Iliniza Norte

31 Dec 1999 - by Max Nachury

Max Nachury asks:

I will be going to Ecuador for three weeks at the end of December/early January. The most important information for me is the technical difficulty. In particular, is Illiniza Norte a class 3 climb or does it get very exposed/technical?

Bill Lhotta writes:

I climbed Illiniza Norte and Corazon this past June. Corazon was an easy day trip with no snow and makes for a good acclimatization hike. Illiniza Norte can be done in 2 days, albeit they are long days due to the long approach which is inaccessible to most vehicles. I soled Illiniza Norte and there was very little class 3 encountered. There is snow towards the top and occasionally you have some exposure where you wouldn't want to fall, but if you bring your ice ax you should be fine.

Paul Wilson writes:

Illiniza Norte:

I found the hike pretty easy. But that is not a good input, however my wife made it just fine and she gets uncomfortable on hard class 3 routes. Actually there is only one place where one has to traverse 10 to 20 feet across a sandy place with a long slide if you slip, it may be easy class 3. We were with two other people who were intimidated by this section but when Julie and I went directly across they just followed. No other exposed places and no area either of us would call technical. We only carried our day packs and no technical gear of any kind. There are a bunch of rocks on top and some exposure but to get to the top one can just walk between the rocks and not have to deal with any of the air. Except for the sandy area I would call the hike class 2 all the way to the summit. Its a good hike to get to 16800'~ for a new altitude record for hikers from the lower 48 states.

We found the hut clean and unoccupied. We slept beside the road where the vehicle we hired dared not to go further. I estimated we slept at about13xxx'. The hut was 1/2+ hour up the road/trail from there. When you get to the top study the result of the eruption which removed a bunch (I mean huge amount) of rock between Sur and Norte when it blew. It looked like a lateral blowout in both directions. Norte is warm, Sur is cold, meaning ice on Sur and bare rock/sand extremely dry on Norte.

Gerry Roach wrote:

For Illiniza Norte we left Quito in the morning in a chartered jeep. We hiked up to the hut and climbed Illiniza Norte in the afternoon. There were 8 inches of snow on the route and it felt alpine. This was December, 1993; I expect it's dryer now. By Colorado standards I would rate the route Class 2+ with a touch of exposure. From the summit we traversed over to the adjacent falsie but it is definitely lower.

We climbed Illiniza Sur the next morning. This peak is definetly technical with a Class 5 mixed pitch, a steep snow traverse and a nifty summit bulge. We were back in Quito that night after a 36 hour round trip for both peaks. A highly recommended tour.

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