I have always had an interest in mountaineering and decided to make 2014 the year I try it out. My thought was to take one of the week long courses by IMG or AAI on Rainier, but I hate to have to wait until next summer. I noticed that Mountain Madness has courses in Ecuador in January/February which would be perfect for my schedule. Content seems similar to the other programs with the added benefit of travel and adventure. Has anyone here taken a course from or climbed with Mountain Madness who could comment either positively or negatively? They seem quite reputable as far as I can tell, but would like some opinions from real people. Thanks.
The Mountain Madness folks are good people. I've run into them quite a few times over the years in the mountains, even in Ecuador. You'll be in good hands for sure. My advice.......take it all in like a sponge, they'll provide you with skills to last a lifetime of climbing, don't wait 'till next summer....go for it now and lastly, stay strong this fall, 6000 meters is an ass kicker!
Ecuador is outstanding. Enjoy the high volcanoes of the Northern Andes and don't forget to eat your cuy!
I have climbed and trekked with Mountain Madness in Peru and also Mt. Baker in the states. I think they are a good company. I spent a fair amount of time with Gaspar Navarrete, who is the director of the Ecuador climbing school. He is a great guy and I would not hesitate to climb with him anywhere (I have no idea if he will actually be in Ecuador at that time as it is also high season on Aconcagua for instance). I have met several other Ecuadorian guides who work with Mountain Madness and they all seemed very competent.
I've also run into MM people in Peru and Ecuador. It's a good company but you can also try a local company. In January I did a mountaineering course with Andean Face, which is an operator of companies on the likes of MM, uses the same guides, same itineraries, but cheaper.
Ecuador guides are strong and great with novices, and if January/February is the only period you can go Ecuador is a good choice. Approaches are easy (although you usually drive to huts) and you can concentrate on learning. Downside is the weather, which is unpredictable.