Ecuador Volcanoes Frequently Asked Questions
Route and Climbing
What is the route like?
All climbs involve cramponing on moderately steep slopes and a great deal of glacier travel. The snow level is reached between 15,000' and 16,000' and each of the ascents will require several thousand feet of snow climbing. Crevasse problems should be no more difficult than those encountered in climbing Mt. Rainier. The routes are very exciting and much more involved than those on the Mexican volcanoes. You should expect summit days to average around 12 hours round-trip from the mountain refuges.
How should I train?
You cannot over train for high altitude climbing. Concentrate on your heart, legs and lungs. You will enjoy the trip more if you are properly prepared. An aerobic program of either running, stair climbing or bicycling, plus a conditioning program for the thigh muscles is strongly recommended starting at least three months before your trip. Although climbs of Cayambe and Cotopaxi do not require carrying an excessively heavy backpack, training with weight can help increase your aerobic stamina and endurance. You owe it to your team mates to be in excellent condition for the trip.
What skills do I need?
Ecuador offers a great opportunity for climbers to test their abilities at higher elevations, but previous mountaineering knowledge of ice axe arrest, cramponing and rope team travel are required. Everyone needs to be familiar with these climbing skills.
What is the weather typically like?
Historically, November through February and June have proven to be reasonably stable weather periods. We should, however, be prepared for both cold and wet weather. Conditions on the mountains should be comparable to those encountered on Mt. Rainier.
Temperatures in Quito and neighboring towns should be mild with the possibility of an afternoon shower. A light jacket or sweater will likely be needed in the evenings.
Travel and Insurance
Is a visa required?
An embarkation/disembarkation card is needed and can be obtained from the airline. These cards are usually handed out on board your flight to Quito. You will need to have your passport handy to present to immigration officials in Quito upon landing as proof of your citizenship, along with the above card. You must keep your copy of this card with you and present it upon leaving Ecuador. No other visa or form is currently required.
If you do not already have a passport, or if your current passport is due to expire within 6 months after the trip, you must obtain a new one. A CURRENT PASSPORT IS REQUIRED FOR ENTRY INTO ECUADOR. Also, if you have a 'well-traveled' passport, make sure there are blank pages available.
How do I get there?
Please contact us after being confirmed for the trip if you would like recommendations for other travel agents.
Seats can sometimes be in short supply to South America and flight schedules can change frequently. Because of this, we encourage you to make your reservations early. Most flights to Quito arrive later in the evening. Remember, you are responsible for making all of your own flight arrangements.
What kind of insurance do I need?
We invest in insurance coverage for commercial liability and medical and disability insurance for our employees while participating on our programs. We cannot insure you for your personal needs, but we do expect you to be as fiscally responsible as we are. We require that you insure yourself against potentially expensive difficulties that may arise. First, Trip Cancellation Insurance may provide financial relief should you be forced to withdraw from the program before it even happens. Next, make sure you have adequate Travel Insurance for coverage should you have a problem during the trip. Medical care and evacuation in remote locations can be expensive. For more information, please see our page on Trip Cancellation and Travel Insurance.
We again remind you that no insurance of any kind is provided for trip participants.
What's included in the expedition fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee:
- IMG Guides
- Double accommodation in hotels
- Shared accommodation in refuges
- Group transportation
- Group equipment including ropes, stoves/fuel, radios, group first aid, etc.
- Meals while climbing
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee:
- Roundtrip airfare to Quito
- Meals while not climbing
- Snacks while climbing
- Personal climbing equipment from gear list
- REQUIRED Insurance: IMG requires that all trip participants purchase Travel Insurance for international programs that includes coverage for medical evacuation, repatriation and medical expenses for the duration of their IMG program. Trip Cancellation Insurance is strongly recommended. Trekking and mountaineering programs are true "adventure travel."
Packing and Food
How should I pack?
Most of us will pack our gear in two duffle bags. We put our climbing pack in one of these bags. Most airlines limit checked luggage to two pieces each weighing no more than 50 lbs. Use zip ties to close the bags or purchase TSA approved locks. TSA approved locks really are a good idea. These are nice for your peace of mind, they help to prevent pilfering. In addition to these two bags, we like to use a small backpac as our carry-on. You then have this small backpack available for day hikes, shopping, etc.
We also would suggest that you purchase one of the many light money belts that are available or get one of the pouches that you can hang around your neck and place inside your shirt. This is a little safer way to carry your money and travel documents. Carrying a couple of extra passport photos with you as well as a copy of the first pages of your passport is a prudent idea while traveling abroad. These should be carried in a place separate from your passport. Having them available will greatly facilitate the replacement of your passport if you ever lost it.
Travelling with a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on is always a good idea just in case your luggage gets delayed.
Get to the airport early and make sure your luggage gets checked through to the correct destination. Also, make sure that your flight connections aren't too tight. Lost luggage is a pain. Try to keep the number of connections to a minimum when you are making travel plans and use the same airline as much as possible.
Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home. We would like everyone to have a wrist watch with an alarm. They are quite handy. It's convenient to have a pen with you for filling out travel forms.
What kind of clothing is appropriate?
Casual attire is the rule for most of our activities and meals, but a nicer outfit is appreciated at the haciendas where we will be dining.
How much cash will I need?
Cash should be carried in the form of US dollars. Ecuador has adopted the U.S. dollar as their currency. Bring small bills. Well-known credit cards are also accepted at better business establishments in Quito. Plan to take about $500. That's probably more than you'll spend but it's always nice to have extra dollars. We also ask everyone to bring one blank check. It's easy for us to simply put all group restaurant meals on one bill and divide that by the number of participants and guides at the end of the trip.
What will the food be like?
Breakfasts and dinners will be provided while you are climbing; this includes hot drinks and coffee. These meals will consist of 'quick preparation' foods brought from the United States, as well as local foods. We ask that each climber supplies their own lunches/snacks for the climbs. This gives us a lot more flexibility and this way you'll always have something handy to munch on. Bring things like candy, nuts, granola bars, GORP and powdered drink mixes. Breads, fruits and some other items are available in Ecuador and we will make a stop before each climb to buy these perishable items. If you're looking for tips on climbing snacks, check out what IMG guides are eating. Each individual will be responsible for his/her own restaurant meals when we are not climbing; this usually comes out to between $200-$400.
What immunizations will I need?
No immunizations are currently required to enter Ecuador. It is recommended that you consider the following:
- Tetanus/Diphtheria: There is no natural immunity to the tetanus toxin and since it is found throughout the world, immunization is a universal recommendation regardless of age. A combined tetanus/ diphtheria booster is available, good for ten years.
- Hepatitis Vaccine: New vaccines are available for both Hepatitis A and B.
We recommend that you consult your physician, the travel clinic at a major University Hospital, or your local Public Health Department for the most up to date info on travel requirements, or check the Center for Disease Control Website at www.cdc.gov.
What medications will I need?
We want everyone to bring a course of the prescription antibiotic azithromycin ("Z-Pak"). Please consider this to be part of your required equipment. You should also bring some Imodium for treatment of traveler's diarrhea. We do not recommend the automatic use of Diamox for altitude sickness but you can also discuss this with your physician and he/she can make this available to you if deemed appropriate. Any medication should be used only if necessary and use should be discussed thoroughly with your physician and with your guide beforehand.
We also recommend that each participant brings a small bottle of a hand disinfectant such as Purell. Anything that we can do to stay healthy is worthwhile.