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Glacier School

Experience professional glacier training at high altitude

DURATION 12 days


DIFFICULTY Easy to Intermediate


Andeanface Glacier School is a compact and short itinerary that provides the knowledge, skills, and experience essential for safe and enjoyable mountain climbing in a high altitude glaciated mountain environment. The itinerary first provides some good acclimatisation hikes where you can gradually condition your body during the first days of the program.

Our core curriculum emphasises safety, judgement, mountaineering skills, Leave No Trace practices, high altitude physiology and a good dose of fun, of course! It is a great introductory mountaineering experience for beginners where you can discover how your body reacts to the high mountain environment.

The course is primarily an intensive high altitude glacier course, but it will test the acquired skills by attempting to summit Cayambe 5.790 m / 18,991 ft and later Cotopaxi 5.897 m / 19,324 ft. The challenging, long alpine slopes of these two mountains provide an excellent introduction to glacier travel techniques on big peaks. If participants have an intermediate skills level, the course could be focused on more advanced climbing techniques such as ice climbing and crevasse rescue systems.

Our excellent guides provide Glacier School Training on Cayambe and Cotopaxi. Experience is not required. During the training you will learn about:

  • Knots and ropes
  • Glacier travel
  • Crampon techniques
  • Ice axe techniques
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Ice climbing
  • How to shelter
  • How to prepare yourself for mountain climbing
  • Equipment used in the mountains
  • Living in mountain huts

Arrive/Depart: Quito

Group Size: 2-10 Guests

Pre-requisites: Good physical condition

Difficulty Levels:
Easy: Pasochoa / Pichincha
Intermediate: Cayambe / Cotopaxi
Advanced: Chimborazo

Accomodation: 12 nights: 5 Hotel nights in Quito /
3 at Haciendas / 4 at Mountain Refugues VIEW LODGING

Activity: Trekking / Wildlife & Natural History / Glacier Practice / Ice Climbing / Mountaineering

Seasons: All year round

Equipment: Climbing Expeditions Gear List
Download PDF




Arrival / Night in Quito [2.800 m / 9,184 ft]

Once you arrive at the airport you should take a transfer to the hotel in Quito. Our staff will meet you the following morning.

Activity: Arrival in Quito

Accommodation: In Quito - Vieja Cuba or similar


Gear Check and Rock Climbing Wall in Quito [2.800 m / 9,184 ft]

Andeanface staff will meet you at 09:00 in the morning for an introductory briefing about the program. As this is your first day at altitude 2,800 m / 9,184 ft, we will take you walking to the rock climbing wall in Quito. Once there we will do some work with ropes, teach you abseiling, balance training and basic rock climbing. For the night we stay at Vieja Cuba or a similar hostel.

Activity: Gear check / Rock climbing practice

Accommodation: In Quito - Vieja Cuba or similar

Transportation: Private van transfer

Meals: Breakfast


Pasochoa Hike [4.200 m / 13,776 ft]

Having had a day to begin the acclimatization process in Ecuador, we now go for the first summit of a volcano. After a short drive we hike out into the countryside towards Pasochoa. This mountain is an ancient and heavily eroded volcano that has been inactive since the last Ice Age. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this excursion is that Pasochoa is one of the few volcanoes where we may see condors flying - the largest flying birds in South America. We return for the night in Quito.

Activity: 4-5 hours trekking up and down Pasocha

Accommodation: In Quito - Vieja Cuba or similar

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Rucu Pichincha Hike [4.690 m / 15,400 ft]

Using the cable car we go as high as 4.000 m / 13,200 ft in a few minutes from where we start today’s hike. Pichincha is an excellent second acclimatization hike. Rucu (Quichua for “Old”) is one of the three major peaks that make up the Pichincha massive. Quito is actually built on a shelf on the eastern side of this massif. The hike is again straightforward and will take 4 to 5 hours (round trip). After this hike we return to Quito for the night.

Activity: 5-6 hours trekking up and down Pichincha

Accommodation: In Quito - Vieja Cuba or similar

Transportation: Short transfer on private van or jeep + cable car ride

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Otavalo Market

Otavalo has one of the biggest indigenous markets of Ecuador. You will have a chance to buy local textiles and hand crafts. There is a market on every day of the week. However Saturday is the best. We recommend you to visit first the animal market as it starts very early in the morning. Due to its wonderful colours, Otavalo is a paradise for photographers. Night at Las Palmeras inn

Activity: Driving / Sightseeing

Accommodation: Hacienda Guachalá

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Cayambe Refuge [4.600 m / 15,088 ft]

Today we leave Hacienda Guachala and drive towards the refuge of Cayambe at 4.600 m / 15,088 ft. If there is too much snow or the road is not in a good condition, we do a short hike. Once in Cayambe we start our training course. During the glacier training on Cayambe we cover the following subjects:
  • Snow climbing, ice axe positioning, and moving in balance
  • Self arrest techniques
  • Snow and ice anchor selection, construction, and equalisation
  • Ice climbing (with top rope) and crampon techniques
  • Prussiking
  • Roped glacier travel and route finding through crevassed areas
  • Discussions on high altitude physiology and other related expeditionary topics
  • After each session you return to the refuge for a hearty meal
On day 8 there will be a chance to attempt the summit of Cayambe. After that we drive down to spend another night at Hacienda Guachala.

