Chimborazo is in the Chimborazo Province of Ecuador, 150 km (93 mi) south-southwest of the city of Quito, Ecuador. It is a neighbor to 5,018 m (16,463 ft) high Carihuairazo. Chimborazo’s summit rises 2,500 m (8,202 ft) above the surrounding highlands (~3,500 to 4,000 m (11,483 to 13,123 ft)) with a ≈20 km (12 mi) wide base.
Under clear conditions, the summit of Chimborazo can be seen from the coastal city Guayaquil, nearly 140 km (87 mi) away. The nearest cities are Riobamba (~30 km to the southeast), Ambato (~30 km to the northeast) and Guaranda (~25 km to the southwest). Chimborazo is surrounded by the Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo, which forms a protected ecosystem to preserve the habitat for the Andes native camelids of vicuña, llama and alpaca.
Chimborazo is at the main end of the Ecuadorian Volcanic Arc, north west of the town of Riobamba. Chimborazo is in la Avenida de los Volcanes (the Avenue of Volcanoes) west of the Sanancajas mountain chain. Carihuairazo, Tungurahua, Tulabug, and El Altar are all mountains that neighbor Chimborazo. The closest mountain peak, Carihuairazo, is 5.8 mi (9.3 km) from Chimborazo. There are many microclimates near Chimborazo, varying from desert in the Arenal to the humid mountains in the Abraspungo valley.
Chimborazo from the south
The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glaciers, with some north-eastern glacier arms flowing down to 4,600 m. Its glacier is the source of water for the population of the Bolivar and Chimborazo provinces of Ecuador. Chimborazo glacier’s ice mass has decreased over the past decades, which is thought by some to be due to the combined influences of global warming, ash covers from recent volcanic activity of Tungurahua, and the El Niño phenomenon.
As on other glaciated Ecuadorian mountains, Chimborazo’s glacial ice is mined by locals (the so-called Hieleros from Spanish Hielo for Ice) to be sold in the markets of Guaranda and Riobamba. In earlier days, the people transported ice for cooling uses down to coastal towns such as Babahoyo or Vinces.
- Start the climb to the summit at night in order to avoid snow melt during the day.
- The climb is often on black ice, so crampons and other technical climbing equipment are required.
- The El Castillo route takes around eight to twelve hours to ascend and about three to five hours to descend.
4 – 14 Days: Trek and climb Chimborazo Volcano and join up other volcanos as part of a longer expedition