N00b question here. I'm going to ecuador for 3 weeks starting reaching Quito on Nov 17 and leaving on Dec 9. I'm interested in trekking Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and Cayambe among the high peaks and a few smaller peaks for acclimitization/practice etc. I don't have prior experience of trekking in snow but I'm reasonably fit person and have a little bit of otherwise hiking experience. I have taken almost all of the necesasry gear required to climb these and now interested in knowing if you have recommendation for a good local guide in ecuador. I'm mostly going to stay either in Quito or Baños but can go to other cities if there are better to find a guide. How much should I expect to pay? Do you advise me to do the acclimatization hikes myself or just get a guide for 10-12 days to do everything. I'm going to travel by myself and staying in hostels etc. so I might find a few other people interested in hiking but not entirely sure about this right now. Any advice is highly appreciated. And if there is an update on weather conditions on Chimborazo and Cotopaxi, then I'd like to know about them as well.
These mountains particularly Chimborazo and Cayambe are way above trekking, they are difficult and dangerous high altitude climbs. If you have no glacier experience or even basic skills such as crampons and ice axe arrest these are not the places to learn.
My advice would be to get experience in the Cascades next summer, like Baker or Rainier, before attempting to go over 18,000 feet.
If you're hell bent on Ecuador right now I'd hire a guide in Quito and let him take you on the acclimatization hikes. Some of the local companies offer a glacier school as part of their package and that's probably a necessity if you've never done glacier travel before.
Together with my wife we were in Ecuador last summer and climb some of the mountain you want to climb. Like the above member I would sugest going on some easier peaks like Rucu Pichincha and Iliniza Norte, both are just a scramble and they are good for acclimatization. If you are determinate to try a more dificulte peak, like Iliniza Sur or Cotopaxi it is recommended to hire a guide, it will help you a lot. We stayed at Community hostel in Quito and during our stay there were lots of people without much mountaineering experience, who went for a climb hiring a guide just for a day or two, quite easy, just asking around. Anyway, beside the mountain there are many beautiful things to see in Ecuador. Good luck.
Thanks for your advise. Yes, I did intend to hire a guide for all of my climbs, I wasn't going to risk my life going to Cotopaxi without having relevant skills. I'm happy to inform you that I was able to summit Cotopaxi, albeit on my second attempt, and I had to return from 5400meter the first time due to bad health. I used a guide from Gulliver expeditions for my hikes. I spent a week acclimatizing around Quito and Cotopaxi national park before attempting the peak, and summitted Rucu Pichincha, Corazon and Illiniza Norte in the process. Also I felt that Cotopaxi was significantly harder than anything else I've done before so I decided to give up on Chimborazo for this trip, and I will be back to do it in future .