Ecuador Mountaineering FAQ
When to Climb
“The four seasons can be met in a single day….”
Clients often ask when they should climb the high peaks in Ecuador. While the Ecuadorian summits can be climbed year round, some months are more favorable than others. Some years have good conditions during the least favorable months, but chances of reaching the higher summits are reduced during those months.
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.”
To recap, here are the climbing seasons from most favorable to least favorable:
- September to February – Best time to climb
- May and June
- March and April
- July and August – Worst time to climb
Required Skills and Experience
It is best to have some climbing experience with crampons and an ice axe before climbing the high peaks in Ecuador. Good physical fitness is important.
Climbers with little or no experience can be accommodated: your guide will spend time with your group explaining security and glacier travel. We will adjust any itinerary to meet the skill level and needs of your group.
Please note that as with all high altitude mountaineering we do not promise that you will reach the summits of these peaks. Your guide’s primary concern is your safety. His secondary concern is your enjoyment! Finally, if conditions are good, he will help you reach the summits of these great mountains.
All our climbing itineraries include the following climbing gear:
- Group climbing materials (radios, ropes, etc)
- Ice axe
You need to bring the following equipment:
- Rigid sole mountaineering boots – semi-automatic (or “hybrid”) crampon compatible, plastic boots recommended. If you have leather boots make sure to bring good gaiters to keep your feet dry.
- A helmet – highly recommended
- Clothing, gaiters, backpack and all other personal gear
You can rent mountaineering gear in Quito.