Ecuador - El Altar Expedition

Overview

An exotic, remote expedition goal, El Altar is one of the most technically demanding peaks of the northern Andes and its summits have seldom been climbed. Acclimatize in Quito, at the Otavalo market, and on a climb of Guagua Pichincha (15,729'). Ascend Illiniza Sur (17,268'). Approach El Altar base camp through remote Quechua villages, and ascend snow and ice up to 60-degrees to one or more of the ancient volcanoe's summits, usually including El Obispo, the highest at (17,930').

El Altar is one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Once Ecuador's highest summit, reaching well over 20,000 feet on a base five miles in diameter, the western side of the mountain along with its core blew out, leaving an enormous cirque with nine distinct summits in a semicircle, and a large hanging glacier below, the feature that inspired the name "the altar."

A portion of the wall of peaks ringing the caldera below El Altar.

A portion of the wall of peaks ringing the caldera below El Altar. Michael Powers

We acclimatize for this expedition by exploring Quito, visiting a regional market, scrambling up 15,729-foot Guagua Pichincha, and by climbing a classic glacial route on 17,227-foot Illiniza Sur (described above). After a rest at a nearby hacienda, we travel further south and approach El Altar with the help of pack animals, and establish our base camp below the massive rock walls and hanging glaciers of the peak's inner cirque. We climb out of the valley to reach the glaciers of the outer perimeter and there choose our climbing goals according to conditions on the routes and the interests of the climbers. El Obispo, the highest summit, will be a primary goal, but some of the other summits have only had two or three ascents, and possibilities remain for establishment of new routes. In sum, it's spectacular climbing in one of the most exotic spots in the Andes.

Ecuador - El Altar Expedition

Itinerary

Climbing 60 degree ice on El Altar.

Climbing 60 degree ice on El Altar. Michael Powers

We acclimatize for this expedition by exploring Quito, visiting a regional market, scrambling up 15,729-foot Guagua Pichincha, and by climbing a classic glacial route on 17,227-foot Illiniza Sur. After a rest at a nearby hacienda, we travel further south and approach El Altar with the help of pack animals, and establish our base camp below the massive rock walls and hanging glaciers of the peak's inner cirque. We climb out of the valley to reach the glaciers of the outer perimeter and there choose our climbing goals according to conditions on the routes and the interests of the climbers. El Obispo, the highest summit, will be a primary goal, but some of the other summits have only had two or three ascents, and possibilities remain for establishment of new routes. In sum, it's spectacular climbing in one of the most exotic spots in the Andes.

 

Ecuador - El Altar Expedition

Prices and Details

  • $4200 (4:2 Climber/Guide Ratio)
  • $4660 (3:2 Climber/Guide Ratio)
  • $4980 (2:1 Climber/Guide Ratio)
  • $7660 (1:1 Climber/Guide Ratio)

 

Max Ratio - 2:1 or 4:2

Capacity - 4

 

Dates:

Please contact the AAI office at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email at info@alpineinstitute.com to arrange dates for this expedition.

 

Prerequisites:

  • Glacier Travel
  • Climbing and Belaying experience on snow and ice up to 60-degrees
Ecuador, El Altar - Map

 

Flight Information:

Flight arrangements should be made so that you arrive in Quito on the first scheduled start day of the trip, and you depart the day after the last scheduled day of the trip. Please contact our Travel Coordinator if you need assistance with travel arrangements.

Ecuador - El Altar Expedition

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