Best times to climb Ecuador’s highest mountains

Cotopaxi summit

Cotopaxi summit

Ecuador is increasingly being recognized as a fantastic mountaineering destination, one of the best in the Andes, with arguably the best value. Our mountain trips feature ascents of rugged multiple volcanic peaks up to 20,000 feet.

One frequently asked question about the best times of year to trek in Ecuador. While the Ecuadorian summits can be climbed year round, some months are more favorable than others.

The best period for mountaineering is usually from September to February. We see the best combination of elements at this time to successfully run our Ecuador mountaineering treks.

July and August are not the best months. That’s firmly in the dry season, with a lot of sun, with little or no snow in the mountains, which means a much more technical, arduous, and more risky progression on glacier ice. July and August are also very windy months and it’s common to have winds of 80 to 100 km/h. Winds can be sometimes so strong that they impede the climb.

Also, it’s better to avoid March and April if you can, since these are wetter months with a thicker snow cap on the mountains.  Sometimes you can get lucky when the snow is not so deep in March and April – it can be a great time to go if that’s the case. However, you run a definite risk that the snow cap may be too much, making ascents more physical, with higher risks of avalanches.

May and June are transition months: this is the end of the rainy season and beginning of the dry season. If the rainy season follows its normal course, these can be good months for climbing: the snow cap is stabilized, with beautiful sunny days & clear starry nights.

The important thing to remember is that hiking in the high peaks of Ecuador always carries some risk of variable climatic conditions and unpredictable weather changes. Therefore drastic changes can occur at any time and any month of the year. An Ecuadorian saying says that “the four seasons can be met in a single day.”  Given the potential hazards and low costs of participating in treks with a certified mountain guide, there’s no reason not to book with a guide service like ours and vastly improve the overall experience.

Our 14-day Ecuadorian mountaineering trip is our most popular, and you can summit the two highest peaks in Ecuador.  Our 11-day mountain trek in Ecuador is our next most popular.  You can summit Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, but this is not enough time to summit Cayambe.

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