established new routes in both Ecuador and Bolivia. As an active instructor with the Ecuadorian School for Mountain Guides, he has trained in Ecuador, Bolivia and France. He is a Wilderness First Responder, and has spent a great deal of time working at high altitude.

Gaspar joined one of Quito’s oldest climbing clubs at a young age, which gave him the opportunity to mentor under very experienced climbers. He considers the Andes, including Patagonia, his home, and he love to share his enthusiasm for the mountains, the Andean traditions, food and culture with his guests.

Gaspar is an ASEGUIM/IFMGA mountain guide

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

co-owner / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan spends time in the office helping the team with the day-to-day operations of the business. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is an IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Adrian Ballinger

Adrian Ballinger is one of the USA’s premier high-altitude mountain guides, and the only American guide to have both AMGA/IFMGA guide’s certification (one of roughly 150 in the USA) and more than a fifteen summits of 8,000 meter peaks (17 total, including 8 summits of Mt. Everest, 1 without supplemental oxygen, as well as an ascent of K2 without supplemental oxygen). As founder of Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian has been guiding full-time for over twenty years and has led over 130 international climbing expeditions on 6 continents.

In 2011 he, along with 2 Sherpa partners, became the first people to summit three 8,000 meter peaks in only 3 weeks (Everest twice and Lhotse once). He is also the first person to ski Manaslu (the 8th tallest mountain in the world) from its summit, and the first American to successfully ski two 8,000-meter peaks. These personal successes are combined with Adrian’s passion for guiding and teaching others. Adrian has successfully led more than 100 clients to the summits of Everest, Lhotse (the 4th tallest mountain in world), Cho Oyu (6th tallest) and Manaslu (8th tallest).

Whether on skis, in rock shoes, or mountain boots, Adrian thrives on sharing the big mountains with friends and clients, and helping them to build their skills and experience to be successful on the world’s most beautiful mountains. In the coming seasons, Adrian plans on continuing to enjoy big-mountain skiing, climbing, and guiding in the Himalaya, South America, Europe, and of course closer to home in Squaw Valley, CA. Adrian is a sponsored athlete for Eddie Bauer, La Sportiva, Blizzard, Tecnica, Hiball Energy, and Favre Leuba.

Learn more about Adrian at adrianballinger.com

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Ray Hughes

Ray is an IFMGA / AMGA Licensed Mountain Guide. His passion for the mountains ignited while growing up in Northern California, exploring the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges, followed by years honing his mountain skills in Colorado and Switzerland. As one of our core guides, Ray brings the same excitement to guiding and instructing in Lake Tahoe as skiing and alpine guiding in Europe to expeditions anywhere in the world. Sharing experiences, culture, and beautiful places with others blurs the line between work and play.

He is an AIARE Avalanche Course Leader and an American Avalanche Association professional member. Ray also works as a snow safety consultant for professional winter sport athletes and photographers.

He was a 4 x All American in Track and Field and the 250th American to ever run the Mile under 4:00, but now enjoys being an average trail jogger.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    Ecuador Ring of Fire Ski Expedition

  • Accredited American Mountain Guide Association - AMGA
  • IFMGA Mountain Guide
  • Forest Service
ALL PROGRAMS DIRECTED BY ADRIAN BALLINGER AND LOGAN TALBOTT, AMGA/IFMGA MOUNTAIN GUIDES
© 2020 Alpenglow Expeditions. All rights reserved.

Ecuador Ring of Fire Ski Expedition

Ski two of Ecuador’s biggest peaks, including Cotopaxi the world’s tallest active volcano. Learn high altitude climbing and skiing skills and progress from backcountry skier to ski mountaineer through the skills you learn on this trip. Experience the rich Ecuadorian culture in Quito and Otavalo.

    Headwear and Eyewear

  • Hat

    Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim - the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding. Recommended: Alpenglow 5-Panel

  • Beanie

    A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Patagonia Beanie Hat

  • Neck Gaiter (Buff)

    A multi purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy.

    Recommended: Alpenglow Expeditions Buff

  • Balaclava

    We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours. Recommended: Patagonia Balaclava

  • Sunglasses

    Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies). Recommended: Revoi Guide II

  • Goggles

    These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired. Recommended: Smith I/O

    Hands and Feet

  • Lightweight Gloves

    All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

  • Midweight Gloves

    These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be your main glove for the trip until summit days, or when it gets especially cold. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

  • Heavyweight Gloves

    These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitude and are need to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired. Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Glove

  • Liner Socks (optional)

    A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON. Recommended: Ice Breaker Hike Liner Crew

  • Hiking Socks

    Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in- town. NO COTTON. Recommended: Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks

