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Battling Ecuador’s Illiniza Norte

Near the peak of Illiniza Norte, a non-technical yet challenging climb that offers good acclimatization before tackling Ecuador's highest mountains.

IMG_8687cropAfter a bit of a break from blogging, I’ve decided to dive back in with one of the more challenging mountains near Quito, Illiniza Norte.IMG_8691

The Illinizas are a pair of peaks just south of the city. Though both are regularly climbed, the northern peak is more accessible thanks to the lack of technical skill needed to reach the top. Even though you wont need to whip out the ice picks, don’t assume Illiniza Norte will be a walk in the park. This 5,126 meter high monster will put up a bit of a fight with some ankle-aching sand, wobbly rocks near the peak and the usual unpredictable weather on the slopes. On the descent, we spent a solid three hours being battered by rain and hail.

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Hikers are supposedly banned from taking on the Illinizas without a qualified guide, which is a real shame, as the long approach is riddled with enticing wild camping sites. There are also a few refuges near the trailhead, though the nine to 11 hour return hike can be done as a single day trip from Quito.

IMG_8746downlook2However you choose to tackle Illiniza Norte, this mountain is the next step up from its neighbor Corazon, and is a good precursor to Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and their ilk.

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