The normal route to the Cumbre Máxima (5790m, Maximum Summit) and the Direct or so called Espinoza Glacier Route, go on the west side of the mountain, starting from the hut (4700m) on the south east side.
Your can hire transportation to the hut in several ways: One would be from Quito, for about $100 US is the most expensive. You can also arrange transportation from the Town of Cayambe to the hut, specially a 4WD vehicle since the road is reported to be “nasty”. The vehicle will take you as far as 60 minutes on foot from the hut and will cost you about $20 US. To stay in the hut may cost $10 US per person. (number as of 2000)
An early start is important. Snow conditions deteriorate later in the day.
Start by going up to the rock ridge next to the hut, scramble for about 45 minutes-1 hour until getting to the top (4830m). It is a good practice to climb this part the day before and scout the glacier for route finding hints the next day in the dark.
Then drop down and gain the glacier, and head north towards a rock outcrop keeping it on your right. Then traverse around the right side of this rocks and gain the glacier, negotiating the crevasses, either going over them or around them. Go toward the northeast to a rock outcrop on the ridge called Punta Jarrin o Picos Jarrin, and stay on the right of this feature. After an hour of climbing and before you get to Picos Jarrin, check for a good way up to your right (east), in direction to another rock outcrop (5200m). Looking for a best way to negotiate crevasses in front of you and keeping a big rock face or icy cliff on your left, keep going to the summit on a probably corniced easy ridge. Negotiate the crevasses. Before you reach the summit, there is a big crevasse or bergschrund. Cross by lowering inside and then climb (you need to know what your doing, is big, need screws and pickets to secure) to the left or better to the right looking for a slope to by-pass the crevasse.
After the crevasse, head to the col on the right to the north summit (Santa Barbara summit), turn right and keep going towards the Cumbre Máxima. From here is an easy ridge (200m long aprox.) to the summit
Decent is the same, but carefully negotiate the crevasses and be aware of the avalanche danger. The whole thing hut-summit-hut can take 12 hours. If you flagged the route the return can be easier.
Regular glacier travel gear plus equipement to cross the summit crevasse: pickets, ice screws.
Also you may want to flag the route due to its complexity in several places and the posibility of fog early in the day, making hard to navigate.
Park fees is reported to be $10 US. Hut fees are $10 per person
More information about Ecuador:
The CIA World Fact Book
Another very informative page: US Library of Congress
Good information about hotels, raveling, etc, at Ecuador Explorer
The world famous Lonely Planet. The update for Ecuador
US National Weather Service
Climbing and Hiking in Ecuador, 4th Ed,
by Rob Rachowiecki, Lonely Planet (January1998)
Ecuador : A Climbing Guide
by Yossi Brain, The Mountaineers (September 2000)
The maps can be found at the Instituto Geografico Militar
. They are about 2 US Dollars each. The site I provided here is in Spanish, and you must buy the maps in person.
also sells the maps in the Unites States, but for about 14 Dollars each. In spite of the high price, they take their time to get the maps, so if you need them ask them with enough time (2-3 months or more)