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Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Chimborazo, Ecuador, South America

Lat/Lon: 1.4667°S / 78.8°W

Object Title: Chimborazo

Activities: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, Mixed

Season: Summer, Winter

Elevation: 20564 ft / 6268 m


Page By: vertx

Created/Edited: Apr 16, 2001 / May 6, 2015

Object ID: 150349

Hits: 142446 

Page Score: 98.17%  - 78 Votes 

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Longtime considered as the highest mountain on the planet, Chimborazo was dethroned by the Himalayan and Peruvian peaks. Nevertheless, considering the geometry of the Earth, this summit is known as the farthest point from its center (see section below for full explanation). This huge mountain is the highest point in Ecuador. It has five summits, the highest culminating at 6,310 meters (20,720 ft.).

There are many routes up its slopes. The normal route runs up the Southwest flank and is a variation of the original Whymper route. One can also climb from the East side (sun ridge route, or Arista del Sol) which involves mixed rock/ice climbing.

Chimborazo southwest face.
Chimborazo Southwest Face. Boriss Andean

The Normal route sees many attempts all year long and is considered a class 4 climb with route finding and crevasses crossing.

There are two refuges on the mountain, Carrel refuge at 4,800 m (15,744 ft.) and Whymper refuge at 5,000 m (16,400 ft.) where most of the parties do their summit bid from. It is a 6-9 hours climb with slopes up to 60 degrees. People usually start their climb one or two hours before midnight and return to the hut a couple hours before noon in order to avoid rock fall danger caused by sun hit at the glacier entrance known as “El Corredor”.

There is some discussion about the actual height of the summit:

There is some debate on the actual height of the mountain.  In 1993 members of the School of Military Survey in Newbury, United Kingdom measured Chimborazo's altitude with the use of a differencial GPS and got a measurement of 6,268 m. It is claimed they reached Cumbre Veintimilla (under foggy conditions) or the second highest summit which actually has that altitude. In a clear day Cumbre Whymper or Maxima is located in the back of it (visible from Cumbre Veintimilla only) and it can be reached after descending and traversing a couple hundred meters in east direction. However, at the moment, the most accepted official height is 6268M.

Getting There

From the new Terminal de buses Quitumbe located at the south of Quito, take any of the southbound buses to Riobamba (USD. 3,75 – 3:30 hours). From Terminal Terrestre de Riobamba take one of the several buses that go to Guaranda, but ask the driver to drop you off at Chimborazo entrance (there's a signed turnoff for the Chimborazo refuges). It is located 30 minutes after passing the town of San Juan.


Chimborazo and its five summits josef-ecuador

La Reserva de Producción Faunistíca Chimborazo gets its name for the hundreds of vicuñas that can be seen poking around in the area. They were imported from Chile in 1980 and are a protected specie of the Andes

You can also hire a taxi cab (USD 20,00) for the drive to the trailhead, 1/2 hour away from the Whymper Hut.

Starting your trip from Ambato (1 hour before Riobamba) is not advisable. You will have to take a bus to Guaranda and stop at “El Arenal” where buses passing by the trailhead aren’t too frequent and the risk of getting robbed is high. There’ve been reports of robbery lately in this area.

Once at the entrance of the park it is a matter of luck how fast/ for how much $$ you can get to the lower hut. In high season there might be pick up trucks/buses going up to pick other trekkers/climbers.

Note: As January 2012, the terminal in Riobamba is under construction and the improvised terminal is a little bit of a mess. None of the buses are letting passengers off at the park entrance, including the Flota Bolivar that goes to Guaranda. However, it's possible to take a bus and get dropped off at the Reserve entrance if you don't mention it before buying your ticket to Guaranda.

Taxis from Riobamba cost USD. 35.00 one way.

Thanks Socorro for the updates!

Chimborazo Summit
Chimborazo summit. Bob Dawson

Red Tape

 Starting Nov.12 2012 nobody is allowed to climb any glaciated mountain in Ecuador without hiring an accredited mountain guide. This restriction was issued by Ecuadorian Goverment after the last fatal accidents that happened in 2012 in Illiniza Sur and Norte.

 There are not fees to enter Chimborazo Reserve.

 No parking fees

 Refuges Whymper and Carrel are currently closed due to remodelation jobs from Dec.03.2012 - June 2013).

When To Climb

El Castillo camp
High Camp beyond El Castillo. andre hangaard

Chimborazo (6,310 m/20,697 ft). Ecuador
Chimborazo summit. Boriss Andean

Chimborazo is climbable year round however, the best climbing months are June and July and December through early January. February through May is known for bad weather, especially in the month of April.

Make sure you start before midnight so you'll be back before 10 am at the latest, for two reasons:

First, rock fall hazard. The part of the route along The Castle, a large rock wall about one hour from the Refugio Whymper, gets dangerous around that time. Lots of small and large rocks start to fall down then from this high wall due to warming temperatures.

Passing this area (El Corredor) later in the afternoon is really running between falling rocks.

Secondly, clouds will most often roll in early in the afternoon, making route finding very difficult. As there are big areas of crevasses on both sides of the normal route, losing track can be very dangerous.


