Rucu Pichincha, is a volcano that is literally on Quito’s doorstep and erupted spectacularly in October 1999. This one day climbing adventure in Quito is a great opportunity for hikers to acclimatize without venturing far from the city. At 4 784m, it is fairly high by South African and even European standards. But here, it is just a bump in an extraordinary landscape.
Getting there to the start of the climb:
Getting there fairly easy and I caught taxi ride from the Mariscal to the Teleferico (Quito’s cable car). The cost was around US$5 and took 10 minutes. After meeting my guide, Felipe, we paid around US$9 and took a 15 minute ride to the top. The ride is breathtaking and the views of this city are incredible.
The route to the summit:
Once at the top station (Cruz Loma, 4050m), you will find two main routes that lead to the summit. The first is an exciting scramble along the ridge through El Paso Del Muerte. This is a fairly straightforward scramble but it has an exposed traverse. The second route, forks off to the right and takes one around the “back” of the volcano. This route is less dangerous but one does need to slog up the sandy ash slopes for about 45 minutes. The original plan was for us to go through El Paso Del Muerte using ropes. Unfortunately, mountain conditions were wet and foggy, so we decided not to gamble on the ridge.
We took the longer route and two hours after exiting the Teleferico, we arrived at the summit. There was no view to revel in and I believe when it is a clear day, one can see three 5000m volcanoes, including Volcan Cotopaxi. After a small lunch, we made our way back down and an hour later, we arrived back at the Teleferico. I was worn out from the downhill walking, but grateful for an awesome climbing adventure in Quito.
What to take on this one day climbing adventure in Quito:
Three liters of water, some light snacks, rain Jacket, stiff walking shoes, gloves and hiking poles. Bring sun block and sun glasses even if it is overcast. Important: One needs a 3-5 days of acclimatization in Quito before attempting this peak.