  • Hiking Shoes

    These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. Recommended: La Sportiva Bushido Hiking Shoes

    Upper Body Apparel

  • Lightweight Top

    Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

  • Long Sleeve Base Layer

    A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution IR 1/4 Zip

  • Warm Layer

    A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

  • Synthetic Top

    A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

  • Hard Shell Jacket

    A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

  • Soft Shell Jacket

    While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Sandstone

  • Down Parka (5-6k Peaks)

    A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Downlight Hooded Jacket

    Lower Body Apparel

  • Base Layer Bottoms

    Fitted and quick drying. This piece will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Midweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants

  • Soft Shell Pants

    You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Alpine

  • Hard Shell Pants

    Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets. Recommended: Black Diamond Sharp End Pants

  • Insulated Pants (optional)

    Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers. This layer is required. Recommended: Black Diamond Stance Belay Pants

    Ski / Splitboard Equipment

  • Skis w/ Touring Bindings

    A lightweight touring ski with touring bindings. Our guides suggest something between 95mm and 110mm underfoot. Keep in mind that extremely lightweight boards are great on the uphill, but can prove challenging in variable conditions. Recommended Skis: Blizzard Zero G 105 Skis Recommended Bindings: Dynafit Speed Radical

  • Splitboard

    A splitboard that you are comfortable riding in a variety of conditions. Recommended: Jones Solution Splitboard

  • Ski/Splitboard Crampons

    While these are optional, they are strongly recommended by our guides. These will be used on early spring days when the snow is often icy on the way up before the conditions transition. Many bindings accept a compatible crampon made by the manufacturer. Recommended: Dynafit Ski Crampons

  • Skins

    Many options are available, and are often comparable. Most important is to ensure your skins are trimmed properly for the ski you will be touring with. Skins with a secure tail clip are preferred. Recommended for Skis: Black Diamond Ascension Nylon STS Recommended for Splitboards: Black Diamond Ascension Splitboard STS

  • Ski/Splitboard Poles

    Adjustable ski poles with powder baskets. Recommended: Black Diamond Expedition 2 or Expedition 3 Poles

  • Avalanche Transceiver

    A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using. Recommended: Black Diamond Recon BT Avalanche Beacon

  • Shovel

    A lightweight metal avalanche rescue shovel. Extendable handle is recommended. Recommended: Black Diamond Transfer 3 Shovel

  • Probe

    A strong, lightweight avalanche probe, 260-300cm. Recommended: Black Diamond QuickDraw Tour Probe 280

  • Backcountry Touring Pack

    Internal frame pack that is between 30 and 40 liters and is designed to carry skis or a splitboard. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners.  Recommended: Black Diamond Cirque 35 or 45 Pack

    Expedition Equipment

  • Duffle Bags

    2 Duffle Bags - At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big - between 90L and 120L. You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don't recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It's common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Maximus Duffel

  • Sleeping Bag (0°)

    Rated to 0º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack

  • Day Pack

    Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). Recommended: Eddie Bauer Bacon 2.0 Pack

  • Hydration System (optional)

    Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube

  • Headlamp

    L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp. Recommended: Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

  • 1L Nalgene (2)

    Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

  • Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle

    Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle. Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene

    Technical Equipment

  • General Mountaineering Axe

    One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. Recommended: Petzl Summit

  • Mountaineering Crampons

    Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. Crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

  • Helmet

    Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Petzl Meteor Helmet

  • Harness

    Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. Recommended: Petzl Altitude *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Locking Carabiner (2)

    Lightweight small carabiners are best. Recommended: Petzl Attache

  • Non-Locking Carabiner (2)

    Lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine. Recommended: Petzl Spirit

  • Prusik Cord

    20’ of 6mm. This will be used to make prusiks. This cord should be uncut and not kevlar. Recommended: Sterling Ropes

  • Belay Device

    Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes. Recommended: Petzl Reverso

    Miscellaneous Items

  • Miscellaneous Items

    - Passport (with visa, if necessary)

    - 2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)

    - Non-cotton underwear

    - Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace

    - Heavy duty garbage bags (at least 4)

    - Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear

    - Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)

    - Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)

    - Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)

    - Toiletries 

    - 3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels) 

    - Hand Warmers

  • In Town Items

    - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000.

    - Ear Plugs

    - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment

    - Language Phrase Book

    - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries.

    - Compact Binoculars

    - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

  • Optional Items

    - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000. - Travel wallet pouch (waist or neck) - Leatherman/ Swiss Army Knife (Recommended: Leatherman Juice C2) - Zip lock bags (large size, for organizing small items and waterproofing) - Pee Funnel (optional for women) One popular model is the Freshette. - Ear Plugs - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment - Language Phrase Book - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries. - Compact Binoculars - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)