Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 1.4667°S / 78.8°W
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, Mixed
Seasons Season: Summer, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 20564 ft / 6268 m
Sign the Climber's Log


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 6,262 meters (20,564 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



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 costs in Whymper refuge is USD. 15.00 a night for a bed and USD. 30.00 with meals. The refuge is partially open

You can find the same facilities and costs in the Carrel refuge (4,800 m / 15,744 ft.) as well. This refuge is completely open with 52 beds. 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 CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-12 of 12

alexo.petit - Feb 9, 2016 4:35 pm - Hasn't voted

1 febuary 2016

Carrel Refugio opend and confortable : 15$ per night or 30$ night and meals ( breakfast and dinner). Food was good. We did the summit with 2 guide working for john at the refugio. If you can , go to the refugio by yourself and take 2-3 days at the refugio and around for aclimatation before attempting the summit. We saw a lots of peoples ( as we were there for almost a week) on a 2 days in/out trip from an agencie and I will say most of them didn't reach the summit.


seancau - Mar 10, 2016 3:07 pm - Hasn't voted

March 2016 update

Refugio Hermanos Carrel fully open (52 beds), since last year. $15/night for a bed, $30 with meals. Whymper Refugio partially open, café open during the day for visitors, the almost finished dormitory was opened for our group - it will have approx 24beds when completed. Whymper Refugio only of use when Normal Route is safe (requires snow to minimise rockfall risk), otherwise Carrel Refugio is better for taking alternative route. Only 900m distance/200m elevation between the two Refugios, max 30minute walk for anyone acclimatised. Both refugios are run by Andean Adventures. Was told no need to book in low season, but expect them to fill up in November/December/January. Our summit bid (March 9th 2016) was ruined by a lightning storm :(


ferleal - May 2, 2016 7:38 pm - Hasn't voted

conditions update for Earthquake

I would like to know if there was affections in the routes, due to recent earthquakes in the area of Ecuador. Thanks

climbhighest - Jun 1, 2016 2:18 pm - Hasn't voted

May 2016

Completed a summit on May 25th of Chimborazo. There are really only two summits to Chimborazo: Ventimilla (6267m, 20562ft), and the Whymper summit (6310m, 20702ft). Most people only climb the Ventimilla because although the two summits are only a few hundred feet apart, altitude sickness and/or bad snows conditions between the two summits can make that additional very short trip take several extra hours. As for how to climb the mountain, there are several guide companies to choose from. I am not endorsing any of them, I will just share my experience as kindly as I can. I only got quotes from 4 companies: American Alpine Institute ($2680 for a 10 day excursion, about $1300 to just climb Chimbo); Ecuador Eco Adventures (guy named Wlady runs the company, and it was $760 for Carihuairazo and Chimbo); Andean Adventures (Run by John, less than $400); Tierra Zero Tours (Guillermo, about $470). I ended up using Ecuador Eco Adventures for the first attempt on May 14th. I will not bad mouth them, but they turned out to be a bad bet. Although I got mountain time, they are not run by an experienced mountaineer and did not understand the mountain conditions well enough to get you to the top and there is some sneaky stuff they did (but they gladly took my money anyways). I was not deterred, and made the second attempt with Andean Adventures. Turns out in recent years of ice melt, the normal route has become extremely dangerous due to rock fall, especially in high wind, and so is only used rarely. There is an alternate route from the Carrel Refugio that takes a bit longer, but has a higher success rate and is safer. As a result of this alternate route, Whymper hut is not used as often, and Carrel Refugio is the main lodging. Andean Adventures is the company that runs the Refugios in country. They are very professional, and always have a guide on Chimborazo. As a result they understand the mountain better than any of the others from outside the area. I got to Riobamba from Quito once using a rideshare taxi (works well if you know Spanish, costs $20 each way, takes 4.5hrs). The second time I got to Riobamba using the bus from Quitumbe, $4.70, and easy to do even if you dont speak spanish "AutoBus Directo Riobamba, Pronto!". Andean Adventures picked me up at the bus stop and took me to the Refugio (standard for guide companies to include). I did almost get mugged on the bus ride, so be diligent during all of the stops the bus makes. Earthquake did not seriously effect mountain routes. Acclimatize with one of the other glaciated volcanoes in the area. I recommend Pichincha Ruca (no guide needed, easy access from Quito), and then Cayambe (2hrs from Quito, just hire a guide when you get there).