Chimborazo Refuge.
Refugio Whymper (5000m) on the Chimborazo normal route. Boriss Andean



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.

More information about the refuges here

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

Chimborazo  photo_id=131571

Thanks Klenke for the above graph and explanation.


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

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-14 of 14    
Cdn66Both huts closed as of Nov 25, 2013

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.
Posted Nov 28, 2013 7:35 pm
VivyenneRe: Both huts closed as of Nov 25, 2013


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...
Posted Dec 11, 2013 10:44 pm
GavinSRe: Both huts closed as of Nov 25, 2013

Hasn't voted

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.
Posted Jun 19, 2015 1:37 pm
jhartoughCarrel Hut OPEN as of November 26, 2015. Whymper still closed for renovation.

Hasn't voted

I summited Chimborozo via the Normal Route around 7am, Thursday November 26, 2015 (a very happy Thanksgiving!) We stayed at the Carrel Refugio(4800m) which is OPEN and renovated and has around 30 bunkbeds, decent restroom facilities, and snacks/drinks and basic meals for sale. The Whymper Refugio is not open (as of November 27, 2015), but is undergoing renovation and may be open sometime next year. Andean Adventures has the concession to run the refugio for the next five years, and seems to be doing a good job. The refugio was clean and warm, and the staff was cheerful and helpful. Some of the staff also work as guides, and have good information (in Spanish).If you want to book at the refugio, or need help finding guides, call John Paredes at 0999093698, and he can help. There are no fees to enter the park, but you do need to register.
Posted Nov 27, 2015 6:23 pm


Hasn't voted

As 2 january 2014 the refuges are still closed for remodalation and the mountain is “dry” very little snow, you can camp on Plaza Roja (by the road before the first refuge) or up in the Castillo area, if you have transport you could probably arrange to sleep in the park entrance office and leave at night to the parking lot. Consider this; If you are on your own (no tour operator hired) you will have to get a permit from the person in charge which is kind of difficult if you are not member of a climbing club or a certified guide (they will ask for credentials) Any way is better to contact them by email: Paulina Valeria Moreno Montoya We tried to get in and since we didn’t have either the permit or hired a tour operator, the checked our car and try to "confiscate" our climbing boots, crampons and ice axe until we return since we supposed to only go “camping”
Posted Jan 3, 2014 10:47 am
JortsHut Status


Hasn't voted

Any word on when the huts are scheduled to reopen?
Posted May 12, 2014 5:47 pm
simplydtRe: Hut Status


Hasn't voted

I talked to the guards there yesterday and they reckon June. Since they are both Ecuadorian, they probably mean end of June!!
Posted May 14, 2014 2:52 pm

Hasn't voted

Hi, looking for some information re Chimborazo refuge, does any one know if either are open yet. Very hard to get a true answer. Also I've heard Cotopaxi refuge is having work done and may be closed. Any information would be great.

Thanks, Dave
Posted Jul 26, 2014 10:34 am
blueshadeRe: Refuge


Hasn't voted

Didn't talk to anyone, but there was no work in progress at all (Aug 2, 2014). No sign of anything being completed any time soon. Camping at the first refuge is acceptable with free cooking inside (but no beds inside). Keep in mind foreigners are supposed to climb with a guide.
Posted Aug 3, 2014 6:42 pm
gerard83Both huts closed as of 01/2015


Hasn't voted

As if my 01/2015 climb both huts were still closed for renovation with no ETA. Climbers camped at the base, most of them with a 10pm start.
Posted Jan 12, 2015 10:58 am

Hasn't voted


I am attempting Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in a few weeks, how did you get on, did you summit, what were the mountain conditions. Hope you had a great experience :)
Posted Jan 15, 2015 4:17 pm

Hasn't voted

Chimborazo is 6268 metres high, not 6310 metres, and that the claim by the main page author that the 1993 UK surveyors climbed the wrong summit is baseless.

The lower elevation is upheld by a more recent survey.
Posted Feb 6, 2015 5:53 am

Hasn't voted

I am pleased to see the 6268m elevation in the title and thank the page author for this correction, but it still needs de-contradicting in the overview.
Posted Sep 2, 2015 1:01 pm
jhartoughCarrel Refugio Open

Hasn't voted

I summited Chimborozo via the Normal Route around 7am, Thursday November 26, 2015 (a very happy Thanksgiving!) We stayed at the Carrel Refugio(4800m) which is OPEN and renovated and has around 30 bunkbeds, decent restroom facilities, and snacks/drinks and basic meals for sale. The Whymper Refugio is not open (as of November 27, 2015), but is undergoing renovation and may be open sometime next year.

Andean Adventures has the concession to run the refugio for the next five years, and seems to be doing a good job. The refugio was clean and warm, and the staff was cheerful and helpful. Some of the staff also work as guides, and have good information (in Spanish).

If you want to book at the refugio, or need help finding guides, call John Paredes at 0999093698, and he can help. There are no fees to enter the park, but you do need to register.

Safety note: The night before our climb, an American climber died from a heart attack on the mountain during a summit attempt. Do not take this climb lightly, and respect the mountain. Emergency response is limited and challenging.
Posted Nov 27, 2015 6:20 pm

Viewing: 1-14 of 14