Ecuador - Land of Volcanoes

Ascent of Chimborazo (Veintimilla Summit), 6230m - 18-19 Jul 2015


All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2016. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.


The Whymper summit of Chimborazo is the highest point in Ecuador at 6263m. Most climbers reach this summit via the nearby Veintimilla summit which is a little lower at 6230m. The distance between these twin summits is not great, and the saddle between the two summits barely drops below 6200m. Upon reaching the Veintimilla summit early in the morning of 19 July 2015 the weather was so utterly diabolical up there that a traverse across to the Whymper summit simply wasn't feasible. Nonetheless, an ascent of the Veintimilla summit was worthwhile, and the really bad weather and poor visibility was confined to the summit area only. Much of the climb was done in passable weather with good visibility, so excellent views were beheld when the sun came up while we were high on the mountain.



Trip Report

Chimborazo was my 6th Ecuadorian summit on my "7 summits of Ecuador" trip in 2015. Two days before attempting Chimborazo I had climbed Cotopaxi, and after that a day of relative rest was definitely in order. My guide, my climbing partner and I spent a day at Baños, staying two nights in a nice hotel, La Floresta. On our rest day in Baños we hired mountain bikes and rode the spectacular road down to the jungle town of Puyo. The next day, 18 July 2015 was spent getting to the Refugio Edward Whymper, a large modern refugio at an altitude of 4850m. The refugio could be reached by car so today was a day of logistics and travel in preparation for our summit day.

My climbing partner, Roberto, had his own guide for Chimborazo as it would be likely he would turn back before the summit. This left myself and Abraham to have a crack at Chimborazo by ourselves.

We went to bed at 7pm on 18 July 2015 with alarms set for 11pm but sleep was impossible because other groups were preparing to depart for the summit even earlier than we were. After a quick cup of tea and a light snack we set off into a starry night. We soon overtook the other groups and put on crampons once we reached steeper ground of mixed rock and ice. There were a few steep scrambles on a mixture of rock, ice and snow. At an altitude of about 5400m we reached the start of the main snow slope. This was a relentless, featureless and endless broad snow slope that we spent hours and hours plodding steadily up on. We reached an altitude of 6000m and still we kept climbing, the slope essentially unchanged in gradient or profile. At this altitude it was cold and very windy, with deep heavy snow making the going exasperating. The first daylight appeared just as it began levelling out towards the Veintimilla summit, and before we could see anything, the clouds rolled in.

We reached a level area in the diabolical wind and cloud, and Abraham declared we were at the Veintimilla summit.With the wind hurling granules of snow into our eyes and zero visibility, further progress to the Whymper summit was impossible, the way made virtually impassible by a minefield of ice sastrugis that would catch the flailing rope.

We quickly turned around and headed down and once we were below the worst of the cloud and wind we could see the morning sun light up the clouds below and the mountain cast its shadow over them. Down down down we continued until finally we were back in the refugio at about 8:30am. I was exhausted and sleepy and we had a second breakfast here before packing up for the drive back to Quito.


Refugio Edward Whymper, 4850m. The base for our attempt on Chimborazo.
The refugio from above.
Vicuña with a dusting of snow on their backs.

Setting off into a dark cold and snowy night/

Climbing a snowy and rocky spur at night.
After reaching the Veintimilla summit soon after first light we hurried down until below the cloud.
Once below the cloud the beauty of the morning could be beheld.
Selfie near the Veintimilla summit.
It's a long way back down to the refugio.
Chimborazo casts its own shadow to the horizon.
A brief rest on the way down.
The shadow of Chimborazo.
View of the mountain once back down near the refugio.



All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2016. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.

Page created 2 Nov 2016, last updated 2 Nov 2016.