Start this route at the Refugio Carrel (4800m), which can be reached by car through the reserve’s road system. From here, walk up to the Refugio Whymper (5000m) and stay there until midnight. Climbs should start at about midnight from Refugio Whymper, so the summit can be reached early in the morning.
This is the most popular route to climb Chimborazo, and leads to the two highest summits, Veintimilla (6267m) and Whymper (6310m). The conditions on this route can vary day by day, depending on the weather during the previous weeks. In the absence of snow, climbs become more difficult (PD+) and may require front-pointing on steep sections with bare ice (40-50 degrees). A bit of old snow makes the route somewhat easier (F+), whereas an excess of freshly fallen snow increases the avalanche danger. Check for the latest conditions at the Refugio Whymper. The conditions at the foot of the Thielman glacier may also change from year to year due to the retreat of this glacier.
8-10 hrs to Veintimilla. Further to Whymper is a short hour extra. Allow at least 3-5 hours for the descent. An early return avoids the dangers of rock fall and bad snow bridges. Total return trip time to Veintimilla is 11-15 hrs and to Whymper 13-16 hrs.
To the saddle at El Castillo:
From the Refugio Whymper go left facing the mountain and pass a large scree and boulder field (path). Then turn NW and climb a steep slope of mixed terrain on the W side of the Thielman glacier and traverse towards a saddle on the ridge to the left. The saddle is positioned at about 5400m just above a prominent rock outcrop called ‘El Castillo’. The saddle is also visible during daytime by the presence of red colored scree. The route towards the saddle involves a faint path and some scrambling over scree, boulders, rock, snow fields, and ice (use crampons). If you are not accompanied by a guide, check out the route by daylight before climbing it by night. On the way back this is the area with danger of rockfall.
Over the glaciated ridge to Veintimilla:
From the saddle climb over the glaciated ridge towards the summit. The ridge becomes increasingly broader in the NE/E direction and later go more E to the Veintimilla summit (6267m). This is a steep (30-40 degrees) and tedious section which may involve some icy slopes (maximum 45 degrees, may require front pointing), crevasses, and soft snow. At 5900m, the slope of the glacier becomes less steep, but several table-like structures must be traversed, with short steep icy slopes.
From Veintimilla to Whymper:
Most people return after reaching Veintimilla. From the Veintimilla summit the main summit (Whymper) is approximately 1 hour extra to the E through a glacier basin filled with snow. This snow can be very soft during the daytime, with an additional danger of crevasse fall. Use the same route for the descent.
This tour requires:
- Full glacier travel equipment (ice axe, crampons, harness, rope, and crevasse rescue stuff).
- Ice screws, slings and carabiners for making belays if necessary.
- Head torch with spare batteries.
- High protection factor (>35) sun cream, lip salve.
- Plastic double mountaineering boots.
- Walking poles.
- Warm clothing/gloves (Gore-Tex and fleece is sufficiently good; down jacket mostly not required)
- Compass, Altimeter, GPS (optional)
Rob Rachowiecki and Mark Thurber. Ecuador. The Bradt climbing and hiking guide. Fifth edition, 2004. ISBN 1 84162 075 0
John Biggar. The Andes. A guide for climbers. 2nd edition. ISBN 0-9536087-0-0