Ecuador - Land of Volcanoes

Ascent of Illiniza Norte, 5126m - 13-14 Jul 2015


All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2015. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.


The "Illinizas" are the two summits of an extinct volcano on the "Avenue of Volcanoes", about 2 or more hours drive south of Quito. The south summit of the Illinizas is the highest of the two, at about 5248m and is the most difficult of the two to climb. It is climbed relatively rarely and does not commonly feature on the itinerary of commercial operators offering acclimatization climbs. The north summit of the Illinizas is lower, at 5126m and is much easier to climb. It is a common stepping stone to the major peaks of Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Cayambe. It was the north summit of the Illinizas, "Illiniza Norte", that I climbed.



Trip Report

Illiniza Norte was my 4th Ecuadorian summit on my "7 summits of Ecuador" trip in 2015. My guide, Abraham, had led me on two out of my three previous Ecuadorian summits on this trip. He picked me up from my Quito hotel at 11am on 13 July and we stopped for lunch at a village where we turned off the Panamerica Highway to approach the peak. We drove to a car park at altitude 4000m and from there we trekked to the little refugio located below the saddle between the two Illinizas at an altitude of 4750m. There we spent the night and as it got dark, the wind dropped and the clouds cleared, promising a fine morning ahead.

Sure enough, the next morning was very clear and we set off for the summit at 6:30am enjoying fine views of Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and the surrounding area. The summit of Illiniza Norte was encrusted in ice. The climbing was straightforward and the weather remained fine and we reached the summit and enjoyed panoramic views, including especially nice views of Cotopaxi and more distant views of Chimborazo.

Our descent was by a different route down a scree slope so we did not return to the refugio. Instead, by this alternate route we descended quickly before rejoining the main track lower down. This concluded our climb of Illiniza Norte and from there we were driven further south to a homestead where we would stay a night before commencing our attempt on our next peak - Cotopaxi.


The sign at the entrance to the national park.
The sign at the track head.
The lower stage of the track. Illiniza Norte is in the background, Illiniza Sur is in the cloud.

Approaching the refugio. The orange roof of the refugio is visible centre right.

The refugio between the two Illinizas.
Evening views from outside the refugio.
Early morning views of Illiniza Norte.
View of El Corazon en route to Illiniza Norte summit.
Illiniza Norte is crusted in ice.
Excellent views of Cotopaxi on the way up.
Myself en route to summit.
Climbing towards the summit.
View from near the summit.
View of Illiniza Sur with Chimborazo in the far distance.
The summit of Illiniza Norte.
Last steps to summit.
Views to the west.
Views to the north.



All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2015. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.

Page created 12 Dec 2015, last updated 21 Dec 2015.