During my stay in Baños I wanted to climb Tungurahua, but found only one tour agency that offered it. It was 150 USD per person and they needed at least two people. I was travelling alone and found nobody interested, and also I had no helmet, headlamp or sleeping bag, so instead I took this route (https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/ruta-desde-banos-hasta-el-refugio-del-volcan-tungurahua-16759023) which ascends to the refugio from town, gaining 2000 m of elevation.
The route is pretty straight-forward, albeit a bit tricky at some points. I recommend you not to take any shortcuts even at places where it looks possible.
After the office where you register your visit (2800 m a.s.l.), there is a very clear but extremely muddy trail. High-cut hiking boots (or even rubber boots) are a must. From there, you reach the refugio after some 3 hours. There, I met Fausto (tel. 0987173573 and 0983814291), the guy in charge of the refugio, who told me that 18 people had slept there the night before, of which 15 had climbed to the summit in the morning.
Visiting the refugio costs $2 and sleeping there is $10. If you don't have any equipment, Fausto can lend (or rent?) it to you. The refugio has a kitchen that you can use, and Fausto told me that he can even give you some food if you didn't bring anything. There is also a rain barrel which he says is safe to drink from.
Fausto also told me that it is possible to do the whole trail from the office in one day, if you depart really early (say 5 or 6 am). I guess this is a better experience during most of the year, as it is usually cloudy or rainy in the morning and clears up during the day.
I wish I had known all of this earlier, and hope you guys find it helpful. :)
You can hike it without a guide and there is really no need for a guide. Just tell at the national park office that you want to sleep in the refugio but don't plan to summit. The refuge is very modern,has gas and utensils, it costs $10. The glacier is recapturing the peak hence you need to take a new trail going around from the south. As of Sept 18 you don't need crampons, but make sure you wear helmets.
https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=28671201 (Tungurahua peak from refugio (new trail) ) at #wikiloc
An incredible group of 20 trail runners (BTR) started the initiative of putting a small cross on Tungurahua summit (inspired by the one on Iliniza Norte seen on our december climb) ... I'll publish a small report on that one. The mountain is generally in great conditions ... only make sure to not climb after rainy days, as mud will drive you crazy :)
Solo North Ridge Route car to car.
Climbed with our trail running team (Banos Trail Running - BTR), 11 persons. 1 day ascent and all to the top. Guides powered by our sponsor www.andeansummitadventure.com. Despite rainy season we had great luck and the mountain was in great shape, no snow, pretty dry and amazing views of neighbouring volcanoes: Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Ilinizas.
Finally after having waited for an eruption free period and good luck with weather - summit!
We did it as a 1 day climb, started ascent at park entry (2800 m) at 5 am, made 1:45 h to the hut (3800 m), had a small rest and reached the summit (5016 m) at 11:30 am. Conditions were great, only cloudy / foggy in the upper part, as we were late ... recommend to be at the summit around 9 am for enjoying great views.
Park is in general open again for visits.
About one month after both climbs quite intensive eruptions, check google for images.
UPDATE II - next climb, mid November 2012
quite easy, no glacier anymore on the top, awesome views, finally got to see the peak! Learned where I made mistake during the first attempt - the final cliff should not be climbed but walked around on the right side. Once at a hot rock full of gases you're almost there. GPS or very good marking in the upper area and for the climb down at least compass (and knowing the direction) is absolutely necessary!
UPDATE - second attempt Oct 31
4 hours hike to the upper refugio (cleaned it up and took down two big bags of garbage). Next morning 3 hours up. This time with crampons and without any problems - except for the strong wind, cold weather and clouds. This time there was snow from about 4500m. Climbing up keep on the ridge to the left side although its windy there - that´s the way local guides go up. Beautiful views from the top. Would be very easy and dangerous to get lost in the clouds on the way down without compass/gps or making good marks!
First attempt (Oct 20)
I started early morning from Baños. In 4 hours I got to the refugio (in surprisingly good conditions). Then was climbing up, the way is pretty obvious but a bid demanding because of the ashes. At about 4900 the lose rocks got so steep that I had to turn back. With crampons it would be possible to continue. I was about 30 minutes from the peak - one guide told me. I got back to Baños in 2 and half hours. Check the latest conditions with the local guides (pretty hard to find them in Baños). Occasionally they do hikes up the mountain for about 150 USD.
Pics and description: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.261752723870777.62728.170360139676703&type=3
more about my trip over South America and its mountains
www.broty.net/colombia and the FB link at this page.
Thanks for adding the links, very interesting reading and photos.
Started from Pondoa, hiked just short of the first refuge and camped on side of the trail. Next day, we made it to the second refuge and went about 45 minutes beyond before needing to turn about due to roaring winds and heavy rain.
Fun hike and very glad to do it before the eruption.
Short version: departed Baños March 28, made the refugio, attempted the crater, had to abort due to clouds. March 29 successfully made the crater by 4pm, stayed one hour, then descended. March 30 descended to Baños.
Click here for the full story.
Tungurahua spits an ash cloud in my face (video): Tungurahua Ash Cloud
A 7 minute slideshow of the climb: Chasing The Dragon: Tungurahua
Facebook Album: Tungurahua 79 Photos
Clambered around for a few weeks on the north and south sides of Tungurahua, seeing numerous ash-rich explosions and feeling the ground and air vibrate each day. Some spectacular incandescence at night and beautiful views after storms when fresh snow has fallen on the summit reaches.
Boy! I bet this mountain has changed alot since I was up it. Enjoyable acclimatizing hike, stayed at the older/upper hut. After the climb, we had to stay in Banos an extra day, because we all fell in love with this little town!
Reached and proceeded slightly past the 3800 metre refugio, 6 hour climb from Pondoa. Refugio was absolute bare-bones, roof-over-your-head type of place. Slept on a wood floor with woven mats of some kind of plant that were scattered around, under our sleeping bags.
Volcano was moderately active, and we had a clear view of the summit activity. Small ash/gas plume was visible. No noises were heard. Ashfall was directed to the west at the time, but there was a thin layer of ash from previous days covering the plants and ground around the refugio.
Beautiful vistas of Chimborazo and other volcanoes from the refugio. Could see the lights of Banos at night as well.
used a hike to the highest hut on this mountain
as a warm-up for chimbo. what a beautiful hike.
i highly recommend it if your hanging in banos and
looking for something to do. it took us about 5 hours
to the hut and that was pushing it. you are able to
see alot of activity from the hut .... really incredible
Only been up to 3800m due to volcanic activity, too dangerous at that moment to go higher.