Ecuador, Chimborazo, Highest

Chimborazo in Ecuador

Chimborazo Refuge.IMPORTANT UPDATE:


As I said earlier, most parties climb directly from the Whymper refuge (5, 000 m / 16, 400 ft.). It provides bunk-beds (4 dozens), brand new mattresses, toilets, cold water, basic food supplies, stencils, gas stove, fireplace and ... cable TV (just kidding!) .

At the moment overnight in the refuge is free, but a tip to the refuge’s care takers will be highly appreciated.

You can find the same facilities in the Carrel refuge (4, 800 m / 15, 744 ft.) as well. Your climb will have to start an hour earlier, though.

What else do you need? Camping is also allowed anywhere on the mountain and some parties make a high camp to cut the summit push in two days which, I think, increases your chances to make it to the summit. The most recommendable are:

El Castillo high camp, lays in the hollow of a bowl, just a few meters beyond the rock outcrop and at the left side (north) of the Southwest ridge (the normal route). Not advisable if there’s fresh snow accumulation on the first dome. This camp can get pummeled at least by the windblast of avalanches coming from above.

Moraine camp, located 10 minutes away from Whymper refuge at 5, 050 m. There’s a wide flat field in this area. Make sure you set camp away from the moraines and the Thielman glacier.

Climbing Routes

Route Name

Route Grade

First Ascent


North Side – Las Murallas Rojas


Beltran, Campana, Carrel, Whymper (1880)

8-9 Hours for ascent. 3900 feet

North Side via the Castillo


8-9 Hours for ascent

3900 feet

North Side via the Thielmann Glacier


40 Degree slopes. 8 Hours for ascent. 4300 feet

West Face


S. House 1996

Sections of 85 Degree mixed climbing. 3900 feet

Original Route

Carrel, Carrel, Whymper 1880

Follows SW Ridge and Face. 8-9 Hours for ascent. 4300 feet

South West Face


L. Griffin, M. Woolridge 1984

50 Degree and steeper sections. 1 ½ days for ascent. 5000 feet

Arista del Sol

J. Anhalzer, R. Cardenas, R. Navarrete 1983

The hardest route put up so far. The first 2/3 of the route is entirely rock. Requires 2 days. 3300 Feet.

Ascent History

The following is a brief overview of the history of Chimborazo ascents. I have tried to hit the highlights.

1802-French climber Aime Bonpland and German climber Alexander von Humbolt reach a height of 19, 300ft before being stopped by an "insurmountable cleft".

1880-The first ascent of the mountain by Italian J.A Carrel and British climber E. Whymper via the South West Ridge.

1968-An American/German team summited the technically challenging North Ridge via the Abraspungo Glacier.

1980-In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first ascent, a large hut was opened below the South West Ridge close to the foot of the Thielmann Glacier. This hut named Refugio Whymper is now used by a lot of ascent parties as "base camp".

1993-One of the worst accidents in the history of climbing in Ecuador occured on the upper slopes of the mountain. 13 people were caught in an avalanche high on the mountain resulting in 10 deaths.

Farthest from the Earths Center???

As stated in the Overview, Chimborazo's summit is the farthest point one can get from the center of the Earth and still be on land. It is about 2160m farther from the center than Everest's summit. This is only possible because the Earth is in the shape of an oblate spheroid, i.e., it is flattened (squashed) at the poles and bulging at the equator.

Here is a diagram (based on Klenke's Excel spreadsheet). His spreadsheet can calculate the distance from the center of the earth for any point on the Earth's surface (of known elevation above sea level). If you are really into math ... here is a link to show you how this is all done: CLICK HERE


Ecuador: Climbing and Hiking Guide, 6th Edition, by Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber, (2008)

Ecuador : A Climbing Guide by Yossi Brain. (September 2000)

Visit the Ecuador’s Map Grid System to the check the maps you may need when climbing here. This grid follows the Instituto Geografico Militar grid system. The sheet for Chimborazo is CT ÑIV C1

Other Photos

Below are just some of the wonderful pictures submitted for this peak. I will be adding more sections as time goes on. Thanks to all who have submitted these pictures.

External Links

  • Ice-X Foundation
    Dutch climbing foundation, supported by very enthousiastic climbers. Seven Summits on our programm (just climbed Aconcagua solo off-season). Lots of info and photos available. Site is in Dutch only yet. English version coming soon!
  • Chimborazo
    Great video of hut and climb up some of Whymper route

Additions and Corrections


Hasn't voted

Both the Carrel and Whymper Refuges are closed for renovations. We were able to stay in the park warden residence building, but my understanding is that we were lucky. Check ahead if you're going to Chimbo. We reached the Whymper Summit on November 26 around 7 a.m. via a route that follows the west ridge and joins the normal route above El Corridor. On the descent we ran El Corridor, but there were rocks pelting my pack.

Voted 9/10

Confirm that both huts are closed, word on the street is that they will be closed through march 2014 at the earliest. Seems to be the normal thing to stay in the park warden building; we were a private team of six but there was also a commercial team there when we were there. And the park warden building has a microwave and round-the-clock electricity! Might depend on how well your guide gets along with the people there...
Carrel refuge is now OPEN!

I climbed on 3rd March from the Carrel refuge at 4800m, and it had opened about a week earlier. They were still working on Whymper at the time and I don't know when they did/will finish.

The guide says weather is bad Feb-May, but I got lucky and could summit with hard snow underfoot, clear skies and low winds, unlike my incredibly windy attempt in September a few years ago. The local info I had on weather was to avoid April, but otherwise it doesn't make a massive difference - you'll either get lucky or you won't.

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