Activity: Driving / Skills review / Glacier pratice / Climbing / Glacier Travel

Accommodation: Days 5-7 Mountain Refuge / Day 8 Hacienda Guachalá

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Drive to Cotopaxi Region

This is a rest day from mountain climbing used as a driving day to get to Cotopaxi National Park, we will stop for lunch in a restaurant along the way, for the night we will spend at Tambopaxi lodge, it is a great place with nice views of Cotopaxi.

Activity: Driving / Sightseeing

Accommodation: Tambopaxi Lodge

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Cotopaxi Hut [4.800 m / 15,700 ft]

We drive to 4.600 m / 15,095 ft and then walk to the hut at 4.800 m / 15,700 ft. Having arrived at the hut at lunchtime, we rest in the afternoon and evening, preparing for a night time climb. Cotopaxi is one of the most beautiful mountains of the Andes of Ecuador. The whole national park is known for its rich wildlife and remoteness. Without a doubt Cotopaxi has the largest number of clear days amongst the high peaks of Ecuador.

Activity: Drive / Climb

Accommodation: Jose Rivas Refuge

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Cotopaxi Summit Day / Return to Quito [5.897 m / 19.300 ft]

We leave the hut at around 1 AM in the morning. First we walk for 1 hour to the start of the glacier where we put our crampons on and use the rope. A large featureless glacier is then followed, weaving between large, obvious crevasses. The final section is a bit steeper. The summit gets us above the crater. During the climb ropes will be used to protect the team from crevasses and also to provide protection on the steeper sections. The ascent normally takes between six to seven hours up and two hours for the descent. Night back in Quito.

Activity: 8-9 hours climbing up and down / Drive back to Quito

Accommodation: In Quito - Vieja Cuba or similar

Transportation: Private van or jeep transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Important: Please note that this itinerary is a guideline only. We will do every effort to follow it, but in case of unforeseen circumstances we may have to make changes.


We provide Glacier School Training on Cayambe and Cotopaxi:

  • Professional glacier training at high altitude
  • A short and compact climbing course
  • Good first high altitude experience
  • We teach you depending on your level of experience
  • Cheaper than any course given in the United States or Europe
  • Instructors with international experience




The best and easiest way for us to answer any questions you might have about the expedition, as an individual or a group, is through a Zoom call with the head guide from our team. We are happy to arrange a meeting ideally pm Eastern time for us, Let us know by sending an email to




Our Complimentary Extension Packages offer great opportunities to explore some of Ecuador’s most dramatic scenaries, which have earned the country a reputation as one of the most bio diverse and unique regions on the planet.

We work with carefully selected tourism operators, which will offer the same quality and high standards of service that our clients expect from us.

You can choose from a selection of various (active) outdoor activities in the Galapagos, the Cloud Forest or Amazon Jungle. We highly recommend to extent your trip with a rafting experience.



Scheduled Dates

* A “CONFIRMED DEPARTURE” is when we have at least 2 participants booked! We run this trip also on private basis for groups. Please send us an e-mail to book this Glacier School Expedition.

Sunday MAY 05 - Thursday MAY 16, 2024



Sunday JUN 02 - Thursday JUN 13, 2024



Sunday JUL 07 - Thursday JUL 18, 2024



Sunday DEC 01 - Thursday DEC 12, 2024



Sunday JAN 05 - Thursday JAN 16, 2025



Sunday JAN 26 - Thursday FEB 06, 2025



Sunday FEB 16 - Friday FEB 28, 2025



Sunday MAY 18 - Thursday MAY 22, 2025



Sunday JUN 08 - Thursday JUN 19, 2025



2024-25 Prices

1 pax - USD 4.800 per person
2+ pax - USD 2.600 per person
Single Room Suplement - USD 510

Trip Cost Includes

  • All transport by private vehicles during the program
  • All the food once out of Quito
  • Accommodation: 5 hotel nights in Quito, haciendas and huts. All in double basis, triple basis available for a group of 3 friends or a family
  • Permits and park fees
  • One bilingual qualified mountain guide per every two climbers on Cayambe and Cotopaxi
  • Some climbing gear: crampons, harness, helmet, ice axe, and group gear such as ropes (boots available for rent at $20 per day)

Trip Cost Does Not Include

  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunch and evening meals while in Quito
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Extras, laundry, tips
  • The rest of the climbing gear
  • Airport transfers


There are several reasons: It is a unique approach to Cotopaxi where we minimise the amount of driving!   Our team is formed by the best Ecuadorian mountain guides. Some of us have historical guiding achievements, including guiding in the Himalayas while others are well known for their leading mountaineering expeditions in South America.   Our mountain guides are an integral part of Andeanface because they understand and share our climbing principles. The quality of our guiding staff is what makes us stand out from other companies. The accomodation used during this expedition gives it an added value, some nights are spent in Haciendas, which are traditional fams houses converted into mountain lodges.