The first encounter of altitude during our trip the impressive Imbabura volcano provided an engaging scramble and epic crater to reach its two summits.
The route is largely hiking with some short sections of easy scrambling.
We’d spent the night in the Pukyu Pamba centre in the Comunidad de San Clemente on the outskirts of Otavalo – an idyllic farm stay run as a charity for the benefit of the local people. I cannot recommend a stay here enough, it was wonderful – amazing food and lovely little cottages on the farm to stay in. I could have stay there for the rest of the trip.
After an amazing night sleep we drove to the end of the road out of Chirihuasi village. From here we slowly started to head up, out of the top of the village onto the Pampas, the large grasslands which remind me of a moorland-like terrain.
The climb was at a steady pace to deal with our increasing altitude gain, until we reached the crater rim. Then the route became a rocky walk/scramble as we ascended to the first of the volcano’s summits.
Imbabura’s first summit stands at 4530m. From here it was a long but straightforward walk to the second summit, higher at 4557m.
I always struggle with my first time above 4000m so I did find the ascent a struggle with headache and altitude fatigue.
Once at the summit the descent was back the same way.
I highly recommend Imbabura, not only as an acclimatisation peak but also as a great mountaineering adventure in its own right and the neighbouring town of Otavalo is a pleasant change in character from Quito.