El Corazón is located on the western side of the Avenue of Volcanos south of Quito. It is a common acclimatization climb for mountaineers preparing themselves for ascents on 5000 - 6000+ meter peaks. It is named such because some claim to see the shape of a heart on the mountain in two gullies from the northwest. It is located south of Atacazo and north of the Ilinizas. Clearly visible from the Panamerica highway it is often ignored by those with their eyes on the more popular and higher climbs on Iliniza Norte and Cotopaxi which flank the highway just a short distance away. There is only one common route which is a direct ascent from Aloasí. The summit is guarded by a the occasional class 3 jumble of rocks that must be scrambled over. The summit itself is right on the crater rim. The actual highest point appears to be the southernmost portion of the rim accessible by a flat walk with fairly steep drops on either side. Be careful in poor conditions. Unlike other acclimatization mountains here in Ecuador. This one has unexcavated, precolumbian ruins on it's northeast slopes.
In October 2004 we had a fatality on this mountain. An inexperienced 18 year old British student fell during the descent in bad weather. Moggely's conducted the recovery. It is an "easy" mountain but can be deadly as well. More information: Telegraph News Story BBC News Story
As with so many Ecuadorian volcanoes, one needs to travel south on the Panamerica. From Quito take any bus south from Terminal Terrestre or drive to either Machachi or Aloasí (or the turn off). From Machachi it is only a $3 camioneta ride to the train station in Aloasí a little beyond which the standard route begins. For $5 you can be driven to the gate and save a little walking. Author: scott90 Date: Sept 20, 2004 3:43 PM While you can walk to the trailhead from La Estacion, most hikers hire a 4x4 vehicle to take then ~halfway up the mountain. This road is very rough and is a slow drive even with a 4WD vehicle. La Estacion will provide this service for ~$40 r/t from the hotel. The smaller trucks that serve as transport around town cannot make it up this road. They can drop you off ~1 mile from La Estacion at another trailhead that eventually meetins the 4WD road (I wish I could explain how to get there but you just have to find a driver that knows. You have to drive through and around some farmers fields so it's not that straightforward.) This should cost <$10. The hike through high grass is not bad but it doubles the length of the hike.
No permits, passes, fees, or closures, but there is private property in the area so be mindful. Also keep in mind that a private gate closes lower on the mountain around sundown - important if you are leaving late. Your vehicle may not be able to get in/out.
There is no permanent snow or glaciers on this mountain and it can be climbed year round. However for the best weather and the best views time you climb for December-January or July-August. Regardless of the route, most of the way is simply a hike until arriving at the rim where there is a bit of scrambling. So no special gear is really necessary out of season unless conditions are especially bad.
No huts but one could camp in the area. It is not however recommended. Such a short distance from Quito this mountain begs to be dayhiked with your gear safely in your room awaiting greater things.
There is not much current information online about weather conditions. The location is roughly between Quito and Latacunga. For general route conditions the South American Explorers probably have people that have climbed it recently among their members. They also try to keep a bulletin board updated with climbing conditions on the volcanoes in the Quito clubhouse. Generally you can get some free route information by asking at the various climbing agencies too.