Climbing Rucu Pichincha in Quito
Climbing Rucu Pichincha in Quito is a great opportunity for hikers to acclimatize without venturing far from the city. It’s literally a stones throw from the city center. At 4784m, it is fairly high by South African and even European standards. But here, it is just a bump in an extraordinary landscape.
Getting to the start of the climb
Getting there fairly easy and I caught taxi ride from the Plaza Foch to the Teleferico (Quito’s cable car). The cost was around US$5 and took 10 minutes. Here I met up with a guide, Felipe. We bought our tickets which were around US$9 ($4.50 for the locals) and took a 15 minute ride to the top. The ride is breathtaking and the views of this city are incredible.
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 for Rucu Pichincha
Two liters of water, some light snacks, waterproof jacket, stiff walking shoes, gloves and hiking poles. Bring sun block and sun glasses even if it is overcast. Important: One needs a 3 days of acclimatization in Quito before attempting this peak.