the_avs_fan - Mar 11, 2017 9:14 pm - Voted 10/10


I climbed Chimborazo with Andean Adventures on Jan 27-28, 2017. I cannot recommend them enough! The owner, John, is very professional and straight-forward about every detail. I enjoyed talking with him and felt comfortable that I was choosing the right company to climb with. Their office is in Riobamba. This was one of the highlights of my trip. We got to the Veintimilla Summit at 4:45am, a little too early for the sunrise, but I was not complaining! I was just happy to make it to the top! The mountain is beautiful. It is very big, and you realize this when you see it for the first time. If you are considering going to see this mountain (or make a summit attempt) I say go for it! Andean Adventures is the best company to climb with. Why? For one, they operate the refuges on the mountain, and always have a guide above 4800M. They are the first response if an accident happens, so their guides know the mountain very well. It was the 421st time summitting for my guide when I did my hike. All in all, a special place and really quite a sight to see.

Math.Grenier - Apr 5, 2017 12:50 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Amazing

I try to find a web site for Andean Adventure and I don't find it.. I just send a e-mail to John, I will wait to get more information

jeanpaulnoahrodney - Feb 7, 2018 6:13 pm - Hasn't voted

January 2018 Summit Attempt: Snow too dangerous NOBODY got past 19,500 feet. Whymper Refuge is CLOSED

Some updates: Whymper Refuge is closed. The lower refuge was open and was the nicest climbing refuge we have ever stayed (indoor toilets, running water, electricity, comfortable beds, and much quieter than the Cotopaxi Refuge because the ceiling are lower). The food was great but there are no lockers. We attempted the summit on the night of January 11, 2018. No one got higher than around 19,500 feet because the snow was too dangerous. A couple days later, the snow was fine and people did summit. We used Andes Climbing, based in Machachi. This (and the other mountains we climbed) was a difficult mountain for me, who is not skilled in rock climbing (my son and husband are, and it was easier for them). Be sure to use a reputable guide. On Cotopaxi, we saw a very UNPROFESSIONAL guide taking a Korean man up. Thankfully, he was not hurt.


Scott - Feb 26, 2018 11:46 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: January 2018 Summit Attempt: Snow too dangerous NOBODY got past 19,500 feet. Whymper Refuge is CLOSED

This is good info. Do you know if the Whymper Refuge is permanently or just temporarily closed?

robfrank - Mar 27, 2018 9:19 am - Hasn't voted

Looking for advice on climbing Chimborazo

I'm planning a trip to Quito in late October. I would like to do both Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. I would spend a few days in Quito and then do Pichincha Ruca, then a rest day, then two days for Cotopaxi, a rest day, and then two days for Chimborazo. Does that itinerary seem feasible? Is four days in Quito and Pichincha Ruca enough to acclimate for Cotopaxi and then Chimborazo? Any recommendations for guides for Cotopaxi and Chimborazo? Thanks all for your help and comments.


fredsfo - Apr 10, 2018 12:54 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Looking for advice on climbing Chimborazo

Hello! I'm planning a similar trip with a friend of mine. We've hired a guide and are sort of in the discovery phase / beta gathering ourselves. We will be arriving in Quito on October 9th and have until the 18th though we plan on staying in Ecuador until the 25th. Our main goal is Chimborazo, but we also plan to attempt Cotopaxi. Our guide says that our itinerary will look something like this: feel free to message me if you have any questions or if you want to team up.

robfrank - May 15, 2018 7:15 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Looking for advice on climbing Chimborazo

Looks like I'll be arriving in Quito just as you are leaving. This will be my first mountaineering experience, so I'm a bit nervous that I'm biting off more than I can chew. I understand that it's not a particularly technical climb, just endurance ... is that your understanding? Can you give me a lead on who your guide is? I've gotten a bid from Gulliver Expeditions that has potential. cheers

summitsleeper - Sep 24, 2018 9:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Looking for advice on climbing Chimborazo

Please post how it went for you when you get back - I'm planning on attempting Chimborazo next summer, and it will be my first "real" mountaineering experience as well! I'd love to hear how it goes for you as I'm having similar feelings. Best of luck to you!

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