"Cotopaxi’s shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset, it seems detached from the azure of the sky."
Alexander von Humbolt, 1802.

Cotopaxi is without any doubt, one of the most beautiful mountains of the world. Due to its geographical position it has more clear days than any of the other high mountains in Ecuador.
Nowadays, it has become the most popular mountain not only of Ecuador, but of the whole Andes chain. In Quichua language the name Cotopaxi supposedly means the "necklace of the moon".


Normal Route on the West FaceFrom the 4.800 m / 15,750 ft hut we ascend moderate glacier slopes to the summit. Along the way however, complex crevasse patterns and snow bridge crossings over deep crevasses make the climb interesting. After passing through a heavily crevassed area we reach the final summit slope. Here a challenging section of 35-40 degree snow leads to the abrupt finish of the climb on the crater rim of the world's highest active volcano.
The climb normally takes six hours and the descent two hours. The volcano’s last strongest eruption was in 1877, and caused serious damages even down by the coast, hundreds of kilometres away.



Day 1Crater from the Summit

  • Pick up at Quito at around 8:30
  • Travel for 2 hours to the Cotopaxi National Park
  • Skills review and safety talk during the afternoon
  • Early dinner at 18:00

Day 2

  • Climb Cotopaxi leaving at around 01:00
  • Descend from mountain
  • Rest, lunch and packing
  • Return to Quito

Important Note: This schedule is subject to change due to unforeseen difficulties.


Also see our Interactive Map.



Cotopaxi - Highlights

The Cotopaxi Climbing Excursion offers you the following highlights:

      • The highest active volcano in the world.
      • Ecuador's second highest mountain.
      • The most frequently climbed mountain in the Americas.
      • The most accessible high altitude mountain from Quito.
      • Just 2 1/2 hours away from the capital city.
      • Strategic location over the "Avenue of the Volcanoes."
      • All year round climbing.

Cotopaxi - Logistics

Duration: 2 days

Access: Drive in and drive out

Seasons: All year round

Guide-Client Ratio: 1:3

Pre-requisites: Basic mountaineering knowledge

Equipment: Climbing Excursions Gear List
Please download the Pdf

Accommodation: José Rivas Hut (4.800 m / 15,744 ft)

Extension: Optional 1 day weather contingency


Difficulty Level:



Cotopaxi - Suggested Combinations

Although Cotopaxi is probably the easiest to climb of the high altitude mountains of Ecuador, it is still a challenging pursuit. Its altitude requires a very good level of acclimatization.
Our suggestion to our clients is to climb several other mountains that would provide them with the necessary acclimatization and a practice of the required skills. Following is a suggested list of ascents that are progressively higher.
1. Pasochoa
4.200 m / 13,776 ft
2. Guagua Pichincha
4.797 m / 15,700 ft
3. North Iliniza
5.125 m / 16,810 ft
4. Cotopaxi
5.897 m / 19,342 ft

Climbing Excursions

Andeanface offers you the following Climbing Excursions in Ecuador, which you can include in your trip. Please check the different pages and contact us through
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information, suggestions and prices:
Glacier School
El Altar
South Iliniza
North Iliniza