Frequently Asked Questions
What is the skill level of this climb?
Climbers should have successfully completed our 6-Day Training course, 8-Day, 12-Day, 13-Day or have equivalent skills and experience. Those who had a strong performance on a 3-Day Baker or Rainier climb may also join. They must have basic knowledge of progression on snow and ice, self arrest, crevasse rescue and glacier travel. Snow and ice slopes to be dealt with are moderate (up to 45 degrees). During the expedition we will spend three days on the glaciers reviewing skills. The requirements are also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.
What is the physical conditioning level needed for this climb?
Climbers must be in very good to excellent physical condition. Summit day can be 10 hours long on Cotopaxi and 12 hours long on Chimborazo.
Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?
Along with the required crampon skills, review cardio training on the training page of our web site. This climb generally boasts 100% success. Acclimatization will be the key to successfully and safely climb the main goals of this expedition. We strongly recommend following the advice of our guides to acclimatize properly. Try to improve your cramponing skills especially for Chimborazo.
Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber to guide ratio?)
Your expedition leader will be Jose Luis Peralvo. He will have along as many assistant guides as necessary to ensure a low climber to guide ratio.
What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?
Ecuador has two climbing seasons: June through August (although it is often windy, August being the windiest month) and November through February (which is considered the best season for climbing in Ecuador). Cotopaxi creates its own microclimate and has the highest number of clear days of the Ecuadorian mountains, and subsequently can be climbed year-round. It is very important for safety reasons and in order to increase our chances for success the time of the day that we climb the big snowcapped Ecuadorian volcanoes. It will be necessary to climb at night because the snow conditions are better and safer. The weather tends to be more stable and it is generally clear during the nights and early mornings.
How many climbers are on this expedition?
Generally, our maximum for this climb is 9 climbers plus guides.
Will I be sharing a tent or lodging with other climbers?
You will not be sharing a tent. Lodging for this expedition is in hotels, old haciendas converted to hostelries and mountain huts.
How much will my pack weigh?
On summit day climbers carry approximately 20 pounds.
What gear will I need?
Please review the gear list.
How does your gear rental system work?
Those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. All rental gear will be mailed to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and return it to us by mail following the expedition.
Any further advice on gear and using your gear list?
We recommend that you get a pair of anti-balling plates for your crampons. These useful devices made of a special type of rubber prevent crampons from balling up in soft snow conditions. There are different types depending on the model of crampons and brand. Please, make sure you get the right ones for the crampons you have.
While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to assist in having climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions.
While it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do offer a wide variety of equipment in our Gear Shop, that has been hand-picked by our staff of mountaineering experts. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.
How is drinking water treated?
There will be bottled water available while staying in hotels, haciendas and during the first two acclimatization hikes. All water will be boiled while the group is in the mountains. Doing so for several minutes will kill anything that can live at the altitude the huts are located. Mountain huts are supplied with clean glacier-melt water.
What will the meals on the expedition be like?
Meals in the mountains consist of a diet rich in carbohydrates because our bodies do not process fat and protein efficiently at higher elevations and to compensate the increase in caloric need that high altitude climbing involves. We try to make meals and breakfast varied and as normal as possible. The selection of meals is wide in the restaurants of hotels and haciendas we will stay on this trip.
Can I bring some food from home?
You may bring power bars, Gu, Power Gel, cereal bars or similar high energy foods, powder Gatorade is also recommended to fight dehydration.
All meals will be provided on this expedition.
Are there any innoculation requirements?
No requirements at this time
When should I book my flight? Do I need to use your Travel Agent?
Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our Travel Agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights yourself. Please note that flights booked online are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible as this allows us to book pick ups and hotels.
What time should I arrive and leave and where do I meet the guides?
Your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport. Look for a large Alpine Ascents sign.
What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?
We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotels rooms, airport pick ups and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single room supplement costs (for hotels only).
Are there any entry or Visa requirements?
The personnel at Immigrations at the airport in Quito will ask you how long you plan to stay, after your answer; they will give you a 30, 60 or 90-day tourist visa. Please make sure your passport has at least six months of validity left.
Is there any communication while we are on the mountain?
In the cities and in hotels telephones are readily available. Cell service is available in most towns and there is sporadic coverage on the mountain. Our guides also carry a satellite phone.
Where can I get more information on history, books, and additional activities in the region?
Check the reading list on the Ecuador page of the web site.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and we will have our Ecuador lead guide contact you. 30 days prior to departure, we will mail a list of the other team members to you.
How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?
$500 should easily cover any extra expenses and tips. Most climbers prefer to bring about $1000 and have credit cards.
How much should I tip my guide and staff?
$150 total is the suggested tips for all Ecuadorian guides and you may have some perfunctory tips at hotels and at time of transport. Tipping is not required but a common practice. Climbers may also opt to tip the Lead guide ( $100+ is an average tip)
How do I register for this expedition?
You may submit an application online or call our offices with a credit card or mail/fax an application with a check or credit card number.
What paperwork do I need to send in?
Each climber should submit an application and flight information.
When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you except?
We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space the deposit is $700.00 and balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY: Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all programs.
Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy. Specific brochure cancellation and refund policies may supercede those enumerated below.
• Each deposit, regardless of amount, includes a $200.00 non-refundable registration fee.
• All Expedition balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
• Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 90-days or more prior to departure date.
• 50% refunds will be provided 60-89 days prior to departure date.
• No refunds will be provided 59-days prior to departure date.
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 90-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
• All refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the 90-day period, as stated above.
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
The easy access to the high mountains in Ecuador makes not difficult an early departure. If for any reason you need to depart early, our guides and local staff will assist in obtaining the necessary transportation and reservations to get you home as quickly as possible.